Friday, June 26, 2009

Walk 224 -- Kylesku to Drumbeg

Ages: Colin was 67 years and 49 days. Rosemary was 64 years and 191 days.
Weather: Very hot and sunny. Cooling breeze in exposed places, but mostly too hot to be comfortable.
Location: Kylesku to Drumbeg.
Distance: 11 miles.
Total distance: 2050 miles.
Terrain: A main road uphill for two miles — not much traffic but what there was came fast. The next nine miles were on a narrow road with ‘passing places’. There was even less traffic but it appeared unexpectedly. It was very undulating. There was not much shade, but stunning scenery!
Tide: Going out.
Rivers: No.200, Allt à Ghamhna at the first dip in the road. No. 201, Allt Ardbhair at the next dip. No. 202, Allt na Claise at the next. No.203, the outlet to Loch Nedd near Nedd.
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. There are no buses south of Scourie, not even a school bus, so we had no choice but to thumb a lift. This morning we drove to the picnic area where we finished yesterday’s Walk, and Colin dropped me there with my puzzle book. Then he drove on to Drumbeg and parked in the car park with an absolutely stunning view of 35 islands, all bird sanctuaries. Very little traffic uses that road, and he was beginning to despair of ever getting a lift. But in the end the owner of Drumbeg village shop picked him up and took him as far as the main road. Then he got a lift in a motor-caravan for the last two miles. He had taken an hour and a half, and I was beginning to get a little worried.
At the end, we had our tea and caramel squares, then returned to our caravan in Scourie.
The next day we began the long two-day journey back home to Malvern — tired but very happy!

So far all our Walks this session have gone to plan, but today it nearly didn’t. I felt so tired when I woke this morning I really didn’t want to walk at all. So we were a little late getting going. I was absolutely determined not to give in. We drove to Kylesku where we went down into the hamlet by the old ferry slipway to see what it was like. Stunningly beautiful in the sunshine, and we noticed a pair of antlers on the wall above the Post Office.
Colin left me at the picnic site under the bridge, and drove on to Drumbeg. His problem was getting a lift back — he was gone an hour and a half and we were both beginning to despair. The road to Drumbeg is so QUIET, it was three quarters of an hour before a vehicle passed him! It was the local shopkeeper who took him all but the last two miles. Then he was on the main road, and soon got a lift in a motor-caravan.
He wasn’t very happy when he arrived because he was flustered and it was a hot day, hotter even than yesterday. So we sat in the shade and ate our slices of quiche before we started — this gave him time to cool down a little.
The first two miles took us south along the main road next to Loch Glencoul. It was steadily uphill, and would have been unpleasant in the heat if it wasn’t for the magnificent views.

We noticed ‘cotton-top’ flowers in a dried up ditch and a large green caterpillar by our feet. We were surrounded by mountains, and across the loch we could see a waterfall far in the distance.

We reached the turning for Drumbeg, and from then on we were on an extremely quiet road. We were now on the Assynt Peninsula. The scenery was stunning — past mountains and lochs, up and down. One loch had what looked like grass growing in it, close up it was a work of Art!
It was very very hot, too hot to fully appreciate the magnificent panorama we were passing through. We found a place in the shade to sit down and eat our lunch. When we got going again, Colin used his umbrella as a sunshade. But we were up high, and it kept turning inside out in the wind. Muttered curses were the order of the day! (He was tired too, and he doesn’t take kindly to the heat.) The way he was behaving, I said he ought to be a character in the popular TV comedy series “Last of the Summer Wine”!
The road took us downhill to cross a stream. There was shade down there — blissful! Trouble was, immediately we had to trudge uphill back into the sun. That was hard going. More amazing views, we have read somewhere that the Duke of Westminster (one of the richest people in Britain) owns property overlooking these fantastic vistas.
We plodded on, uphill and uphill in the sun — then it was steeply downhill again to another wooded stream. It was hard to find shade to stop and eat our cereal bars, and later on our chocolate. Steeply uphill again and round several twists and bends, then down again into a little dip to cross yet another stream.
The next uphill was a long one, we had seen the road stretching way, way ahead. We tramped, we trudged and we plodded, barely talking to each other so as not to waste what little energy we had left. We complain about the wet Walks, but this heat was just too much!
Across the open moors we went, and at last the road started to go down again.
By the time we had descended to sea-level to cross the stream feeding Loch Nedd, we were a tad cooler because the sun was beginning to drop in the western sky. Also it was heavily wooded in that area, and we began to feel a little more human.
We thought the redundant fishing boats at the end of Loch Nedd were a sad sight.
We had to climb up to the hamlet of Nedd, and then up a lot more before we got to Drumbeg. But we were kind of numb by then, and didn’t mind so much. We passed a small loch covered in water lilies — beautiful!
We were amused by a road sign which had the picture of a pig in a warning triangle. It said, “Beware, pigs, piglets, lambs, sheep on road”! As signs go it must be unique, unless you know of one somewhere else? It reminded us of a taxi we once got into in the country of Bolivia — a notice inside said, “No smoking. No pigs”! Another notice on a cattle grid gate at the entrance to Drumbeg told us that they had won the ‘Best Village Shop in Scotland’ award in 2006. But the shop was shut by the time we passed, so we couldn’t use it.
The toilets were open, we were relieved to find, and we went on to the car park which is at a fine viewpoint. To the south is a loch with mountains behind. To the north is the best view we had seen all day — thirty five islands in the sea!
That ended Walk no.224, we shall pick up Walk no.225 next at the viewpoint car park in Drumbeg. It was half past six, so the Walk had taken six hours twenty minutes. While we were drinking our tea and eating scrumptious caramel squares, we watched a German couple set up a sumptuous picnic on one of the tables and open a bottle of wine. Overlooking those thirty-five islands, it seemed like Paradise and we were a little envious. But we wondered how long they stayed for the wind had turned a trifle nippy now the sun was lower in the sky.
As we drove back along the road towards Kylesku we came across a herd of red deer up on the moor. There were some magnificent stags, but their antlers were covered in velvet still as it is not the rutting season yet. We stopped for quite a while watching them, before returning to our caravan in Scourie.The next day we began the two-day journey home to Malvern. We were very satisfied that meticulous planning had paid off and all the Walks had been successful this time — especially the Cape Wrath one. We are extremely proud of that achievement!

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