Day 296 Padstow Bay and the River Camel

Thursday 26 May 2016

Polzeath to Treyarnon

18 miles

Treyarnon Bay Camping and Caravan Site

looking over Polzeath to Stepper Point and Trevose Head
It had been another cold night but the sun was already warm at 7 am when I set off. I had left my tent up and just set off to walk the 5 miles around Pentire Point (the bit I missed yesterday). 

approaching Rumps Point and The Mouls
It was glorious in the morning sun, and nice not to be carrying a rucksack. I had great views all the way along the coast and across to Hartland Point (very faint in the distance). My only company was a few fishing boats in the water and cows on the headland. 

looking back up the coast into the morning sun
Rumps Point once had an Iron Age hill fort atop it and must have been well defended. 

Rumps Point in the glorious morning sun
Rumps Point from Pentire Point, on the same headland
Pentire Point is a fantastic viewpoint. From there I could see Padstow Bay, along the Camel Estuary to Padstow, Stepper Point and Trevose Head on the other side of the Camel Estuary. There were lots of golden sandy beaches. 

looking across Padstow Bay, the mouth of the River Camel, to Stepper Point and Trevose Head further down
looking down the Camel Estuary
I returned to the campsite to pack up my tent and then headed to the nearest cafe for some well-earned breakfast. 

surfers in the sea at Polzeath, Pentire Point behind
It was only 3 miles around Trebethernick Point and along Daymer beach to Rock. Wonderful in the morning sunshine. 

looking across the Camel Estuary at Hawker’s Cove
Daymer Bay and Brea Hill, guarding the entrance to the River Camel (Padstow just visible)
Daymer Bay looking like a Caribbean beach
As I arrived at Rock the passenger ferry that bridges the Camel was ready to leave so hopped on board. This meant I didn’t go into Rock itself but, with my underwear hanging from my rucksack to dry, I didn’t think this posh town was ready for me.

the sand spit at the end of Daymer Bay (not on my map!)
the ferry to Padstow
looking back at Rock across the Camel Estuary
Padstow was busy but strangely quiet. I think everyone was hanging around the harbour in silence waiting for lunchtime so they could head to one of the Rick Stein eateries. 

Padstow
I bumped into Tanya, one of the Europeans from last week, which was nice. She was off to get a bus so I went to get an ice cream and then headed to the National Lobster Hatchery. It was established in 2000 and aims to increase the Cornish lobster population by keeping berried hens (pregnant female lobsters) and then incubating their offspring so they don’t become prey in the wild. This way they try and replace the stock we deplete. It was very interesting. 

a baby lobster at the National Hatchery
I couldn’t eat lobster after that so I bought a pasty from Chough Bakery, the 2016 World Pasty Champions. It tasted very nice sat on a park bench overlooking the River Camel. 

a nice spot for lunch, overlooking Padstow and the River Camel
the entrance to the Camel Estuary (Padstow Bay), Stepper Point on the left and Pentire Point on the right
Clouds started appearing and the wind strength increased as I walked out to Stepper Point and looked across at Polzeath and Pentire Head. As I turned the corner I left behind the Caribbean-green, shallow, sandy estuary and faced the dark blue, choppy, deep sea. Quite a contrast. 

the view across Padstow Bay from Stepper Point to Pentire Point
looking at Trevose Head
I was now entering childhood holiday territory. I calculated that 25 years had passed since this next stretch of coastline was my family’s annual holiday destination. Time to see how much it had changed. 

this could be NE Scotland!
a tidal pool at Trevone
At Harlyn Bay I headed inland, cutting out Trevose Head (left for tomorrow), and walked along the roads to Treyarnon. I decided to camp there as I wanted to swim in the tidal pool that we used to love as kids. 

Harlyn Bay
After walking around I determined that only 1 out of 3 campsites was immediately available (I had moved out of any phone signal area, which didn’t help matters when campsite receptions were closed). Where I ended up was not great but I had no choice. I pitched and walked to the sea. 

