Day 228: Poolewe to Laide
Distance: 15.86 miles
Ascent: 1689 feet
Weather: Overcast, Drizzle and Small Amount of Medium Rain
Accommodation: Camping Gruinard Bay, Laide
As I was going to sleep last night the rain was absolutely torrential and there was a fair old wind which made for quite an exciting time in the tent. In a weird way there is something absolutely lovely about being in a tent in these conditions. I think the rain continued for most of the night but when I woke up this morning it had stopped, and the wind had also dropped but still strong enough to keep the midges away.
I packed everything up and stupidly had packed the pan I use as a bowl away (right at bottom of bag) and as my breakfast was granola and milk, where a bowl is needed, I ended up stupidly having a mouthful of granola and then a swig of milk until I was full which was ridiculous.
Slightly madly/optimistically I decided to head of in dry weather setup and was off about 7:30. I followed the road out and passed Inverewe Gardens. Inverewe Gardens from what a couple of people have told me is an incredible botanical garden on a massive scale with numerous exotic plants. I continued along the road and lasted in dry weather set up for 45 minutes before quickly changing when it was clear it was about to rain.
The rain was light as I dropped down towards Aultbea and from there I followed a very quiet road out towards Mellon Charles. At the end of this quiet road there was strangely a perfumery with an attached café. As I really needed the loo, and wi-fi would be useful for a quick bit of admin I popped in for a quick cup of tea. The views were amazing and given it was a perfumery unsurprisingly the soap in the loos smelt amazing.
There are quite a few peninsulas up this way that don’t have paths or roads around them, but I will try where possible to walk around them or at least as much of each one as possible. For this one I had decided to walk off piste from Mellon Charles to Slaggan (a deserted village) and then take a track from there to the other side of the peninsula. I climbed up to the top of the first hill on a farm track and then headed off piste following vaguely the line of a little ridge before hitting the very boggy ground as I descended towards Slaggan. I had one river to cross but fortunately this was not too difficult and then I was at Slaggan. Slaggan unlike many other deserted/ruined villages I have passed is not due to the clearances (depending on what account you read) as apparently the local clan chief refused to evict tenants which actually meant lots of other highland evictees came this way towards Gairloch. The more modern house ruins (see photo) was a house built in 1932 which burnt down less than 15 years later.
From here I had plotted to take a track across to the other side of the peninsula but stood here I wondered if I could head further off piste and to the end of the peninsula and then back down. I debated for a few minutes and then decided that I must have seen a reason not to go right to the end in planning so took the track. At the beginning of the walk I had thought whether I might constantly think I should somehow be more coastal but today is I think only the second time on the walk I have thought maybe I could have plotted/gone along a more coastal route (though it is possible it may have been impossible along the end part.)
This track was very clear and took me easily passed a couple of lochs and to the public road on the other side. As it was not raining at this point I decided to have my lunch sat here and then it was a short walk to Laide where I was proposing finishing today. As it was a short day it felt weird to be finishing about 2pm, and I considered extending but with tomorrow also short and set locations for tomorrow and Sunday I decided it was stupid extending. This week is a slightly simpler week for some reason (slightly deliberately), and I decided to pitch in the campsite and then try and use the Wi-fi in the little post office to type this up. I would have actually preferred heading on to Little Gruinard Bay and wild camping as I find these sort of sites very sterile (not in terms of cleanliness but in terms of feel and appearance), though I am sure for mobile homes they are perfect.
A short simple day.