Day 75: 06 Jun 2014; Altnaharra to Garvault
|Date||Fri 06 Jun 2014||Start to end time||07h 14m|
|Start point||Altnaharra||End point||Garvault|
|Miles today||20.66||Cu miles||1,401.59|
|Ft today||1,462||Cu ft||194,187|
|Route miles left||81.34||Route ft left||3,983|
|Today’s weather||Dry, warm and sunny most of the day. Light cloud in morning and late afternoon. Moderate North Easterly wind|
(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)
“Anyone who ever thought that Britain was a small, crowded island should make the trip north to Garvault. It’s bleak, remote and a million miles away from the crowded towns and cities that most of us live in. Tonight I’m camping near the Gavault Hotel – said to be the remotest in Britain – and all I can hear is the call of the moor-birds, and all I can see is mile upon mile of moorland and mountain. It’s really quite beautiful.
But today I was seeing this desolate upland area at its best. After yesterday’s cloud and rain, the day started with a thick mist, most of which had burned off by early morning to leave a largely sunny day. I made a leisurely start and didn’t leave the bunkhouse till about 9 am. I’d really enjoyed my stay at Altnaharra and would recommend it to anyone wanting to get away from it all for a while. There isn’t really much of a settlement there – no shop that I could see, but a small primary school. What a fantastic place to start your education, I thought. My route along the shores of Loch Naver soon left all traces of civilisation behind until, slightly incongruously, I came to a caravanning site near Grummore, run by a couple who lived a peripatetic existence from a giant motor-home, which they alternated between Scotland and Spain. I was able to stock up on refreshments at the small shop and suitably reinvigorated I pottered off.
The rest of the walk was a straightforward hike down first the Bettyhill road, and then the Helmsdale road. At each junction I reached, my road became smaller and quieter, so that in the 8 mile walk from Syre to Garvault I think I encountered half a dozen vehicles at most.
As the roads grew quieter and quieter, so the scenery became more and more desolate. I was walking through the “Flow” country – a vast area of pathless upland moor, with rounded mountains visible in the moorland, in all directions. It wasn’t spectacular like the west coast, but it exerted a sort of hypnotic charm through its remote grandeur.
I choseto camp near the Garvault Hote rather than wild camping, as it meant I would be able to get a meal rather than carrying everything in. My pack feels heavy enough anyway, without adding any more, and the miles of road walking are beginning to take a toll on my feet. They feel well and truly pounded and quite sore. But I’m not complaining – it’s easy walking, not like the Cape Wrath Trail, and doesn’t take too much energy. Though I may feel differently after tomorrow – a 30 mile epic is in store, to another wild camp near Altnabreac. I’m already yawning so I think I’ll be off to bed as soon as I’ve had dinner! ”