Day 223: Uags to Shieldaig
Distance: 31.53 miles
Ascent: 4910 feet
Weather: Light drizzle Morning, heavy Rain Afternoon
Accommodation: Wild camp Shieldaig
I was up quite early and as today was scheduled to be very long mileage (31ish miles) I was aiming to get of quite early. I had slept well in my own room, but as I descended the stairs I was worried I would wake every one up as it is impossible to descend them without making a right racket. I had breakfast and then seemed to faff and finally left about 7:45.
Before moving on I should say that Uags is the best bothy I have been to so far and would work perfectly for a first time bothy visitor. From Toscaig it is less than 3 miles on a clear (if in places a tiny bit boggy) path, the bothy itself is charming with a little fire and several rooms, its location is spectacular both due to its feeling of remoteness and views to Cuillins. There is literally no negatives about this bothy and if you are ever in the area do spend a night here even if you do not think you are the outdoor type.
The path from the bothy in this direction was much better and in a little over an hour I had reached the road at Toscaig. I was not sure what the weather would do but there was intermittent light drizzle and I presumed this would continue all day, but it was light enough I felt I did not need my waterproofs on. What worried me more was that for the best part of 25 miles I would now be following the same road, which though narrow, quiet, scenic and not to many ascents could become quite a tortuous task and I had a feeling for this reason I may get very tired.
After a few more miles I reached Applecross. There is always one village/town like this in slightly touristy areas of the coast, which are very well kept, quaint and smell of money. I may be wrong but I have a feeling a lot of the houses in Applecross are holiday homes or holiday rentals, and it even had a hipster coffee bar which I have not seen the likes of for a very long time. Slightly strangely there were 5 red deer just casually munching away in the middle of the town not caring one bit about all the tourists taking photos of them.
I had a slight issue with food today (the shop just short of Applecross is closed on Sundays) so as I walked passed the sign for the Walled Garden Café it said deli so I presumed I could get a few bits for lunch and snacks. This café is stunning as is the garden, but a deli it most certainly is not, but the lady very kindly asked the kitchen if they could make me a couple of rolls (none on menu) to take away, and she gave me a small reduction in price which was kind.
The diversion to the café had added close on a mile to an already long day but the weather was not deteriorating and actually made for quite good walking conditions. Not much to say about the next few miles as I followed the same road, with similar albeit lovely views. There were 2 exciting bits, firstly a rental motorhome coming towards me who pulled over unnecessarily far and ended up going over the gravel dip at speed on the other side which then sent the motorhome sharply left and straight towards me which meant I had to jump of the road very quickly but the guy did not stop and just carried on after almost running me over. The second was a 4x4 in same direction as me who did the same thing and pulled over unnecessarily far into the gravel (there must have been a gap of 2m to me) and there was an extraordinarily loud noise and I was certain he had punctured but he carried on anyway without stopping. Lo and behold about a mile later I found him at the side of the road beginning to try and change the tyre. I felt sorry for him, even if he had been an idiot, and asked if he needed help which he said he didn’t.
I eventually rounded the end and just after Fearnmore to my surprise there was a little tea van (best tea van view in the country guaranteed) and just for something to do I got a tea. He was surprised to see a walker, and after saying where I was heading tomorrow he showed me with a pair of binoculars where Craig Bothy was.
From here the road continued and as I had expected even though the walk should have been not to tiring, with the monotony of it I was getting exhausted. To add to the tiredness it had started to rain heavier but I thought it was just a short shower so didn’t put my waterproof trousers, though did have my jacket on. I was very wrong and the rain continued incessantly for the next 3 hours and beyond. I was getting very exhausted and wondered if I would actually make it to Shieldaig. I think the only thing that kept me going was that if/when I made it to Shieldaig there was a pub that I would treat myself to dinner after this horrible afternoon.
I did have a spell off the road after Kenmore for a couple of miles, and in reality this was a very defined path, with an interesting route, amazing views, which climbed over the ridge before descending back down to join the road. Unfortunately with the rain and my tiredness it was not enjoyed as much as it should have been.
I finally finished the never ending road and then had a short stretch on the A896 until I reached Shieldaig. The campsite is shut this year and not open again until 2019, so I headed straight to the pub still in the pouring rain. The looks I got as I arrived were incredible, and the one the worker in the bar gave me was one of ‘Are you really going to come in here like that’. But I took of my bag and waterproofs outside under a little balcony and then headed in and got a drink. I actually decided to not drink the drink now and left it with another person as realised I should just get my tent up now. I had seen another tent pitched right on the shoreline infront of Shieldaig only a few hundred meters along, so went and pitched my tent in the rain which is never fun, but as soon as it was up I returned to the pub and ordered some food.
Probably a good thing really, but 2 American girls joined my table and alongside the Scottish guy on the next table we had some interesting chats, unsurprisingly Trump came up. I say good thing, because otherwise I would just be thinking about damp clothes and a slightly damp tent. Everyone left, and I went up to pay and unknown to me the 2 American girls had very kindly paid for my meal. They probably don’t realise how much this cheered me up (not actually the money but the kindness) after what had been a tough afternoon.
I walked out to my tent, and with the wind now completely still, the midges which had started to return over the last 2 nights were out in force and I literally dived in my tent as quickly as possible to reduce the amount who got in. Once actually in my sleeping bag I was mightily relieved.
A tough day, made tougher by the fact I should be on a rest day now though couldn’t find anywhere in Shieldaig so at last minute had decided to shift the rest day back 2 days to Gairloch.