241. Strathcarron to Kyle of Lochalsh

This was going to be a tough day in more ways than one. Firstly, it was something like 22 miles to Kyle of Lochalsh and secondly, there was still construction work going on along the A890.

There have been issues with rock stability between Attadale and Ardnarff for many years, especially where the road and rail routes come together and are pinched between the loch shore and the steep mountainside. The underlying problem is the presence of the Strathcarron Fault and nearby Kishorn Thrust, forming components of the Moine Thrust. The latest attempt to stabilise the rock slope is currently being undertaken with the road closed overnight and for long periods during the day. The opening times for the road was based around the train timetable and subject to a convoy system. To make matters worse pedestrians were not allowed to walk through the works, instead being carried inside one of the convoy vehicles – this was not an option for me.

I considered a number of solutions to get past the works on foot and walking around the site was the only option. I found it was not possible to walk on the shore side, between the rail track and the loch, as  in many places there was a sheer drop from the track into the water. I decided that I  needed to climb high up above the works to a height of about 350m just after Attadale. This height was important because it was above the very steep slope, above the forestry which spans the steep slope and importantly above a number of very steep ravines which cut into the slope.

I drove to and parked next to the rail station at Strathcarron. It was still slightly dark when I set off down the A890. I was wearing my hi-vis vest and strobe light head torch. The road was open at 07:00 so I knew I would see some traffic long along it.

When I reached Attadale climbed a deer fence and set off up the hill. There was no path, but the terrain was not that bad, just steep. The steepness of the slope finally relented and the going became much easier. The 3 or 4 miles trek along the top was simply a case of keeping high on the undulating ridge, and maintaining a bearing between the hummocky knolls and boggy ground. Although I had extensive views over Loch Carron, I could not see down to the road works below me or even the forest. The route finding was quite simple as I navigated between a succession of small lochs. The key loch was Loch na Stroine, which I knew was close to  the end of the road works below.

Getting off the hill and back down to the main road was the biggest challenge. I knew that there were forest roads running parallel with the hillside, but no paths or firebreaks linking them to the higher ground. I aimed for an old forest track, that I knew would be overgrown, but have a small distance to bash through to get to. I descended down very steep ground and had a few goes at getting through the forest. I finally emerged at what looked like an old road, very overgrown. I was very pleased with my navigation as I knew that this road would lead to a much more open forest road, and it did.

Looking towards the hill I would climb to bypass the roadworks
Looking down at Attadale
Looking down Loch Carron
Heading down to the forest
Looking back at the overgrown forest track emerging onto a better track
On the A890 and looking back

I finally arrived back on the A890 some 4 hours after setting off from Strathcarron, but I still had a long way to go. I continued along a very quiet A890 to the panoramic viewpoint above Loch Carron. I chatted to a couple who were selling coffee and snacks in the lay-by there. The coffee was a real tonic and tasted really nice. They offered me a free cup of coffee after they heard what I was doing, I politely declined as I had to get a move on, I had a train to catch.

I set off down the A890 and soon turned off the main road through Achmore. For the next 4  miles I continued along a quiet lane with the dramatic cliffs of Creag an Duilisg rising high above me. As I approached Duncraig Castle I was able to follow a footpath down to the railway line and pass underneath it and continue along a lochside path all the way to the outskirts of Plockton. I did not have time to walk into Plockton itself and continued along the road heading towards Duirinish. Duirinish was a unique little hamlet, with a row of cottages either side of a burn that ran through the settlement. Sheep grazed on common grazing land in the middle of the hamlet.

Below the cliffs at Creag an Duilisg
Loch side path heading towards Plockton

I continued on to the nearby settlement of Drumbuie and then onto Erbusaig with the road getting wider and containing more traffic. By the time I reached Badicaul I could see the Skye Bridge, albeit from a different angle. I passed into Kyle of Lochalsh and immediately looked for somewhere to eat.  I did not fancy the cafe/bistro there so I popped into the Co-Op and bought some food. I had about 30 minutes before my train departed back up the line to Strathcarron. The rail journey was taken in the late afternoon light and I could still make out the landmarks I had previously walked along. It would be a superb journey to take the train all the way back to Inverness. As I passed by the road works on the train, my suspicions about being unable to pass between the railway and the shore were confirmed.

