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

 

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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

 

207. Kinloch Hourn to Inverie

It was a very windy and wet night which continued through to early morning. The original forecast had been for heavy rain throughout the day, but reading the Mountain Weather forecast, that Tony had printed out, it seemed that the rain and wind would ease later on. Both couples, also staying at the B&B,  intended to continue on along Loch Hourn, one couple heading to Inverie and  the other just to Barrisdale. We all had ate breakfast together and none  of us fancied venturing out into the pouring rain! I decided to make the first move and prepared myself for the off. As I stepped outdoors after bidding my farewells, the sun came out!!

I continued on  a short distance to the end of the public road with a footpath continuing on alongside Loch Hourn. Personally I had always thought the walk-in to Knoydart from Kinloch Hourn was a sort of Rite of Passage for all  serious hillwalkers, so I was really glad to be getting this particular monkey off my back! It was turning out to be a beautiful morning now with the sun out and great views up Loch Hourn to the snow-capped peak of Ladhar Bheinn. However, there was still an awful lot of surface water still about and all of the burns were in full and in spate. However,  I only encountered one particular crossing that required some thought, careful footwork and good balance. I also soon met the first people heading towards Kinloch Hourn, a young couple on the Cape Wrath Trail.

Car Park at Kinloch Hourn
End of the public road
Looking down Loch Horn with Ladhar Bheinn in the distance
A nice section of the path
Looking down Loch Hourn
Approaching Barrisdale Bay with fine views towards Ladhar Bheinn

It took me almost 3 hours to get to Barrisdale, although I was in no particular hurry. As I turned into Barrisdale Bay the full force of the wind hit me, which I had been sheltered from since leaving Kinloch Hourn. I passed the farm and bunkhouse in Barrisdale and stayed on the path that led to the Mam Barrisdale. Although this path climbed gradually it was still tough going up to the bealach at 450m. When I reached the top of the Mam Barrisdale I recalled when I last stood there, some 15 years ago when I climbed the Munro’s in this area. I dropped down the well constructed stalkers path which dropped down gently into Gleann Dubh Lochain. By the time I reached the loch the path had become a landrover track.

I followed the track towards the Brocket memorial, where Gleann Meadail joined the track from the left. As I approached Inverie the promised showers arrived. I got myself checked into the Foundation bunkhouse and then went in search of some beer to buy from the Community shop in Inverie. I wanted to get a couple of beers for ‘Becs’, the American student who had kindly given me  her last beer a few weeks back when I arrived late at the bunkhouse.

Back at the bunkhouse I spoke to some of the volunteers from the John Muir Trust who were currently clearing Rhododendron bushes and doing path maintenance. One of the ladies was trying to change her ferry to get on the first ferry the following day; it seems it had been reported on the Western Isles website that some of the later ferries would be cancelled due to high winds. This alarmed and confused me, as the weather forecast had winds subsiding the next day. This development threw me into turmoil and led to me not getting much sleep that night, trying to reorganise my plans for the following day.

Looking east down Glean Barrisdale towards Slat Bheinn
Looking back down to Barrisdale from the Mam Barrisdale path
At the Mam Barrisdale looking down to Gleann Dubh Lochain
Approaching the Brocket memorial near Inverie

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=24071

Distance today = 14 miles
Total distance = 3,699 miles

 

 

 

206. Glen Shiel to Kinloch Hourn

Knoydart was always going to be challenging and I had given a great deal of thought on how I would tackle the next three or four sections of my walk. On my previous walk I had already walked  into Inverie from Morar. As a mountain bagger I had already done a fair amount of walking in Knoydart, but as a coastal walker I now needed to try to do it some justice by including some of the its shoreline.

I could write many pages on the permutations I considered in attempting to complete  these sections, but I think it best just to give the general plan on the next three days of walking:-

1) Drive to Mallaig, park up and sleep in the car overnight

2) Following day walk from Glen Shiel to Kinloch Hourn

3) Following day walk from Kinloch Hourn to Inverie

4) Following day walk to West coast of Knoydart returning to Inverie to catch ferry back to Mallaig

I had planned not to carry a heavy sack this time, relying on B&B and bunk house accommodation. This meant I would just carrying a  spare change of clothes and a small amount of food provisions. I had also recently bought a pair of shoulder strap ‘wraps’ which fitted around my existing rucksack straps to give extra support and padding.

