Day 77: 08 Jun 2014; Altnabreac to Oldhall
|Date||Sun 08 Jun 2014||Start to end time||07h 30m|
|Start point||Altnabreac||End point||Oldhall|
|Miles today||17.83||Cu miles||1,450.49|
|Ft today||538||Cu ft||196,690|
|Route miles left||48.52||Route ft left||2,437|
|Today’s weather||Warm and sunny most of the day, light showers in evening. South Easterly breeze, about 17C|
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
|GPX based track of today’s walk
(click here to access to access downloadable file)
“People who write about how to survive in the outdoors but who haven’t actually camped in Scotland in the warmer months confidently assert that a strong overnight breeze is a Good Thing because it blows the midges away. Just like the Ordnance Survey cartography, you do have to take what these experts say with a bit of a pinch of salt. Based on last night’s experience, the midge theory is simply not true. In high winds, such as blew through my campsite at Altnabreac, what happens is that the midges all take refuge in your tent and get themselves organised overnight to attack as soon as you open the fly-screen. So although it was breezy overnight, and indeed quite wet, I suffered the worst midge infestation of the trip this morning as I attempted to pack the tent away. And while the midges are waiting in your tent for you to get up, they also grow Velcro on their feet, so once they have stuck onto you, it’s almost impossible to get them off.
I eventually managed to get packed up and away by about 7:30, I’d slept since about 9 pm yesterday, exhausted after yesterday’s 31 mile epic. Today’s walk was much shorter – a 17 mile road–walk to a campsite at Oldhlall, on the shores of Loch Watten. It was a staggeringly beautiful day. The overnight rain soon cleared away, to leave brilliant sunshine and light winds. The air was so clear, I could see for miles, right back to Ben Klibreck and beyond. The horizons seemed to get thinner and thinner as the land got flatter and flatter – the mountains standing out like distant volcanoes, and the sky becoming more and more dominant in my field of vision.
And it was a spectacular sky. I seemed to be walking along a fault-line, between a stormy North, and a brilliantly sunny South. The sky was electric blue, with huge white and black cumulus clouds towering overhead. But my route seemed to be charmed, as I was on the right side of the stormy divide all of the way, and remained dry and in full sun right to Oldhall.
By the time I reached Oldhall, the bog and forestry had given way to rich farmland – miles and miles of fertile-looking pasture. I was amazed – I had expected this remote part of the UK to be bleak and windswept but in reality it was more like a well-kept corner of Kent. After installing the tent, I made the long (3 mile) road walk to Watten where I’m enjoying an excellent curry in the pub. And of course excited to have discovered that Watten is the birthplace of none other than Alexander Bain, world-renowned inventor of the electric clock.
Tomorrow I’m aiming for John O’Groats, the penultimate milestone on my journey. I’m not allowing myself to get over-excited though – it’s another 25 mile hike and I can’t afford to let concentration slip. A fall at this last stage would be disastrous!”