I would spend a third night in the car due to The Wee Campsite in Lochcarron being closed for the Winter.

The hamlet of Duirinish
At Badicaul looking towards the Skye Bridge
At Kyle of Lochalsh and the train back to Strathcarron

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=24371

Distance today = 22 miles
Total distance = 4,374 miles

 

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240. Ardheslaig to Applecross

Finally back to Applecross after my slight mishap some 6 weeks ago. On this trip I was hoping to ‘plug the gap’ left by my previous trip being cut short by an injury and also to further advance my progress around the Applecross Peninsular.

I drove up the day before and reached Inverness by 20:00. I popped into Aldi to get some provisions and continued onto Applecross. I had been hoping to park the car  at Coulags again, but I could see most of the parking space was occupied by a camper van. I continued on the road towards the Bealach na Ba as I knew the location of a number of parking spots lower down. I found a great parking spot by a burn. Only a single car passed by all night. I was in for a bit of a surprise at about 1 in the morning, as a stag very, close to the car, let out a roaring sound akin something that Zombies would make! Scared the living daylights out of me!

At 06:00 I continued onto Applecross. Because it was a Wednesday I had opted to use the weekly bus service around the northern tip of Applecross. I had booked a seat on the minibus a few day before and arranged to be picked up at the Applecross Inn at 08:00. I was the only passenger on the bus which meant I could have a good chat to the driver, who was also a mechanic at Lochcarron Garage, who run the service.

I got dropped off at the road-end to Ardheslaig and began walking back to Applecross along the old road which was well-preserved in this area. The road around the northern part of Applecross is quite new, well 1976, which is quite new in road terms.  I could see why the new road was needed, with the only other way into Applecross over the Bealach na Ba, which could be impassable sometimes in Winter. I stayed on the old road for a couple of miles, climbing steadily and giving a great view back towards Loch Torridon. Most of the Torridon ‘giants’ were still in cloud, but I had great views across the loch out towards Red Point, which will feature on my next visit to the area.

After a couple of miles the old road joined the new road, which I would remain on all the way back to Applecross. The road was very quiet to start with, but as the morning wore on the traffic picked-up. However, the road was still pleasant to walk along and after passing through the small hamlets of Arrina, Fearnbeg and Fearnmore outstanding views emerged over  The Inner Sound across to Rona, Raasay and Skye beyond. Although the sun was out, the odd rain shower appeared, but not for long. With the road being very straight  it was possible to make rapid progress.  I continued on and passed through the small hamlets of Cuaig, Callakillie, Lonbain and Salacher.

At Ardheslaig with the minibus just setting off back to Lochcarron
Looking north to Red Point across Loch Torridon from the old road.
Near Kenmore and the road ahead
Not sure about this, as I can find no reference to it – local knowledge or local grafitti?
Looking back up Loch Torridon
Entering Cuaig with Rona and The Storr on Skye in the distance
Looking south down the Inner Sound towards the Red Cuillin and the Isle of Raasay on the right

Near Meallabhan I could see a  road veering to the right down to a MOD submarine testing station. Close by was a small car park and a sandy beach, with a number of people enjoying the autumn sunshine strolling along the sand. Sitting below the small crags high above the beach was a huge sand dune which appeared to have been created by unique aeolian processes in this small bay.

The road eventually turned east into Applecross Bay and I could pick out the village of Applecross across the bay, which was still three miles away. As I entered the village I passed the site of the Four Trees of Applecross. Although the original trees had disappeared just after the Second World War, four Sweet Chesnuts were recently planted to commemorate the original trees planted in a square formation. Various stories, myths and superstition surround the trees, one of which was  do with a race to claim Applecross with one of the claimants cutting off his hand to throw ahead to claim the prize and the trees planted to commemorate the event. Hmmm yes….After 6 hours of continuous walking I arrived back in Applecross.

Large sand dune above Meallabhan beach
Looking across Applecross Bay to Applecross village
One of the four recently planted Four Trees of Applecross

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=24367

 

Distance today = 20 miles
Total distance = 4,352 miles

 

239. Sutton Bridge to Moulton Marsh

This was the second leg of my walk around the head of The Wash. I had opted to do this leg on a Sunday for one reason. When I do these ‘one-day’ walks the drive to the start of the walk is normally done in the early hours and the traffic is very light. However, when I have finished the walk, invariably the drive home is done through ‘rush-hour’ traffic which can be anything from 14:00 – 19:00! Its frustrating and quite stressful at times. So this was to be a Sunday walk and hopefully a bit less traffic on the drive home.

