Day 225: Craig Bothy to Gairloch

Distance: 17.73 miles

Ascent: 2385 feet

Weather: Heavy Rain Most of Day

Accommodation: Newton House B&B, Gairloch


I slept well in the bothy though woke quite early around 5:30. So I decided as I had wood left over I would relight the fire, to boil some water for tea and a real luxury to have warm, completely dry clothes to put on. I packed everything up and the fire was down to its last embers by the time I left around 7am.

The weather forecast was not good for today, but as I left it was pretty much dry. From the bothy I crossed the river on a footbridge before descending down the river on a boulder path towards the edge of the low cliffs. From here the path followed the fairly flat low cliffs all the way to Redpoint, it was quite boggy though made for a nice walk.

Just shy of Redpoint I passed a nice sandy beach and above it there was a graveyard of anchors. After joining a farm track I reached Redpoint Farm and was now on a public road. The rain had started and fortunately I got my waterproofs on must before the really heavy stuff hit. It was quite brutal being on the extreme west coast with a strong wind and incredibly heavy rain. But it did mean I moved quicker as there was no point hanging around or taking breaks.

6 miles from Redpoint I reached Badachro a very smart village with more yachts on the water than there appeared houses on the land and the rain had lightened down to a gentle drizzle. A further 3 miles later I joined the main road though it was still a fairly quiet road, at this time anyway. The rain had almost stopped completely as I reached Charlestown. I stopped in the harbour café for some food (the café kindly gave me a sandwich and soup for free) but almost more importantly for Wi-fi. As Gairloch Sands Youth Hostel had not been picking their phone up for the last few days to allow me to pay I thought now I had Wi-fi I would find the national number and try and pay through them instead. But on getting through I was told I had no reservation or it had been cancelled. This was a real issue but strangely at this stage I remained quite calm, emailed the only other bunkhouse and then decided I would head to tourist office and try and sort something out. The tourist office said the bunkhouse/campsite I had emailed had a cancelation so to head down there but on arrival there was no cancellation. The people though were trying to be very helpful.

It was now that I became very angry and rang up Hostelling Scotland to ask what had happened and what would they do to help. Unfortunately, though in a way admitting wrong doing they kept sort of trying to blame me. Firstly asking why I hadn’t rung hostel to make payment, I told them I had tried on more than 10 occasions and the phone either wasn't picked up or didn't ring. Secondly between 10 & 5 the phone would have diverted to national number why hadn’t I tried to speak or pay through them, I told the guy that between 10 & 5 the number did not divert to the national number (in fact in a later conversation he admitted the phoneline hadn’t worked for him either.) Why had I not emailed, firstly I have not had good signal but also I have emailed several other SYHA hostels and in all but 1 circumstance they have not bothered responding to emails (Ullapool to name just one of these). But regardless of them keep asking me why I hadn’t done things I actually had, they weren’t apologising for incorrectly cancelling my reservation (in fact I am not sure they realised why cancelling a reservation without contacting the person at all is quite a serious issue) or trying to do anything to help. I had been quite polite up to this point but when one person actually said ‘But you have a tent don’t you’ I began to very quickly descend. In fact I was now all over the place and ended up walking up and down the beach/road in tears, my mind racing and trying to contain myself. Eventually to calm down I headed up to the tourist office again, plugged my phone in that was about to run out and sat calmly on my own for 30 minutes or so.  I then decided I would ask if there were any rooms in the town and whatever the price of the cheapest one (as long as not hundred of pounds) I would just take it and then charge it to Hostelling Scotland at a later date. Fortunately they found a room at the Newton House (who gave a small reduction/donation) and the owner was nearby so kindly gave me a lift the short distance back to the guesthouse.

The reality is that this week and the last few weeks have been quite tough, and today, even given the bad weather, had gone really smoothly and I was really looking forward to chillin for my rest day but the error and attitude of Hostelling Scotland (SYHA) has put a quite big downer on that. Hopefully I will be chilled in the morning and able to catch up on admin for next week. I have to remember that over 90% of the people have been very kind and helpful on the walk and it is not worth letting this issue effect me over the next few days. 

NB - Only 6 photos due to bad weather.

charles compton