268. Daill to Durness

I must admit I never really like sleeping in a tent, I’ve done it hundreds of times over the years but prefer sleeping in the back of the car or in a bothy. I had quite a fitful night’s sleep, trying to find a comfortable position that did not aggravate aching feet/legs/hips/shoulders. The aches subsided but it was quite a noisy spot with the surf from the nearby Daill beach and some bird that was creating quite a racket all night, the cuckoo started at 03:00!

I set my alarm for 03:30 and had everything packed away by 04:00. The legs seemed good and the spirit high. The sun had yet to rise, but it looked like it was going to be another lovely day. I set off along the road towards the ferry house with great views across the Kyle of Durness to Durness and The Orkneys beyond. Of course it was no ferry for me as I had to walk around to the first bridging point on the River Dionard. Just before the ferry house I took a rocky track that climbed steeply up the hillside, leading to a disused quarried area. The track stopped suddenly, which I knew from my map beforehand. I then set a bearing on my compass to the bridge over the River Grudie 2 to 3 miles away. I intended to follow the bearing and stay high over the rough ground. This was quite easy to do and the underfoot conditions were good. It was quite light when I reached a point above the Grudie River where I found the footbridge to cross. To be fair, there where multiple places to cross over the river if the river was not in spate.

I crossed over the slopes of a small hillock and walked along the Dionard River through the farm and across the footbridge to the A838. The road at this time of the morning was empty and I set off towards Durness, very pleased that I walked for 5 days and reached a major milestone in my walk around the coastline of Great Britain.


Looking towards Faraid Head across Diall Beach
Looking back towards Diall on the quarry track
Looking across the Kyle of Durness above the ferry house
The route ahead towards the Grudie river bridge
Looking across to Durness with the Orkneys in the distance
Looking down on the River Dionard and River Grudie
The bridge over the River Grudie
The bridge of the River Dionard
Looking back down the Kyle of Durness

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 =  10 miles
Total distance = 4,860 miles




267. Kinlochbervie to Daill via Cape Wrath

I’d been waiting to do this walk for a while, just over 3 years in fact, ever since I did my first Scottish coastal walk back in 2016. I was a bit apprehensive though, wondering whether my legs would hold up, whether the range would be closed (even though it was planned to be open) or would fatigue set in? I usually only walk for 3 days then go home, this trip could potentially see me walking for 5 consecutive days.
The plan was quite simple, leave the car in Durness, get the #806 Far North Bus to Kinlochbervie, walk to Cape Wrath, round the lighthouse, walk out towards Durness and see how far I could get before pitching my tent. I was carrying a very light pack with my sleeping bag, Terra Nova Zephyr 1 tent, some cold snacks, no cooking equipment and 1 litre of water.

I waited at the Spar shop in Durness for the bus. The shop was not open until 9 on a Saturday morning, which was a shame as a cup of coffee would have gone down well. I was joined by three other walkers who had finished the Cape Wrath Trail the day before and were now heading home. The #806 service is basically a minibus and you are required to book a seat. The bus was late arriving, but soon made the time up by going at break-neck speed southwards. I was the only passenger getting off in Kinlochbervie, but there were a large number of other people getting on. The bus departed and I was left on my own.
I now had 3 or 4 miles of road-walking as there is no public transport out to Blairmore – where the track out to Sandwood Bay begins. Most of this land is owned by the John Muir Trust, who also own a number of other estates including Knoydart, Quinag, Ben Nevis and parts of Skye. Here the Trust works in close partnership with Crofters who actually manage the land. After a couple of miles I kept a look out for the Lighthouse at Cape Wrath. When I do get a glimpse its almost 10 miles away and will be out sight until I am virtually upon it. I arrive at Sandwood Bay and immediately head through the dunes and onto the beach. It’s hard going on the soft sand, but thankfully the beach is not that long as the tide is in. I get an excellent view back to the Am Buachaille sea stack and pass the remains of a large whalebone, apparently it was a Killer whale that beached back in 2008. It looks amazingly like a large birds head with beak! I pass a tent and speak to a lady that is doing the Cape Wrath Trail and will walk to the lighthouse tomorrow.