I needed to fill in a 6 or 7 mile public transport gap on this section, which meant the use of my bicycle again. I drove to and parked at the Moulton Marsh car park and then began the cycle ride to Holbeach. I used the quiet back roads which took me to the small market town. The roads were virtually empty on a Sunday morning and the almost flat terrain, lack of wind made for an easy ride, apart from the almost freezing cold morning and I had forgotten to bring my gloves!

I cycled into Holbeach secured my bike in a bike rack at Tesco’s in the town. I then walked a short distance to a bus stop where I caught the #505 bus to Sutton Bridge. I had opted to do the walk in reverse because of bus timings, the bus running eastwards was at least 3o minutes earlier. I got off the bus close to the large swing bridge that spans the River Nene. I decided I would take a closer look at the bridge on my next visit.

I followed a straight road that ran alongside the River Nene, which was at low tide. I walked straight through the small dock that forms Ports Sutton Bridge. Being a sunday there was nobody about. The tarmac road I was on disappeared and I continued along a green lane heading towards two lighthouses, one of which was on the opposite bank of the river. The western Nene lighthouse, which I walked past, was at Guys Head and is now a private dwelling.

The swing bridge across The River Nene at Sutton Bridge
Heading out of Sutton Bridge alongside The Nene
Fisheries Research vessel moored at Sutton Bridge quay
Western Nene lighthouse

Shortly after passing the lighthouse the sea bank veered to the NW following the edge of the outer salt marsh and the outlet into The Wash for the River Nene. I could now see the Outer Trial Bank, an artificial island built in 1976 as a water storage scheme. Unfortunately the Trial determined that the scheme was financially unfeasible. I  approached the RAF Holbeach Bombing Range, with its string of control towers and warning notices. The public footpath that runs along the sea Bank at the perimeter of the range is open even during live firing so I was not unduly worried if a red flag was flying. As it turned out there was no activity as I passed by the range, apart from some people returning from a walk out to the targets on the range.

I passed a number of people out with their dogs and got totally ‘slobbered-on’ by two friendly Boxers with drool gushing out of their mouths! When I reached The Fleet pumping station I was very fortunate to see how the process works. I heard an  alarm siren sounding, then the pumps starting up and the sound of gushing water. I checked the seaward side and could see a large discharge of water flowing  into the outlet channel.

I could now make out St Botolphs Church (The Stump) in the far distance. The Sea Bank  gradually swung around to the SW as it approached the River Welland at Fosdyke Wash. The small wood at Moulton Marsh where I had parked my car, came into view. After arriving back at and my car and changing my clothes I set off back to Holbeach to collect my bicycle. The traffic on the way home was busy around Peterborough, but ok.

Looking out to Outer Trial Island
Looking along the Holbeach Bombing Range
Approaching the Helipad at RAF Holbeach
Walkers returning from a visit out onto the range
A surge of water outflow at The Fleet pumping station
Looking back at the Sea bank, a typical vista in this part of the country

Distance today = 17.5 miles
Total distance = 4,332 miles

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238. Boston to Moulton Marsh

I had planned for a 2 or 3 day trip to Scotland, but the forecast of heavy rain had put me off. So I turned my attention to continuing my journey along the East Coast, more precisely The Wash. The coastal walk from Boston to Kings Lynn is dissected by three rivers The Welland, The Nene and The Great Ouse, all requiring lengthy inland incursions to reach the nearest bridging point. To this end and given the availability of public transport in the area, i opted to split the section into 3 separate days of walking.

The first leg of walking would be between Boston and  Moulton Marsh, located a few miles down the River Welland after passing Fosdyke Bridge. Because my next leg would require the use of a bicycle, I needed to include a small bike ride on this leg. So I drove to the Moulton Marsh Nature Reserve car park and left my bike chained to a post. I then drove around to the small village of Fosdyke and parked at the Village Hall. I then waited for the #7B bus which I had booked the day before to take me into Boston.

