It froze in the night causing a thin layer of ice to form on the outside of my tent and car windscreen. I did not sleep in my tent at Scourie campsite I just stored stuff from the car in it. I actually slept in the car, which was warmer, more comfortable and quieter than the tent. I woke up to a gloriously sunny and still morning.
After clearing the ice off the windscreen I set off to drive to Kinlochbervie and parked in the memorial car park. The car park forms part of a War Memorial to both World Wars and has a separate area dedicated to a local man – Robert McBeath who was awarded the VC for his actions in 1917. He was only 24 when he died, but he did not die in France. He survived the war, married and emigrated to Vancouver, Canada where he joined the Police Force. He was shot by a drunk American in 1922. His story is quite fascinating as it is tragic.
I walked to a bus stop and waited for the #806 bus, run by “The Far North Bus” or simply The Durness Bus, which would take me back to Scourie.
Back in Scourie I immediately set off down past the campsite heading for a path that would take me up and over moorland to the isolated settlement of Tarbet. The footpath was reasonably easy to follow, snaking its way between small lochans. Apart from the start of the path, which had a section of gorse to negotiate, the path was easy to follow and had small regular cairn piles. I had great views across the Sound of Handa to Handa Island which is run by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Handa is a very important reserve as a breeding area for seabirds with up to 100,000 birds, made up of Guillemots, Razorbills, Great Skuas, Terns and Puffins.
I descended steeply into the small settlement of Tarbet, which provided a small foot passenger ferry service across to Handa. A number of people were waiting for the next boat. I followed a steep road out of Tarbet and went along the shore of Loch Gobhloch. The road continued to other isolated settlements of Fangamore and eventually Foindle. Only a single car passed me on this road and it was a delight to walk along.
Shortly after leaving Foindle I left the road to cut across pathless terrain to meet up with the A894 saving me about 1.5 miles of road walking. However, the rough underfoot conditions meant I got little advantage form this shortcut. Back on the A894 the traffic was not that bad. I had a good verge to walk on and the views across to a snow-capped Arkle and Foinavon were amazing.
The A894 road has long straights or sweeping curves and you can see the road miles ahead, which can be a bit dispiriting for how far you will have to walk. I knew I had some 9 miles to go once I had got to Laxford Bridge, so I was quite happy when I finally reached this quite inconspicuous but important little bridge. I sat down beneath the bridge, making use of the shade available, listening to the occasional traffic above me.
After restocking my water supply from the River Laxford, and adding a purification tablet, I set off down the main road. I passed through some road cuttings which showed some remarkable dykes cutting through the 3 billion year old Lewisian Gneiss. The dykes were predominantly pegmatites with large crystals of feldspar, quartz and mica, I collected a few samples.
I arrived at Rhiconich and hoped to get a cold drink at the Public bar in the hotel, unfortunately it was closed. I turned onto the B801 and continued on through the small hamlets of Achriesgill and Inshegra, both were littered with a collection of used industrial plant and cars – in fact a scrapyard. Close to the end of my walk I passed through Badcall and noticed a small shop The London Stores, mentioned in other people’s reports as a place to get anything! I bought some cold squash and a diet coke which went down very nice in the heat of the late afternoon.
By 5 o’clock I was back at the car and soon heading north to Durness where I would park for the night.
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 = 19 miles
Total distance = 4,822 miles