Heading along the wide footpath to Sandwood Bay
Almost 10 miles as the crow flies to Cape Wrath
Arriving at Sandwood Bay
Sandwood Bay
Looking back to the sea stack of Am Buachaille
The remains of an Orca Whale beached in 2008
Looking back at Sandwood Bay

After crossing the outflow from Sandwood Loch I climb up off the beach. As there a few, if any paths on towards the Lighthouse I follow my own route of least resistance between the low-lying hills. I cross over the Amhainn Strath Chailleach River and over gentle slopes. The going is tough though, even with ground very dry  my feet sink into the soft grasses and moss. I can see about half a mile away to the east,  Strathchailleach bothy which I did at one stage think about staying in. It was sapping work and after making a slight route adjustment, because I had strayed too far east I could now see the boundary fence and markers of the MOD land. I crossed the Keasgaig River and climbed slowly to the shallow bealach between Sithean na h-lolaireach and Cnoc a’Ghuibhais. Here the grass and moss gave way to a Tundra-like landscape. From the bealach I thought I would be able to look down on the Lighthouse, but no was hidden by a small hill – Dunan Mor.
I set off from the bealach and shortly after wards could see two of the white mini-buses making their way from the Lighthouse to the ferry. I stayed to east to avoid a deep gulley and almost out of nowhere I was joined by another walker! It was quite a shock to have somebody appear about 20 meters away. Anyway, we both continued on towards the Lighthouse, he was into his 17th day of walking the Cape Wrath Trail, so it was really nice to share the experience together. I was getting very fatigued by this point, but it did  help having someone to talk to. We dumped our bags outside the Ozone cafe and walked out past the lighthouse. It was a fantstic setting on a gloriously sunny day with the sea a beautiful deepblue.

Crossing the Amhainn Strath Chailleach River
Crossing into MOD land
Looking towards the Lighthouse hidden behind Dunan Mor, the minibus can be seen winding its way slowly along the road
Cape Wrath Lighthouse
The foghorn

Back at the cafe we were joined by a Dutch guy who had also walked part of the CWT. They were both staying in the bunkhouse that night and would get the minibus out the following day. After consuming multiple soft drinks, coffee and a large piece of gateau I was ready to depart. I spoke to the guy who manages the Lighthouse who was cleaning out the rainwater storage tanks, a job that had not been done in many a year. I also spoke to his daughter, who was very helpful in advising where I could pitch my tent towards Durness.

After a 90 minute rest, I felt like I had a new set of legs and headed off down the road. I made excellent time and had a notion that given enough daylight I could get back to the car that night! However, as the miles wore on and so fatigue began to rear its head. Because I do not use ferries I would have to walk around the Kyle of Durness along trackless terrain and this meant I would have to pitch my tent somewhere. The miles of the road wore on and I finally dropped down to The Daill River and camped next to the bridge there. I was very tired and every bone and muscle ached.


Heading back to Durness looking towards Sandwood Bay in the far distance
Camping spot at Daill

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 =  28 miles
Total distance = 4,850 miles


266. Scourie to Kinlochbervie

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.

The Memorial Car Park Kinlochbervie
The story of Robert McBeath

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 route ahead from Scourie
On the footpath to Tarbet
Looking across to Handa Island
Looking down on Tarbet
Looking back to Tarbet
Loch Laxford in the distance near Fangamore

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.

Below Laxford Bridge
Pegmatite dykes running through Lewisian Gneiss with bore holes for blasting on this road cutting

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.

Looking down Loch Inchard
Looking back at the less flattering views of Foinavon(l) Arkle (c) and Ben Stack (r) from near Achriesgill

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



265. Gleann Ardbhair to Scourie

No public transport ran east of Drumbeg towards the A894 at Kylesku and only a seasonal bus further on from there. So it was looking like I was going to have to do and out and back with my bike, something I was not looking forward to. Kenny, the bus driver from the previous day had given me a name, Harvey, who apparently drove a school bus from Scourie to Drumbeg each day to collect children and ferry them back to the main road where they would get the main bus to Ullapool. I made some enquiries at The Anchorage, the cafe/bar attached to Scourie campsite, and got a phone number. I called and spoke to Harvey’s wife, who said a lift would be no bother and to be outside the campsite at 06:45 the following morning. Harvey duly arrived and we sped off along virtually deserted roads towards Drumbeg. I got off the bus above Gleann Ardbhair and bid Harvey goodbye, after he refused any offer of money, what a guy!