As we drove into Boston we picked up 3 more people from the scattered and isolated hamlets in the area. The bus driver mentioned something about a footpath diversion, close to the docks. I got dropped off at the Bus Station and made my way back towards The Haven. I could see a number of signs  on the large flood prevention scheme which intended to save 15,000 houses in Boston from Tidal flooding. The footpath diversion was well signed and hardly an inconvenience. After a short while I was able to gain the Sea Bank and continue walking along the banks of The Haven. The grass, initially, was overgrown and seemed to receive  little foot  traffic. I could easily make out my previous walk, completed a week before, on the opposite bank of The Haven.

The old Railway Swing Bridge across The Haven rarely used now
Construction works on the flood prevention scheme
Heading downstream along The Haven on an overgrown footpath
Fishing boat returning to Boston
Juvenile Cormorant perched atop a Port-side marker on The Haven
Looking back towards Boston with fishing boats heading out to sea

Other footpaths joined this riverside path and by the time I had drawn level with the Pilgrim Father’s Memorial on the opposite bank, the long grass had disappeared and the going became much easier. I passed onto and through Wyberton Marsh and had the option to do an out and back to the mouth of The Haven. As I already visited the mouth, albeit on the opposite bank I continued  SW over Frampton Marsh. I passed a few ‘twitchers’ with huge zoom lens’ and the occasional dog walker. I was walking into a rather stiff breeze, but this did not bother me. I gradually approached the River Welland, which was difficult to see untill I was almost upon it.

I could see the small jetty on the opposite bank where I had stood in the morning. Even though the jetty  was only 100m away, it would take me almost an hour to get around to this point. I could begin to make out the traffic on the main A17 in the distance, about 1.6 miles away. I could also make out the steeple of the nearby village of Fosdyke, where I had parked my car. The roar of the traffic on the A17 got louder as I neared Fosdyke Bridge. There is not much at the bridge other than a small marina, a few houses and the Old Ship Inn. I crossed over the River Welland on a cycle/footpath and headed back up alongside the River Welland on the opposite bank. With the sun out and a stiff breeze at my back I soon arrived at Moulton Marsh car park where I had parked my bike. The ride back to the village of Fosdyke was only 3 miles, but even though the terrain is very flat, the headwind, hampered my progress.

The next leg of this walk, would be  longer, but I had shaved a couple of miles of it by doing an extra bit today and also set myself up for avoiding any cycling along the busy A17.

Wyberton Marsh looking out across the salt marsh of The Wash
Moulton Marsh car park across The Welland and where I had left my bike
Crossing The River Welland at Fosdyke Bridge
Moulton Marsh car park

Distance today =  14 miles
Total distance =  4,314.5 miles

 

237. Friskney Eaudyke to Boston

September has been a bad month, walking-wise. After the injury in Scotland at the beginning of the month I had only managed a single days walking on the East coast since then. So I really didn’t need stubbing my toe on some furniture  when I went to the bathroom in the early hours two days ago! Although a ‘walking-wounded’ I  decided to get a days walking in again on the East Coast.

I drove to and parked in Boston and waited to catch the 7:15 #57 bus to Friskney Eaudyke. The forecast had been for a warm sunny day, but as yet the sky was overcast, with a slight breeze. I crossed over the busy A52 and carried on up Sea Lane out towards the shore of The Wash. I passed by the barrier and Control Tower of the former Wainfleet Bombing range. I noticed the curtains in the window of the Control Tower and further down the road met a couple who were staying at in the buildings. I enquired about the helicopter in the grounds, which apparently the owner had placed there as an  additional bedroom! The buildings have retained their high security features, including the high enclosure fence with razor wire. I reached the ‘shoreline ‘, although the actual shoreline is some distance out across the Friskney Flats, a mixture of salt-marsh with irregular water channels.

I turned south-west and continued on along the top of the Sea Bank. This was not a designated public right of way and it showed, with knee-high grass, making for slowish progress. The sea wall is at the fringe of the bombing range, with regular warning signs to keep off the marsh because of the danger of unexploded devices. The two dummy ships used as target practice are still tethered a few hundred metres offshore.

