213. Withernsea to Welwick Salt Marsh

I thought I would make good use of the fine weather to get a single days walk in on the east coast. Not being an ardent fan of Royal Weddings and again not receiving an invite, I left the happy couple to it!

I set off at 05:00 to drive to the East Riding of Yorkshire. I had two chores to do before I started walking, the first was to drop my bicycle off at Kilnsea and the second was to visit my auntie and uncle who live in a small village close to Withernsea.

It was a gloriously hot day when I arrived in Withernsea, I parked in the free car park close to Aldi and then set off down the promenade. High tide had occurred two hours before so I was soon able to get down on the beach and continue walking south. Again not much in the way of things to see when walking along the beach. I kept an eye out for the natural gas terminal at Easington, which is the processing point for the gas shipped from the Easington gas field some 47 miles offshore. I soon arrived at Kilnsea and bought an ice cream at a cafe. I transferred  back onto the road and picked up the bicycle I had left some hours before. My intention was to walk to the end of Spurn Head and then ride the bicycle back to Kilnsea.

Vintage photographs of yesteryear adorn boardings in Withernsea
The route ahead
Large net bags of shells acting as groynes
Arriving at Kilnsea, with WW2 ruins strewn across the beach

I set off down Spurn Head which was very busy. I passed over the “wash over” section which makes the lower section into a Tidal Island. The land  was quite narrow and you could see large areas, particularly at the southern tip, given over to military installations largely overgrown, some from the First World War. I walked to the tip of Spurn Head and joined a small group of people who had gathered there to gaze across the Humber estuary to Lincolnshire on the far side. For those that did not fancy the long walk there was a lorry people carrier that ferried people down the Spurn, at a price. I cycled back to Kilnsea, but there were a number of sections where the road had washed away and I was forced to push the bike again through the soft sand.

I arrived back in  Kilnsea and continued on foot pushing the bike. In retrospect I should have just left my bike there and caught a bus back to Withernsea and returned to pick the bike up. However, I continued along the grassy sea wall, pushing my bike. The grass was fairly long in places, which impeded progress to a small degree. I was aiming for Welwick Salt Marsh, where an access road from the village comes down to the estuary. I was certainly glad to see the Salt Marsh end point as I had underestimated the time taken and I still had the cycle ride back to the car at Withernsea. Still, walking down the length of The Spurn was the highlight of the days walk.

The “Wash Over” section on The Spurn
Remnants of the old military railway
A bulk carrier vessel passes Spurn Point
Looking across the Humber towards Lincolnshire at Spurn Point
Improvised people wagon operated by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Heading up the Humber Estuary along the grassy sea wall

Distance today = 21 miles
Total distance = 3,802 miles

 

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Progress to Date

I thought it would be a good idea to have a visual representation of my progress to date in walking the coast of Great Britain. This is basically just a Google map of Great Britain with a red line indicating my progress, its rather crude, but does the job.

Just a few pieces of information:-

  1. Besides my main line of progress, which is currently in Ardnumurchan on the West coast of Scotland, there are two outliers,the first is my “second front” on the east coast and second, the Norfolk Coastal Path which I walked some years ago.
  2. For scaling reasons I cannot show the “Use of Ferries” sections in Devon/Cornwall/Dorset which I am currently walking when weather further north is not so good.
  3. I’ll up date the map every once in a while

 

212. Shiel Bridge to Skye: Kyleakin

Today I would reach Skye, which would be another milestone for me.  I drove to Kyleakin on Skye, which was the old ferry crossing point before the Skye Bridge was built. I then caught the #917 Inter-city bus service back down the road to Shiel Bridge. I had not pre-booked a seat on the bus, as is normally advised, because of the short journey. I originally intended to cycle back down the road, but because the road was so busy I decided against it.

I would be walking on  road all day along the very busy A87, with a multitude of cars, lorries and motorbikes coming and going in both directions. I got off the bus at Shiel Bridge and set off down the A87 walking on a footpath that ran alongside the road for much of the way. There were some sections where I had to verge-hop, but generally it was ok. As I passed the Kintail Lodge Hotel, I walked through a small herd of feral goats. There were warning signs to motorists and this apparently  has become a local hazard, I counted about 20 of them. I crossed over the River Croe and passed through Inverinate, shortly afterwards the footpath stopped. Fortunately, the verges were reasonably wide. Often when I have drive down this road alongside Loch Duich I have been slightly confused which direction Skye is, however, since identifying the hill Beinn na Caillich on Skye, this has ceased to be a problem.