Treyarnon Beach, facing West
Treyarnon Bay had not moved on in 25 years. It was exactly the same and has an air of being in the middle of nowhere. I even saw a man using a pay phone in a red telephone box – it really was an old fashioned pay phone, I checked. They don’t even have those in Shetland!

The pool was deserted, which wasn’t how I remembered it. It also seemed rather small. No matter, I went for a swim and even dived off the rock a few times. It wasn’t even that cold and the water was crystal clear. 

Treyarnon tidal pool (it definitely used to be bigger!)
I struggled to wash my sweaty clothes and then contemplated the 2 mile walk to St Merryn for a decent meal. Fortunately the student working in the campsite reception offered me a lift. Unfortunately, it had started raining when I left and I had to navigate the 2 miles back across overgrown fields in the rain. I got soaked and my only set of “clean” clothes were now covered in mud. Oh well, at least I made it. 

they have cows on the headland at Pentire Point
looking down the River Camel

Day 292 Rest Day in Bude

Sunday 22 May 2016

Rest day

Upper Lynstone Campsite, Bude

After 3 tough days my legs could do with a rest and it seemed like Bude was a good place to spend a day. (Really I just wanted an excuse to stop so I could swim in the sea pool.)

Bude’s canal
I spent the day sitting in cafes and on the headland, reading the Sunday newspaper and catching up on my blog (which was made difficult by the lack of access to plug points and wifi in Bude establishments). It was very relaxing on a sunny, but slightly chilly, day. 

Summerleaze Beach at low tide
Bude seemed nice. There were lots of surfers in the sea and some big waves.  At 4 pm I went for a swim in the sea pool, a fantastic facility maintained by a local group that relies on donations. The kids seemed to love it. 

Bude’s Sea Pool
I also managed to launder my clothes ready for the week ahead. 

Bude

Day 287 Walking Back to Ilfracombe

Monday 16 May 2016

Woolacombe to Ilfracombe (going clockwise)

9 miles

Harcourt Hotel

Keith and Cilla cooked me a nice breakfast to set me on my way. The sun was still shining and I wasn’t in a hurry as I didn’t have a long walk today. I wanted to visit Lundy Island and the ferry only goes 3 times a week from Ilfracombe (and sometimes Bideford), so it made sense to walk back there in time for tomorrow’s ferry. 

Combesgate and Woolacombe beaches
I walked through Woolacombe town, past the beach and set off along the headland to Morte Point. 

the path to Morte Point
At Morte Point the sea was bubbling as though two opposing tides were meeting. This phenomenon seemed to go out in a line, which was in line with the jagged vertical slates embedded in the cliff at the point. It was such a striking formation. 

Morte Point with a bubbling line in the sea
vertical, jagged slate rocks at Morte Point
I rounded Morte Point and headed into Rockham Bay. The sea was a spectacular deep blue and so clear that I could see the rocks underneath the water. This was perfect and reminded me of the sunny days in Scotland. I was very hot and could have done with a swim but I saved that thought for later. 

looking from Morte Point to Bull Point
the sea was a beautiful colour
Past the lighthouse at Bull Point and the path wound down into Lee Bay. 

Bull Point Lighthouse (built 1879) and Morte Point in the background
dramatic coastline (Lee Bay in the middle)
I stopped at the Smuggler’s Cottage tea room for a homemade burger, a cake and a coffee. The food here was excellent and the building used to be Hannibal Richard’s cottage (infamous smuggler). There is rumoured to be a tunnel from the cellar to the little cove where the smugglers brought their loot ashore. Apparently, in the 18th Century, all the villagers of Lee used to work together to encourage shops to their doom on the rocks and then plunder them. (A light on the headland here might be confused for the safety of Ilfracombe harbour.)

