258. Beinn nam Ban Bealach to Ullapool

I had committed a schoolboy error in preparing for the longest walk of my 3 day trip to Ullapool…. by not checking for bus services along the southern shore of Loch Broom. I only discovered there was a bus service when one passed me! It took a while to calm down at my own stupidity. Anyway, there was no getting away from the fact that I would have to do an out and back, involving an additional 3 miles and some stiff climbing, to get to the start of the walk.

I split todays walk into three sections – firstly, an out and back from Loggie up to the Bealach below Beinn nam Ban, Secondly, the minor road along the southern shore of Loch Broom and thirdly, the A835 along the northern shore of Loch Broom.

I drove to and parked in the walkers car park at Inverlael alongside the A835. I then cycled down the A835 a short distance before turning off along a road running along the southern shore of Loch Broom to the end of the public road at Loggie. Although a footpath is marked on the OS map, on the ground there was little evidence of it. I then had two miles of switching between a rocky and very slippy shoreline and climbing around small rock bluffs and vegetation. I emerged eventually at a small salmon farm which had a bulldozer track snaking up the steep hillside to the public road at the bealach below Beinn nam Ban. I was happy to turn around and descend back to the shoreline of Loch Broom. At this point Ullapool is only a very short distance across the loch and looks enticingly close.

I arrived back at the bike and started pushing it back along the minor through a series of small hamlets – Rhiroy, Ardindrean, Letters and Clachan. It was along this road I came across the 813A bus service from Ullapool….Grrrr! Still, the road walk was quite pleasant, with the sun now out of cloud. I made good time back to the car park at Inverlael. I was not looking forward to the next section which involved walking along the  busy A835. However, I had to first drive to Ullapool to chain my bike to a railing near the Harbour, I did not fancy pushing my bike along the busy road. I then drove back to the car park at Inverlael.

Passing Loch na h-Airbhe at the bealach below Beinn nam Ban
Looking down on Ullapool across Loch Broom
Old wreck on Loch Broom
Looking across Loch Broom up Gleann na Sguaib with Eididh nan Clach Geala(l), Meall nan Ceapraichean(c) and Beinn Dearg (r)
Direction overload at Clachan church
Looking down Loch Broom
Crossing the River Broom

I set off down the A835 with the sun disappearing behind an increasingly cloudy sky. The road section back to Ullapool was basically a series of long straights with some occasional bends. It was a high-speed road and I therefore had to be careful. Thankfully, the verges were quite wide and I was able to switch sides of the road depending on the traffic direction. It was not a particularly enjoyable walk compared to the early morning section. I was glad to see Ullapool again and located my bike. The cycle back to the car, was tough, even though the road was quite flat. A tough day, but glad to have reached Ullapool and probably the last of the ‘larger’ towns until I reach Thurso.

Approaching Ullapool
Ullapool

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=24484

Distance today =  21 miles
Total distance = 4,614 miles

 

 

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257. Scoraig Circular

The first problem I had with writing this TR was what to title it! Probably the correct format should have been “Beinn nam Ban Bealach Circular via Beinn Ghobhlach”, a bit of a mouthful and maybe not the most ‘catchiest’ of title captions! So I settled for “Scoraig Circular” which sounds much better.

The Scoraig peninsular is a thin finger-like piece of mainland that separates Little Loch Broom from Loch Broom. It extends some distance out into The Minch and is guarded on its eastern side by the Graham – Beinn Ghobhlach. Beinn Ghobhlach had been on my radar for some time and although only 635m, it sits close to the sea and therefore offers quite expansive views all around.

I drove up to a small pull-in close to the bealach below Beinn nam Ban. Because this was to be a circular walk, I would be returning to the car from here. Most people walking on to Scoraig or climbing Beinn Ghobhlach would park in the small hamlet of Badrallach, located at the end of the public road. However, I could see that I would be losing a considerable amount of height in descending down into Badrallach. Instead I opted to head due west across open and rising moorland towards Sail Chruaidh, which sits on a broad ridge. This would enable me to visit another Marilyn – Cnoc a’Bhaid-rallaich on my way to Beinn Ghobhlach.

It was a beautiful still and sunny morning when I set off across the open moorland. With the sun at my back I made good progress over the gently rising ground. The going underfoot was wet, but not too boggy. After a few miles I reached slightly steeper and drier ground. I arrived at the summit of the Marilyn – Cnoc a’Bhaid-rallaich some 1.5 hours after setting out. The views although extensive had a thin haze which reduced the visibility somewhat. However, I could easily make out my next objective Beinn Ghobhlach.

