My Carmichael grandfather and great grandfather were both postmen in Wester Ross. John Carmichael, my great grandfather, served in Shieldaig. His son, Roderick, delivered the mail in North Applecross and, later, in Torridon.
While their routes would certainly have been arduous, neither faced the difficulties of the postman charged with carrying the mail from Dingwall to Poolewe whose path took him along the rough, rocky shoreline to the north of Loch Maree. The most direct route entailed a dangerous climb over bare rock at Creag Tharbh, between Letterewe and Inveran. In bad weather, the path by way of Kernsary offered a longer, but less exposed route.
On Saturday, we traced this alternative route back, following the path from Poolewe to Kernsary by the loch of the same name, returning to Poolewe by way of Inveran. We left the thrills of Creag Tharbh to another day.
We parked by the bridge over the River Ewe and walked north by the A832 on a good pavement to Sròndubh where we picked up the path to Kernsary. This has seen work in recent years and is in good condition for much of its length, although we encountered some boggy patches as we approached the farm at Kernsary. This stretch of the route offers dramatic views towards the Fisherfield hills and over Loch Kernsary with its tree covered crannog.
Our return to Poolewe took us along estate tracks, over moorland and by plantations to Inveran and onward through native, mixed woodland. Hitting tarmac again as we approached the River Ewe, the extent of engineering works on the river can clearly be seen. A succession of weirs manage the flow and level of water, while the map marks the site of old iron works at the Red Smiddy and a cableway crosses the river below the exposed rock face of Creag an Fhithich, the Rock of the Raven.
We had a delightful walk and rounded it off with lunch and a pint in the Old Inn in Gairloch. Excellent!