Posted by: natsevs | August 18, 2010

Achnacarnin to Strathchailleach

It was a misty and miserable morning as I packed down and got onto the road. At the end of the road was a path down the valley then that path ended and I carried on along the coast.

It was fairly easy going, along sheep tracks and down to Clashnessie. The gate to the farm there directed me to use a non-existent stile so I went over that, through the field and onto the road. The road stuck right to the coast at first and I could see right up to Cape Wrath. It went inland slightly after a while and towards Drumbeg. The shop there had been advertised all over so when I arrived I was severely disappointed. The biscuit selection was hobnobs and that’s it.

Staying on the main road I got to the Kylesku Bridge surrounded by picturesque lochs and waterfalls.

From the bridge was a steep climb upwards and I was soon starting to look for a camp spot. Unfortunately, the options were bog or rock so I had to keep walking. When I reached a point where I could get off the main road I was hopeful. I was disappointed. The path was an old road, so tarmac and the rest was more of the same. The midges were also out in force so I was getting a little fed up.

I got all the way back to the main road and down to Badcall and was considering camping on the verge. About 3 miles on was Scourie, and a campsite so I decided to try my hand at hitching. My mate Tom was arriving in the morning so I could get a lift back to where I stopped. The first 2 or 3 cars went past but a young couple took pity on me and took me to the campsite. I arrived there at 8.30 but on the plus side the girl at first only charged me £5 to stay there, then gave me that back as well. I pitched up, ate and went straight to sleep.

I started to pack away in the morning but then thought it might be wiser to stay another night. Tom was driving up so we could leave the car and our bags at the site and hitch back. I asked the girl if she thought we’d be able to do that and she seemed to think we would have no problem at all. Tom had got lost looking for a shop in Inverness so was running late so I set off towards Badcall, where I had stopped yesterday. As I neared badcall, Tom drove up with perfect timing and we headed to the site so he could set up his tent. When we parked up the guy came out of reception and was a little arsey at first but warmed to us slightly. We definitely had to pay this time though.

After nipping into Spar we got onto the pass over to Tarbet. After initially being quite a good path, it started to fade out a little and the weather was pretty rank. Once we reached Tarbet, which is basically a restaurant and nothing else, we headed around on the road via Fanagmore before reaching the main road. Just after Laxford bridge we stopped for some lunch in the rain. At Rhiconich we headed out onto a b road along the edge of loch inchard. This took us through some really rough looking places like villages that were basically  scrap car graveyards.

The rain had really started getting worse and we were both soaked as a result. It was 7 when we reached Kinlochbervie and initial hitching attempts were severely unsuccessful. There were very few cars even passing as the road is ultimately a dead end. We walked up to the hotel to ask if they knew anyone who would take us back. The response we got was ‘you won’t be getting out of here tonight’. Nice. She was quite helpful and tried the taxi man in case, despite the fact that he only worked 9 til 5. When everyone needs a taxi.

That was unsuccessful so we went back to the road and considered walking back to the main road. An accomodation check by my brother found everywhere was full. There was a b&b sign so we went to try our luck. They had no room because there was a big 80th birthday party at the hotel but the woman offered us a lift. Whilst we waited for her husband to bring her car up she rang the riconich hotel. They had a twin room, for £48 each. We didn’t really want to be in a hotel and especially not at that price so we politely declined. We were driven back in a jag and gave her some petrol money. It was 8 when we got back so we went straight to the on site pub hopeful to get food before they stopped serving. We were just in time and sat there soaking waiting for our food without money for a drink as well. After that, once we’d dried out and recovered, I found some money so we had a pint or 2.

Tom’s tent was flooded slightly and he hadn’t bought a roll mat so I could hear him moving about restlessly whenever I woke up. I got up and had porridge and he eventually emerged later on. Today’s plan was to walk to Sandwood Loch, stay in the bothy there tonight then I would go on and Yom would return to his car in the morning. It was only a short walk. Once we had packed up and got supplies we drove off up the road. Instead of going towards Kinlochbervie though we carried on to Durness to check it out. It wasn’t that impressive so we just found ourselves a cafe and got some food. Tom had an omelette and I had a seriously disappointing scone, I didn’t even get cream with it.

Back to walking, I was dropped off at the hotel whilst he drove on to the car park at Blairmore. I caught up with him there and we headed out along the path to sandwood loch in more miserable weather. There were a fair few people on the path though, which was fairly flooded in parts. When we got to the loch, the building I thought was the bothy had no roof. The actual bothy was a few miles further on so on we went as we weren’t about to share my tiny tent. You can appreciate it would be a great place to go in the sunshine.

Along the beach we reached the river and after failing to find a decent place to cross we had to just walk through. There was a hard climb out before a lot of bog. The bothy loomed up eventually and in we went. It was quite a spooky place especially in the eerie weather. It had once been lived in by man named sandy and his picture was on the wall. There was also a file with ghost stories about the bothy and sandwood in. For some reason I read this. The worst thing was the pictures sandy had drawn on the walls whilst living here alone. Scarey eyed women and allsorts. We set about trying to get the peat fire burning which occupied us fir quite a while.

We’d just about got it burning well when a Scottish couple turned up with there dog. Our stuff was spread everywhere so we set about getting it together slightly but kept the wet stuff hanging up and by the fire. They were nice people and we all say chatting in front of out well tended fire. Much later a young german couple arrived absolutely soaked so the tiny place was now pretty full but on the plus side it had completely lost it’s eeriness. We shared the room with the Germans whilst the Scottish couple slept in the kitchen.

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