From the bealach below Beinn nam Ban looking across Little Loch Broom to Sail Mhor
Looking north across Loch Broom to Beinn Mor Coigach
Looking westwards along the ridge to Cnoc a’Bhaid-rallaich
Looking across to Beinn Ghobhlach from Cnoc a’Bhaid-rallaich

I descended down grassy/rocky slopes to the bealach between the two hills. The bealach was strewn with large “groughs” , bogs and peat hags which I had to pick my way through. I arrived at the summit Beinn Ghobhlach at about 11:30 in the morning. The wind had picked up to a stiff breeze and was bitterly cold, this necessitated me to don my walking jacket. Views were restricted again due to the haze. I looked down towards Ullapool, which was easily visible, and could see the Cal Mac ferry making its way down Loch Broom bound for Stornoway. I did not linger too long on the summit because of the cold, I retraced my steps and headed down into Coire Dearg. Once I was clear of the jumble of rocks in the Coire I set off down a long gentle ridge that formed the spine of the Scoraig peninsular for most of its length. The underfoot conditions were not too bad as I passed along Carn na Abrach. I could see in the far distance the small lighthouse in Scoraig which I was heading for.

Looking down the Scoraig peninsula from Beinn Ghobhlach
Cal Mac ferry making its way down Loch Broom bound for Stornoway
Emerging from Coire Dearg
The unnamed other top of Beinn Ghobhlach
On Carn na Abrach
Zoomed shot of the lighthouse at Scoraig

I crossed a deer fence and continued  over a small hill called Carn Achaidh Mhor where I picked up a rocky ATV track, this track connected Scoraig with the small hamlet of Archmore on the Loch Broom side. I followed the track into Scoraig and visited the lighthouse, which had long since outlived its usefulness as a lighthouse, since it was now surrounded by tall trees. However, the small lighthouse  now has an alternative use – as an exhibition centre, albeit quite tiny! I opened the small iron doors of the lighthouse to reveal a small room with a series of info boards on the wall  depicting life in the Scoraig community. I recently read a small piece on the BBC website about Scoraig, the link is below

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-45046023

As Scoraig and the rest of the peninsula has no public roads, provisions and other essential items are either brought over Little Loch Broom  by boat from Badlaurach or on foot along the 5 mile footpath from Badrallach

I sat on a curious seating area which had sayings, proverbs, idioms etc written into the fired bricks it was made of. It was very warm now and I was aware I had a long walk back to the car. I could see that a few vehicles had been brought over to the peninsula, but the ‘main road’ was merely a dirt track which I was now walking along eastwards to Badrallach. Living ‘off grid’ meant that the community had to generate their own power, mainly through a profusion of small wind turbines, which were now turning at speed in the stiff breeze.

I met a couple of other walkers who had walked in from Badrallach who were just visiting for the day. It was not long before the dirt road became a footpath, as I passed through a gate and onto to the footpath proper to Badrallach. The footpath was very well constructed and passed around the steep crags at Creag a’Chadha where there were big drops, guarded by a fence, to the loch below. I eventually emerged at the hamlet of Badrallach, which was basically a strung out community of holiday lets, a camp site and some crofts.The last 2 to 3 miles along the road back up to the bealach and my car was tough going especially after my earlier exertions in the day. By the time I had reached the car the sky had clouded over, with ominous dark clouds forming over An Teallach. Fortunately by the time I had driven back to Ullapool the sun was back out.

A great days walk, especially the climb over Beinn Ghobhlach and the “Postmans Path” out from Scoraig.

The Lighthouse at Scoraig
Seating area near the Lighthouse
The view eastwards from Scoraig
Fenced footpath at Creag a’Chadha
Approaching the start of the public road at Badrallach

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=24483

Distance today =  17 miles
Total distance = 4,593 miles

 

 

 

 

256. Beinn nam Ban Bealach to Badcaul

The fine weather over most of the UK meant I could get three good walking days in the NW of Scotland. My objective over the three days was to reach Ullapool, a destination I had originally intended to reach by Christmas of last year.

I set off from Shropshire the day before in glorious sunshine and a new hottest Winter temperature of 20 deg C (with an even higher temp 21.2 deg c the following day). I drove to and parked in the large observation point car park near the Corrieshalloch Gorge. With little or no public transport in the area I had to make use of my bicycle, with the cycling direction governed by the severity of the road inclines.

I parked at the road end at Badcaul and set off on my bike, making good time down the predominantly downhill section of the A832. At the turn off for Badrallach I jumped off my bike and started pushing it. Although I was on level ground at first the road climbed steeply to about 230m, at the bealach below Beinn nam Ban. This road is actually a cul-de-sac and ends 3 miles down the road at Badrallach, where a well constructed footpath continues on  along Little Loch Broom to the isolated community of Scoraig, where I would be heading the following day.

