Wednesday 2 September 2015
Sandaig to Ratagan
Ratagan Youth Hostel
After a good night of sleep I woke to a still morning and the sun was coming up. I did another quick check of my legs for ticks after removing 3 yesterday, but I couldn’t find any. The calm sea was too good a swimming opportunity to miss so I ran in naked.
By the time I was dressed and packing up the midges were out. I was determined to stay for breakfast and I needed to clear the remnants of my fire. I cooked sausage and beans (well re-heated a ration pack), made a cup of tea and tried to dodge the midges.
I was away early and walked a different track out of Sandaig that was easy to follow. I was still on a high after my successful wild camp and so the 4 mile road walk to Glenelg was easy.
The Glenelg Inn had a sign outside saying it was open all day and inviting people in. I decided to test their hospitality (and make use of their facilities). I had an excellent coffee, the best bacon and egg sandwich I’ve had in Scotland, and a nice chat with the cleaner. It seemed like they were used to people dropping in off the hills and they were unfazed by my appearance. I realised this must be normal when I passed the community hall with its advertisement for hot showers inside.
Glenelg seemed like a nice little town on the edge of the wilderness. Glen More comes down to Glenelg Bay and the ruins of Bernera Barracks sit in the middle of the open space.
Not far out of Glenelg is the ferry terminal (jetty) for the 6-car ferry to Skye. It was just loading as I passed.
Here the road ends and I headed off on a signposted coastal path to Ardintoul and then Totaig. The path to Ardintoul was good and there were great views of Skye and then the mainland.
From Ardintoul things got tougher. Firstly the path indicated on the map did not appear to be where it should be. I found the beginnings of a path but quickly found myself fighting my way through bushes and undergrowth. Not easy with a big pack. I knew I had to cross a burn that was rushing through a bit of a gorge so I had to find the path.
I did find a footpath sign, buried in thick undergrowth!
Eventually I came out on a deforested hillside, where my problems seemed to get worse (mitigated by a stunning view).
There had to be a path because I wasn’t about to retrace my steps all the way to Glenelg and then have to come over the mountains. I found a sign for the “dirty 30” and footprints skirting a ditch. I pressed on. Sometimes it looked like there was a path through the scrub, and sometimes it didn’t. I pressed on. I was continually scouring the map and terrain for clues. Eventually I went into a dense forest. There was another “dirty 30” sign and lots of footprints (generally through deep mud) as well as ticker tape tied to trees. Whether this was my path or not was unclear but it had to lead somewhere so I followed the clues. Thank goodness they didn’t use bread…I felt like I was Gretel! The mud was incredible; at one point my pole stuck in by at least 10 inches. Considering this path had an innocuous signpost at the beginning it was not somewhere I would choose to walk. I was thankful when it finally came out above Totaig and I rejoiced in the great view of Eilean Donan Castle at the juncture of Lochs Alsh, Long and Duich.
By now I was pretty tired and I struggled through the last 3 miles along the road to Ratagan. I arrived at the Youth Hostel at 5.05 pm and it opened at 5. Perfect.
I spent the evening washing all my kit and prepping it to be stored for 10 days while I am on Skye. I was very tired and dinner was a very unappetising frozen chilli provided by the hostel. I am so glad I walked this section and really looking forward to heading on to Skye tomorrow.