A lovely circular walk on a fine day around Loch an Nostarie across the hills to Mallaig. There are spectacular views of Loch an Nostarie with its pine studded islands, as well as the surroundings hills and crags. There is also an opportunity to explore the picturesque fishing port of Mallaig, providing an ideal spot on route for coffee or lunch. There is a nice picnic spot by Loch an Nostarie near the start of the circular walk.
Look out for divers and ducks on the loch, and raptors, including buzzard and golden eagle, on the hills.
This walk is best done in fine weather and should only be done by an experience hill walker in less favourable weather conditions, with some map navigation required. After prolonged or heavy rain, the terrain can be extremely boggy and some of streams crossing may be difficult or impassable.
A shorter 'there and back' option to the picnic bench by the northern shore of the hill loch, Loch an Nostarie, is also delightful.
1. Park in the car park at Glasnacardoch on the B8008 just off the A830, approximately 1 km south of Mallaig.
The walk heads along a gravelled track to Glasnacardoch House, and is signposted to Nostarie and Eireagoraidh. Follow the track by the houses and through a metal gate. The path passes through rough pasture and Calluna heath, with Eric tetralix and Bog Myrtle (Myrica gale) in the wetter areas. There are good views of the surrounding hills; look out for raptors and corvids.
2. The path soon reaches the northern shores of Loch Nostarie, where there is a welcome picnic bench. This first part of the walk is on good path suitable for all abilities.
3. You can either return by the same route at this stage, or continue around the loch and across the hills back to Mallaig.
4. If continuing, follow the path ahead through a gate/stile and skirt around the shore of the loch, keeping right and following the way marker posts. The path is rather indistinct in places and crosses rough pasture. The route can be very boggy at this stage and involves crossing a few streams and ditches. However, the effort is rewarded by the superb views of Loch an Nostarie with its pine studded islands.
5. After crossing a large stream, veer left heading inland towards a wooden directional sign post on the hill. Take the route signposted Mallaig via Circular Walk. Look out for the spectacular lichens and bryophytes encrusting the rock and outcrops. As the path heads through the hills, turn back on occasion to admire the fantastic views of the loch and the surrounding hills, which are magical on a sunny day.
6. The path passes through two gates in deer fences and is generally well defined, though boggy. Look out for the waymarker posts on route. There are good views across Loch Nevis to the Knoydart peninsula and Skye on a fine day.
7. Turn left at the T-junction where the path joins the Mallaig Circular walk and head down towards Mallaig (the circular walk has a signpost to Loch an Nostarie at this junction). The path descends between the surrounding hills with good views of heather clad hills. As you descend the picturesque working harbour of Mallaig comes into view.
8. Turn left at the tarmac road where the circular walk ends by a Bed and Breakfast establishment, and head towards Mallaig. Once in Mallaig, take time to explore the fishing port with its many restaurants, cafes and shops.
9. When ready, head back up the hill on the B8008 to Glasnacardoch by the newsagents and Spar store. The road passes by the school and swimming pool. The return route is rather steep. Admire the costal views and village on route. Cross over the railway bridge, looking out for the Harry Potter Express and descend to the car park.