Sunday, April 11, 2010

Walk 236 -- Gairloch to Red Point

Ages: Colin was 67 years and 338 days. Rosemary was 65 years and 115 days.
Weather: Sunny. Calm. Light breeze. PERFICK!
Location: Gairloch to Red Point.
Distance: 13 miles.
Total distance: 2189 miles.
Terrain: All roads. Undulating.
Tide: Coming in.
Rivers: No.232, Flowerdale. No. 233, River Kerry. No.234, Abhainn Bad à Chròth. No. 235, River Erradale.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: Badachro Inn, where Colin had ‘An Teallach Ale’ again and I had a shandy.
‘Historic Scotland’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: We were staying in our caravan in Gairloch. Yesterday we hired a small car locally so we had two. This morning we drove both cars to Red Point, left our own car there and came back to the caravan in the hire car.
At the end, we finished at our car parked at Red Point. After tea and caramel shortcake, we drove back to the caravan in Gairloch.

We can hardly believe the wonderful weather! Two days ago it was Winter — now it is Summer, at least as far as the weather is concerned. We walked the few yards from the caravan to the waterfront and discovered that the “Highland Marathon” is being run today, finishing in Gairloch. We met some of the race marshals near the Tourist Information Office but we didn’t see any of the runners.
We walked along the top of the beach to cut off a corner, and sat on a seat to eat our pasties. There were broken bottles all over the place. We’d heard a lot of noise last night, but it was distant from our caravan so it didn’t disturb us much. It is sad that all over the British Isles, even in remote places like this, it has become part of the “culture” to get drunk on Friday and Saturday nights. Some towns and cities have become “no-go” areas for decent people on those evenings because of the yobs and their anti-social behaviour. (I won’t go on — it’s such a nice day!)
The beach was beautiful, the sea was as smooth as a mill pond, the sky was blue and it was warm in the sun. We could see Skye in the distance and the Torridon Mountains ahead. It made us feel really good to be alive! We passed the church and noticed quite a lot of cars parked outside, because it was Sunday of course.
Just past the War Memorial we noticed a post which told us there was a view indicator and road-side rest provided by the local Council. We walked out to the small promontory where these were, and were rewarded with a glorious view along a sandy beach. We would love to have walked it, but it was a dead end and we would have had to return to exactly the spot where we were standing. We looked the other way and saw a heron standing in the edge of the sea looking out for its dinner.
The road then moved away from the coast a little, and we realised just how hot it had become. We passed the cemetery, then the golf club where our map told us there were public loos. But when we discovered they were charging 20p, we both decided we didn’t really need to go. We would surely pass plenty of substantial bushes in the near future!
We crossed a river, then started walking up Glen Kerry. The road was busy and it seemed further than we’d thought — perhaps that was because some of it was uphill and we were hot. We didn’t enjoy this part of the Walk much.

We were glad to cross the River Kerry and get on to the Red Point road, which is narrow and a dead end. But that was just as busy! We realised, later, that it was because there is a rather nice pub a few miles down — and it was approaching Sunday lunchtime.
The views are spectacular in this part of Scotland, especially on such a beautiful day! Mountains and sea and lochs and rocks, wall-to-wall blue sky — what more could we ask?
And NO MIDGES!! (It’s too early in the year.) April is the best time of year to visit north-west Scotland, we discovered that before we ever started this Trek — before we retired.

It was hot, Colin walked in his shirtsleeves all day. We sat near an interesting rock in the shade of some trees to eat our sarnies. We were very near Shieldaig Farm where we reckoned the marathon had started a good few hours ago. The marquee in the field was empty and abandoned now, but earlier this morning, when we drove this road in each direction to ‘plant’ the car at Red Point, there had been catering vans and people milling all over the place.

The road was narrow, twisting and undulating — but the views were breathtaking! First across Loch Shieldaig with its islands, then we rose up and could see across towards Gairloch and where we had walked the day before yesterday.
Next we passed a small lochan on our left hand side, then we dipped down to an awkward (for drivers) bridge across a fast-flowing river.
We put on a march because we didn’t want today’s Walk to end late, but we had to keep diving into the undergrowth to avoid being run down by the Sunday traffic.

Eventually we came to the hamlet of Badachro where we diverted to the pub. It was packed! We bought our drinks and sat on the terrace — which would have been idyllic if it wasn’t for the smokers. Even in the open air we both find the smell offensive, don’t these people realise they are killing themselves? Colin is especially against smoking because his father died before his time because of it, and his mother died of secondary smoking in the same year.
It wasn’t really their fault — his father was called up during the Second World War, he never wanted to be a soldier. He was
given cigarettes by the Army and told to smoke them to calm his nerves. By the time he was demobbed he was an addicted chain-smoker, and found it impossible to kick the habit. Although Colin’s parents lived for another 30+ years, we both feel they were victims of the War in a way. Anyway, we were able to move our seats away from the smokers as the crowds on the terrace thinned, and we spent a very pleasant half hour or so resting in this lovely place.
But we couldn’t stay forever, though we felt we wanted to! The road was straighter now, and not nearly so busy. We carried on marching, and looking at the views, of course. We had sea to our right and lochans to our left — water, water everywhere! We came to the top of a rise where we had a lovely view over Opinan Beach. There we found a comfy rock to sit on and eat our chocolate.
We descended to Opinan where we passed a quirky house — it looked like two cottages joined by a kind of greenhouse affair. We couldn’t quite make it out, and wondered if it was only half built. We were weary now, at least I was. We had a hill to climb and we found it a long slog. Colin will never admit to being tired, but somehow I managed to get ahead of him so he must have been. I know he was hot, and he doesn’t do heat.
We reached a notice which told us we were at Red Point — but we knew we still had at least another mile to go. I heard a noise in the undergrowth which sounded very much like the ‘lekking’ sound that grouse make (I have only heard it on television, so I couldn’t really be sure). But it was a weird noise, I have never heard anything like it before. Whatever was making it scurried away and disappeared. Colin reckoned he saw red grouse, but I didn’t actually see them, only heard them. We had been hearing skylarks all day, and occasionally seeing them wheeling round high up. We had also seen geese in the fields.
Ahead we could see across Loch Torridon to Fearnmore on the next peninsula. We have to walk all the way round the shores of Loch Torridon before we get there — a long way.
We got to the viewpoint where it was officially Red Point. It was only a short path to the plinth, but my feet had given up! I seemed to have no energy left at all, it was most strange. (The following year I was diagnosed with a medical condition which accounted for this.) I didn’t even want to walk to the plinth, but Colin persuaded me to. I was rewarded with glorious views, so I was glad I did.
It was only a quarter of a mile to where we had parked the car, but I really thought I wouldn’t make it. I walked very slowly indeed, I could hardly put one foot in front of the other. The road went through a narrow gap between two rocks, and in one of them was a Victorian post box, still in use apparently. Colin went ahead, and met me with a cup of tea in his hand! I drank it, and shuffled the last few yards.
That ended Walk no.236, we shall pick up Walk no.237 next time at the further car park at Red Point. It was ten to six, so the Walk had taken seven hours and twenty minutes. We had caramel shortcake and another cup of tea before driving back to our caravan in Gairloch.

No comments: