Monday, April 19, 2010

Walk 242 -- Kenmore to Lonbain

Ages:  Colin was 67 years and 346 days.  Rosemary was 65 years and 123 days.
Weather:  Overcast, with some showers which verged on hail.  There was a bitterly cold wind.
Location:  Kenmore to Lonbain.
Distance:  9½ miles.
Total distance:  2232½ miles.
Terrain:  The first quarter of a mile was a track and an easy moorland path.  The rest of the Walk was a quiet road.  Undulating.
Tide:  Going out.
Rivers:  No. 244, Abhainn Chuaig.  No.245, Allt na h-Eirigh.
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 Applecross, and we had hired a small car locally so we had two.  This morning we drove both cars to Lonbain where we left our own car.  Then we drove on to Kenmore in the hire car.
At the end, we came to our own car on a grass verge above Lonbain, which is only half a dozen houses, if that.  It was a bit windy there, so we drove to Kenmore where it was more sheltered.  After tea and caramel shortbread, we drove both cars back to our caravan in Applecross.

      By golly, it was cold last night!  The temperature went down to minus five, yet it was cloudy at dawn trapping the cold air at ground level.  It was freezing when we got up.  I was so cold I couldn’t think properly, I felt all closed up.  I left my trekking sticks in the wrong car, so I was without them all day.  I also left my shoes in the wrong car, so I couldn’t change out of my boots when we reached Lonbain.  However, as soon as we started walking I began to warm up and felt more myself.
We walked along to the end of the road in the hamlet of Kenmore, then went through a gate which looked as if it led into a private garden.  But there was a notice which told us it was a right of way so we knew we were okay.   
The footpath marked on the map went only a short distance before it joined up with the road, but even so the way wasn’t very clear.  We found several gates which were tied up with twine in knots — but Colin was a ‘whizz-kid’ at untying them.  We crossed a rocky field where the path all but disappeared, but we are getting used to that sort of thing in Scotland by now!  It was not difficult to find our way, and we soon came to a gate which led us out to the road.
Looking back from our vantage point up on the road, we could see a salmon farm in the loch and the mountains behind Torridon.  
Looking forward, we could see across the loch to the stark landscape we had walked around Lower Diabaig.  We put the camera on full zoom, but we still couldn’t make out the paths we had followed.
We passed some birch trees which were full of growths that looked, at first, like birds’ nests.  I thought it was mistletoe, but Colin said it wasn’t.  
 We turned a corner and found we were out of the wind, which was very cold, so we stopped to eat our pies.  But we didn’t hang around for long.
This is a very remote area, but there is an old school building at Arrisa which is now a craft centre.  It was advertising ‘stained glass’, but we didn’t stop and look in — I think both of us were too cold to take any interest.  Further on we passed a turn-off to Fearnbeg, but we didn’t go down there as it is a dead end.  Another mile, and we came to the hamlet of Fearnmore where there is nothing very much at all.  The significance of this place is that it is the northernmost point of the peninsula, and we moved round to point ourselves South once more.  That’s the direction in which we want to go until we reach Cornwall!
The road stretched out before us, we could see it for miles!  We now had views of Raasay, and the Isle of Skye beyond — beautiful!  We zoomed in on the tiny rock called Rona, which is the northernmost part of Raasay, because it boasts a lighthouse.  But we found the winds to be much colder on this side of the peninsula, so we were not very happy.  We found shelter behind a rock, and stopped to eat our sarnies.
On we marched, through the hamlet of Cuaig where a ‘Woven’ shop — another craft shop — looked very closed.  Not that many people pass this way, we were passed by only the occasional vehicle.   
We crossed a little river where there was a lovely flowering bush, then we stopped at an official car park to look at magnificent views across to Raasay and Skye.  But it was too cold to stand there for more than a few seconds!  We skulked behind a gorse bush to eat our chocolate.
Further on a passing car stopped, and the driver — a woman with an American accent — kindly offered us a lift.  She must have thought us mad when we turned her down (perhaps we were!) though we tried to explain why we “must walk”!   (They don’t understand walking the other side of the Pond!)
We marched on, down through Kalnakill — another hamlet of about two houses — and at last we reached the car which was parked on the road above Lonbain.  Or is it Londain?  On some maps it has the ‘b’ and on others it is spelt with the ‘d’.  The official roadsign says ‘Londain’, but someone had changed it with a permanent marker to ‘Lonbain’.  So I’ll go with the latter spelling!  Whatever, the views of the Cuillins on Skye were magnificent, even though the top of the extinct volcano was under cloud.  A vista which lifts the heart, despite the bitterly cold wind!
 That ended Walk no.242, we shall pick up Walk no.243 next time on the road above Lonbain.  It was twenty to four, so the Walk had taken five hours and twenty minutes.  It was cold and windy there, and I was miserable because my shoes were in the other car so I couldn’t take my boots off.  (Funny how these little things are so upsetting when you’re cold!)  So we drove to Kenmore where it was more sheltered, and I could change into my ordinary shoes.  After tea and caramel shortbread, we drove both cars back to our caravan in Applecross. 

Yesterday I wrote in my diary:
Still no aeroplanes flying, and people are spending thousands of pounds trying to get back to the UK overland.

Today I wrote:
The authorities suddenly announced this afternoon that the volcanic ash is not dangerous after all, and all airports would open from 11 o’clock tonight!
After all that chaos!!

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