Saturday 25 July 2015
Gairloch to Kinlochewe
Kinlochewe Hotel Bunkhouse
It had been such a beautiful evening, sunny and warm, that it was inevitable the midges would come out. It rained a little through the night but I slept well for once and when I woke up there were midges all around the tent clamouring to get in. A good time to sleep some more! They finally went away and I got up just after 9 am – a really long lie in for me. Tent was packed in no time and I stopped at the cafe for a cappuccino (another place with a coffee machine and Highland stoneware crockery).
The sun didn’t come out until almost lunchtime, which seems to be the way up here: the better weather is in the afternoons and evenings. As a morning person this is not good news. I drove up the North side of Loch Gairloch first, just to see the sights, which included a fabulous view of the sea along the coast.
Once I reached the end of the public road I turned around and headed back through the town and along the South side of the Loch.
Gairloch town seems quite well established with shops, cafes and plenty of other amenities (I even saw a dentists).
I took the minor road to Red Point and immediately passed a couple of harbours for small boats that were essential small lochs on the side of Loch Gairloch. Very picturesque.
Red Point is a small headland with a beach either side of it. I wondered if it got its name from the red tint of the sand and the deep red of the streams that flow here?
The first beach had one family and one couple on it so they must have been fighting for space.
The sun was out now and I walked down to the first beach and then around the headland. It was such a lovely day that I was looking for somewhere to take a dip that wasn’t the beach. This is what I naively imagined my trip down the West Highland Coast would be like: stopping at deserted beaches for a swim in the glorious sunshine.
The water was easily accessible at a number of places by walking down a steep grassy slope and clamouring across the rocks. I eventually picked my spot.
No need to get a swimming costume wet around here! The water was stunningly clear and not as cold as I thought it might be, and the views of the mountains, Skye, the Outer Hebrides and the Island of Rona were just fantastic.
I swam around for a good 5 minutes before climbing out and dripping dry in the sun. Not another soul around. Perfect. I hung around and ate a picnic lunch (smoked salmon rolls again).
The clouds started rolling in so it was time to walk back to the car. I took the direct route, across the bog. There was supposed to be a footpath but I never found it (there’s a theme here as I never seem to be able to find the footpaths). It was hard going trying to find a route and I definitely don’t want to get rid of the car until I can be sure I don’t have to do this every day. Eventually I did sink right in and got a wet foot. I came across a sheep carcass in a mud pool; the animal probably sank and couldn’t get out!
I could see my car but couldn’t get to it, it was highly frustrating and nearly ruined my day. I did see a couple of red deer to keep me going.
Eventually I made it back and enjoyed the drive back to Gairloch and along the length of Loch Maree, a large inland loch. Near the South end I stopped at Beinn Eighe, Britain’s oldest National Nature Reserve. It was set up in 1951 to protect the largest remnant of ancient scots pinewood in the Western Highlands. I walked up the lower slope to the viewpoint across Loch Maree.
It was gone 5 pm and I had nowhere to stay and had suffered from lack of phone reception all day to search the internet. From Kinlochewe I headed along Glen Torridon to see if I could camp in Torridon. There was a free campsite here but it was essentially a bog with a few tents occupying all the dry patches. Hmmm. I tried the Youth hostel, but that was full. I didn’t fancy wild camping so I headed back to Kinlochewe and ended up in the overpriced and pretty grim bunkhouse attached to the Kinlochewe Hotel. It was only for one night and it meant I could eat in the hotel and use the wifi…well only after 9 pm for guests and even then it was incredibly slow and wouldn’t allow me to upload photos. The lack of connectivity is making it very hard to keep up with my blog.