Posted by: natsevs | August 11, 2010

Redpoint to Laide

Despite rain in the early hours it was a sunny morning when I popped my head out the tent door. I packed away straight away and got a few midge bites but wasn’t about to waste sunshine whilst I had it. I then cooked and ate my porridge on the beach.

Immediately after setting off I got onto a dirt track up to a car park and the road. At the top of the first hill, I could take in the view and the scenery had definitely changed for the better. The relentless lochs and boring coast had given way to beaches and cliffs with open, uninterrupted sea beyond.

By midday I had eaten all my food supplies but it wasn’t going to be a long day before reaching Gairloch. It was all road so the most noteworthy thing to happen was the same red van passing me 4 or 5 times. The loch itself is more like a bay and I could see across to where the hostel was quite early on. When I reached Charlestown I got a drink as my water had run out a while back and soon I was coming into Gairloch.

The first shop wasn’t great but there was a second one in the square which had homemade pies. I got a steak and guiness and some potatoes so I could have a half decent tea for a change. It was only 3pm so I went into the cafe opposite and got an expensive mocha with all the trimmings (those were free) to ease away some time. They had some awesome looking scones on show but the day I’m able to pay £3 for a scone is a long long way off.

When I set off again I saw an ice cream place called Sweets and couldn’t resist the temptation to add a flavour to my list. Then it started to rain and cursed my timewasting a little bit. Not that I’d have been able to check into the hostel before 5 anyway. As it was I still had half an hour to wait when I arrived. Everyone else there seemed to be French and I realised quite quickly how little of the language I could remember from school so i stuck to polite smiles instead. Pie and mash was good but it needed extra gravy for sure.

The drawback of free tea is that it takes me ages to get to sleep. I really need to learn that lesson. When I got up there wasn’t another soul around so I had breakfast in complete peace. Packing was an issue in a room full of sleeping people though. The sun was gone and it was a dark and very windy morning as I headed towards Big Sands.  I walked through the campsite there to the village then there was a path out to North Erradale.

It started off as dirt track but was soon quite boggy. I could always see it though and that’s a win in Scotland. I walked straight through North Erradale and out the other side to pathless terrain until I joined the main road going up the headland. I was on that all the way to Melvaig and had to put on my coat in the end just to keep the wind out.

From Melvaig was a single track road out to Rua Reidh lighthouse and every car that passed me on that road was full of miserable people. You would have thought they were the ones outside in the horrible weather. Not one of them thanked me for moving aside or managed anything near a smile. A way along there was a ring of smoke in the air on front of me which was odd. Later a helicopter appeared though and once I’d got to the lighthouse I learned that a little boat was being rescued. I assumed the smoke had been from a flair sent up by the idiot sailing a tiny boat in the wind and rain.

I found this out from the woman at Rua Reidh and a family there from Aberdeen who I had got talking to at the visitor centre. The woman also told me it would take about 3 hours to get across the top of the headland. It was going to be a long day to get to Poolewe. I left the lighthouse at 1.30 on easy path initially but soon I was leaving that and joining sheep tracks.

I had a lot of uphill walking to get up over the top of the cliffs and the wind was sending me everywhere. It was hard work but I had managed to get to the ruin after the cliffs a half hour quicker than expected. From then on though it was really boggy with big gullies everywhere. I hit a river and had to find a half decent crossing spot but my feet still got wet obviously. After what seemed like ages I got to a beach and from there were tyre tracks through more bog to the road. I got there around 4 then started the long walk down to Poolewe. I nipped into the shop then on to the camp site to crash for the night.

When I got up in the morning the sun was shining but it was soon clouding over. I paid another visit to the shop before packing down my tent and setting off at 10. The sun managed to battle it’s way back through but the wind was quite cool so ideal weather. It was boring road and my radio wasn’t picking up radio stations so not ideal. The road was soon climbing up a fair size hill though and at the top was a great view and buzzards were swooping about.

Once down I got off the main road at Aultbea and got along to Mellon Charles. At the end of the road was a dirt track to the top of a hill. I carried on through heather to the ruins at Slaggan with a successful and dry river crossing along the way. There was a lovely beach there but the walking was slightly boggy.

There were sheep tracks though and making my way along the low cliffs with open sea beside me in the sun was very satisfying. A lot more like what I was hoping for than scrabbling over sea weed covered loch sides. I soon got to Opinan then along roads down to Laide. The campsite was overpriced at £10 but I paid it for some reason. I’m still not sure why now.

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