Monday 31 August 2015
Barisdale to Kinloch Hourn
Kinloch Hourn Farmhouse B&B
I was up early as I had planned to walk 15 miles today and, as it has been 6 weeks since I last walked with a full pack, that’s biting off quite a lot, particularly with the difficult terrain.
It was a calm, still morning and quite muggy so the midges were out. So long as I kept walking they weren’t enough of a bother to require long sleeves and a head net. I left the bothy before the Czech guys surfaced.
The tide was in and Barrisdale Bay looked utterly tranquil and totally beautiful. The stillness of the water made for some wonderful reflections, even on a cloudy day.
The water was stunningly clear and I was so mesmerised that I walked past the clearly marked path I was supposed to take. Fortunately I only walked about 50m too far before I reached the edge of the loch.
I just about managed to see Ladhar Beinn poking through the clouds before I turned the corner to walk along the side of Loch Hourn.
The path was easy to follow, a bit up and down, wet and boggy with plenty of stream crossings. Fortunately I am wearing gaiters and my boots, being new, are as waterproof as they can be, so my feet didn’t get too wet. I met a couple of people on the way and they all had wet feet. At least I now know it is a common problem when hiking in Scotland; everyone suffers and no one can dry their boots out.
The cloud seemed to be getting lower even though the weather forecast had been good. I was walking slowly, only about 2 miles per hour. This was a combination of difficult terrain, an extra heavy pack (extra food and water for the wilderness) and being unfit for walking after 6 weeks off. As it transpired I took just over 3 hours 15 minutes to walk the 7 miles to Kinloch Hourn and the guide book time is 4 hours so it is slow going around here.
It is certainly a lot warmer and muggier than when I was last in Scotland. This made for a very sweaty walk today, and also explains the sudden, en masse, appearance of the midges.
I was tired when I reached Kinloch Hourn and found a tea room that I wasn’t expecting. What a joy. Tony offered me a bacon sandwich and I couldn’t refuse. I sat chatting with a couple who were walking the Cape Wrath Way (same as the Czechs), which is a seriously hardcore route that goes off-piste through the mountains, is not signposted and much of it doesn’t have paths. They had wild camped the last 7 nights. I am becoming resigned to the fact that I couldn’t do without washing for that long.
So it turns out the tea room is also a B&B. Perfect. I can afford it and 7 miles was enough on my 2nd day. Besides, it started raining again.
The next 8 miles is rough path so I decided to save that for the morning. I sat in the B&B admiring the view, updating my blog and chatting to Pierre (he’s French), another one doing the Cape Wrath Way and bemoaning the persistent wet feet, bog and lack of paths. A common theme! It rained and the midges came out – the worst I’d seen them. I was glad to be inside.