Start location: A890, Achnashellach Station (NH 003 482)
End location: A896, NE of Loch Clair (NH 003 581)
Geographical area: Ross and Cromarty
Path Type: Coffin Road, Drove Road
Path distance: 14km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians, Suitable for Bikes
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This classic route across the Coulin Pass is the most straightforward way from Glen Carron to Glen Torridon. There are alternative starts, the simplest being from Achnashellach Station to a junction of forest roads, then northeast up the road on the right for some 2km to join the Old Pony Track. Continue along the road over the Coulin Pass and down into Glen Torridon for 3km to the bridge over the Easan Dorcha.
Continue down the private road along the River Coulin for 1.75km and cross the glen to Torran-cuilinn. The line of the old right of way to Kinlochewe is still extant, although the section through the forestry has troubled at least one of our previous surveyors! However, a vehicular track can be followed north into the wood; it continues in good condition to its junction with an east-west track. Here our route north now dog-legs, continuing north from NH023557 along a wide ride - in Spring 2014 this was found to be wet in places and affected by two recently fallen trees. The route continues without difficulty to the boundary where it becomes a clear well-trodden footpath. Approaching a second forestry area, the upper parts of which are now (by summer 2016) de-forested, the right of way initially skirts it and heads more generally north than the more obvious forestry track which leads to the bridge at NH018592. Following the right of way, at NH028598, there is a Highland Council(?) waymark indicating both up the hill and down to Kinlochewe, so this implies the way north may be clear, although our surveyors instead took a forestry track south-west then north-west to the aforementioned bridge at NH018592.
Alternatively, it has been said to be easier to continue from Torran-cuilinn along the path on the north-east side of Loch Coulin to join the private road near the outflow of the loch. From there go along the east side of Loch Clair, from where one has the classic view of Liathach, to reach the A896 in Glen Torridon, 5km from Kinlochewe
For those thinking of cycling the Coulin Pass, check out Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland's e-guide to the Highlands which describes various circuits using parts of this historic route.
OS Landranger 25 (Glen Carron & surrounding area)
This is part of a long distance droving route from Poolewe to the South. The traditional way to the Coulin Pass is by the Old Pony Track, as used by James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, in 1803. This starts between Achnashellach and Craig in Glen Carron at NH029490 and goes fairly directly uphill through the forest to meet the forest road 500m south of the Coulin Pass. Hogg mentions the change house at Craig.
Sandy Mackenzie, a gillie and former postman between Kinlochewe and Torridon who was interviewed by Rev A E Robertson in the 1930s, spoke of the droving of cattle across the hill. He said that there was a well at the top of the track near to Torran Coulin which was known as Murdo's Well (Topar Mhuiridh) after an old drover. He also recounted the coffin of a Strathcarron woman being brought this way in winter and the cart almost getting stuck in snowdrifts at the top of the Coulin Pass. In fact it was so bad that after the funeral the cart had to be taken to Achnasheen by train.
This route appears on General Roy's Military Map of 1755.