Looking across Little Loch Broom towards Badcaul on a misty morning
Looking up to An Teallach
The packhorse bridge over the Dundonnell River

Although it was quite grey and overcast, with cloud lingering on Sail Mhor and An Teallach, it was dry and remarkably warm for this time of year. At a small car pull near the highest point of the road I got on and my bike and enjoyed a virtually a free-wheel back down to the A832, where I chained my bike to a fence and continued walking onto Badcaul. I soon came across my first flock of feral goats. The goats have been in the area for some time and I first saw them on An Teallach back in 2002. They seem to be doing well, with a number of recently born kids joining the flock. It’s difficult to say what future lies in store for these animals, given that they are regarded as a ‘pest’ by some Estates. Hopefully they will retreat to the hills for the Summer and not be bothered. I passed the Dundonnell Hotel which was closed for another two weeks, I remember staying there some years back.

It was becoming very warm, as the lingering cloud began to lift. Although a busy road in the summer, today the A832 only had the occasional vehicle on it.The road climbed gently and I soon came upon the second flock of feral goats. This time they were sprawled out across the road causing the traffic to stop. I arrived back at the car, with the sun now showing itself. I then set off for Ullapool and my Airbnb room for the next two nights.

Feral goats at Dundonnell
A deserted looking Dundonnell Hotel
Looking down Little Loch Broom from Camasnagaul
Sail Mhor
More feral goats
Ardessie waterfalls
Looking across Little Loch Broom towards Beinn Ghobhlach from Badcaul
Looking down Little Loch Broom from Badcaul

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=24481

Distance today =  12 miles
Total distance = 4,576 miles

 

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. 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.
  2. I’ll up date the map every once in a while

 

255. Sea Palling to Cromer

Although the view from my B&B bedroom was on the sea front, the noise of traffic through the single pane of glass was a nuisance. Fortunately, it subsided as the evening wore on. The reason that I had skipped on to Cromer was that I had completed the Norfolk Coastal Path almost 12 years ago in 2007, initially starting out from Cromer Pier.

To get to Sea Palling from Cromer would involve some changes in public transport. However, I could see a way of breaking up this journey as well as making a very early start. This would involve driving and parking in the small market town of North Walsham, some 9 miles from Cromer. Parking at the rail station car park and then walking the short distance into the town and catching the 06:30 #34 bus to Sea Palling, walking to Cromer then catching a train back to North Walsham, and the plan worked very well.

At this time of the year the sun had not yet risen when I arrived at Sea Palling, a small coastal village. There was an awful lot of fog around and my visibility was only about 100m for the first hour of my walk. There had also been a ground frost overnight.

I set off from Sea Palling walking along the sea defence steps. I had to be careful with a thin layer of ice before my feet. I could see little of the offshore  sea defences, the so-called Rock Reefs, in fact by the time the fog had cleared they were far behind me and out of sight. I stayed close to the dune line, as the ground there was still frozen and offered quick passage over the sand. Although I passed by Eccles on Sea I saw nothing of it and continued onto Happisburgh. The predominant feature of this stretch of coastline is the rapid erosion of the cliffline. Examining the cliff line it is easy to see why, especially when glacial Till, clay, gravels and sands are their primary constituent. The whole section of the coastline is littered with attempts at holding back the sea. No more so than at Happisburgh, which has seen the coastline retreating over a quarter of a mile since the 1600’s.

Walking along the beach after Happisburgh became more difficult and tiring, especially over soft sand and shingle. I looked for a way to get up onto the cliff tops some 20m above me. Most the cliff was to steep to scramble up, but I noticed a small rake (a sort of ramp) that allowed relatively easy and safe access to the cliff top. My boots had become very muddy during this ascent, but the footpath on the top (which was the extended Norfolk Coastal Path) provided easy walking.

Walking along the beach, while it can provide a quicker more direct route in walking the coast can also have a number of disadvantages 1) Tougher underfoot conditions on sand and shingle 2) Having to cross ponds/pools/streams/rivers entering the sea 3) Restricted views 4) Difficult to navigate in not knowing where you are 5) Danger of getting caught out with the tides and lastly 6) And well it can be boring, especially for an extended period with the cliff on your left and sea on right and no real views.

I entered the small settlement of Ostend and chatted to a chap with his dog, he thought that walking to Cromer was a very long way. I continued on through the merged settlements of Walcott, Keswick and Bacton. In the distance the large gas terminal caught the eye. By the time I reached its perimeter I had descended back down onto the beach, where I stayed until I came to the next village of Mundesley. Here I climbed back up the cliff and continued along cliff top paths heading towards a large radar dome in the distance.

