Sunday, June 27, 2010

Walk 255 -- Salen to Strontian

Ages:  Colin was 68 years and 50 days.  Rosemary was 65 years and 192 days.
Weather:  Hot sun, very wet showers, windy and warm.  The wind has blown the midges away!
Location:  Salen to Strontian.
Distance:  10 miles.
Total distance:  2382 miles.
Terrain:  Mostly roads.  One track for about half a mile.  Quite undulating.
Tide:  Coming in.
Rivers:  No.272, Allt Mhic Chiarain.  No.273, Allt Camar à Choirce.  No.274, Strontian River.
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 at Resipole, near Salen.  This morning, with Colin’s bike in the back of the car, we drove to Salen where we had branched off the road from Acharacle to Kilchoan.  (We have decided to walk the distance from Salen to Ardnamurchan Point in one direction only because it is a dead end and we didn’t have to walk it anyway.)  Colin left me there, and I walked back to the caravan by myself.  Meanwhile Colin drove to Strontian where he parked the car then cycled back, only calling at the caravan because it was raining.  When the rain cleared, he cycled on to Salen and walked back pushing his bike so we didn’t have to fetch it later.  We continued the Walk together.
At the end, we came to the car which was parked just beyond Strontian village.  We had our tea and caramel shortcakes, flapped our wet capes at the midges, and returned to the caravan at Resipole.

Today’s Walk was quite a pretty one, along the northern shore of Loch Sunart from west to east.  I walked the first couple of miles by myself because I didn’t see hanging about in Salen waiting for Colin when two miles further on I could hang about in the comfort of the caravan waiting for him!  I was pleased I made this decision because I was sitting in the caravan when the first rainstorm hit us.  Colin wasn’t so lucky.

The road didn’t quite follow the shore, sometimes it was a bit apart from it with trees between.  I was tempted to follow a footpath leading away from the first car park I came to.  It went down the hill through trees towards the loch, and seemed to be going the same way as I was up on the road.  But I made the right decision (second time today I did so) not to follow it because it turned out to be a dead end.  I would have had to retrace my steps.

The road was very quiet anyway, just the occasional vehicle.  I caught glimpses of the loch through the trees, and there were wild flowers everywhere.  Wild roses with their wonderful perfumes were in abundance, as were yellow irises lining the road.  The sun was shining through the petals of the irises making them look like little lamps — it was magical!

The road descended to the lochside, and there I passed three new houses.  One was still half-built with scaffolding all over it.  The second was finished, but not yet lived in.  The third was also very new, but was occupied.  We wondered if they were a self-build group.  What a fantastic location — apart from the weather and the midges!

I could see storm clouds over the loch, it looked grim.  Would I get to the caravan in time?  Yes, I just made it!  It was the mother of all storms, torrential rain pounding on the roof.  I was lucky, not so Colin.  He had parked the car in Strontian and was cycling back to Salen when the storm struck.  He hadn’t intended stopping at the caravan until he had reached Salen and walked back to Resipole pushing his bike, but with the rain he changed his mind.  He wasn’t too put out because he was wearing all his new wet-weather gear, so he was dry and comfortable.  He was glad he had spent out on the expensive ‘breathable’ stuff, and was not wearing leaky plastic which used to make him hot and sweaty.  At last he is converted!  When I saw him arrive, I made a pot of tea and we ate our pies.

When it stopped raining, he cycled on to Salen.  Then he walked back, pushing his bike so he didn’t have to go and fetch it later.  I waited for him in the caravan.  We set off together for the remainder of the Walk.

It was hot and sunny by then, beautiful weather.  We saw some bluebells still in flower!  We thought it very late for these wonderful Spring flowers, they must have been in a very sheltered position.  We also passed an odd-shaped tree — it must have had an interesting history, struggling for light.  We had lovely views of the loch as we walked along.  The road was quite undulating, going up and down, up and down.

We found a path leading into the woods, which we decided to follow.  It led to a hide on the lochside which was, apparently, a good place to see otters.  But the middle of the day is not a good time to see otters, so we didn’t go down to it.  We intended coming back at sunset one day to watch for these elusive animals, but somehow we never did.  I think the intensity of midges at that time of day put us off a bit.

There was another path leading away from the hide which led us back to the road at a picnic area.  This path was very undulating, in fact it was extremely challenging in places.  But we successfully negotiated it, and sat at a picnic table in hot sunshine to eat our sarnies.

Soon after we got going again, it started to rain.  This turned into another torrential downpour which lasted quite some time.  I like to use my cape for summer showers because it keeps my rucksack dry, and it comes below my knees so it normally keeps my legs pretty dry for the duration of a shower.  (Overtrousers are so hot to wear in high Summer.)  But this ‘shower’ went on and on — and on and on — and on and on!  I soon regretted the cape idea because my lower legs were getting quite wet with the water wicking into my socks, thence trickling down into my boots so I ended up squelching.  Colin was dry in his new kag and overtrousers, but his rucksack got soaked.  We can’t win!
We passed a broken bridge.  Whether the wall just collapsed into the stream through lack of maintenance, or whether a speeding car crashed into it we never found out.  But we didn’t see anyone working on it the whole time we were at Resipole.  We also passed an army of gnomes on the verge outside a house, and an army of meerkats on the opposite verge.  We had to photograph all of these features on the way back in the car because the rain was still pouring in great deluges from the sky when we walked past.

It eventually stopped, but we kept the gear on for a while, flapping it about a lot so it could begin to dry.  We sat on a verge to eat our chocolate, but didn’t stay long because swarms of midges found us almost straight away.  It was hot in the sun, so we had to give in and wrapped our still-damp gear into our rucksacks.  Almost immediately it started to rain again — another torrential downpour!  Out it all came again.   
This shower didn’t last as long, and stopped as we crossed the river to walk into Strontian.  We passed the very pleasant village green, and continued to the car park down by the loch.

 That ended Walk no.255, we shall pick up Walk no.256 next time at the car park just out of Strontian.  It was a quarter to five, so the Walk had taken us five and a quarter hours, not counting waiting time in the caravan.  We had our tea and caramel shortcakes, flapped our wet capes at the midges, and returned to the caravan at Resipole.

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