Day 233: Altandhu to Clachtoll
Distance: 24.58 miles
Ascent: 4362 feet
Weather: SUnny Spells, Some Rain
Accommodation: Clachtoll Beach Campsite
Luckily not much stops me going to sleep in the tent nowadays, as it was blowing a right gale and thundering down with rain as I went to sleep last night. I think by the looks of outside it had been raining heavily all night. I was hoping to get off early today, but I was being very faffy, and though not late it was not till about 8 when I set off.
I would be taking the roads to start today as there was a river that would stop me going to the very end of the peninsula (especially after the rain last night.) As I was climbing the hill, passing the viewpoint I could see Ross Edgley’s boat moored down below, presumably the tide was not right as I would have expected him to have left by now. But the views were great and though drizzle was forecast for this morning it looked like it might remain dry.
Just after Achnahaird Bay I turned left and along another single track road, before several miles later taking another left turn down towards Strath Polly. There was a fish hatchery at Strath Polly and it absolutely stank I am almost certain the worst smell of the walk. I had proposed to have my snacks here but had to continue on as it was not far of making me retch.
From here I followed a farm track down to a boat slipway near Lochan Sal. There was a perfect spot for a quick snack break by the weir and after eating I walked over the slightly dilapidated weir. On my map there was a path here and on the ground there was a faint trail and a gate through the only fence. I think using the term path would be a bit too generous as in places it barely existed and took a lot of concentration to spot the route. But regardless of the path the walking was not too bad if very boggy and eventually I rejoined the road.
It was a very quiet road, not really meant for caravans and campervans. I saw a head dive down on the water and when it reappeared it was an otter, it kept diving down to look for food and surfacing a fair while later. I tried to get a good picture (the best attempt below) but he surfaced for such a short time that normally I ended up just getting his tail as he was diving down.
Not long later after following the road and then a path through Culag Wood I reached Lochinver. I have been starving recently (got the proper muchies) so stopped in the café and strangely bumped into the same people as yesterday and they all very kindly gave donations. Also, and for the 4th time in 5 days some one came up and said how important the walk was as their brother had committed suicide (on this walk maybe 25/30 people have come up and said their brother committed suicide, but unless I’ve forgotten not one sister).
I had been toying with the idea of extending today, as it was short mileage and the weather was quite good and I believe it is meant to be very wet tomorrow. In the end I decided to extend roughly 6 miles to Clach Toll. Amazingly the sun came out and the footpath firstly to Achmelvich and then near Clach Toll were stunning over the heather clad hills with the sun glinting of the sea. In fact some of nicest paths for a very long time.
Right towards the end of this section I came across something quite unbelievable and would be surprised if I see again on the walk. I spotted 4 people, 3 looked like a walking group and then a leather clad guy and a helmet. I wondered what the commotion was about but as I got closer suddenly I saw a motorbike laying in the ditch, wedged by a large rock beside the path. The guy had decided to try and ride the motorbike (a standard one, not a dirt bike) a few hundred meters up the narrow, steep path to get a nice view. Inevitably he had fallen off but luckily not injured himself. The other three were American tourists on a walk I believe and with all of us we managed to get the motorbike upright, back on the path and then roll it back to the road. Somehow other than to his pride there appeared no major damage.
From here I carried on to Clach Toll. I had been toing and froing about wild pitching or heading to campsite, I was going to wild camp but stuff needed charging so in the end I went with campsite. It turned out to be a great shout as met a really lovely Welsh couple, the guy had done LEJOG walk (1500 miles) a few years ago, who very kindly bought me fish & chips, a cake and drink as well as making me a cup of tea. I am sure he knows having done a long distance walk how incredibly grateful I am and how welcome something like that is especially when for some reason I've been starving all day even though I've eaten loads
For the first time in a while it is genuinely cold tonight so warming up in my tent, and annoyingly was not able to charge stuff so it is imperative I find somewhere tomorrow maybe in Drumbeg. The wind is getting pretty strong as I type this, but my tent should be fine as tucked away in a very sheltered spot which the warden was surprised I chose but listening to others panicking in their tents when mine is barely moving is quite satisfying.
A lovely day, with barely any rain and capped of by a lovely/kind evening.