Early morning in a very foggy Sea Palling
Heading west along the sea defences at Sea Palling
Groynes near Eccles-on-Sea
Old sea defences near Happisburgh
Back on the Norfolk Coastal Path and approaching Ostend
Dunlin at Bacton
Bacton gas terminal

The Remote Radar Head Trimingham is a radar station  for the RAF and built on the site of a former Army radar station from the Second World War. Back in 2006, motorist passing the station suddenly had their engines cut out or lights fail. The reason was the radar being out of alignment…..scary stuff. I passed through Trimingham and continued along the cliff top. This section of the coastline had a much higher cliff line being located within the area known as The Cromer Ridge, where much thicker glacial debris had been deposited. The cliffs here where up to 40m high with numerous and recent cliff falls in evidence.

I passed through my last village, Overstrand, and dropped back down onto the beach again. I could now see the pier at Cromer. I checked my watch and the train times. I had 45 minutes to get to the station in Cromer, which I managed easily, even though the shingle did not help. At Cromer I climbed the step steps above the pier and wound my way through the streets towards the railway station to get the 12:58 train back to North Walsham.

 

Remote Radar Head near Trimingham
Easy walking along cliff-top towards Overstrand
Slumping and mud-flows near Overstrand
Approaching Cromer Pier

Distance today =  17 miles
Total distance = 4,564 miles

 

 

254. Dersingham to Kings Lynn

It had been just over a month since my last coastal walk, a delay  due to a stinking head cold that had lasted for 3 weeks. So I was glad that the arrival of high pressure over most of England gave me the opportunity to continue my walk down the east coast.

My last trip to Norfolk, back in November 2018 , saw me cut short my walk from Hunstanton to Kings Lynn at Dersingham due to not feeling so good. On this trip I had planned for an overnight stay, which meant I could get a full days walking in the following day.

I set off fairly early from Shropshire to avoid the early morning traffic on the M6 through the West Midlands. I drove to and parked in Kings Lynn. I then caught a #34 bus to Dersingham, which run on a frequent basis. After getting off at Dersingham I popped into the local co-op to get a coffee and sausage butty. I continued south along Lynn Road, but soon turned off on a footpath which disappeared into the trees. I had then set off across Dersingham Common which soon merged into the Sandringham Country Park. The park was crisscrossed with multiple paths set amongst a forested area of deciduous and Old Scots Pines plantations. I lost exactly where I was on my map, but knew my general direction as I was only a hundred meters away from the very busy A149.

It was a beautiful sunny morning and very mild, and it felt more like Spring was here!  As I had been quite close to the A149, I knew I had to venture inland slightly to pick up my intended route. At a clearing in the forest I climbed up a steep bank and emerged onto the Sandringham Scenic Drive. The Drive was closed to vehicles, but not to foot traffic. I continued along footpaths and estate roads, which ultimately took me back to the A149. Thankfully, as I noted from reading my map, a footpath/cycle path ran close alongside the main road. I continued alongside  the main road to the next road junction. This crossroads was thrust into the spotlight in early January 2019 when the Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a road traffic accident here. Although, all the debris had been collected (some of it sold on Ebay!) I still managed to collect some shattered pieces of ‘Phil the Greeks’ Land Rover’s windscreen from the grass verge. They will go well with my Queen’s Silver Jubilee plate on my mantlepiece!!

Heading across Dersingham Common
Shafts of light passing through Old Scots Pines in Sandringham Country Park
Sandringham Scenic Drive
Least you forget who’s in charge!
Gatehouses to Sandringham House

After a short distance the footpath branched off away from the A149 continuing down a private estate road towards Castle Rising. Along this road I met an elderly lady with a Jack Russell companion who were setting mole-traps in a field, soon to be used by sheep. She was very knowledgable and we shared our stories on dealing with the elusive moles.

I came into Castle Rising, which is a very interesting historical village. I passed the Trinity Hospital, or to give it its full title – The Hospital of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. In fact these were Almshouses or a Bede House. Built in the early 17th century, they provided accommodation and care for 12 elderly ladies, who satisfied the strict criteria for admission. The house’s are still used today, but over the years have been modernised and the number of residents reduced to 6. On certain festive occasions the residents wear red cloaks as well as hats similar to those worn by Welsh ladies on St Davids Day. I walked towards the large impressive earthworks that hid Castle Rising itself. The castle was surrounded by a huge dry moat, with a single large keep sunken below the giant earthworks. I did not linger at the site but retraced my steps and continued along country lanes towards North and South Wooton.

I eventually reached the busy A1078 which would have taken me directly into Kings Lynn, but instead I took a series of cycle ways and footpaths towards North Lynn and into the town centre. After arriving back at the car and changing my clothes I set off for Cromer and my B&B for the night.

Scene of the ‘Accident’
Trinity Hospital Castle Rising
Great War memorial Castle Rising
Castle Rising
Wooden statues in The Walks – Kings Lynn

 

Distance today =  12 miles
Total distance = 4,547 miles