Lee (Smuggler’s Cottage on the left)
One more big hill and then I was in Torrs Park and heading down to Ilfracombe. I checked into my cheap, but very clean, hotel on the old Fore Street. The tide was high but I couldn’t resist another swim at Tunnels Beach, even though the pool was submerged under the sea. It was wonderful. After half an hour I had to get out and spent the next half an hour with my teeth chattering. 

looking back from Torrs Park above Ilfracombe
looking down on Ilfracombe
I couldn’t be bothered to go out so had a picnic in my room. 

a sea kayaker launching at Lee Bay

Day 285-286 Weekend in Woolacombe

Saturday 14 & Sunday 15 May 2016

Rest day & walk to Croyde Bay

8 miles

Downland House B&B

How nice to have a personal delivery of my next set of maps and an excuse to stop for the weekend, particularly as the weather was so good. Sally collected me from Pete’s house in Ilfracombe and we drove to Woolacombe for a relaxing weekend at the seaside. 

someone is pleased to be at the seaside! Sally enjoying Woolacombe Beach
I don’t know why I was surprised by the large number of people on the wonderful, long, sandy beach and in the sea. There were lots of surfers, even though it was really quite calm. I didn’t see anyone in the water without a wetsuit though – everyone’s soft these days!

Woolacombe Beach and Down (it reminded me a bit of Rhossili on the Gower)
Sunday was a bit of a busman’s holiday for me as we ended up walking along the 2 mile length of the beautiful Woolacombe Beach, over the hill to Croyde Bay (even more surfers here) and then around Baggy Point headland on the way back. I walked in my sandals today and it felt like a holiday. 

Croyde Bay
walking out to Baggy Point, between Croyde and Morte Bays
After such a long walk it was bliss to go for a late afternoon swim at Barricane Beach, next to Woolacombe, and then eat a curry on the beach. The beach cafe is run by a Sri Lanken man who makes curries on nice summer evenings and they are very popular. What a great end to a lovely, relaxing weekend. 

Enjoying a post-swim curry on the beach
curry on the beach is popular at Barricane

Day 284 A Sunny Stroll to Ilfracombe 

Friday 13 May 2016

Combe Martin to Ilfracombe

8 miles

Pete’s house (Nicki’s friend)

Another hot day but this one had a clear blue sky and non-stop sunshine. Such a beautiful day to undertake a lovely walk. 

no this isn’t the Far East, it’s Samson’s Bay in North Devon
Despite my late night I was up early as it was already roasting hot in my tent by 8 am. Before setting off, Andreas made me a nice cup of loose leaf tea in a cafetière; needs must in a campervan. 

me and Bernadette setting off from the campsite
Bernadette and I walked together today. The guys were completing another stretch and then driving to meet us in Ilfracombe; however, I had other plans so would be separating from the developing group today. I was happy with that because, although I like everyone, I’m not ready to bend my trip to the whims of others. I had felt like a “traveller” the last couple of days and I’m not sure I would want that to be the norm.

looking back at Combe Martin and Little Hangman
The views across Widmouth Head and Water Mouth were incredible; such a stunning landscape. 

Widmouth Head and Water Mouth…
…and from the other side (Little and Great Hangmen in the background)
We laboured up and down the steep hills in the burning sunshine and came down into Hele Bay (pronounced heel). There was a cafe here and we stopped for an ice cream and a coffee. We also had a good chat with the owners and got a tip to head for the Tunnels Beaches in Ilfracombe. 

Hillsborough looming large over Ilfracombe
Due to our late start and slow amble on a hot day it was after 3 pm when we crested Hillsborough and stopped to admire the fabulous view across Ilfracombe harbour and town.

looking down on Ilfracombe harbour
St Nicholas Seamen’s Chapel stood prominent atop Lantern Hill on the pier, and Damien Hirst’s statue ‘Verity’ also stood out. 

Lantern Hill and “Verity” (the MS Oldenberg at berth)
We walked around the quayside and climbed Capstone Hill on the other side of the town for another viewpoint. The rather unusual-looking Landmark Theatre also grabs your attention with its conical design. 