Heading along Sea Lane towards The Wash
The Control Tower for the former Wainfleet Bombing Range now holiday lets
Heading South West along the top of the overgrown Sea Bank
The end of the bombing range and start of the Wrangle Sea Bank construction site

I eventually came to the end of the firing range, marked by a large Control Tower on stilts. I could also see that a great amount of work had taken place on the Sea Bank. I could also see that this work was still  ongoing as I could see diggers and other large construction plant operating on the Sea Bank further on.  This is 3 – 4 mile Wrangle Sea Bank project which is currently rebuilding the sea defence and making it slightly higher. This was news to me and I suspect the public footpath which runs atop the bank would be closed. I did not see any signs, but there again I had come from a direction without a public footpath. Any detour looked really complicated especially inland, as well as the fields with many people working in them. I decided on the Salt Marsh approach, but I didn’t get far as within a few minutes I was thwarted by the myriad of water channels crisscrossing the marsh. I opted to walk alongside the sea bank, (which had been fenced off with barbed wire) and the salt marsh. I walked below the operating plant on the salt marsh side and was not challenged. I do this for about a mile, before climbing over the barbed wire fence and started to walk on the gentle slope of the sea bank. Although I could easy walk on the top of the completed Sea Bank, I would have stood out like a ‘sore-thumb’ and I do not want to be turned back when I have come this far. I did eventually venture onto the top of the Sea Bank and although there are public footpath signs in evidence, the absence of any footprints at all in the freshly raked top soil(probably for grass seeding), inevitably meant the footpath was closed. When I reached the end of the works at the Leverton Outgate pumping station my suspicions were confirmed with a Public Footpath closure notice attached to a gate. The notice did say that the work would be completed by 30th September, 2018 (3 days time). Glad I kept my head down now.

On the newly renovated Wrangle Sea Bank

I could have followed the outer Sea Bank, but I knew that this was not a designated right of way, more importantly, parts of the outer Sea Bank had been purposefully breached to allow lagoons to form. Because I did not want to retrace my steps I stayed on the inner Sea Bank. The old inner Sea Bank was a delight to walk along as it had been grazed by both cattle and horses. I kept a close eye on the cattle, as every cow seemed to have a young calf alongside them. As I approached Frieston Shore I had the option of diverting onto the outer Sea Bank. I met a group who had come from that direction and they re-assured me that the Sea Bank was continuous around to The Haven. I could see that this was a well-worn path, but was not marked as a public right of way on the map. I passed a conical memorial to the inmates who first set up the nearby former Borstal, North Sea Camp, back in the 1930’s. They had reclaimed great swathes of land at the time by erecting sea banks. Today North Sea Camp is an open prison for men.

I reached a man-made channel called The Haven. I would continue along this waterway all the way into Boston. Because of low tide no vessels were on the water, although it was possible to see the large tidal range enabling the small docks at Boston to operate. I passed a memorial to The Pilgrim Fathers, actually a memorial of their thwarted first attempt to sail to Holland. I continued alongside The Haven with St Botolphs church (The Stump) clearly visible. Boston is not a large town and I quickly found the car park near the bus station where I had parked.

Flooded lagoons at Frieston Shore
Memorial to the original inmates of North Sea Camp who built the original Sea Bank here (North Sea Camp is situated amongst the trees)
At the mouth of The Haven
Heading down The Haven
Approaching Boston and looking towards St. Botolphs (The Stump)

Distance today =  21.5 miles
Total distance =  4,300.5 miles

 

236. Ingoldmells to Friskney Eaudyke

I had decided that I needed to try out my injured knee on a shortish walk on the east coast, before returning to Scotland. So, I set off for Lincolnshire on a very drizzly wet morning but with the forecast set to improve throughout the day.

This particular section of coast is a bit of a pain, as there is the  Steeping River to cross near to Gibraltar Point. There is a nearby bridge over the sluice, but Anglian Water make sure that it is well protected by high fences and barbed wire. To make matters, all of the roads inland are private and they don’t want you walking along them. The only alternative was to follow the busy A52 from Skegness to Wainfleet All Saints and rejoin the sea wall to the south  east. Many coastal walkers have crossed the private roads only to return to the A52. However, there is good news in that there are proposals, now in the latter stages that the sluice bridge be opened up to public access in 2019 as part of the development of the England Coast Path. I opted to drive to the end of one of the many named Sea Lane’s and walk back to the main road to catch a bus. Unfortunately, upon driving out there I passed a large MOD control tower and was confronted with a barrier (open) but a large sign saying this was The Wainfleet Bombing Range! I returned to the main road and parked in a lay-by. As I waited at the bus stop I spoke to a lady about the bombing range, she said it was no longer used as a range and that the control tower was let out as a holiday home!

