Day 69: 31 May 2014; Ardelve to Strathcarron

Day 69: 31 May 2014; Ardelve to Strathcarron
Walk descriptor LEJOG2014 Day 69
Date Sat 31 May 2014 Start to end time 06h 57m
Start point Ardelve End point Strathcarron
Miles today 16.52 Cu miles 1,269.39
Ft today 2,801 Cu ft 178,379
Route miles left 236.55 Route ft left 27,040
Today’s weather Dry, warm and sunny until mid afternoon, then light cloud. Light Westerly breeze. About 18 C at coast
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Today’s location
(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)

“Four cheers for today!

The first cheer is because the sun shone all day. It was a lovely, warm, day, and Scotland was looking its best. It was a delight to be out in the sunshine, not feeling the need to put a fleece or a cagoule on all the time. In fact, I think I might even have got slightly sunburned!

The second cheer was because today’s route was really a stab in the dark. I’m now on a route I’ve made up entirely myself, just from looking at Ordnance Survey maps. Today I was not following any roads or long distance paths, and given yesterday’s difficulties in following a track on the map that wasn’t there on the ground, I was apprehensive that this walk could turn into a tedious drag through ten miles of upland bog. I’d Google-Earth-ed it last night and was pretty sure that there was a track on the ground, but it looked faint and I wasn’t confident about finding it. But come the hour, the path was there, it was easy to follow, and had recently been traversed by mountain bikers. There was absolutely nobody about today, so I had the moors to myself, and with the calm warm air and the cuckoos singing, it really was a delight.

The third cheer was because, as I crossed the high point of the walk, the Torridon mountains – Ben Eighe, Liathach and Ben Alligin, started to come into view. This was good, because I’d been on holiday to Torridon in the past and it had always seemed like it was a very remote, Northerly spot. So I felt as if, at long last, I really was in the Northern stages of my journey.

The fourth cheer was because close to the end of the day, my route passed through the stately Attadale Gardens. I paid a nominal fee to get in but it was a small price to pay to be able to go to the “do it yourself” teashop where I was able to buy two cups of very welcome tea, and a piece of cake. The gardens themselves were beautifully laid out and, yes, will go on the list of places to visit again at a more leisurely pace in the future. The gardens were rebuilt in the 1980s by Ewen and Nicky Macpherson and bizarrely in this remote spot, the gardens even have their own railway station.

From the gardens it was just a short road walk to the Strathcarron hotel where I am staying tonight (yes I admit it I am finding I am needing more and more of these “proper” beds to get me through the last stages of this walk!). My guidebook, again, spelled out the horrors of walking this section of the road, but I didn’t find it difficult at all – not too busy, wide grass verges, and spectacular views over the Ben Eighe range. Geologically speaking, Ben Eighe is complex and interesting – some of the oldest rocks in the UK are found around here, and Ben Eighe itself has an unusual white quartzite summit, making it almost look snow-capped.

So a great end to a great day – here’s hoping tomorrow is as good!”

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
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I think the tide in Loch Long must have been exceptionally high this morning as this grass and thrift (pink flowers) were submerged in seawater but seemed to be quite happy about it. Most unusual This scary looking plant is not man eating but is another insectivorous specimen – sundew.
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Occasional orchids. Like this one, made their appearance in the bog On the path down to Attadale. The Torridon mountains are visible in the background, behind Loch Carron
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Towards the end of the walk were formal gardens in the grounds of Attadale House. Joy of joys – there was a tea-room The tide was out by the time I reached the shores of Loch Carron. The massed blooms of sea-thrift had turned the fore-shore pink. Never seen anything like it.
Panorama over Loch Long. The closest thing the UK has to a Norwegian Fjord I think. Good job there was a bridge from Dornie to Ardelve or else my LEJOG “rules” would have demanded a 15 mile detour round it!
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