Monday, April 11, 2011

Walk 270 -- Muasdale to Machrihanish

Ages:  Colin was 68 years and 338 days.  Rosemary was 66 years and 115 days.
Weather:  Mostly sunny.  Cold wind.  Isolated showers, most of which missed us!
Location:  Muasdale to Machrihanish.
Distance:  14 miles.
Total distance:  2574 miles.
Terrain:  Lots of beach-walking which was nice.  Lots of road-walking which wasn’t.
Tide:  Coming in — going out by the time we reached Machrihanish Beach.
Rivers:  No.311, Barr Water. No.313, Machrihanish Water.
Ferries:  None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates:  No.218 at the beginning of Machrihanish Beach.
Pubs:  None.
‘Historic Scotland’ properties:  None.
Ferris wheels:  None.
Diversions:  None.
How we got there and back:  We were staying in our caravan in Machrihanish.  This morning we caught a bus just outside the caravan park to Campbeltown.  There we caught another bus to Muasdale.
At the end, we finished the Walk a quarter of a mile down the road from the caravan park.  So we walked back to the caravan and had our tea there.  We didn’t use the car at all today.

I had difficulty sleeping through the night after the last Walk because the blister on my right heel was so painful.  When I looked at it in the morning, I found it had spread sideways and was HUGE!  So we abandoned plans to walk for the next couple of days in order to give it a chance to heal.  I also bought ‘Compeed’ plasters, and found them to be very good.  Today I walked in my old boots — I have walked two and a half thousand miles in them, and they only gave me a blister once, when I got my feet wet.  Trouble is they leak, so I had to be careful to keep my feet out of mud and water — not always easy.

We got off the bus and went straight on to the beach.  It looked as if it was sandy, and so it was for about a mile.  We rounded a point where a fisherman was standing on the end, and there on a rock were about thirty seals basking in the sun.  It was a wonderful sight!
We sat on some grassy tufts to watch them, and ate our pies.  They didn’t do much, occasionally flexing their muscles like giant jelly-beans.  The tide was coming in, gradually turning their one big rock into lots of little ones and forcing some of them into the sea.  They seemed reluctant to give in.  I do so love seals!

We stayed on the beach until we came to some cliffs.  It was too rocky to walk beneath them, so we went up on to some grass, passed a herd of cows who were grazing there and exited through a gate on to the road.

This went inland for the next couple of miles, so we put on our fluorescent waistcoats and route-marched it.  Part way along we passed a War Memorial, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.  It was a reminder that nobody was exempt from the horrors of the two World Wars last century, not even people living in this remote area.

As we came down the hill to the beach again we got caught in a sharp shower.  We crossed over a river, then through a field to a caravan site.  It was a site I had considered using, but thought it might be too exposed with the winds we have been having lately.  We used their loos, then took ourselves down to a sandy beach where we found a spot in the dunes to eat our sarnies out of the wind.  It was hot sitting there in the sun, so we stripped off layers.  Two minutes after we left, the rain poured down again and the wind howled!  So we put the layers back on again — hey-ho!

From there we were able to walk the next two and a half miles along a firm sandy beach.  Absolute bliss!  We had really missed the sand and the surf when walking round all those lochs further north.  We had thought we might be walking on the road for this bit — so we loved this stretch, marching along with a spring in our step!

We had to come off the beach when we reached the hotel at Ballochantuy because it got too rocky.  The next four miles were boring and dangerous road-walking — so we went into route-march mode again.  We passed a boarded-up hotel, a sad sight.  Further on we stopped in a layby made from the old road to eat our apples.  It was difficult to find a place out of the cold wind.

We carried on route-marching.  There was a gap on the rock on our left-hand side which didn’t look natural, but if it was man-made, what was it for?  The beach on our right-hand side was full of rocks.
There were occasional bits of sand, but they were so tiny they weren’t worth going down on the beach for.
We passed a rock stack where birds were resting, and we spent a pleasant five minutes watching their comings and goings.
An old stone bridge took the old road over a dry river bed.

At last we could turn away from the traffic on to a bit of old road which ended in the car park for Machrihanish Beach.  There were quite a few people on this end of the beach, but they were mostly packing up for the day.
We watched the kite-surfers for a little while, but before long we were completely on our own!
We had four miles of sandy beach to walk, rolling surf to our right and dunes to our left.
We really enjoyed this part of the Walk!

We saw a few piles of rubbish neatly stacked up against the dune cliff.  Further on we came across a seat made from beach rubbish and thought it rather clever.  At what we thought must be the halfway point, we sat under the dune cliff and ate our chocolate.

Machrihanish seemed to take a long time to get near us, but eventually we came to the river which divided us from the village.  No worry, there was a footbridge a couple of hundred yards upstream.  Colin got me to climb a sand-cliff, then he said “I’ve goofed!  We could have walked along the bottom to the bridge!”  Under ordinary circumstances this wouldn’t have mattered, but in scrambling up that sand my blisters, which had been dormant and painless all day, rubbed against the back of my boots and took all the skin off again.  The pain was excruciating!
I don’t know how I managed to limp back the other side of the river, along the dunes to the road, then back to the caravan site.  But I did!

That ended Walk no.270, we shall pick up Walk no.271 next time where we exited the dunes on to the road in Machrihanish.  It was five to seven, so the Walk had taken us seven hours five minutes.  We walked — limped in my case — a couple of hundred yards to the caravan site where we put the kettle on straightaway.  When I revealed my blisters, several had merged across the back of my heel.  It was all a horrible mess!

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