I noticed on the map a minor road which ran parallel parallel with the A87,  however, the road  climbed quite high with twists and turns, so I stayed on the main road, traffic and all! Just before the small village of Dornie I passed the restored and iconic castle of Eilean Donan, the car park was packed. I wondered if this castle was the most photographed in Scotland?  I decided that this honour probably went to Edinburgh Castle. I crossed the bridge over Loch Long and turned left down a minor road through the hamlet of Ardelve, that gave some respite from the almost incessant traffic of the main road. Unfortunately it did not last too long and I was soon back on the A87. At Balmacara I popped into the Spar shop to get myself a coffee and some cool drinks. As I sat drinking my coffee on the lochside I could look down Loch Alsh to the Skye Bridge. I could also see where the Sound of Sleat (actually Kyle Rhea) emerged into Loch Alsh.

Shiel Bridge with the #917 bus heading for Inverness
Feral goats alongside the A87
Eilean Donan Castle
The village of Dornie
A small group of Garrons
You don’t often see pigs in the Highlands, this British Saddleback looked right at home!
Looking down Loch Alsh towards the Cuillins

I passed the Donald Murchison monument and was totally underwhelmed that a monument could be erected for someone who collected rents for an absent landlord. I could now see Kyle of Lochalsh and I picked my pace up. I crossed the railway bridge and looked down on the station, a train was waiting to depart back up the twisty ‘turney’ route across to Inverness. I continued along the approach road to the bridge and passed by where I remember the toll booth was originally sited. The views from the Skye Bridge were amazing especially down Loch Alsh and out west  across to Raassy and Northern Skye.

At the first roundabout I turned left and headed into Kyleakin.

Entering Kyle of Lochalsh
Kyle of Lochalsh railway station with Beinn na Caillich in the distance
Looking up Loch Alsh from the Skye Bridge
Looking North West to the Cuillins from the Skye Bridge

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=24126

Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance = 3,781 miles

 

 

211. Sandaig to Shiel Bridge

I had been looking forward to this walk, especially the section around the northern part of the peninsular. But first I needed to do some road walking, which meant dropping down to Glenelg. Glenelg is a nice quiet little village, with its own Inn. The village has also a twin……… on Mars! NASA named the area close to the Mars Science Laboratory (where the Curiosity rover) was based.

I had left my car in Glenelg and also dumped my bike 7 or 8 miles away on the top of the Mam Ratagan; well it would be a free and enjoyable ride back down! I headed across to the outflow of the Glenmore River, passing the ruined Bernera Barracks which were  built-in the early 18th century and deserted in 1797. I then came to the public road towards the Skye ferry at Kyle Rhea. At this point the Sound of Sleat narrows considerably and on this quiet morning I could have easy shouted to someone on the Skye shore and received a reply back. The public road ended at the ferry and a good footpath continued on. New footpath signs indicated that Totaig was some 10.6km away. The path was well constructed and very enjoyable to walk on. After a mile the path which  runs alongside Kyle Rhea emerged into Loch Alsh and also dropped down to the shoreline.

Looking down towards Glenelg
Glenelg village
A distant twin
Bernera Barracks
The Ferry to Skye at Kyle Rhea

I continued along the  shoreline path to Ardtintoul. Ardtintoul once housed buildings  used as a Royal Navy fuel store during the Second World War, now deserted and used by the local salmon fishing farm. This was also the place where the good footpath ended and poor signage began. My first obstacle was the Allt na Dalach burn, at the shoreline it would be above my knees deep, which meant going further upstream and fording it there. I did that quite easily, then I had to climb over a deer fence on steep bank. The fence was in bad shape and could not have taken my weight, plus it had a barbed wire top! Fortunately I came across a hole in the fence that deer had been using to pass through. I emerged on an ATV track which was going in the wrong direction, I was also faced with a large section of woodland which had been de-afforested about 10 years ago. I struggled across the cut down forest to where I thought the footpath might be.

I  entered Ardtintoul Wood, but could not pick up the old footpath. The good thing about mature plantations is that there is good spacing between the trees and the lower branches snap off easily. I used the land contours to continue in the direction I needed to go and after about 20 minutes picked up a track that had been marked out with red and white plastic tape. The path was very wet and boggy. Eventually I emerged onto open moorland and could look down Loch Alsh to the Skye Bridge and Kyle of Lochalsh. I descended slowly to Totaig, passing the ruined Broch of Casteal Grugaig.

Walking along Loch Alsh towards Ardtintoul
Looking back towards Beinn na Caillich on Skye
Ardtintoul
Looking down Loch Alsh to the Skye Bridge and Kyle of Lochalsh
Looking east down towards Dornie

Totaig was really just a small two roomed cottage, which appeared to be no longer habited. This was the north-eastern bit of the Glenelg peninsular where Loch Alsh passed into Loch Duich and just a short distance from Eilean Donan castle on the opposite shore. Totaig was also at the end of the public road, which I then had 5 or 6 miles of walking down to Shiel Bridge. To get back to Glenelg I then needed to climb up the twisty road to the top of the Mam Ratagan. Needless to say I was quite tired when I eventually reached the top. The bike ride back down to Glenelg was worth it though!

