The tide dictates whether this fine walk between North Kessock and the Black Isle village of Kilmuir is possible.
Tackle it a couple of hours either side of low tide and you’ll have no problems; leave it any longer and you could find yourself doing a bit of wading – or worse.
The route begins under the Kessock Bridge just beyond the RNLI station at North Kessock. There’s space for a few cars just beyond the lifeboat launch area, directly below the bridge – make sure not to block any access here.
The walk starts easily enough, following a track that continues east, soon keeping to the right fork closest to the shore. You can see across to Kilmuir from the start of the walk but after a while it’s hidden from view until you are almost upon it.
The start is also a popular launch spot for sea kayakers so don’t be surprised if you see a few people paddling up and down this wonderful stretch of coast.
At the end of an open section, the track climbs up to Croft Downie. There’s some confusion about the route here but there are a couple of options.
An old marker post can be seen on the shore just before the wee hill, suggesting a tidal trek past the croft is in order.
At the top a small sign says “Private” at the entrance to the garden area of the croft, but an alternative path heads left uphill to reach another track. Turning right onto this takes you behind the house and back down to the shore – and is the route most people take.
We weren’t sure at the time and opted for the tidal route, heading back to the marker post and following the shingle beach past some interesting outcrops. At one point we had to scramble up a narrow rock scraping past some prickly gorse – but that was because it was now a good four hours after low tide.
After passing an old ruined boathouse on the foreshore, we found the track beyond the croft and rejoined it through a messy stretch before the track runs out at the shore. Telegraph poles continue, however, and make an obvious line to follow all the way to Kilmuir.
There’s a clear enough path through shingle, grass and rock, and a wooden signpost confirms you’re well on your way. Our return route would soon follow the way to Ordhill from here but not until we’d made it to the village first.
You know you’re just about there when you see a large garden where a path squeezes between its fence and some trees, then you pass a raised decking area on the shore to reach the end of the road at Kilmuir. Enjoy the views from this peaceful bay.
Returning to the signpost we took the Ordhill path, which rises steeply into the woods on some wonderful little steps that wiggle between the rocks and trees. At a sign, keep left towards Ordhill and follow an improving path as it gradually rises, a steep drop now on your left in places. This is a delightful section of the walk in any season.
At the next signpost go straight on – now heading back to Craigton and North Kessock via Photographer’s Rock rather than towards Ordhill. At one point, ignore a path left which leads down to Croft Downie, instead keeping right to climb slightly then contour around the side of the hill.
One of my favourite parts of the walk is a stretch here with overhanging branches drooping down to touch the far side of the path, creating a tunnel that looks beautiful with dappled sunlight shining through.
Soon you emerge from the woods at the road in Upper Craigton. Go straight ahead then fork left downhill, going left again to follow the road that sweeps under the Kessock Bridge. Turn left to pass the lifeboat station and return to the start.