I caught the #57 bus to Skegness and then the #3 on to Ingoldmells. The drizzle had stopped as I continued south along the sea front. Eventually, the promenade ran out and I walked out on the sand. I found a good walking line on parts of the sand, before the prom at Skegness appeared. I did not intend waking out to Gibraltar Point only to retrace my steps back to Skegness, so I headed out along the A52. I did not plan walking the whole of the section along the A52, as after 2 miles the footpath disappeared and I would be left walking on a small verge alongside a very busy road. So where the footpath stopped I turned down a minor road and then almost immediately down a green lane which crossed fields to the small village of Croft. I continued along minor roads before taking another footpath which sent me through a caravan park. I reached the outskirts of Wainfleet All Saints and crossed the reason for this detour, the Steeping River. Here, the River was controlled with a sluice and is actually pumped out into Wainfleet Haven.

Heading south from Ingoldmells
Skegness Pier
“Skegness is so bracing” as the poster adverts used to say
Heading across fields to the village of Croft
Rescue donkey at a farm near Croft
Croft village hall and church

I entered the quiet village of Wainfleet and headed towards The Batemans Brewery. Bateman’s have been brewing there since 1874 and still remain an independent brewery. I have enjoyed a number of their brews over the years. I called in at the Visitor Centre and had a look around. It’s a very picturesque Brewery with a number of well-preserved and interesting buildings. You can even camp in the grounds!

The sun finally came out of the clouds and it  became quite hot. Back on the A52 I had intended to walk out to the sea wall , then a couple of miles along it before walking a couple of miles back to the A52. This would have meant repeating a two-mile bit on my next section. I looked at the verge on the A52.  My car was just two miles down the road. I opted for a bit of verge walking. Although the road was still busy, the verge was quite wide on either side and the grass not too long. The knee held up well and I now feel confident about returning to Scotland.

Wainfleet Haven/Steeping River
Main square Wainfleet All Saints
The Artefacts Room at the Batemans Brewery Visitor Centre
Batemans Brewery, Wainfleet All Saints

Distance today =  14 miles
Total distance =  4,279 miles

 

235. Tornapress to Applecross

I was looking forward to continuing my journey around the coastline of the Scottish mainland now that Skye was out of the way and I had planned a 3 day trip. Sadly that did not happen, due to an injury that I will elaborate on later.

Because of the lack of available public transport I needed to bring forward my originally planned last day to be my first! Applecross does not have a great deal of public transport options, so few, that the only bus out of Applecross runs on a Wednesday ( I later found out that a bus also runs on a Saturday). You also have to call Lochcarron Garage, who run the service, to book a seat. I just had to be in Applecross on a Wednesday morning  for 8:00 am. I drove up via Inverness the day before and stopped overnight in the car at one of my old Munro and Corbett parking haunts at Coulags.

I drove from Coulags to Applecross the following day via the Bealach na Ba and parked in the free car park at Applecross. I came across a stag in an enclosed garden close to the public toilets making a meal of some tasty looking shrubs. The mini-bus appeared with a few elderly ladies already on board on their way to Lochcarron. Because we were picking up other passengers in the north of the Applecross Peninsular we set off on the long drive around the coastal route towards Shieldaig. It was a really pleasant drive along the  narrow, twisting and scenic road. Tornapress, a small hamlet, sits on the A896, next to the Applecross road end – the road that goes over the Bealach na Ba – (Pass of the Cattle), would be the start of my walk. However, I would not be returning to Applecross via the road , instead I would be picking my way along the trackless and rough northern shore of Loch Kishorn as far as the bothy at Uags and then heading north via Toscaig back to Applecross.