As I set off the morning was very sunny and still. I could see the mountains had had a fresh dusting of snow overnight. I followed the twisty/turney road towards the A894 at Kylesku. Mercifully the NC500 brigade had not risen yet which made the walk very enjoyable. I soon realised that I had not packed any water in my rucksack, which was a pain, as there would be no opportunities to buy water further ahead. The walk was only 17 miles which I thought I could manage ok?

As the twisty/turney road joined the main road I was afforded spectacular views up to gullies of Quinag, a mountain with superb views which I can vouch for having climbed the hill some 10 years ago. The main road was  quiet and had a flat and generous verge for most its way. I walked into the small hamlet of Kylesku, just off the main road, in the hope of buying some water, but no joy. I remember crossing over on the ferry from Kylestrome to Kylesku back in 1974; but today Kylesku has a superb bridge, which was built in 1984.

I continued up the A894 where the traffic began to slowly increase, with large groups of bikers completing the NC500. A few miles on from Kylesku a walker passed me on the opposite side of the road at speed. I was quite surprised and decided to hang onto his coat-tails which I barely managed to do! I was hoping he would going a good distance as he was a great ‘pacer’, so we continued on for a few miles withme  a couple of hundred meters back. Then he disappeared without trace….probably hiding from me. LOL. My pace slackened and my thoughts returned to getting hold of some water.
I had intended to make a couple of small diversions off the road, although there were few if any paths towards the coast and all stopped at dead ends. I was glad to reach Scourie. With a water supply now available I could have gone on, but with tomorrows walk starting off on a remote footpath, it would have been difficult and impractical to continue. I simply rested.

The twisty-turney road in Gleann Ardbhair
Looking east towards Quinag
The double buttresses of Quinag, Sail Gharbh (left) and Sail Ghorm (right)
Looking down Loch Glencoul with the Stack of Glencoul (centre)
Quinag from a tranquil Kylesku
Crossing the Kylesku Bridge
Looking towards Quinag over Loch a’Chairn Bhain
Looking back at the Kylesku Bridge
Some of the impressive road cuttings through Lewisian Gneiss
At Scourie looking across to a snow-capped Arkle

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 = 4,803miles



264. Stoer to Gleann Ardbhair


I saw a potential weather-window opening up for 7 days which I decided to go for. Its getting a real long way up north to drive, so I decided now was the time to try and get the west coast of Scotland completed. With some rough planning I could see that I could maybe make Cape Wrath and even walk out to Durness. But before that I had three tough days of walking before I could begin my final onslaught.

Again I drove up during the preceding day and reached near Inchnadamph where I pulled over and slept in the back of the car. Since leaving Inverness I had been listening to the Liverpool v Barcelona game on the radio. A pulsating game and by the time I had reached Inchnadamph, Liverpool had won the game!

In preparation for the first days walk I had to call Rapson’s motors and arrange to be picked up at the Viewpoint in Drumbeg at 06:50 . I was quite surprised to Kenny from Lochinver driving the bus. Kenny was the accordion playing “star” in the film Edie and had driven me a few times on my previous trip. We did not have long to chat as the distance to Stoer village hall was only about 7 miles. I bid Kenny goodbye and continued down a narrow road heading through the small settlement of Balchladich. I turned off down a farm rack and re-joined the minor road a few miles further on and continued on towards the lighthouse at Stoer.

The early morning sunshine was very nice with superb views across The Minch to Lewis and south down to Applecross and Trotternish on Skye. The lighthouse car park was quite busy with about 8 motorhomes. I set off along a good track above the cliffs towards the Old Man of Stoer (A columnar sea stack). The path was very dry underfoot and although I had my walking boots in my rucksack I continued to use my NF Hedgehog trail shoes for the rest of the day.

