Monday, June 22, 2009

Walk 221 -- Kinlochbervie to Laxford Bridge

Ages: Colin was 67 years and 45 days. Rosemary was 64 years and 187 days.
Weather: Wet and breezy with poor visibility. It was unpleasant, but not really cold. The rain stopped for the last couple of miles.
Location: Kinlochbervie to Laxford Bridge.
Distance: 9 miles.
Total distance: 2014½ miles.
Terrain: Undulating roads.
Tide: In.
Rivers: No.194, Achriesgill Water on the road from Kinlochbervie. No. 195, Rhiconich River at Rhiconich. No. 196, River Laxford at Laxford Bridge.
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 Scourie. This morning we drove to Laxford Bridge, parked the car and intended catching the school bus to Kinlochbervie. Because it was so unpleasant standing in the wind and rain waiting for it, we started thumbing. Very soon a car pulled up — it was a teacher from the school. He told us it was an INSET day, so the bus probably wasn’t running! He was very interested in our trek, and took us to the exact spot at Kinlochbervie War Memorial where we needed to be.
At the end, we got straight into the car and drove back to the caravan to have a proper pot of tea — much better than tea bags!

It was not a very good day for walking, thank goodness we have done and finished with Cape Wrath. I wouldn’t have liked to have walked it in today’s misty rain. I kept putting my camera away to stop it getting wet, then missing photo opportunities. Colin didn’t even bring his camera. There would have been lovely views if it hadn’t been so misty.
There were lots of flowers out, particularly the ubiquitous wild orchid which looked especially lovely in the rain. We passed a few scattered cottages, but generally the landscape is wild and untamed. Very beautiful, but we could have done without the rain.

Yet at the road junction there was a toilet block which was clean, open and free! If they can do it out here in the wilds, why can’t other local authorities? This was the halfway point of today’s walk, where we met up with the road from Durness.
There was a small field opposite the toilets where we sat in the lee of a wall to eat our slices of quiche. That is when Colin discovered he had left his quiche in the fridge in the caravan, so he ate his sandwiches instead! The resident sheep made a quick exit through a hole in the wall opposite us, but they returned soon after and ignored us as they continued munching grass.

We crossed the Rhiconich River and carried on southwards along the road. We were really in wild country now, mountains and rocks — absolutely no habitation. We passed a fence post that was wearing a mossy wig!
There was not much traffic, but when it came it was fast because the road is fairly straight and has been upgraded. The rain became more intense, and it was most unpleasant.
We turned off on a loop which led to a side road, and it turned out to be the ‘old’ road. We saw a pond with water lilies in bud. They looked very pretty, but it was honking down by then so I didn’t photograph it. We walked round several little lochans, and then back to the straightened main road.
Further on this road led through a cutting. The rock was gneiss (at a guess) and it was spectacular. Swirls in the rock showed us that it had been through a lot of movement in the geological past.

After that it was just boring old road. I think we will have a lot of this kind of road-walking down the west coast as there is a dearth of footpaths marked on the map.
We passed a gorse bush with bright flowers on it, an attempt to brighten the day I suppose.
The rain stopped at last though it remained drippy and grey. We both removed our over-trousers because it was too hot to continue to wear them. It may have been a wet day, but it certainly wasn’t cold.
The road narrowed at the bottom of the hill. It became a ‘narrow road with passing places’, and the tarmac was old too. It scrunched under our boots! This bit of the road hadn’t been upgraded. We came to Laxford Bridge, where our car was parked. Bit of a bum Walk really, with the rain and poor visibility.
That ended Walk no.221, we shall pick up Walk no.222 next time at Laxford Bridge. It was twenty past one, so the Walk had taken four and three quarter hours. We were wet and miserable, so we got in the car and drove straight back to the caravan. There we finished our lunch and had a proper cup of tea — made with leaf tea in a teapot!

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