From Tornapress, I set off along the Applecross road which climbed slowly. I was aware that a private road veered off towards the former dry-dock facility built initially for the Ninian Oil Field back in 1977. The following link is to a short film in the National Library of Scotland about the construction of the platform at Kishorn –

http://movingimage.nls.uk/film/5973

The last work carried out at the site was the building of caissons for the Skye Bridge back in 1992. The facility then lay idle for some 23 years. Today the site is being used for the Kishorn Wind Farm Project, as well as Salmon Fish farm and a depot for Ferguson’s. A small quarry has also sprung up on the west side of the dry dock, producing aggregate from the Torridonian Sandstone. The bad news for me is that all this industry didn’t want me walking through their front door!! So I continued up the minor road, gaining height slowly, until I could set off across the open moor and head down to the shore just west of the quarry.

I started along the rocky shore-line  of Loch Kishorn; high tide occurred about 90 minutes ago, so I had some beach to work with. However, it was difficult walking on the slippy rocks. I thought I was doing ok until I slipped and fell. My camera went in one direction, my walking stick in the other, I landed heavily on my left knee. I shouted expletives  out in pain and annoyance. I checked out my knee, nothing broken thank God! It bloody hurt though! After the initial pain subsided I found I could walk, the knee was beginning to swell and it was really tender. I left the beach and decided to keep to the higher ground. I continued through long grass, bog, heather and rough terrain. I managed to cross the Allt a’Chois ok and decided to try to follow the route of the wooden power lines. Eventually, I caught sight of some ruins and the house at Airigh-drishaig. The cottage is occupied sometimes by a chap called Martin (I think), he didn’t appear to be in today. The cottage is set right amongst a large patch of gorse. Airigh-drishaig is also the meeting point of the path from Toscaig and the other from Uags.

I did contemplate about taking the shorter route to Toscaig, but my left knee seemed ok and I did want to visit Uags Bothy. I was having second thoughts about the next two days walking though and It gradually dawned on me that I could continue on today, but not for two more 20 mile+ days. Bugger!

Cheeky Stag devouring shrubs in Applecross
The start of the Applecross road not sure why so many stickers!
Heading for the quarry
The route ahead
On the beach
Approaching Airigh-drishaig
Zoomed shot of the Skye Bridge

Although a footpath is marked on the OS map from Airigh-drishaig to Uags, on the ground there is little evidence of it. I did pick up the occasional footprint, but I generally picked out what I considered to be the best route.  The light rain which had began shortly after my fall now began to fall quite heavily. It seemed to take an age to finally locate Uags Bothy.

Uags Bothy has a superb location, right by its own little beach and very popular with Kayakers coming over from Plockton. From the outside bolt I could see that no-one was home. I checked out the Bothy and found stairs leading to two large bedrooms, with two metal bed frames and both rooms clad with wooden walls. Downstairs was another sleeping room with a carpet in and tables and another room with the fireplace, tables and a collection of home-made chairs. The bothy was in good condition and reading the Bothy Book’s comments is well liked by all that have stayed. The last entry was 4 days before. I rested awhile considered what to do about my knee.

I had originally planned to stay at Uags for an overnighter but the short distance from Tornapress, meant I could easily make Applecross in a day and was therefore not  carrying no food or a sleeping bag. I rested for almost an hour before setting off from the Bothy along a well trodden path. I had read reports that this path was indistinct in places, but I found an  easy to follow footpath.

By the time I reached Toscaig, the rain had finished and the sun came out. I now had about 4 miles of roadwork to get back to Applecross. The knee became slightly more stiff and I knew I could not do a 20 mile walk tomorrow. I was really disappointed. It also dawned on me that making Cape Wrath by Christmas was a bit of a tall order. So now I am looking at a more realistic target of Ullapool.

The Applecross Inn was doing a fair trade as I got back to the car after 8 hours of walking. The Inn had a small Airstream Caravan which had been converted to sell food. I bought a Fish supper for £8.50! Ok. Plenty of chips but expensive. The long drive home beckoned.

The route to Uags!
Arriving at Uags Bothy
Main living room at Uags
One of the upstairs bedrooms
Approaching Toscaig
Suddenly my sore knee was not as great as other people’s problems!
Arriving at Toscaig
Looking across the Inner Sound to the Isle of Scalpay with the Red Cuillin on Skye behind from Camusterrach
Looking down from the Bealach na Ba on my drive home.

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=24309

Distance today =  18 miles
Total distance =  4,265 miles