Monday, January 01, 2007

Walking Into A New Life (Quinag To Scourie).

Things did improve the next day, so much so that by nightfall I would once again be full of high spirits. Again I woke to the sound of gently falling rain, Quinag was shrouded in mist, and my leg was as stiff as the fastener on my wallet – who said things couldn’t get any worse! I rushed breakfast and broke camp in record time, all I wanted to do was to get away from that godforsaken hole – or in this case – hump! I did think of taking a photo of the offending tussock, but not for long, who needs to be reminded of such things.From the camp I had a mile to walk across more rough terrain, before I once again reached a public road. After ten minutes walking down the public road I came to the junction with the coastal route that I’d left late yesterday afternoon. Today’s target was Scourie.
When planning the route it had never been my intention to visit Scourie, instead I was going to leave the coast road and head inland to spend the night at another wild pitch somewhere close to Ben Stack. However given last nights performance and my present frame of mind, I decided to seek the sanctuary of Scourie campsite. That’s the beauty of backpacking, one is almost as free as the birds. Just before reaching Unapool, I saw an old man and woman who appeared to have spent the night in the back of a van parked in a lay-by. Judging by the looks on their faces, their night had been as uncomfortable as mine. The woman was washing herself and he man was cooking breakfast by the side of the van. They gave me the sort of look my granny usually saves especially for rock bands like AC/DC!

As I reached Unapool the rain stopped and when crossing the Kylesku Bridge one and a half miles later the sun tried to shine. There, didn’t I tell you things would get better. Kylesku Bridge is a new bridge, it was opened by Her Majesty the Queen on the 8th August 1984. before the bridge was built the only way across the water was by ferry. By all accounts this was a desperate bottle neck which at times meant long delays.

Now there’s a big new road two lanes wide, this was a road with a purpose and pride. This road didn’t dodge mountains or loch, this road had bridges and blasted straight through the hard rock. Nothing stood in its way, for me this was to be the road to Scourie Bay. Gone were the waving tourists of yesterday, to be replace instead by stern faced white knuckle drivers who knew their way. The scream of their steeds could be heard for miles, the occupants of whom all passed without smiles. At the sight of their plight I soon realised it was wrong to spend the day feeling demoralised.

For six miles I walked this road, eventually coming upon a sign intended to goad, “Private Road, No Vehicles, Walkers Welcome”. Since Ledmore Junction this was the first sign I’d had that walkers existed in Scotland, let alone that they were welcome. I must add that this sign was at the entrance to a nature reserve, I couldn’t help but wondering with walkers being scarce so far north if this was the way of attracting a rare species to their reserve, anyway it worked. My walk through the nature reserve was a delight, the route I followed was the route of the old coast road which had lain abandoned since the new road was built. Before long the road forked, the left hand going in to the sea, like a slipway. The right hand road disappearing around a corner, I decided the right hand road was the better alternative.

The sun was now shinning strongly, so I chose a comfy place overlooking Loch Duarlbeg and had my lunch.

After lunch I left the nature reserve and passed through Lower Badcall. A short way down the road was Upper Badcall, and later the next day I was to pass through another, this one was simply called Badcall. I arrived at Scourie at about five in the afternoon. I found the campsite, and then the warden, who found me a pitch at the top of a series of terraces overlooking Scourie Bay.
I’d pitched my tent and was enjoying what I thought was a well earned cup of tea when I heard a familiar voice, it was Fallon, the little girl from Clachtoll. I couldn’t believe it, the effect the Sound of her voice had on me can be likened to the effect of a starting pistol has on a sprinter. I’d got my boots on and was out of the tent in a flash, despite my aching leg. They seemed as surprised to see me as I was to see them. They informed me that they were taking a run up to Durness and that they would pop in and see me on the way back. As they were about to leave, into the car park drove my Mum and Dad, where were all these people last night? Thankfully my friends were as good as their word, and called in to see me on the return journey. They spoke with great enthusiasm about the golden sands at Durness and of a multi-­coloured rock face at Laxford Bridge. I spent another enjoyable hour in their company. This time before saying goodbye I persuaded them to let me take a photo of them, I also got their address.

This piece of information made parting much easier. In fact the paper with the address written on it was like a peace treaty. The battle inside me was now over, I was once again my old contented self. My heart and my head were again pulling in the same direction. I went down to the waters edge and listened, and watched the calm sea gently slapping the rocks. The evening air was warm, not only was there peace within me, but there was peace all around. Everything was perfect —even the sunset over Scourie Bay.

To be continued below....

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Blogger HORIZON said...

'Private Road, No Vehicles, Walkers Welcome'- great sign.
Fantastic reading and writing towards the end of this part Bob- so endearing and you had me gripped! Loved how you wrote about Vicki's address feeling like a 'peace treaty' within- wonderful. :)

12:12 PM  

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