Bernadette taking in the view from Capstone Point
Finally we made it to the entrance to the Tunnels Beaches. In 1823 the locals employed Welsh miners to tunnel through the rock to the small, shale coves beyond. They dug 4 tunnels by hand and then built 3 tidal pools below the cliffs (Victorian men and women did not bathe together). The tunnels and the ladies’ pool have been preserved and were open for use. 

theough the tunnels to the beach and the pool
A swim was just what I needed after a hot, sweaty walk. There were a number of people on the beach but only one person in the sea. It was freezing; I got pins and needles in my feet. But it was wonderful and very refreshing. 

Tunnels Beach Ladies’ Pool
After a quick swim we had to leave as Andreas and John arrived to pick up Bernadette and Pete was waiting for me. I said goodbye to the others and walked back to Pete’s house. It had been 9 hot and humid days since my clothes had last seen inside a washing machine and I was so grateful to Pete for letting me wash all my kit. 

drying out post-swim

WEEK 22-23 – Skye

  

10 days travelling around Skye

Campervan 

I had always planned to visit Skye rather than walk around it and this had to be planned in advance, without knowing where I’d be at this point. It all turned out rather well as it happened and I really enjoyed my trip back up North, via Glasgow, Knoydart and Inverness, to get to Skye. My Skye road trip became my farewell to the Highlands, a place I’ve loved (despite the bad weather). 

This was a gastronomic and wild swim tour of Skye and I loved it. Having a campervan was great and there was an even mix of wild camping and campsites. I think we actually had a whole week without rain…unheard of in Scotland for me this summer. 

I think we travelled to every corner of Skye, crisscrossing from Waternish to Trotternish to Strathaird to Sleat to Duirnish to Minginnish. Highlights as follows:

1. All the wild swimming. I made it into the Fairy Pools at Glen Brittle (in spite of the worst midges I’ve experienced), dipped in various pools carved into rocks by the burns and went in the sea at Point of Sleat and Talisker Bay.  

Swimming at Lealt Falls, North of Portree
  
The walk to the Fairy Pools at the foot of the Black Cuillins
 
 
A beautiful beach for a swim at Point of Sleat
  
A chance for some body surfing in Talisker Bay

 2. The Cuillins. What magnificent mountains. Although I didn’t walk up them I did get a boat from Elgol to Loch Coruisk and walked up Sgurr na Stri, the 495m high hill that faces the Cuillins.  

Loch Coruisk
  
What a view of The Cuillins
  
Looking back at the Cuillins from the boat (Sgurr an Stri on the right)

 3. Great food. I was lucky enough to sample 2 great restaurants: Loch Bay in Stein (sea food only) and The Three Chimneys at Carbost. Thank goodness for wild camping so no need to drive anywhere! The. There was The Oyster Shed in Carbost and a lovely cafe in one of the houses I have previously admired on Grand Designs.  

The Oyster Shed, with view of The Cuillins
  
One of my favourite Grand Designs houses, Trotternish
 
4. Wonderful views. Sunny days make for great views. It was also nice to stand at the Point of Sleat and look across at Knoydart, Mallaig and Eigg.  

Walking the Quiraing, Trotternish
  
Views of the Small Isles from Sleat
  
Coral Beaches, Claigan, near Dunvegan
  
Kilt Rock waterfall, North of Portree
  
The Cuillins
  
Morning mist at Portree
 
5. The wildlife. There was always something to see. I didn’t manage to see an otter but I might have seen a pair of Eagles soaring above Glen Brittle. They were certainly enormous but too far away to identify. I saw a buzzard immediately after that was much closer and yet smaller.  

Highland coos
 Such a great holiday. Hopefully I’ll be back soon.  

 

Day 150 The Kintail Coastline

Wednesday 2 September 2015

Sandaig to Ratagan

18 miles

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.  

A beautiful, still morning at Sandaig
 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.  

The memorial to Edal the Otter
 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.  

Looking past the deforestation to Glenelg Bay and Kyle Rhea
 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.  

What a fantastic view of Glenelg
 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.  

Bernera Barracks
  
Looking up Glen More
 
Not far out of Glenelg is the ferry terminal (jetty) for the 6-car ferry to Skye. It was just loading as I passed.  

I’ve never seen a ferry like that before!
 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.  

