I got a lift to Blairmore thismorning with Scott’s cousin’s husband who works at Kinlochbervie but was kind enough to drive a bit further up the road to drop me off right at the start of the track up to Sandwood Bay. It was a lovely morning and I’d finally managed to get to bed early the night before a walk!
There is a very good track all the way from Blairmore up to Sandwood Bay, through typical moorland and past a number of pretty lochs.
I climbed the hill just before the bay to get a better view. I’m not sure that this was really worth doing, but I had plenty of time and energy today. While up there I saw 2 guys, a dog and a wheelbarrow leaving the bay. Someone I spoke to later said they were probably removing rubbish from the area.
Sandwood Bay is considered an amazing beach around here and being so accessible probably gets abused a little (people leaving rubbish behind). Everybody asked me what I thought of it and, while I agree it is lovely, . . . there is a bit of a different standard of beaches in Australia so I was not as impressed as they expected. Besides, I think the beaches in Durness are much more beautiful.
I had to take my shoes off to cross the river where Sandwood Loch exits into the sea. I tried tip toeing across on the stones but it was just too far and my balance not good enough! The crossing was fine . . . although a bit cold!
Then it was up the hill and across the moors. There is no track up here, just a vague idea to walk north (it is part of the “Cape Wrath Trail”. I had an interesting time crossing the Strath Chailleach river, which is quite large but has lots of rocky sections that look easy to cross . . until you get closer and realise the last gap is slightly to big to get over! I stayed dry, but ended up trying several different sections and going up and down a bit. Lots of fun though.
Just before I got to the river and found a stile over a fence, which gave me some confidence that I was roughly where I was supposed to be!
The next section was wide open moorland which was, typically, a bit boggy . . . although not too bad. It was also harder to navigate than normal, with no large features to navigate by, so mainly on compass bearings. My navigation was not too bad but not quite spot on through here, with extra walking (although it doesn’t look too bad on the GPS data!).
I had chosen to go inland a little, around a hill, then a loch, then to a very specific point on the Kelsgaig River as I’d read that it was a little tricky to cross in other places. My navigation to cross the river was pretty spot on. I did have to actually jump across the section that I chose though! I really don’t like jumping, but got through this one safely.
The river is just inside the military danger area – luckily no red flags out today so I was allowed to go in. Lots of signs though warning me of the dangers of being blown up!
I headed north, a little inland of the cliffs, except for a couple of times I went to have a look over them. They are very impressive! There were also some strange big bare patches of ground on the hills, apparently natural and not related to bombing. I generally stayed a little way inland, as I was didn’t want to have to do any backtracking to get around cliff edges or bogs close to the edge. In hindsight, I probably could’ve walked right along the edge of the cliffs which would’ve been much more interesting and enjoyable.
I could see the road to the lighthouse from a long way away and the walk there took ages and was not very interesting. Still pleasant enough though. The ground was a little drier than normal at least.
I got to the lighthouse and had a good look around. I was peering over the edge of the cliff right next to the lighthouse when I saw two guys in kayaks below! Wow, . . . people crazier than me!!
I had a look around the cafe and the lighthouse guy offered me a cup of tea and we had a chat. He also gave me some sandwiches later. How lovely!! (I mentioned I was Scott’s friend, who he knows well, . . but I was still pretty touched by his generosity) I also had a chat to the bus driver, who’d just brought a tour group out, to find out what time he’d be driving in and out tomorrow in case I wanted to get a lift back to the ferry.
After a decent rest I set off again, up the hill past some old buildings and down the other side. I followed a stone wall, then had to climb over it when I got to the end! There had been gaps earlier that I could’ve walked through but it looked boggy on the other side so I hadn’t!
I followed the line of the wall, on the advice of the lighthouse keeper, instead of walking along the cliffs because an inlet further down cut in a long way and I would’ve had to walk around. At the inlet I walked all the way down to the water where there is a stone jetty and a lot of old ruined equipment and vehicles. I then couldn’t be bothered walking back out, so just went straight up the side of the hill at the end of the inlet!
I meandered eastwards, not exactly where I’d intended to go, but I wasn’t really fussed about my navigation. I knew where I had to go and wasn’t in a hurry, so I just wandered along. There were some pretty boggy areas but they were almost all dried out, so it was mostly pretty easy walking. I walked up along the headland for the last bit, which gave really good views of Kearvaig Bay and the cliffs.
Coming into Kearvaig Bay I dropped down straight off the side of the hill. It looked pretty steep so I’d considered walking around to a flatter section but I’m glad I didn’t bother. It wasn’t too bad, and there was even a gate at the bottom (fallen down), suggesting that it wasn’t such a crazy idea to go that way.
I had to take my shoes off to cross the Kearvaig River again. Also fine but a bit cold!
Heading across the beach I saw two kayaks pulled up on the beach, near a couple of tents. I went over and had a chat, telling them that I’d seen them from the cliffs (and that it was nice to see people crazier than I am!). They shared a beer with me (weight is not so critical in a kayak) and I stayed for quite a while chatting, until it got too cold! I said I’d emailed them the photos I had of them when I got home . . . . which I may finally get around to doing today!!
I then went up to the bothy. There was a father and son, from southern England, there who’d cycled in from the ferry and were staying tomorrow night too. The father was staying in the tent, while the son stayed in the bothy (not sure why they didn’t both stay inside as there was heaps of room). There was also one other older guy staying there. I had seen him at the lighthouse earlier, but didn’t speak to him on either occasion. Quite busy for somewhere in the middle of nowhere!
I took all myself to one of the upstairs rooms then realised that there was another entire self contained room (fireplace and sleeping benches) at the other end of the bothy, so I took all my stuff over there. The other section has five separate rooms in it.
The bothy was lovely. It was very windy and a bit drizzly outside, but safe, dry and cosy inside. I couldn’t light the fire (no experience lighting fire with just newspaper and coal) but lit some candles and sat in one of the window seats writing my diary. I had my dinner which was not as good as normal (the meat meals don’t seem to dehydrate as well as pasta) and dessert, which made up for dinner (Romney’s mint cake and chocolate)! I even got to read some Agatha Christie before bed (there is a small book collection here)! Such decadence compared to my normal camping!
It was pretty cool here.
While walking today I found a hat and an unopened 2L water bottle, which I then carried for the rest of the walk because I felt bad about pouring out perfectly good drinking water! I’m obviously from a dry country! I saw a seal and young guillemot (probably) while walking to the kayakers, and saw a little mouse (or something similar) outside the bothy window. I also saw quite a few deer today, which I wasn’t expecting on the Cape. Not sure why not!