Published: 22/12/2013 02:00 - Updated: 17/12/2013 09:22

Down by the riverside

Written byBy Peter Evans

The bridge to Dunglass Island spanning the River Conon.
The bridge to Dunglass Island spanning the River Conon.

DUNGLASS Island, sitting in the middle of two arms of the River Conon, is one of Scotland’s largest freshwater islands. Once the site of an Iron Age fort, it now allows walkers to get close to the river in a beautiful setting with tree-lined banks.

A circuit round the island forms part of this walk, which begins at the war memorial in the attractive Ross-shire village of Maryburgh.

There is limited parking near the memorial. From there walk south along the main street on the right-hand pavement, towards Conon Bridge, which lies on the other side of the river. Look out for a plaque attached to Seaforth Cottage commemorating master piper Donald Cameron. Where the road bears left to go up over the railway keep straight on, ignoring a street on the right.

Follow a lane bearing around to the right, slightly uphill, and look out for a few steps on the left. Go up these into a modern housing estate and walk on to a junction. Turn left and follow the road round to a narrow grassy path between houses and the railway, unseen below.

The path emerges onto a road. Keep straight on again and look for a pedestrian crossing over the railway on the left. Don’t cross, keep straight on along the edge of a field with open countryside views ahead.

Continue along the path for just over a kilometre to a broad bridge crossing the river to Dunglass Island. Admire the lovely views up and down the tree-lined river before turning left at the end of the bridge to make a clockwise circuit of the island. Follow the obvious path which cuts right before the northern tip of the island to swing back south again, staying close to the river. You should spot green marker posts defining the way. The path reaches a weir, with the water gushing over it. It’s the perfect spot to stop for a break and glory at the natural surroundings.

There’s a well-sited bench too. Continue walking along the peaceful riverside. When Rosemary and I did the walk, blue Michaelmas daisies added a vibrant splash of colour to the backdrop of autumnal leaves, just beginning to display their own multi-hued palette. A fishing hut is reached and then a little wooden footbridge. If access to this is waterlogged, veer right to a track and turn left. Otherwise carry on to a large fishing hut and another weir, smaller than the first. Here we left the river for the wider track and made our way back to the big bridge over the Conon.

Leaving the island we turned left to carry on walking along a field edge. The farmhouse and cottages at Balnain can be seen on higher ground to the right. The path climbs a small bank and continues with fields on the right and mature deciduous trees on the left.

We had to duck and dive a bit here where the trees had overgrown the path — among them some giant horse chestnuts. The ground was strewn with enough conkers to gladden a small boy’s heart. Persevere with the path, which exits onto a track on the Brahan Estate in a beautiful woodland glade by the river.

A wooden signpost indicates the way to the Brahan Estate office and Maryburgh, three miles away. We walked along the track and cut right on a distinct path through the woodland. It’s part of a network of estate paths with diversions here and there, but keep going in the same direction to reach another wide track. This leads all the way back east to Maryburgh. Just before heading along it we had stopped for a bite to eat beneath a tree when a vehicle pulled up beside us.

Its woman driver got out and lifted the hatchback to take out a ferret on a lead, then proceeded into the woodland, presumably to give the animal its regular constitutional. It was certainly a change from a dog!

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