253. Aultbea to Laide

This was probably going to be the toughest days walk of the trip, with a fair amount of trackless open moorland walking. I was able to leave my car at the AirBnB place in Laide and catch the early morning school bus the short distance down the road to Aultbea. It was raining as I waited for the bus in the dark and  I had picked up a head cold in the last 24 hours, to make matters worse my leg muscles had strained, which I suppose was to be expected after 3 weeks of inactivity.

It was still very dark when I arrived in Aultbea and I needed to wear my hi-vis vest and flashing head torch. The first three miles were along small roads spanning the scattered hamlet of Mellon Charles. By the time I reached the end of the public road it was light enough to turn my head torch off. I continued along a rocky track which climbed up to Meall Camal an Fheidh, this marked the end of the WW2 buildings which surround Loch Ewe. From this point on, I was on my own  picking my own route. I continued another kilometre sticking to the higher ground, before the ground dropped away from me steeply and I was left looking down on the ruined settlement of Slaggan. Slaggan was a small crofting community with its own school once. The last family left in 1942.

Early morning in Mellon Charles
The end of the public road
Looking back at Mellon Charles
The route ahead
Looking down at the ruins of Slaggan
The ruins of Slaggan

I set a bearing for one of the many lochs that cover the area. The going underfoot was very  wet, which meant my progress was slow. In fact I could not walk 10m in a straight line without having to divert around a pool or bog. I finally caught sight of the derrick of the Oil Rig which was moored off Greenstone Point.  I got close enough to see that it was called Ocean Greatwhite, the world’s largest semi-submersible exploration rig. The rig was built in 2016 in South Korea and was waiting to call in to Loch Kishorn for some work before travelling on into the North Sea. The 68,000 tonnes rig is currently registered in Majuro in the Marshall Islands. I passed along high ground to the north of Rubha Mor, before swinging  around towards the hamlet of Opinan.

My boots by this time were completely soaked through. I was therefore glad to reach the road and begin the walk down the east side of this peninsula. I passed by the popular beach at Mellon Udrigle, although there were no cars there today, just a tugboat offshore guarding the oil rig a couple of miles away. The road climbed steadily out of Mellon Udrigle for 1.5 miles before dropping down to the small hamlet of Achgarve.

I was now walking back along the shoreline of Gruinard Bay, which offered limited views due to the low cloud and frequent squally showers. The final mile walk into Laide came as a great relief to get out of the soaking footwear.

So that was it for this trip; not a great deal of distance covered, but at least I got around a set of tricky logistical walks that had to be approached separately.

 

Heading north over wet ground
Heading north
The Ocean Greatwhite
The beach at Mellon Udrigle
Approaching Achgarve
Looking back at Achgarve

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=24459

Distance today =  14 miles
Total distance = 4,535 miles

 

 

 

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