After a few miles of walking the Old Man of Stoer made an appearance. I headed towards The Point of Stoer and then veered east and south towards the gentle slopes of Sithean Mor. The summit trg point provided a great 360 degree panorama. Unfortunately most the Assynt hills were still in cloud. I then headed  SE towards a track running alongside Loch Ciul Fraioch. I continued onto a road through the settlement of Culkein. I soon left the road and proceeded around the small hill of  Meall an Tulaich and then a small bay called Port Achnancarnan. I passed around a few more small headlands before arriving at the settlement of Clashnessie. Here I re-joined the B869 and the NC500. I knew this because I could see, either direction, a motorhome followed by four cars in tow. The less said about the five miles into Drumbeg the better, although the scenery was stunning.The road was very busy with a regular flow of motor homes, vans, cars and motor bikes….lots of them!

At Balchladich
Looking back with Suilven out of cloud
The lighthouse at Stoer
Heading along the Stoer peninsular
The Old Man of Stoer
Looking towards Suilven and Cul Mor from Sithean Mor
Near Port Achnancarnan
Old ruins near Achnacarnin
Clashnessie beach

No public transport runs east of Drumbeg, so I decided to do an out and back to Gleann Ardbhair, using my bike and walking. The road was very ‘twisty and turney’, with large drops and steep rises. Having the bike on this section was difficult because of the narrowness of the road and the difficulty of traffic to pass me when I was cycling.. I was accompanied along this section of road by my first cuckoo’s of the year. The late afternoon saw the arrival of wet and windy weather which was in for the rest of the evening. After returning to Drumbeg and my car I set off towards Scourie where I was booked into the campsite for two nights.

On the road to Drumbeg
“Sky Hook” lifting deer fence posts to difficult terrain
Looking down into Gleann Ardbhair

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 =  22 miles
Total distance = 4,786 miles


263. Lochinver to Stoer

Two tough days of walking had made me rather apprehensive about completing a third day of even longer length, especially with high temperatures forecast. I had intended to walk all the way around the Stoer Peninsular but decided to leave this section of the walk to my next trip up north and so decided to terminate the walk at Stoer village.

There is a bus service that runs from Drumbeg, a small hamlet on a narrow road to Kylesku to Ullapool via Lochinver – the #809 service run by George Rapson. However, you must pay very close attention to the timetable, particularly around school holidays and where you want to be picked up. None of this vital information is mentioned on the Scotland Traveline site, which I actually got from the bus shelter in Lochinver the previous day. I had requested that I be picked up at Clashnessie, but as I was now cutting my walk short, this would mean an extra mile of road walking. Fortunately, as I drove very early through Stoer towards Clashnessie I saw the #809 bus parked up at the village hall, so I parked there and waited for the bis driver to appear. It would save him driving a few extra miles there and back to Clashnessie and save me a mile of road walking. The driver appeared at 7:00 and we set off towards Lochinver, picking a few passengers up on the way, including another backpacker who had a very compact bicycle folded up into the size of a briefcase!

At Lochinver I got off the bus and started walking out of the village, after half a mile I realised that I had left my walking stick at a park bench shortly after leaving the bus, I contemplated leaving the stick but decided to retrace my steps and pick it up…………..grrrrrrr!

Take two and I set off again  walking out of the village. I was heading for the small hamlet of Baddidarach on the opposite side of the loch. Here I would pick up a footpath which would take me to Ardroe and thence the road out to Achmelvich. The footpath was well trodden and of excellent construction. With the sun at my back and a gentle breeze, it was lovely to be out walking in the North West of Scotland. Looking at the terrain either side of the footpath, it was not difficult to imagine that without a path, this type of terrain would be extremely challenging to get around. I arrived at the few houses that make up Ardroe and continued along a rough road, which lead onto a narrow tarmac road.

The well-known pie shop at Lochinver, unfortunately it was closed
Looking back at Lochinver with Canisp and Suilven in the background
On the path to Ardroe
Approaching Ardroe
A lone Shag which I had disturbed heading towards Loch Roe

I soon arrived at the shoreline hamlet of Achmelvich, where a large-scale build of wooden chalets/pods/yurts was underway to add to the existing static caravans and youth hostel, it seemed a very popular place. I crossed over the small beautiful white sanded beach heading up a rough track and picked up the footpath that would take me back onto the road. The footpath was another well-trodden path and very enjoyable to walk along. I passed by a few isolated holiday homes at Alltan a’bradhan and up a small ravine where I emerged onto the B868. The road was busy with a steady stream of traffic, particularly motorbikes, completing I would imagine the NC 500. I stayed on the road through the village of Clachtoll and then onto Stoer village hall where I had parked my car.

