It did not take long to get my ‘mojo’ back especially, with the oppressive heat of recent weeks, which drove me to seek out cooler climes and continue my journey around Skye. I hoped to get a minimum of 4 days walking in on this trip and to try out a different approach to how I usually tackle my first days walk.
I set off from Shropshire on Thursday afternoon and soon ran into trouble with using the M6. A vehicle had hit a bridge near Preston resulting in the closure of the motorway in both directions, the whole area was gridlocked. I headed east along the M62 thinking about heading up the M1 and then picking up the A66. However, the A66 was gridlocked around Penrith because of people diverting on and off the M6. There was no alternative but to continue up the A1 and onto Edinburgh. Subsequent traffic delays around Newcastle had me running a couple of hours behind my schedule. I just about managed to get to Fort William before the petrol station closed and I was also able to fill up and get a coffee. I continued onto Glen Shiel and parked up the night.
Very early the next day I drove over to Skye and up to Glendale on the Duirinish Peninsular to drop my bike off near the Ramasaig road end turn. I then drove around to Orbost. I left my car in the farmyard and set off towards Ollisdal Bothy. This shortish day of 10 miles was a different approach, as I usually do a big first day then suffer later. I was breaking myself in gently! Yet again I was walking over the same ground as I did 42 years previously in 1976, but on that occasion I camped in Lorgill.
My pack was relatively easy to carry, as I was not carrying a tent. I intended to stay at the infrequently visited Ollisdal Bothy. I vaguely remember sections of the well-trodden path south from Orbost, but the whole area seemed to have been afforested since I was last there. Most people using this path are heading out to Idrigill Point with its sea stacks – the Macleod’s Maidens. I certainly remember them from many years ago, even if it was a very misty and wet day then.
It was nice and overcast with a stiff breeze at my back as I approached Rebel Wood – a project to the memory of the late Joe Strummer, lead guitarist with The Clash and an ardent supporter of carbon offsetting. As I reached the coastline the vegetation suddenly changed to short close-cropped grass, which made for easy walking. The cliff faces that form a large part of the Duirinish coastline are shear, high and very dramatic. The footpath came and went as I decided to head inland slightly to search out the bothy. Here the grass was much longer, lush with many bogs. I managed to place my foot into a small hole which sent me tumbling head first to the ground, closely followed by my pack which hit the back of my head! I struggled through the grass for the next mile until I came across Ollisdal Bothy, nestled in Glen Ollisdal beside the River Ollisdal.
The bothy was empty and consisted of two rooms, the larger room with the entrance had an earthen floor, the smaller room entered through another door had a wooden floor with a perspex window looking down towards the sea. In the distance I could see the islands of Canna and Sanday. The bothy was clean and tidy, but dark and very basic. I checked out the bothy book and saw that it had been occupied a few days before, but before that it had been almost a month since anyone stayed there. There was no firewood, but there was a small bag of coal left-over,but I had no intention of lighting a fire anyway. As there are no trees for miles around, the only fire wood supply was a 2.5 mile round trip to the shore in the next Glen. I settled myself in for the night. The sun had come out and with a gentle warm breeze I put my chair outside and listened to the small radio I had brought along. With no one within miles of the place it was a beautiful, remote and tranquil place to be.
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:
Distance today = 10 miles
Total distance = 4,035 miles