Day 238: Kearvaig Bothy to Durness

Distance: 23.90 miles

Ascent: 3456 feet

Weather: Overcast But Dry

Accommodation: Lazy Crofter Bunkhouse, Durness


I was hoping to be off early this morning by 7am really, but as always when snug in a bothy I take a bit longer. I had a little silly moment when I managed to knock my stove mesh case onto a tealight without noticing and thought I could hear gas coming out of my stove but it was actually the mesh case that I had set alight, fortunately not too damaged and still just useable to pack the stove way.

I was off by about 7:15 and the weather though overcast looked like it may stay dry. I say it again Kearvaig Bothy is in the most incredible location and as I walked away I turned round to look one final time several times, just in case I never come back here. I was following a track up to the road that the minibus uses to get to Cape Wrath. A bit like yesterday I was just in a great mood, the weather was OK, overcast but dry and the scenery was beautiful (this heather clad, remote expanse just doesn’t come across as well in photos.) I followed the road (once tarmacked now more a gravel track) all the way across the military range passing several little lochs, crossing a military bridge passing a farm (I think) before getting to just before the jetty where the ferry takes you across the Kyle of Durness.

Unfortunately, the ferry is seasonal only and this goes against my rules, so I was going to have to head further down the river a few miles to hopefully get to one bridge that would then get to another bridge to allow me to the other side. The start of this was fairly easy taking a little track for a few hundred meters up higher onto the hill and then it was several miles of off piste walking which in general was fine, but one stream/river was much wider than expected but there was a part with flattish rock forming a waterfall which allowed me to cross though the rock was very slippery so had to be extremely careful.

I eventually reached the first of two wider rivers that I was a little apprehensive about as though there was a footbridge marked on the map it was near nothing else and I wondered if it still existed, if it did would probably be a farm bridge. The river itself would have been very difficult, though I think just about crossable but then I saw the bridge. It was a farm bridge and even better on the other side I was able to join a quadbike track for a little while before following the fence line to the main farm. On this section I disturbed a massive group of deer hinds maybe 50/60 in number unfortunately a couple of the smaller ones instead of easily hopping over the fence like the rest jumped straight into it several times before panicking and running the other way.

On reaching the farm I bumped into four sheep dogs (collies), who decided I needed herding. In fact, the two kids decided I needed to be herded and were a bit too enthusiastic and the parents eventually got annoyed with them and told them off and they then stopped herding me. They were actually all really sweet dogs but it was funny them trying to herd me.

I crossed the second bridge and was now on the main road. I followed this for several miles up until the turning for the ferry now on the other side of the Kyle of Durness. At the jetty there is a path that follows the coast and I liked how blunt the sign was it said something like this ‘The path is not waymarked, just follow the coast’, in fact this is more info than most Scottish paths give me.

This section was far more beautiful and a little tougher than I expected. It firstly clinged to the low sort of cliff before entering the dunes and then dropping down to a stunning beach. I spotted a little otter fishing but he managed to evade my camera lens, and then the coast changed direction and started heading East.

Just shy of the carpark there was a little golf course and a small clubhouse that I hoped I could get some water and a small snack as I had actually run out of fluid (no suitable streams down here) and was hungry. There was a sign saying snacks and tea facilities are just for golf members/players not for the public, pay in honesty box, but I hoped if anyone came in they wouldn’t mind me making a tea and having a chocolate bar and obviously I paid in the honesty box.

I was actually pretty tired by now but I had one more headland to go up, called An Fharaid on my map, and the beaches and dunes on this were incredible and on the eastern side though no official path the views were incredible along the North coast that I have yet to walk. I arrived at Durness the location for my rest day and checked into my independent hostel. It is nice and already I have showered, done my laundry which is hanging out to dry in the sun and now as the Wi-fi is a bit suspect tonight going to just eat for the next 3 hours.

A good day, capping of a great and significant week on the walk.

charles compton