The water really was that colour in the light (Kyle Rhea)
 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. 

lovely burn through the undergrowth
  I did find a footpath sign, buried in thick undergrowth! 

Can you see the footpath sign? Look closely, it’s there!
 Eventually I came out on a deforested hillside, where my problems seemed to get worse (mitigated by a stunning view).  

Ardintoul Point, Loch Alsh and the bridge to Skye
 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.  

Looking across Loch Duich to Loch Long (Eilean Donan Castle on the right)
  
Eilean Donan Castle
 
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.  

A great little shack for watching the world in Letterfearn
  
It looks like pirates have invaded Letterfearn!
 
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.  

A giant swing hanging off a tree near Totaig

Day 111 Swimming off Red Point

Saturday 25 July 2015

Gairloch to Kinlochewe

4 miles

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.  

The Gairloch coastline
 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.  

The road ends here!
 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.  

Reflections in the water at Gairloch harbour
 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 beach at Red Point
 The first beach had one family and one couple on it so they must have been fighting for space.  

The sand had a red hue to it
 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 view to the second beach at Red Point
 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. 

What a beautiful spot for a swim!
  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.  

Wonderful island and mountain views
 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).  

Picnic time!
 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!  

A sheep carcass in the bog
 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.  

More views from behind the second beach
 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.  

The Scots Pinewood Forest overlooking 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.  

 

Day 92 The Seaboard Villages of Easter Ross

Monday 6 July 2015

Evanton to Portmahomack

15 miles

The Oystercatcher Guest House

I was up early to catch a bus to Alness and then a train to Fearn in order to miss out more road walking and bits without paths. The bus was late so I missed the train (next one in 4 hours). Fortunately I managed to find 2 buses that could get me to Shandwick via Tain. The bus route took through Invergordon and around Nigg Bay. 

Driving around Nigg Bay with views of the Cromarty Firth oil rigs
  Considering the thousands of cruise liner passengers that come through Invergordon it looked a bit run down, although I did like the murals on the ends of lots of the buildings.  

One of several murals in Invergordon
 I arrived in Shandwick at 10 am and the sun was shining and it was getting hot. I walked South for half a mile to check out the Sandwick Cross Slab, one of the Pictish stones that I had read about in the Rosemarkie museum. 

The Shandwick Stone, protected in a glass case
  It is on a hill in a farmer’s field and is now protected by a glass case. Seems a bit of overkill as it’s lasted at least 1200 years without one. 

Shandwick Bay has a nice sandy beach and lots of signs pointing the way, indicating it is a popular spot, just not today.  

Shandwick Bay with North Suter in the background
   I walked through the village into Balintore. The 3 Seaboard Villages of Shandwick, Balintore and Hilton all merge together and have quite a bloody history as the scene of several battles between the Picts and the Vikings. They also thrive on folklore and there is a mermaid on the beach (apparently a local man married one once).  

The Shandwick Mermaid
 Hilton of Cadboll also has a Pictish Cross Slab, although this one is only a replica as the real thing is in a museum in Edinburgh.  

Hilton of Cadboll Pictish Cross Slab
 From here there was a sign for the path I wanted to Tarbat Ness and a notice board telling me it was an “easy 10 miles”. Hmmm. After about a mile, just past the disused fishermen’s huts, the path petered out. There was a track sort of visible but it was very overgrown and I was yet again forcing my way through. I suffered several nettle stings, one on my shoulder (that’s how high they were).  

The first fishing nets I’ve seen hanging on drying posts
 Sometimes, for a change, I walked over the shingle, but that was probably harder going and I felt more likely to break an ankle.  

Shingle or nettles and gorse? Hobson’s choice
 Despite the tough going being sandwiched between the sea and the cliff, the scenery was lovely and the sea looked very inviting.  

I want a swim!
 As I approached Tarbat Ness I came across a small patch of beach between the rocks so I took the opportunity to strip off and take a dip. The water didn’t feel particularly cold and it was incredibly refreshing on a hot day.  

