3 mile circular walk on boggy ground and track (including WW2 Liberator War Plane Memorial)
A fairly easy walk on a rough, and sometimes very boggy footpath over moorland to the Fairy Lochs. The only noise to be heard in this serene place are the calls of the Great throated divers which inhabit the Lochs. It provides wonderful views of Loch Gairloch. Once back at the car we’d recommend driving to the Badachro Inn for some great food!
The Fairy Lochs are also a memorial area to the crew and passengers of flight B24H Liberator Bomber USAAF which crashed on June 13th 1945 while returning to the USA after the end of the war. Large areas of wreckage from the plane still remain visible today (and which must not be removed), and a memorial plaque has been set in the side of the rock, listing those who lost their lives.
The walk starts just up the road from the Shieldaig Hotel on the B8056 and there are several parking spaces available. A public footpath sign marks the start of the walk, but after following the track for a short distance the path forks. Take the fork to the left, which should have a small memorial sign indicating the route. At the next cairn follow the left fork again, and then continue to follow the path which continues to climb across boggy and rough ground. The trickiest part here is keeping to the path and not venturing to far from it to avoid the boggiest parts. The number of cairns on this section of the route have slowly increased over the years so they do help to guide you on your way.
Eventually you reach the top of the climb and are afforded great views looking towards Baosbheinn and back to Loch Gairloch. Continue to follow the boggy path which now descends to one of the many lochans, and here you will find the memorial plague and wreckage of the Liberator. It is quite a moving scene, and each year poppies are laid at the small memorial in memory of all those lost.
No-one knows the reasons why the Liberator was off course and over the mainland, as their flight route should have taken them over Stornoway. But whatever the reason was, it appears the aircraft struck the top of Slioch and lost some bomb bay door parts. The plane continued to descend and circled once round Gairloch, possibly looking for a place to ditch, and may have decided on the sea loch itself. The aircraft was on the run in for an emergency landing when they just failed to clear the rocky spurs by the Fairy Lochs. All on board died.
Once past the memorial follow the path around the left side of the loch. The path now becomes fainter and is marked by various cairns. It is very boggy, and as it threads its way between various rocky outcrops, white wooden posts take over from the cairns marking the route. These take you down to Loch Braigh Horrisdale, and here you join a track, which provides some welcome firm ground after all the bogginess. Turn right and follow the track back to the start.