I caught the 6:03 train from Mallaig to Fort William which cost £8.60 with my Senior Railcard. It was quite light outside as now, so I was able to enjoy some of the scenery I had previously walked. I then had a couple of hours to wait in Fort William until  the 10:15 Inter-City Bus service  #916 bound for Uig, but I would be alighting in Glen Shiel. I headed to the nearby Morrison’s, whose cafe opened at 08:00 and where I could get a reasonable breakfast and pass the time.

I asked the bus driver if he could drop me off 3 miles up the road from Glen Shiel (my designated stop), on a long straight, with a large lay by. He  immediately became awkward by saying “which straight, there were many long straights”. He also added that he could not stop if there was Wind farm traffic. Quite what he meant I did not know, but it did not look good. Sure enough just as we left Fort William we got stuck behind a Stronelairg wind farm convoy. Fortunately the police escort allowed the queue to clear as we stopped at the Commando Memorial. As we approached the layby in Glen Shiel I alerted the driver to where I wanted off. He then mumbled something about getting done for blocking the road and that he could not stop if there was no space in the layby. There was one car behind us and the road was empty! I was really glad to be off the bus, what a miserable old git!!

It started to rain as I made my way up the stalkers path alongside the Allt Mhalagain. It was a route I had previously taken some 9 years before when climbing the Corbett ‘Twins’ of Sgurr a’Bhac Chaolais and Buidhe Bheinn. As I reached the upper Coirie I followed the Allt Coirie Toiteil to the Bealach an Toiteil. It was quite easy walking with a few snow slopes to negotiate around. By this time the sun had appeared and I had splendid views down Coire Reidh to Loch Hourn. To my right was the impressive and steep side of the Munro Sgurr na Sgine, which I climbed on a very wild and windy day with no views back in 2001.

Looking towards Faochag and the Allt Mhalagain from the A87 in Glen Shiel
Looking back down to Glen Shiel
The route ahead to the Bealach an Toiteil
The Bealach an Toiteil with Sgurr na Sgine now in sun
Looking back to Glen Shiel with the North Glen Shiel Ridge in the distance
The steep face of Sgurr na Sgine
Looking down into Coire Reidh towards Loch Hourn and heading to the small lochan in the distance

I began the descent into Coire Reidh and could see the ATV track I was heading for about a mile away. I had excellent views across to Knoydart and could see Ladhar Bhienn’s snow-covered peaks were cloud free. I left the ATV track after a short distance and then headed for the small lochan of Lochan Torr a’Choit where I crossed the Allt a’Choire Reidh by means of a well made bridge. I then decided that instead of simply following the well-made track directly to Kinloch Hourn I would continue some distance west towards Gleann Dubh Lochain. I did this because when I returned to the area on my next trip I would be able to do an out-and-back from Corran on the Arnisdale side. I walked on for about another mile, before marking and carefully noting the point on the track for future reference. I retraced my footsteps back to the bridge near Lochan Torr a’Choit. There was a plethora of tracks and paths here, all coming together to continue through a narrow pass, the Cadha Mor.

I descended very steeply down the other side of the pass into Kinloch Hourn.  The path entered a small plantation above Kinloch Hourn house. I was amazed to see that the majority of trees were Eucalyptus and big ones at that. As I passed a row of cottages a group of about 5 dogs came out barking. They were very friendly and just curious. I spoke to the Stalker about the trees, he said they were planted in 1890. Eucalyptus are lovely trees; I once planted two in my garden as tiny saplings; but they grew really fast and tall and I had to take them out after a couple of years.

I carried onto the public road and crossed the Lochourn River and then walked the short distance to Kinloch Hourn farm which was my B&B for the night.

The bridge across the Allt a’Choire Reidh looking back to the Bealach an Toiteil and Sgurr na Sgine
Looking down into Gleann Dubh Lochain and my turning point back to Kinloch Hourn
Heading towards the Cadha Mor, the hill in the distance is the Munro Sgurr Mhaoraich
Descending steeply into Kinloch Hourn
Large Eucalyptus trees at Kinloch Hourn
Kinloch Hourn farm B&B
View from my bedroom window

 

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=24067

Distance today = 10 miles
Total distance = 3,685 miles