Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Our Scottish Tour - Part 5

Scotland Day 17
Friday 10th June 2016

We didn’t really have a very good day today!  We left Durness and headed for Kinlochbervie with the intention of walking to Sandwood Bay, but to get there we needed to follow a 4.5 mile track that passed over rough hilly terrain with small lochs scattered throughout.   Our journey started by  following the main A383 that  passes through magnificent mountains and glens, and then we turned off onto the B801 which proved to be the better road of the two!  However, it is a dead end, so eventually it deteriorated into another narrow track that terminated at Sheigra, but we stopped off in a small car park just before that.

Then it was boots on, and off we marched along the track - but it turned out to be a little uninspiring, with very little variation over the bare  moorland, except occasional patches of bog cotton or small bodies of water.  Also, the path itself was rough with loose stones that threatened to trip you up if you didn’t keep a constant eye on where you were putting your feet. But having said all that, we kept going because we knew our reward would come at the end when the vista opened up over Sandwood Bay itself.

And that’s what caused the problem!  As we rounded the last bend in the path the view was stunning and demanded out full attention - and then - BANG - I tripped, flew through the air and my left side made a rather painful impact with the ground - an impact that seemed to knock every puff of breath out of my lungs.  As I landed I let out a scream that alerted John to my plight, and he came rushing back letting out a few expletives of his own.  For a few minutes I just lay in the dirt with him bending over me cradling my head and looking very worried, but once I’d glupped in a little oxygen, we did a quick survey to see if any real damage had been done, and happily we thought maybe not!   Then between us, with a bit of huffing and puffing, I was  soon back on my feet, and apart from a few bumps and grazes, everything seemed to be in  working order.  However, now we had the long trek back which proved to be no more inspiring and a good bit more uncomfortable after my little mishap.

All in all, we were both very pleased to see the welcome sight of T4rdis2, but we were also very keen to find a parking spot for the night so that I could sit and ‘feel sorry for myself’ in comfort. With that in mind, on the way back to the main road, we explored the possibility of staying at Oldshoremore (as suggested by John’s sister Cath), but the car park was on a bit of a wonk, so we continued on our way until we eventually found a lovely spot at Kylestrome - we’re overlooking Lochar Charin Bhain to the seaward side and Loch Glendhu heading inland, and spanning them both is the relatively new Kylesku Bridge.  

Apparently, the bridge replaced a ferry which only ran in daylight hours, so if you missed it you faced a 110 mile detour to Kylestrome via Lairg!  

The main industry in the area seems to be salmon fishing and holding cages in the loch are easy to spot - apparently they produce 1,000 tonnes of fish a year, or if you like, about 3 tonnes a day!

Scotland Day 18
Saturday 11th June 2016

This morning, because I was still feeling a little delicate and very stiff, rather than doing anything strenuous, we decided to go on a little tour! Our first stop was Lochinver - a pretty little town with a few gift shops, a Spar Supermarket and a Butcher - from where I brought some very nice looking steak. And then it was on to the yellow road that is edged with green indicating 'a narrow road with passing places'

It was very narrow - even by Scottish standards - in places the width barely accommodated our big bus, and with it's many steep hills and blind bends we were very lucky not to come unstuck - must be down to the skill of T4rdis2's excellent driver!

We stopped off at The Bay of Clachtoll for lunch and a little walk on it's pristine beach and learnt about the sea monsters that sometimes visit the bay to feed - the basking sharks - who are over 7 metres long and can weigh over 7 tonnes - that's about the same length as T4rdis2 but twice as heavy!

Then we continued our circuit towards Drumbeg where we thought we might be able to spend the night overlooking more splendid ocean views, but it wasn’t really a suitable spot because it was too near the village and we certainly didn't want to upset anyone by parking inappropriately!

So we put our thinking caps on, and as last night’s parking place wasn’t too far to backtrack to, we decided to return there to enjoy some more of the spectacular views over the lochs, and as a bonus we spotted a seal fishing for his supper.

Scotland Day 19
Sunday 12th June 2016

Oh dear, I think I'm going to have to moan! Today, I was still feeling very stiff and sore, and because my ribs were painful, the act of breathing was making me wince and disturbing my sleep - but I do plan to carry on doing the former! Anyway, moan over, but we decided it was going to have to be another day of taking it fairly easy, so with that in mind, we thought we may as well put a few miles under our belts and head back south - possibly ending up at Lairg for the night.  

But we did break our journey in a couple of interesting places. The first was to see the 16th century Ardvreck Castle, the ruins of which overlook Loch Assynt, and which can be found near the village of Inchnadamp. However, there wasn't really much left to explore, so after a quick look we decided to explore the path of the waterfall below.

The little burn twisted and tumbled it's way down from the high hills, and it's water's were clear but peat stained - it almost looked good enough to drink - but we decided we would only do that if it had found it's way through a distillery further down stream!

Our next visit required us to deviate a little from our planned route, but Knockan Crag Nature Reserve looked quite interesting - and we were very glad we didn't miss it out. The vistas we saw there were stunning in their beauty, but we were also treated to a history lesson that went back many millions of years, and mostly concerned the geology of the area.( knockan-crag.co.uk ).  

Apparently these two chaps are called Peach and Homes, two geologists who in 1882 solved many puzzles concerning how the earth was formed, and provided new knowledge concerning how huge land masses were moved about as the result of the Earth's enormous pressure, and violent upheavals and collisions over many millennia. After a visit to this place you find yourself looking at rock formations in a completely different light, and you not only get a history lesson, but a work out as well.

We couldn't quite work out the relevance of this
so John was going to push it down the hill but
luckily he couldn't budge it!

The site is set out with lots of information that is presented in quite imaginative ways, but to be able to access it all you need to follow a very precipitous, steep trail that covers about 2 kilometres. The paths are often less than a metre wide and have no safety rail as they wend their way up the craggy hillside. However, there are additional rewards at the top from view points that allow you to gaze down over the ancient landscape.
The View from the Top
After we had finished our exploration of this fascinating place we jumped back into T4rdis2 and headed on to a campsite at Lairg, but only to be told we could stay the night, but would have to leave early in the morning as they were fully booked for the next day - and they wanted 20 quid. So, we quickly reversed of their drive and followed the route to our second choice - Woodend Caravan Site - which was about 5 miles away, and mostly down more narrow farm trails. But all ended mostly well, they had plenty of room for us, they had everything we needed, they had fantastic views of Loch Shin and they only wanted £12 - however, the only down side was the vast number of tiny little bitey things that were clever enough to crawl through our mosquito nets and nip us while we slept! We did wonder if this privilege was just set aside for visitors to Scotland, but apparently midges aren't the least bit patriotic and anybody will do!

Scotland Day 20
Monday 13th June 2016

Today it was forwards and onwards towards Fort William where we planned to do some walking in the lovely Glen that sits below Benn Nevis, but to get there we had another long drive to complete. However, we cheered ourselves with the prospect of stopping off at several places along the way, but sadly this didn't provide much distraction, mostly due to lack of parking for T4rdis2.

Our first stop was at Tain to refill our fuel tanks (LPG - gas and diesel), but once the tanks were full their machine declined our cards - good job we'd got enough cash! And then it was on to Lidl to restock our food cupboards - and there our card worked perfectly - phew - that was a relief!

Then we had a quick lunch stop before heading for the iconic Loch Ness where we planned to stop and do a bit of monster spotting. Unfortunately, all the lay-bys were either full or just too narrow for us, so really, we only caught glimpses of the becalmed water as we whizzed by, but at 23 miles long there would be plenty of room for even a big monster to hide!  

We were even thwarted when we pulled into Urquhart Castle which stands on a rocky promontory that overlooks Loch Ness - we had already decided we wouldn't go into the castle grounds because, by now it was 4pm and they closed at 5, but we did want to park up, have a cuppa and take a couple of pics. Se were quite disgruntled when, as we drove in, to spot a sign saying 'NO PARKING FOR MOTORHOMES' in their coach parking area, and car bays were just too small! 

Eventually however, we did find somewhere to pull off the road for a drink - it was The Commando Memorial View Point - an area that is dedicated to the memory of Commando's who gave their lives in The Second World War. We were even tempted to stop for the night but a sign requested that we didn't, and we already had a target campsite for today.

We finally arrived at Glen Nevis Campsite at a bout 7pm, and we're very much looking forward to staying put for a few days. Hopefully, it will give us chance to stretch our legs and explore some of this lovely region that lies in the shadow of the majestic Benn Nevis which we climbed a couple of years ago. So I'll close for now and nip and get my walking boots out ready for tomorrow's challenge - and luckily I'm feeling much better, so we're very much looking forward to our trip to Steall Falls! Take care x