Traigh Gheal

Checked in at the Lochaline Hotel overlooking the Sound of Mull. A bit basic but much appreciated after two days wild camping and last night in a bothie. But that at least was a midge free zone. I have walked with two mates, Andy and Bob, from Fionnphort on the western tip of the island of Mull following in the footsteps of David Balfour the hero of Robert Lewis Stevenson’s book Kidnapped. Called the Stephenson Way, it is not a way marked path as such, but does process a website. It is more of a suggested route that young David could have taken after first being kidnapped and then shipwrecked to get back to Edinburgh to confront his wicked uncle Ebenezer. A few forest tracks and scenic coastal paths interspersed with long sections of bog myrtle and sage scrub, deer grass with unstable thigh high tussocks and deep boggy bottoms and precipitous feral goat tracks. Not for the faint hearted.

The bay in the photo, which was taken on Tuesday, is Traigh Gheal on the island of Erraid. It is the bay where Balfour was washed ashore after the ship he was kidnapped on was wrecked on the Torran Rocks. And it is where our epic began although it was a six mile hike in. Erraid is only accessible on foot at low tide when the white sands of the Erraid Sound are dry. It took Balfour however several days before he realised this and managed to get off the island.

Stephenson spent three weeks on Erraid in 1870 when his uncle was building the Dubh Heartach lighthouse 12 miles offshore and the island was used as the construction base.

Stephenson’s book is a classic of boy’s own literature. The official title says it all:

“Kidnapped: Being Memoirs of the Adventures of David Balfour in the Year 1751: How he was Kidnapped and Cast away; his Sufferings in a Desert Isle; his Journey in the Wild Highlands; his acquaintance with Alan Breck Stewart and other notorious Highland Jacobites; with all that he Suffered at the hands of his Uncle, Ebenezer Balfour of Shaws, falsely so-called: Written by Himself and now set forth”.


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