|Statistics and Files|
|Start: Kyle of Durness||Finish: Rhiconich||Distance: 13.0 miles (21.0 km)|
|Time: 5-6 hours||Climbing: 353 metres||Rating: Hard|
|GPX Route File||Google Earth File||About Durness|
|Start: Kyle of Durness||Finish: Rhiconich|
|Distance: 13.0 miles (21.0 km)||Time: 5-6 hours|
|Climbing: 353 metres||Rating: Hard|
|GPX Route File||Google Earth File|
The route today was 13 miles, following my four and a half yesterday from the Faraid headland to my digs at the Kyle of Durness. Incidentally it howled all night, often waking me. Back to today, my walk began in miserable conditions and it was a frustrating sight to see the Cape Wrath ferry closed as I left Keoldale and resumed my walk south to Cornwall, a thought that filled me with awe. I still had today to get through and today was the first one carrying my 16 kilo (2.5 stones) backpack. How would I cope? I hadn't done much practice at all carrying the weight. More so, as I set off I was expecting to wild camp tonight; I had erected the tent once in a park in Harrogate on a sunny day, not slept in it at all and certainly not on a wild Scottish night. I knew I would cope though, the sense of adventure and challenge inspired me, I was topped up with motivation.
The rain which had stormed down during the night was still falling as I ate breakfast in Mrs MacKinnon's Bed and Breakfast and it was still raining as I set off but the weather did improve as I walked off from my first accommodation on the walk down the length of Great Britain and after a miles walking it actually stopped. The improvement in weather was bettered still more by my meetings with many of the 300 marathon runners whose alternative course to their intended Cape Wrath route was up the road from Durness for half the marathon distance before turning back again. At least their return half was with the wind. My thirteen miles was all against it.
As I reached the end of the Kyle of Durness and began the long but steady climb from sea level the sun shone brightly for me. Soon after the Kyle I came upon a support and refreshment post for the marathon runners just before Drochaid Mhor. There were three vehicles, a car supplying refreshments to the marathon runners, an ambulance and a Mountain Rescue vehicle. I did not need saving, not yet. Nor did I need medical attention; too soon into the walk. Nor did I need a drink or something to eat but the kindly people at the refreshment post offered me a drink and a KitKat anyway which I was not allowed to refuse. Such generousity. They knew, as with their marathon runners, that I too had been frustrated by the ferry closure and so welcomed me as one of their own. It was wonderful and during my short chat with them they wished me well on my journey. I wished them well too and after my drink and with KitKat saved for later I waved them goodbye and went on my way.
After passing over Drochaid Mhor, the bridge over River Dionard the improved weather and spell of sunshine allowed me to take some wonderful pictures of an interesting mountain to my left which I could not name at the time but which I now know is Beinn Spionnaidh. It is a marvellous mountain with wonderful shapes and prominent facing edges which reminded me of Blencathra. My attention was taken by the mountain, the first one on the 1,000 mile walk, for quite a time while I walked past. Beinn Spionnaidh was covered in a super green colour too, a colour unexpected particularly as those further distant were white and barren of green like Foinaven which I could see in the distance a little further north.
While walking past Beinn Spionnaidh marathon runners continued to greet me and I them until after six miles and some steady climbing up the road when they were all gone. Now I was alone and weirdly I think the weather knew it because as soon as the last runner had passed and I was in my own company it started raining. The rain started to fall just as I took my first break of the day at a well with a memorial which read 'As a mark of gratitude and respect to the inhabitants of Durness and Eddrachillis for their hospitality while projecting this road. This inscription is placed over this well by their humble servant Peter Lawson, surveyor' As I took my break the rain continued to fall, first lightly, then constantly and then inevitably heavily. I completed my break and took out my wet gear which I draped myself in before setting off with head lowered to avoid the horizontal hits. I continued on quite happily though, I was feeling well and my feet were pumping me up to the highest point. I took pictures too because although it was raining heavily and now dull the view was always interesting with wonderful mountains in the near distance, rushing streams and small waterfalls closer and rock outcrops just by the roadside. Eventually I reached Gualin House where I had planned to camp but the rain was now relentless and no ground suitable so I kept going.
Despite the rain I did feel good and on looking at the map I noted Rhiconich Hotel was only five miles distant. If I could keep going to there and if there were room at the inn I would actually get a day ahead of myself. No accommodation was booked until Inchnadamph three days on so I could stagger the legs between. Thus out came a very soggy phone and with intermittent signal and my backup team in Harrogate (my wife Lil!) I got through and a room booked. Now I felt a new rush of adrenaline and though I was wet through I kept on to Rhiconich which I reached in mid afternoon. It was deadly quiet as approached the hotel, I was the only one there. After five minutes of knocking at a locked front door I called base again and only then did a member of staff come from the other side of the hotel and let me in. Once in I was well looked after, provided with a lovely spacious room which allowed me to empty the backpack and dry everything. In the evening I enjoyed a couple of pints of good local ale and a good meal too which stocked me up well for the day ahead. Today, despite road being my companion the sights were awesome and of wilderness. tomorrow I leave the road for wilderness complete.