Tracks to Strath Dionard
Start location: Lone (NC 309 422)
End location: Gualin House (NC 305 564)
Geographical area: Sutherland
Path Type: Rural Path
Path distance: 27km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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Lone is reached from the A838 at the bridge over the river flowing into Loch Stack, 0.5km north of Achfary. Go along the private road past Airdachuilinn to Lone cottage. From there continue NE by the path up the Allt Horn to the pass just north-west of Creagan Meall Horn. This pass is in the heart of the Reay Forest mountains, surrounded by the barren stony peaks of Foinaven, Arkle and Meall Horn. Descend E down the steep path to An Dubh-loch, climb a short distance and continue E to Lochan Sgeireach on the watershed at the head of Glen Golly. From there follow the path to Creag Staonsaid and thence down to the south end of Loch Dionard. This point can also be reached more directly from An Dubh-loch by descending from its outflow by the Allt an Easain Ghil down a steep and narrow corrie to reach flat ground at the head of Loch Dionard. The second half of the route goes along the east side of Loch Dionard and down Srath Dionard, a long deep glen hemmed in by the steep slopes of Cranstackie and the great north-eastern corries of Foinaven. Srath Dionard is boggy and pathless at first until the track lower down the strath on the left bank of the river leads to the A838 road near Gualin House which is remotely situated beside the A838 road between Rhiconich and Durness.
These tracks can also be walked from Srath Dionard to Strath More. Starting from Gualin House this 25km route follows a straight line which goes SE from there to Gobernuisgach Lodge through Srath Dionard. Leave the road just north-east of Gualin House and go up Srath Dionard by a track on the south-west side of the river. Continue beyond the end of the track, picking the best way up the boggy glen to reach Loch Dionard and go along its east shore. From the south end of the loch climb uphill along a path which leads to the top of Creag Staonsaid and drops slightly to Lochan Sgeireach on the watershed at the head of Glen Golly. From there the path goes downhill for 6½km beside the Glen Golly River, which flows in a deep, birch-fringed gorge to Gobernuisgach Lodge.
A less obvious route is that through the Bealach na h-Imrich from Srath Beag to Loch Dionard. Although the old route was thought to be probably lost, we've recently received reports (June 2012) of a very good stalkers path running from the sheepfold at NC376509, contouring roughly WSW up and over the southern spur of Conamheall. It gets lost a bit in the rocky area around the highest point, so we don't yet know whether it descends on the west side to Carrachandubh, so that's an explore for another day. However it would seem to present a sensible route between the 2 straths (and gives fantastic views both up Strath Coille na Fearna and across to Foinaven's eastern corries).
OS Landranger 9 (Cape Wrath)
The OS 6" first edition maps only show the route from Achfary as far as "Creagan Meall a' Chuirn". There are no paths marked through Srath Dionard, although interestingly a path does come from the north-east to Carrachandubh (where an un-named ruin is marked beside Loch Dionard on present maps) through the Bealach na h-Imrich from Srath Beag. This older route also appears on John Thomson's Atlas of Scotland (1832) running from Strathbeg through the Cawrinch Pass into Strath Dinart. The stalkers path described earlier is on a similar line, though is a little to the north of what's marked on the map as Bealach na h-Imrich. Is this the remnant of the old route or a later link?