Tarbat Ness Lighthouse
 A 40m tall red and white lighthouse stands at Tarbat Ness, which marks the point where the Great Glen fault line, that splits the Highlands in two, finally meets the sea. From here I could clearly see the mountains further North across the Dornoch Firth.  

The going does not look easier across the Dornoch Firth!!!
 I walked the last couple of miles along the minor roads to Portmahomack on the Northern shore of Easter Ross. I was booked in to the Oystercatcher B&B, which has a restaurant with a fine reputation. Unfortunately it is closed on Mondays. I sat outside enjoying a beer and watching the clouds roll in before retiring to my room for a microwave meal.  

A beer by the sea, the best way to end a walk

Day 86 The Lossiemouth Coastline

Tuesday 30 June 2015

Lossiemouth to Findhorn

16.5 miles

Dave and Cally’s house, Elgin

A hot and sunny day was in store and Cally was going to walk the first part with me from Lossiemouth to Hopeman. Dave drove us to have a look at Lossiemouth East Beach, looking beautiful in the morning sun, before dropping us off at the West Beach.  

Lossiemouth East Beach with the River Lossie flowing almost parallel behind the beach
Cally walks fast but I managed to keep up and it was nice to have some company. No need for a map when walking with a local! 

Me and Cally – stunning and deserted beach
Lossiemouth beach is unusual in having a lighthouse halfway along it just plonked in the dunes. It also has runway lights in the dunes that belong to RAF Lossiemouth and by 10 am we were being serenaded by noisy, but impressive, Typhoons. After about 2.5 miles the beach ran out and the path headed up onto the cliff top.  
The cliff top to Hopeman, covered in gorse
 
There were a couple of beautiful little coves that looked great for wild camping.  
Covesea
 The sandstone cliffs are perfect for developing caves and nooks and crannies.  

Me and Bobby guarding the entrance to a tunnel through the cliff at Covesea
We arrived at Hopeman in no time at all and we did walk past the one famous Prieshach hole on the Hopeman links golf course that makes several lists for best hole. Hopeman is a lovely little town, with a beautiful beach, and the first with beach huts that I’ve seen for ages.  

Hopeman beach huts
 Unfortunately Cally had to leave me here to go to work. It was getting hot and I was slower on my own. The walk from Hopeman to Burghead was mostly on a cycle track along the disused railway line. I past St Aethan’s Well, complete with dog bowls, but the water didn’t look very clean.  

St Aethan’s Well – good for dogs on a hot day!
  Burghead looks ugly from a distance as it is dominated by a factory on its edge; however, it is built on a promontary and I quite liked it.  

Looking back on Burghead from the headland, you can see the sea on both sides
    Its natural shape made it ideal for a fort and there is a great little museum about Burghead’s past as a Pictish fort. The museum also has a fantastic vantage point from where I could see all across the Moray Firth. Great for dolphin spotting (although I didn’t see any).  

The view across the Moray Firth to the Black Isle and beyond
I stopped at The Bothy cafe for a drink and some shade before I began my 7 mile hike along the Roseisle beach to Findhorn. The sun was shining and it was hot so I took my boots off and paddled in the shallows all the way along the beach. 

Walking along the Roseisle beach, paddling in the shallows
  Some areas are quite secluded as the beach backs onto a forest. I took the opportunity to strip off and go for a quick skinny dip at one point. The water wasn’t even that cold.  

The forest behind the beach (RAF kinloss is in there somewhere)
  At one point I thought I was never going to reach Findhorn. It is a long way on a hot day. Cally and the kids were there to meet me and there were lots of people on the beach here. Findhorn Bay is a vast, sheltered basin where the River Findhorn flows to the sea. It has the beautiful Culbin Forest on the West side. We stopped at the cafe for a bit of refreshment. It’s always windy at Findhorn. 

Stunning views in the sunshine
  The tide moves fast in the extensive bay as well. We didn’t see many hippies from the Findhorn Foundation today. It had been a good walk and I had managed to get my feet sunburnt.  

Coming over the dunes into Findhorn Bay