I have always been inspired by the green signs of the Scottish Rights of Way Society.
They seem to point the way to an adventure, a route by which to leave the normal world and head into the hills in the footsteps of long gone people.
Perhaps surprisingly I prefer through-routes to summits.
Show me an horizon, an overlapping series of ridge lines or a valley stretching into the distance and I yearn to discover what lies behind those hills, just out of sight.
So these green signs, usually located beside a road, are much more than a regular sign post. They're an invitation. Over the years I have accepted quite a few.
A glorious one lies a few hundred yards from where I live on Scotland's west coast. It points to the old valley route by which people from the Strontian lead mines, very active during the Napoleonic wars, would travel to the Corran narrows.
|Looking back town Glen Gour|
I prefer to walk it in reverse, dropping a car on the minor road at the head of Glen Gour and walking home. This cuts the road walking and makes the distance 12 miles with 1300ft of ascent.
See the route below.
It's best to tackle this walk after a dry spell or when the ground is frozen, otherwise you might be picking your way through bog.
There's a good clear track for the first 4 miles but, once you cross the river, the route becomes rather sketchy.
There is a path, of sorts, but you really have to hunt for it. That said, it's very difficult to get lost.
Once you've crossed the river, just keep it on your left for the rest of the walk. The map shows a small lochan between 6 and 7 miles but it was completely dry earlier this week.
|Coffee break with Maggie|
You pass between Sgurr na Laire and Sgurr nan Cnamh, then down the north side of the Strontian River to the ruined cottages at Ceann a' Chreagain.
The last few miles are through the lovely Ariundle National Nature Reserve, our regular dog walking route with Maggie.
Back in the early 1980s I wrote to the Scottish Rights of Way Society and they sent me some roughly-drawn line maps detailing their main routes.
I never did manage to find a copy of the accompanying book Hill Tracks in Scotland by Walter Smith, from 1924.
Yet those rough maps, combined with Ralph Storer's excellent Exploring Scottish Hill Tracks, were the means by which I'd discover new through-routes and crucially, learn the stories behind them.
|Strontian River leading to village|
In 1995 the Society published the third edition of its own Scottish Hill Tracks and I was delighted. I still have my original copy.
It's not really a guidebook, it's more like a list in book form, but to me it was yet another invitation.
This book lists the walk I'm describing here in the direction I prefer and gives it the number 225.
Back in 2006 when I was doing a lot of hill-running, this was my favourite long training route.
With very little height gain you find yourself completely immersed in wild land.
And best of all, as you walk you find more valleys, more ancient routes just waiting to be explored. This is a wonderful area to just wander.