Week two in NW Scotland started off with my boyhood dream of reaching Cape Wrath finally coming true. Terry, a fellow nomad and I made our way to the ferry point hoping the ferryman was there and willing to take us over the Kyle of Durness to “The Parph”
I was also secretly wishing that the man’s name was Gerry or something similar so I could say that me and Terry took the ferry with Gerry. His name was John.
John Morrison has been taking mad tourists, hikers, cyclists and petrol cans over to Cape Wrath for many years. We clambered into small speedboat with 4 other people, two bikes and Stuart our bus driver. The short crossing was smooth with plenty of banter between Stuart and John. Once on land we were ushered onto the bus by Stuart and began the 11 mile drive up to the lighthouse. This took over an hour due to the potholes and general state of the road. Stuart told us all about the area, a fascinating insight into a MOD and UN bombing range. Craters were visible as were the targets and I genuinely felt sad that this gorgeous wilderness was used this way. No people live on The Parph and the half a dozen sheep are wild. In fact they are more than wild during MOD manoeuvres, they are livid.
Some may be wondering why I didn’t walk the 11 miles. I was intending to but I have been suffering with gout so felt that another day’s rest was in order. I would never have learnt as much about the history of the most NW corner of Britain if I had trudged by myself.
We had an hour or so at the lighthouse and Terry took a picture of me at the most North Westerly point. I stayed there for a while on my own, many thoughts spinning around my head. I pictured the small boy looking at maps in his mum’s 10 volume encyclopaedia and making a pledge that one day I would visit Cape Wrath. I thought about the walk and the people I have met.
Then my eyes filled up as I thought about my heroine Spud. It felt as though her and her dog Tess were sitting there with me. It was cruel that cancer took her away so early in her life.
I looked across to my right and saw the north coast of Scotland where I had come from and then to my left where the cliffs down to Sandwood Bay could be seen. I will be walking South for the rest of this year and some of 2018. I took a deep breath, looked out to the horizon and said “left turn Spud”
The journey back was quiet as the impact of the solitary location took over. It was a deeply moving experience for me. Terry and I toasted Cape Wrath when we got back to Durness and I started to look at my walks for the week.
Cape Wrath had been a drizzly day but the rest of the week was the complete opposite. I was treated to Sutherland at its very best with bright warm sunshine, fluffy sheepy clouds and a wind strong enough to keep the midges at bay.
Scourie bay was spectacular and a wonderful spot for some Ukelele playing whilst resting.
Day 136 to Drumbeg brought me over the glorious Kylescu bridge and amazingly picturesque Unapool. This was the start of some very dramatic roads that climbed and dipped around the cliffs and surrounding hills.
The next day to Lochinver had the beautiful Clashnessie beach. Lochinver itself is a tiny village with an immensely pleasurable walk along the Loch.
Altandhu sounded like a sci-fi planet and I was really looking forward to reaching that coastline. The Summer Isles spreading out in front of Altandu made a spectacular photo opportunity.
The first two weeks of this Scottish leg has delivered amazing scenery and great weather. I know that this next week will be a tough one as wind and rain is forecast. I am heading south now which, in a weird way feels like I am heading home….with just 3200+ miles to go..