I walked from Durness to Laid along the edge of Loch Eriboll. Today was the Olympics 2012 closing ceremony and so I was keen to find a TV for the night. Which I did - at Glenaladale Bed & Breakfast run by Donnie and Kate MacDougall, overlooking the loch. Donnie and Kate are accomplished musicians, and I would return at a later date to interview them.
Today I was visiting Cape Wrath, the most north-westerly tip of mainland Britain. I arrived at the ferry crossing at 9.45am to give me enough time to walk up to the lighthouse and back (or so I thought) but had to wait for the next crossing that day which was at 12.30. It took us across to the other side of the Kyle of Durness. I ended up on the organised group tour mini bus driven by a chap called Alan due to the fact that my timing was out. On the way up, Alan insisted on giving other walkers a ride to avoid the same problem. Most of Cape Wrath is owned by the MOD, and there are plans for them to acquire all of it. John and Kay Ure live in the lighthouse. They took on the lease in 2009 and converted it into a home. They opened the ‘Ozone Café’ which is probably the remotest one in Britain. I interviewed them and they kindly gave me lunch, on the light house so to speak! I then set off back down towards the ferry, and was scooped up by Alan in his minibus insisting that I wouldn’t make it back in time. On the way down the track we picked up other walkers as well who would be in the same predicament. Once safely deposited back at the ferry landing at Keoldale I ambled back into Durness.
A rest day. The B&B I had stayed in last night was full tonight. So I moved to another and spent the rest of the day sleeping!
I started out from ‘Kinlochbervie Hotel’ who donated money AND my packed lunch. Thank you so much. I retraced my steps along the B801 and then along the A838. I received a few donations from drivers as I wandered through classic scenery with the summit of ‘Foinaven / Foinne Bhein’ to the south-west. I had the full load on my back today and reminded myself how fortunate I have been to find willing supporters to carry the bulk of my kit to my next destination. It makes such a difference! I saw another golden eagle crossing at great height from one ridgeline to another and went directly overhead. I met a keeper who works on the estate through which the River Dionard flows. He said they caught 70 salmon in the previous few days. The river looked low but there were some lovely pools. By the time I staggered into Durness I was absolutely exhausted. I found a very nice B&B called ‘Aiden House’ and after a refreshing shower I went down to the ‘Mackay Rooms’ restaurant where Pip and I plan to stay in a few days time. It is a lovely place and serves delicious food.
Walked from Rhiconich along the B801 which is a quiet single track road to Kinlochbervie. On route I met Jack from Australia who was cycling round Europe and Scotland. I checked in at the ‘Kinlochbervie Hotel’ at lunchtime and then walked up to within a couple of miles of Sandwood Bay, before turning round and walking back. My plan is to return to Sandwood Bay when Philippa arrives in a few days and make a more relaxed day of spending some time exploring this legendary and most inaccessible beach on the British mainland!
I walked from just south of Scourie to Rhiconich. The weather remained dry as I plodded along the A838 all day. I watched a golden eagle flying near to a couple of buzzards and realised just how huge they are in comparison. I noticed how they flap their wings in a slightly more ‘gangly’ way compared to a buzzard due to the length of their wings - a bit like a heron. Stayed the night at the ‘Rhiconich Hotel’.
Today was a rest day for me at the ‘Eddrachilles Hotel’. I slept a long time and simply rested.
I spent the day walking along the road from Drumbeg to Scourie. As ever, the scenery was beautiful. It was a long day as my feet were already sore and tired. I stayed the night at the ‘Eddrachilles Hotel’ in Lower Badcall, just to the south of Scourie.
After breakfast I strapped up my feet and set off from Lochinver in hazy sunshine, initially along the A837, then turned off onto the B869 which felt very much like a mountain road via Stoer and Clashnessie. Both had beautiful beaches. I received quite a few donations along the way from lovely, friendly people. The scenery, as ever, was simply gorgeous. Philippa rang to confirm that she had booked her flight to come and visit me! I spent the night in Scourie.
Surprisingly I slept fitfully in my beautiful room, as I was so over-tired and drained from yesterday’s little amble. This morning I didn’t get way until 10.30 am because I was trying to sort out whether anyone in the village could take my kit bag (to lighten my load). There wasn’t! The hotel folk were lovely and tried all the options, but to no avail. They were so generous at ‘The Summer Isles Hotel’ and as I said, they didn’t charge me a penny. I walked along minor roads through some of the most stunning scenery yet: mountains as a backdrop, lochs, sea bays and coves. My feet are a bit sore today and so I strapped them for comfort and took two pain killers this afternoon! Then with 5 miles to go to Lochinver, ‘Juan, Maria and Alba Escala’ went past me in their car, stopped, donated AND took my excess kit to my B&B! Thank goodness he did as it was a particularly long 5 miles for an out-of-condition ‘puffer’! I got to ‘Polcraig Guest House’ in Lochinver, owned by ‘Cathel Macleod’. He sorted out tomorrow’s accommodation and dropped me off at a lovely pub called ‘The Caberfeidh Pub & Restaurant’ which is located right where the River Inver flows into Loch Inver. There was a high tide and the sea trout were running and leaping (although they were on the small side!). A young lad was fly fishing off the rocks and catching half pounders with almost every cast! The midges were out in abundance so all of the pub guests were indoors enjoying lovely food and drink.