Day 236: Scourie to Strathchailleach Bothy
Distance: 30.32 miles
Ascent: 4754 feet
Weather: Overcast/Light Drizzle in Morning, Sunny Spells Afternoon
Accommodation: Strathchailleach Bothy
I had set my alarm early as I wanted to be off not long after 6am as today was a long one, with a minimum of 27 miles and some possibly hard terrain. It had once again been raining a lot of the night and fairly windy, but also once again it stopped whilst I depitched which was fortunate. The forecast was for rain this morning, clearing later though the skies didn’t look too bad, but I set off in wet weather set up.
From Scourie I quickly joined a path that would eventually lead to Tarbet. I have not seen many paths with as many warning signs as this, some from the farmer warning of cows with calves and big bulls seemingly almost to scare you carrying on, and then the core paths own one saying something like ‘the route to Tarbert does not have a proper path, is extremely boggy, very steep and dangerous in parts, proper equipment is needed. Enjoy your walk.’ I can now safely say that there was a clear path, it was no boggier than other parts of Scotland, there were no particularly steep bits, but I would still recommend proper hiking equipment. In fact, it was a lovely walk, if a little tough due to the undulations and typical boggy ground.
I spotted Hegarty the boat carrying Ross Edgley on his round Britain swim, moored behind Handa Island. Presumably the fairly rough sea conditions have been slowing him down a bit as I would expect him to have pulled away from me by now. Then I dropped down to Tarbet where even though it was only about 8 I passed a man getting out of his van and going to the public toilets (more on this later). I stopped on a stone for a little snack and barring a couple of small showers the weather wasn’t misbehaving too much.
I took the quiet road from here up a very steep hill and at Foindly I had proposed to cut cross country for a couple of kilometers to join up with the main road near the coast. But once again the rivers appeared too high so I had to add an extension in following the quiet road inland a couple of kilometers before then joining the main road that would bring me back to the coast. This was not ideal, as the day was already long without an extension due to the diversion. But it was fine and I followed the main road for 7 or 8 miles until I reached Rhiconich.
I turned of here onto a quiet road which would take me to Kinlochbervie and my last built up place for a few days. Kinlochbervie was not what I was expecting and seemed more run down than I expected, and the café actually had a board saying £2 to charge a phone which is a first for me and I decided I had enough charge not to be ripped off. I met a lovely woman from Belgium here who was walking from Dover to Cape Wrath and she doesn’t really want to finish so is taking the last small bit very slowly.
I followed the road for a couple of miles to the ‘carpark’ for the walk to Sandwood Bay. This beach is regularly voted best beach in UK and presumably for this reason there are lots of people here as there were many returning to there cars as I walked down to the beach. I joined a person for some of the walk down who was going to camp in the dunes and as we neared the beach it was clear there were a fair few tents hidden amongst the dunes.
The beach was lovely and the weather was perfect, sunny with enough cloud cover. I had a few more kilometers to go to get to Strathchailleach bothy and at the end of the beach there was a river that was quite deep (very deep in places) and as it was high tide (and recent overnight rains) there was not a clear way across. At this point another guy, Mathew, from Wales turned up who was going to the bothy, and after inspecting several points we crossed at the best bit, took our boots off and waded across and it was not too bad at all. From here we walked together and followed a feint track most of the way until the bothy came into view down by the river.
Strathchailleach Bothy is very quaint and it turns out we were the only two in it tonight. There was some dryish peat around the back so we managed to light the fire (my first ever peat fire) and boiled some water for a brew and cooked our dinners. It was then that it dawned on us that we had actually passed each other at 8am this morning by the public toilet in Tarbet. A lovely bothy, great to have some nice company, and ready for a possibly tricky day tomorrow.
A good day, with pretty good weather and a lovely beach.