I was very relieved to see that the forecasted temperatures for today were considerably cooler than yesterday. In fact, it was overcast when I set off from Thurso on the drive to Strathy Inn where I parked.
I set off down the main road for a short distance until I reached Strathy Bridge where I took a signed footpath towards the beach, here I continued through very steep-sided sand dunes, climbing some difficult barbed-wire topped fences. I eventually reached the cliff-tops and walked through fields of machair, climbing more fences as I went along. The cliffs were very impressive, but difficult and dangerous to get a closer look at. I did drop down to the beach near to Baligill, close to the ruined Dun Mhairtein, where eroded sandstone had formed a thin arête-like sea stack – that just begged to be walked along! It was a great opportunity to test my nerve and I managed the highest and largest of the pinnacles before I turned around, not wishing to chance my luck any further. I continued along the cliff top walking out towards Rubha Beag. At Rubha Beag I headed south over boggy terrain towards Portskerra, but two steep ravines or geo’s pushed me further and further inland. In fact I was almost back on the A836 when I got to the second ravine, either caused by the stream cutting steeply through the sandstone layers or as a result by ancient action of the sea. After getting past this ravine I headed for the main road into Melvich.
I was not on the main road for long as I turned off down a signed footpath that took me to Melvich Bay and Bighouse, the Estate Lodge. I crossed over The River Halladale via a footbridge, which the Highland Council advised me against. The bridge looked perfectly fine, except they perhaps should have warned against a group of Artic Terns, who continually dive-bombed me until I reached Bighouse. They did not make contact, but came very close! I spoke to one of the Estate workers who was repairing a gate and we chatted a while.
I climbed over a few fences and continued around Rubha an Tuir. There was a footpath that came and went, running across the cliff-tops. I came to more Geo’s, the larger of which was Geodh Eisgiadh which required a 600m detour to get around. I could now make out the Dounreay Nuclear Station or to give it is new name The Dounreay Nuclear Power development Establishment. I passed around more geo’s and arrived at the small harbour of Fresgoe. I joined a narrow road and continued into New Reay and onto the A836. Because, walking is not permitted around the decommissioned nuclear plant I would be on the main road for the next 3 or 4 miles. I reached the main gate of Dounreay and returned back to Reay where I was able to catch an afternoon bus back to Strathy Inn.
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 = 17 miles
Total distance = 5,014 miles