Looking back at Achmelvich
On the footpath towards Clachtoll
This ravine would lead me onto the B868
Looking down on Clachtoll, Stoer is in the far distance
Looking back Clachtoll beach

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 =  10 miles
Total distance = 4,764 miles



262. Altandhu to Lochinver

Today would be more of the same as yesterday with both road and off-road walking.

As there is no direct bus service between Altandhu and Lochinver I had to catch two separate buses via Ullapool. I made an early start by first driving and parking in Lochinver and caught the 7:45 #809 Rapson bus service to Ullapool, where I had to wait about 90 minutes until my next bus. Fortunately, I did not have long to wait for The Tea Room to open where I could get a latte and scrambled egg on toast. At 10:00 I caught the same bus that I had caught yesterday, the #811 to Altandhu. I was the only passenger, so I managed to have another long conversation with Kenny, the accordion ‘star’ from the film Edie.

I got off the bus at Altandhu camp site and set off back up the road. I was going to walk across the whole of the Rubha Mor peninsula, but decided against it. Today the sun was out and the biting wind gone, so it was going to be a tough day walking in the heat. I continued walking across the Rubha Mor heading for Achnahaird. I came across a Rabbies minibus that had just disgorged its occupants to take a better look at the distinct and iconic Assynt mountains. I spoke to a Kiwi who was part of the group, who asked me how far I was walking today, I said Lochinver, but I don’t think he knew where that was.

Just before the turn-off at Badnagyle a car stopped with two ladies in it, they asked me If I knew where the car park for Stac Pollaidh was. I said they had passed the car park some 2 to 3 miles ago and pointed out Stac Pollaidh in the distance.

Isle Ristol, part of the Summer Isles
Hazy Assynt skyline
Cul Mor (l) and Stac Pollaidh (r)

After turning off the main Achiltibuie road, the amount of traffic diminished becoming a lot more quieter. The road climbed over the Aird na Coigich and dropped steeply down into Strath Polly. At Inverpolly just before I crossed over the River Polly I met a Dutch couple who were holidaying in the area. Just after the bridge I headed down an estate track that would take me towards Inverpolly Lodge and then a slow descent down to the shoreline and boathouse. Most of the Assynt coastline is riven with small inlets, coves and bays that make this coastline incredibly complex. I crossed over an old breached weir dam which emptied the small adjacent Lochan Sal. After crossing the dam I would be on a footpath for the next 2 to 3 km. I tried to stay on the footpath, but soon lost it. I tried using the contours of the small hummocks to follow or find the footpath, but it was not possible. Following my own route I finally picked up a track of sorts, but even that disappeared as I approached the stepping-stones across the Allt Gleann an-Strachain. The burn was very low and I easily crossed over and re-joined the narrow road. Over the next 3 km only a couple of cars passed me.

Approaching Inverpolly
Locals near Inverpolly Lodge
Dam and weir near Lochan Sal
Looking back towards Inverpolly
Stepping stones over the Allt Gleann an-Strachain

The road climbed again before dropping down again into Inverkirkaig, crossing over a bridge spanning the River Kirkaig, passing out of Ross & Cromarty and into the historical county of Sutherland. the car park at the bridge had a few cars in it, mainly for visitors to the nearby Falls of Kirkaig. There was also a coffee shop close-by where I topped up my water supply. I continued along the road into the late afternoon, catching the odd glimpse of Suilven, from the head-on position and managing to pick out 3 walkers on the summit!! After passing through the small settlement of Strathan I arrived back at my car that I had left 11 hours earlier. A tough days walk.

Crossing over the River Kirkaig
Goodbye (for now) Ross & Cromarty and hello Sutherland
The beach at Inverkirkaig
Suilven popping out from the Glencanisp Forest
Zoomed shot of Suilven with walkers on the summit

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 = 4,754 miles