Saturday, June 20, 2009

Walk 220 -- Blairmore to Kinlochbervie

Ages: Colin was 67 years and 43 days. Rosemary was 64 years and 185 days.
Weather: Sunny with a cool breeze — perfect!
Location: Blairmore to Kinlochbervie.
Distance: 4 miles.
Total distance: 2005½ miles.
Terrain: Quiet road with a lot of sheep about. Undulating.
Tide: Coming in.
Rivers: No.193, Amhainn Aisir Mhór.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: None.
‘Historic Scotland’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: We were staying in our caravan in Durness. We had a sleep-in after our efforts of yesterday, and didn’t start today’s Walk until about tea-time. We still had the hire-car, so we drove both cars to Kinlochbervie, parked our own car by the war memorial and went on to Blairmore in the hire-car.
At the end, we had our tea. Then we drove once again to Blairmore to pick up the hire-car, and drove both cars back to the caravan in Durness. The next day we returned the hire-car to Thurso. Later we moved the caravan to Scourie.

We didn’t have much to write about for this Walk. We were merely linking up the end of the last Walk with a bus stop at Kinlochbervie four miles further along the road. We were still on a ‘high’ after our achievement yesterday, the weather was balmy and we simply meandered along accompanied by lots of sheep.
We were talking excitedly about the last Walk and what it meant to us. Up until Cape Wrath we never really believed that we would complete the whole coast of mainland Britain. But now it seems possible, because nothing could be so difficult as the Walk we had just done, surely? (We were to learn in later Walks that this was not quite true!) As our friends kept reminding us over the next few weeks, “Now it’s downhill all the way!” (That was not true either!) But today we stepped out positively, happy in our hearts.
We left the car park with sheep grazing around it, and followed the road to Kinlochbervie. Almost opposite the car park was the kissing gate we had come through last night just after midnight. Because it was dark we hadn’t noticed that there was a notice on it which read “Walkers Welcome” in big letters. That really made us feel good!
We looked at the amazing views, the lovely flowers — there were orchids everywhere — and spoke to the sheep. We looked at the mountains ahead, glad that we won’t have to climb any of them.
We crossed several streams, but no problem today because we were on a road. We didn’t even feel tired! We didn’t turn in to any of the side roads because they were all dead ends which we don’t have to go down if we don’t want to. We strolled, incapable of walking any faster, so happy after completing yesterday’s marathon.
A group of sheep were ahead of us, walking along the road. I joked that they were doing the “Round-Britain-Walk” too — I felt quite jocular. They kept ahead of us, and suddenly they spooked. They dashed past us and returned the way they had come, looking back at us as if they had escaped from great danger. In their panic, one even jumped a fence which was at least four feet high — we were quite impressed!
As we approached Kinlochbervie we could see a loch and beyond it the school, the first secondary school since Bettyhill. This area is so thinly populated, children have to travel long distances to get to school.
Before we ever came to this area, we imagined Kinlochbervie to be a pretty little fishing village like so many we have passed on our way round Scotland. But we discovered it has a very ugly harbour like a great sore in the middle of a wild and beautiful area.
The harbour area is huge and commercial — when we drove through last night at about half past midnight, it was lit with a myriad of garish lights. Ah well, I suppose it provides jobs locally, and that is important. It was just that it was not what we were expecting, that’s all.

We soon came to the war memorial where our Walk finished. A memorial bench nearby was dedicated to an eighteen-year-old youth who died five years ago. The fence in front of the bench was festooned with teddy bears and bunches of flowers, though it was not the anniversary of either his birth or death. Then we looked at the war memorial, and they were mere boys too who died in those terrible wars. Whole families were wiped out, the name ‘Morrison’ appears on that simple stone cross no less than ten times! It is always so sad when young people die, for whatever reason.
That ended Walk no.220, we shall pick up Walk no.221 next time by the war memorial in Kinlochbervie. It was quarter past seven, so the Walk had taken one hour, fifty minutes. We had our tea and drove to Blairmore to pick up the hire-car. We drove both cars back to the caravan in Durness where I cooked our evening meal. The next day we returned the hire-car to Thurso, came back to Durness in our own car, then towed the caravan to Scourie. We are well and truly on our way South!

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