Monday, 6 June 2016

Highlands, May 2016 part 3

After a pleasant and relaxing coupla days in Glencoe we're on the move again, this time up north to the narrow road which runs NW along the shore of Loch Arkaig. The plan, for me an' Islay to walk from Strathan at the end, to Sourlies on the fringes of Knoydart. All good, but after piloting our modestly-sized van along the twisting road for about 4 miles, with another 10 still to go, mine and Chrissie's nerves are frayed. I give in, find a space to turn round then we park up. Out with the maps. Time for a rethink.

Soon, we're away again. We're off to Glen Affric. Traveling at a steady pace, we arrive in the Glen in good time for dinner and I repack my rucsac.

In the morning, we bid farewell to Chrissie and Pebbles and me an' my little canine pal set out on the track up the valley. It's Saturday. It's, sort of, day 2 of this year,s The Great Outdoors Challenge (TGOC) in which foolish/intrepid hikers attempt to walk right across Scotland, from a variety of staring points on the west coast. They converge, hopefully, at Montrose, in the east, a couple of weeks later. So, it was no surprise that I met many "Challengers" trekking towards us as choccy paws and I walked west. We shared many pleasantries with, mostly, Americans as we wandered along. Islay attracted most comments being younger, fitter and infinitely more beautiful than me.

After 8 miles or so, of walking in great weather and even better scenery, we arrived at Alltbeithe Youth Hostel, which must rival the SYHA's Loch Ossian site for the title of best located in the network.

Needless to say, and despite the impression in my pic, the place is buzzin'. Fully booked up for the next two nights. Ya can't take dogs in anyway so we find ourselves a nearby nook to erect our traveling home and settle down for coffee, biccies and Bonios.

We pass a peaceful, snory night and emerge to a slightly overcast sky. We breakfast in bed. Luxury.

Islay's very well behaved now as I pack the tent. She sits, obediently ... waiting.

We take the same track back, so far, then turn to follow the opposite shore of Loch Affric.

The weather's turning a little. I don waterproof jacket but it's nowt more than drizzle.


After a stop for lunch we're soon back at the van with our fellow travelers. Plan is for Chrissie and Pebbles to hike through Glen Affric all the way to Morvich on the west coast, But, alas, Chrissie has stubbed her toe, badly, on furniture in the van. It's bruised. She's limping. She's not hiking anywhere, today or tomorrow. So it's coffee, cake and off we go, continuing our journey. Our sights set now on Skye.

On the road down towards Cannich we see a familiar face (well, backside really). It's Alan Sloman, blogger extraordinaire, scourge of Twitter, and pal, Phil, both veterans of many TGOCs. We take pity on them with coffee and cakes and share pointless banter, before kicking them out to carry on their Challenge.

And after a sneaky overnight by a Loch en route ...

... it's not long before we're crossing the bridge to Skye.

It's gloomy but we're seeking some low key exercise. We find it, in the form of a short walking circuit from the town of Portree.

Refreshed, we head off to keep an appointment with our Twitter friends Andrea and Peter who are kindly allowing us to park by their lovely cottage near Uig. Not only that, but they ply us with dinner, wine and malt whisky. Scottish hospitality at its finest. Thanks so much you two.

The following morning we enjoy a damp walk with our hosts and their tribe (well, three) miniature Schnauzers. The dogs have a fine time. Then, we're off, in the rain, exploring some byways in the van.

We spend the afternoon and evening sheltering from rain, reading, eating and sleeping.

The next day we enjoy an amble with mining history before spending a final night on the island.

Now it's a short hop down to the Caravan Club's site at Morvich. Next day, we're meeting up with yet another Twitter pal David and Moss; the intelligent one. 

More sooner ... or later.


  1. Fantastic stuff Geoff. The area around Alltbeithe is quite spectacular. Have been in that area a few times. Mind, Skye is wonderful too. Remember once causing much excitement in a hostel in Portree when I booked in after being out in foul weather all day. Was in a very wet and soggy state and a pool of water was flowing from my rucksack across the dormitory floor.

    1. Thanks Dawn. Weather not too clement on Skye hence not much done, but I did like Glen Affric.

  2. It's raining ... great excuse not to go in the garden but waste/spend oodles of time playing online "researching" campervans. Which is why I'm commenting on a blog you published over a year ago!

    I know that road down the side of Loch Arkaig only too well. On many visits to the area 30+ years ago I used to think nothing of zooming all the way to the end in a little Ford Fiesta. Think that is no longer possible from looking at Google maps - looks like lots of fences and new builds ...

    Fast forward a few years to the first time I took husband to the area. I insisted we were going down the side of the loch ... I think we managed about 8 miles before jointly agreeing that all nerves were so frayed we would stop at the next beach-like area! That was in a regular estate car, not sure I’d try it these days in anything larger :-)

    Hope you are all well, look forward to catching up with the Sarek posts.

    1. Thabks Jayne. That road's still stuck in my subconscious. It was a close call.


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