Saturday, April 17, 2010

Walk 241 -- Shieldaig to Kenmore

Ages:  Colin was 67 years and 344 days.  Rosemary was 65 years and 121 days.
Weather:  Heavy showers turning to steady rain for the last hour.  A cold wind.
Location:  Shieldaig to Kenmore.
Distance:  8 miles.
Total distance:  2223 miles.
Terrain:  Mostly a quiet road.  A good path at one point which suddenly deteriorated.  I didn’t trust the next bit of path, so we stayed on the road.  Undulating.
Tide:  Out.
Rivers:  No.242, Abhainn Ceànn Iocha.  No.243, Abhainn à Chracaich.
Ferries:  None.
Piers:  None.
Kissing gates:  None.
Pubs:  Shieldaig Inn where Colin drank two Isle of Skye beers: ‘Young Pretender’ and ‘Black Cuillin’.  Again I had a shandy, I have gone off beer a bit lately.
‘Historic Scotland’ properties:  None.
Ferris wheels:  None.
Diversions:  None.
How we got there and back:  We were staying in our caravan in Applecross, and we had hired a small car locally so we had two.  This morning we drove both cars to Kenmore where we left our own car.  Then we drove on to Shieldaig in the hire car.
At the end, we came to our own car in Kenmore.  We had tea and caramel shortcake, then we drove to Shieldaig to pick up the hire car.  From there we drove both cars back to our caravan in Applecross.

When we got to the starting point of today’s Walk we didn’t want to get out of the car.  This was because there was a cold wind and sheeting rain — it was like a Winter’s day!  So we sat in the car and ate our pies, then we put on our wet-weather gear and walked two hundred yards along the road to the local pub.  The weather was just as bad when we came out of there, I was beginning to question our sanity!
It was less than a mile along the road to the junction with the Applecross road, but by the time we got there the rain had stopped and the sun came out.  We were also sheltered from the wind behind trees, and suddenly it was Summer!  It didn’t last, of course, there were more showers turning to steady rain later on, and whenever we were in exposed places the wind was bitter.  We didn’t enjoy today’s Walk much, and only took a few photos because we didn’t want to get the cameras wet.
There was a ship in the end of the loch just off Shieldaig Island, and it seemed to be drifting.  It turned round in the wind, and then turned back as if it was only attached at one end.  It wasn’t going anywhere.
There was a fish ladder in the river we crossed.  We found a sheltered rock and sat down to eat our sarnies, making use of the good weather while it lasted.  This wasn’t long as it was raining again before we’d finished.

We followed the road — which was only built in 1963 — as it twisted and turned, up and down, with very little traffic and fantastic views.  We had already driven along it several times on our way to and from the caravan site at Applecross, it was a pity we couldn’t pause and enjoy the views today because the weather was so foul.  We read a notice about replanting the forest, but we couldn’t see much of it from the road.  We read another notice about a small-scale hydro-electric scheme, in a stream.  Yes, really small-scale!
We didn’t take the road down into Ardheslaig because it is a dead end, but we could see the beach by the hamlet from the road we were on.  It had stopped raining momentarily, and there was a huge rock, almost like a cliff, which we could shelter behind.  So we took the opportunity, and sat on a wall to eat our chocolate.
From there we took the bridle path, which was the ONLY road until 1963!  It is not suitable for motorised vehicles, so up until that year the postman used to walk it daily to get to the scattered communities further on.  Or he went by boat, if he owned one, but he had to row it himself.  In the 1950s one postman bought himself a motor bike, but he still had to ride it along the bridle path which is quite steep and uneven in places.   
We found it okay to walk on at first, but then it deteriorated and all but disappeared.  I found myself walking horizontally along a steep bank, and I was too tired to cope with the awkwardness.  It started to rain and didn’t let up — horrid!
We climbed up the bank and over the Armco to get back on to the road.  A bit further on the bridle path led off again, but I refused to take it even though Colin tried to persuade me.  It looked good at the beginning, but then so had the other one and that had deteriorated to nothing.  I didn’t trust it, so I ‘power-walked’ the last three miles to Kenmore along the road in the rain using my walking poles.  Today we were both glad of the quality wet-weather gear we were wearing — it was well worth the extra money we paid for it.

That ended Walk no.241, we shall pick up Walk no.242 next time in the hamlet of Kenmore.  It was a five to six, so the Walk had taken five hours and twenty-five minutes.  We were cold, wet and miserable; and very glad the Walk was over.  We had tea and caramel shortcake, then we drove to Shieldaig to pick up the hire car.  From there we drove both cars back to our caravan in Applecross.

All airports are still closed, for the third consecutive day now.  It’s chaos out there — people are getting very angry.  We are glad we’re not involved, almost prefer to be walking in the rain!

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