Casteal Grugaig Broch
Looking across Loch Duich to Eilean Donan Castle from Totaig

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=24124

Distance today = 20 miles
Total distance = 3,763 miles

 

210. Kinloch Hourn to Sandaig

Problems with my car and bike prevented me from making an earlier trip to Scotland, but once I got sorted saw me heading for the West Coast on a three-day trip that would eventually lead me onto Skye.

I set off from Shropshire at 04:30 with the hope I could get some walking in later that day. The long drive to Corran (about a mile down the road from Arnisdale) was on a lovely Saturday morning and I made good progress especially as I opted to try the slightly longer A9 approach through Dalwhinnie.

I arrived at Corran at 14:00 and got myself ready. My aim was to walk in through Glen Arnisdale and head towards Kinloch Hourn; I was looking for a marker I had left close to the trail that I had left two weeks ago. I would then retrace my steps back to Corran and continue up the public road through Arnisdale. I must admit I rarely have to retrace my steps, but on this occasion it was the only practical solution. I did contemplate a return walk back over Druim Fada, which would have been very scenic, but the long drive and the fact I would have further miles to do upon my return to Corran meant it would be too much. I had hoped to push my bike along and use it on the return leg, but unfortunately, the track looked a little rough for my “new” second-hand “urban” bike. So I was to walk in and out on foot.

I managed to locate my “marker” and headed back to Corran. I soon met my only other walker of the day, who was doing the TGO Challenge – a coast to coast trek over 13 days. The track to and from Corran  was almost a full vehicle track and gave easy walking underfoot. After fording the Abhainn Ghleann Dubh I beared left back down Gleann Dubh Lochain. Glen Arnisdale and Gleann Dubh Lochain are both quite short Glens and are really one of the same. This is because the glen walls of Druim Fhada  and Beinn Clachach  pinch together to form  a rock barrage about half way down. This creates a small gorge and the path climbs high to get around it. The upper Gleann Dubh Lochain also contains two lochs sharing the same name – Dubh Lochain, both were originally dammed and are now breached.

I followed the track above the gorge and then steeply down into Glen Arnisdale, where the path was  level and covered under the shade of Silver Birch. By the time I got back to Corran it was early evening and Sheena’s tea hut was closed. I now had a number of miles to go on the public road heading towards Glenelg. I decided to see how far I could get before calling it a day. The road had a series of steep up and downs which was very tough going in the evening sun. I made it as far as Sandaig before deciding to ride my bike back to the car at Corran. Sandaig is famous for being the location for Gavin Maxwell’s’ novel Ring of Bright Water, describing his life with his pet otter Mij. The house that he lived in he named Camusfearna which burnt down in 1968. I remember doing this book for English Literature O-Level at School. Little did I realise all these years later I would be visiting where it all took place. Most of the area has now been de-afforested.

My “marker” at the start/mid point of the walk, above Gleann Dubh Lochain
The upper lochain at Gleann Dubh Lochain
Looking towards Glen Arnisdale over the lower Gleann Dubh Lochain, the Druim Fada is to the left
Looking back uo Gleann Dubh Lochain with Sgurr na Sgine in the far distance
The breached dam at the lower loch
Waterfall below the dam
Crossing over the River Arnisdale
Looking down Glen Arnisdale towards the Cuillins in the far distance

I cycled back to the car and drove back towards Glenelg. I found a small pull-in high above the Sound of Sleat. The view was amazing, looking down on Glenelg and Skye just a short distance across the water.

Beinn Sgritheall above Corran
Looking back towards Arnisdale and Corran in the early evening

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=24122

Distance today = 19 miles
Total distance = 3,743 miles

 

 

209. Hornsea to Withernsea

There appeared to be a nice weather window opening up for 3 or 4 days on the West coast of Scotland; unfortunately I could not take advantage of it due to problems with my bike! The absence of any public transport where I would be walking, meant it was imperative that I used my bike. I had bought a cheap[? £110] Chinese bike on Amazon and it turned out not only to be a death trap but also a load of junk! I got my money back and they did not even ask for the bike back, instead they said give it to charity! I could not use this bike even for spare parts, it was that rubbish! My old bike, which is a non-folder had developed a problem with its derailleurs. I have since bought a good quality second-hand bike of Ebay (a Dahon Cadenza). I therefore opted to do a quickie one-dayer on the East Yorkshire coast.

