272. Laid to Hope Bridge

I had spent the night in the car, in a small off-road parking slot that shielded me from the worst of the winds at the head of Loch Eriboll. I wanted to get an early start on the road, so was up and away by 06:30.
Today’s walk was along the A838 and because of the absence of public transport I would have to do an out and back using my bike. The early start would mean I would have the road to myself for the first couple of hours, before the NC500 brigade finished their breakfasts and put foot/hand to throttle. I must admit I don’t mind road walking, it’s generally dry underfoot and you can make good progress as well as enjoying some amazing scenery, it’s just when you are constantly verge-hopping that it becomes a pain. I drove to a small pull-in I had detected on Streetview on the open moor about a mile east of Hope Bridge. This would be point where I would set off across the moorland towards Whiten Head on my next walk, but today was getting around Loch Eriboll. I got the bike out of the car and set off back down the road towards Laid.

I arrived in Laid, by the tea rooms and immediately turned around. The weather had improved slightly with a drop in wind, but the persistent showers continued. I started pushing my bike along the A838 towards Hope Bridge. Most of the higher hills around me where still cloaked in cloud. I started thinking and planning how I would tackle the remaining sections to John O’Groats. It looked like for most of the way I could keep off the main road and after reaching Tongue public transport would not become an issue.
After passing through the small hamlet of Eriboll and just approaching Ard Neakie, a small piece of land connected to the shore by a narrow isthmus, the camper vans and motorcycle convoys began. The road climbed steeply out of Loch Eriboll and eastwards down towards Loch Hope and Hope Bridge. By the time I reached my car I was soaked and a bit cheesed off.
I drove into Tongue to get a drink and contemplate what to do next. The persistent showers continued. As I waited in a car park on the Tongue Bridge, with the rain continuing and the forecast of more of the same tomorrow, I decided to call it a day and headed home.

Near the head of Loch Eriboll looking east
Looking north up Loch Eriboll
A piebald Cob near Eriboll
Looking back down Loch Eriboll
Limekilns and small quarry on Ard Neakie
Looking down on Loch Ach’an Lochaidh from Torr na Bithe
At Hope Bridge looking towards Loch Hope
Looking back westwards towards Loch Hope

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=24605

Distance today =  14.5 miles
Total distance = 4,926.5 miles

 

2 thoughts on “272. Laid to Hope Bridge”

  1. Oh a shame you had to cut it short. Though I also had to cut short a walk and ended near the almost island at Ard Neakie. I had rounded the corner to find myself in a gale. Then it started to rain and soon the rain turned to hail. It was painful and I quickly decided to abandon it there!

    I did this walk by taking the bus from Durness to Eribol Farm (it only runs on Saturday, the bus to Thurso) and walking back, mostly along the road.

    I did however find a path along the shore on the west side of Loch Eriboll from Portnancon to the bridge at the head of the loch, but along the roads the rest of the way. I stopped to go down into Smoo Cave too.

    I did the section from Hope to Loch Eriboll as a “there and back” walk mostly along the road (due to the lack of bus), though you could walk in a few places on the “old road” (I think at some point the road was improved leaving the older sections partly in place but now free of traffic). There is a bus from the Youth Hostel at Toungue to Bettyhill (Durness 803), not sure if you spotted that. It doesn’t run every day though. From Bettyhill eastwards there is the once a day “Douneray Workers bus”, run by Stagecoach (it is a public service, not just for the workers). You’ve probably found it already. I didn’t try to make a route over the moor.

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  2. Hi John, thanks for the info. Yes I was aware of the 803, Sarah, who picked me up in the dial-a-bus said that she drives the saturday 803, bit I’ll probably get the tues/thursday bus. I’ve done a quick reccy and i think after Tongue I should be ok through to John O’Groats. The day I travelled up my wife came down with a dose of food poisoning. She reassured me that it was ok for me to travel, but it did not sit easy with me, so it did not take too much to cut short the trip by one day.
    Might do a trip down to Suffolk this week, assuming no more rain and no floodwaters.
    Looking forward to your next installment. Cheers

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