I had delayed doing this walk for a couple of days in order to get the tide just right, as I would be doing the entire walk on the beach. I drove to and parked in the free car park near the leisure centre in Withernsea.  I then walked about 200m towards the sea front to catch the 8:45 #129 bus to Hornsea. It was nice looking at the scenery as the bus drove up the coastal road. I say this because often when you just walk along the beach, all you get to see is the sea on one side and the cliff-face on the other. And so it turned out to be.

I left the prom of Hornsea behind and looking north could still make out the white lighthouse at Flambrough Head in the far far distance. On my right flank was the ever present boulder clay cliff varying from 4 – 6m in height which would be with me all the way to Withernsea. It was obvious from the off that this stretch of coast is seriously threatened by erosion at quite an alarming rate. Evidence of slumping could be seen along the entire coast. The most prominent signs of the erosion were the Second World War military buildings which littered the shore, together with underground cables and drains now exposed to the sea.

I entered onto a section of coast that used to form part of the Cowden Firing Range, which ceased operations back in 1998 and finally closed in 2013. However, the RAF is still actively involved  by performing weekly ‘sweeps’ along the coast  for  unexploded ordnance. I came across one such device close to the foot of the cliff. The ordnance looked to be similar to other devices I had seen in the media, I did not get too close. When I got home I called Humber Coastguard to report the find. Apparently, they get regular reports of unexploded devices, that’s why they do so many sweeps of the beach..

Apart from the jumbled pill-boxes and observation towers which had  tumbled onto the beach, there was not a great deal to hold one’s interest, although I did find some lovely coloured pebbles which I would lacquer at a later date. After just over 4 hours of walking in a straight line I emerged onto the sea front at Withernsea. Not an inspiring day, but better than trying to walk along the un-pathed cliff top.

Heading south from Hornsea
Severe erosion of Boulder Clay cliffs
WW2 building on beach
Unexploded ordnance which I found
WW2 building on beach
Large WW2 building collapsed on the beach
Fishermen on beach
Withernsea sign and beacon
Unusual ‘building’ Withernsea

 

Distance today = 16 miles
Total distance = 3,724 miles

 

208. Inverie to Inverie via Airor

Unfortunately, I knew as I went to bed the night before in the Bunkhouse, that I was not going to complete my objective in doing a circular walk out to the western shore of Knoydart and back to Inverie. I decided therefore to walk out to Airor and see how far I got after 2.5 hours of walking. I had been told by the locals that the river crossing at Inverguseran would probably not be on because of the amount of rain we had had.

In my planning I had looked at walking the northern shore of Knoydart. The only account of anyone doing so was from a young “Coaster” called Nat Severs who completed his walk around the UK coast back in 2010. Nat sustained a few injuries and falls while negotiating this section and I doubted my ability to complete such a section on much older legs. Surprisingly, on advice, Nat caught the ferry into Knoydart from Mallaig! I did think I could easily get as far as Croulin, but the river crossing put paid to that idea.

I set off from the bunkhouse at 6:20 in the morning along the tarmac road to Airor, a small hamlet on the western shore of Knoydart. I had decided not to simply try to get on the first ferry, but to go for the 11:00 one. The uncertainty on the ferry situation was still at the back of my mind. I pushed on at a fast pace, conscious that I would have to turn around at some point in time. I passed a section of the road where had been a large landslide, with work currently underway to stabilise the slope and nearby crags from rockfall. I noticed over my shoulder the 8:00 ferry returning to Mallaig, which spurred me on. I was much closer to Mallaig now and I could easily make out the buildings in the town. I had great views across and up the Sound of Sleat. However, as I dropped down into Airor I knew I needed to turn around.

I retraced my steps, back towards Inverie. About two miles from Inverie, a lovely lady called Sheila, (who owned the Post office), stopped and offered me a lift which I accepted. I held her little Jack Russell in lap as we drove back the short distance back to Inverie. Sheila was herself travelling to Mallaig for provisions and could not understand why the ferries would be cancelled. I popped into the Tea rooms and ordered a large mug of coffee and bacon/egg scone. I met the lady who first imported the information about the uncertainty re:the ferries, she was rather coy, but in all fairness she and others were just imparting what was written on the Western Isles website. I got on the 11:00 ferry.

Looking back it would have been nice to have completed a bit more of the west coast, but over the years I have done a fair amount of walking in Knoydart and doubt I go back again, there are many more challenges that still lie ahead.

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=24073

 

Heading out of Inverie
Landslide on the coastal road
Removing and securing loose rock
Looking back to Inverie
The impressive Roinne na Beinn
Looking across to Mallaig with the Armadale ferry just visible
Looking up the Sound of Sleat
The footpath down to the Doune Hotel

Distance today = 9 miles
Total distance = 3,708 miles