Day 75: 06 Jun 2014; Altnaharra to Garvault

Day 75: 06 Jun 2014; Altnaharra to Garvault
Walk descriptor LEJOG2014 Day 75
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
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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)

“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! ”

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
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A misty start to the day in Altnaharra Altnaharra weather station. Some of the lowest temperatures ever measured in the UK were recorded here PIC TO BE UPDATED LATER
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Don’t know what sort of toadstool this is but it definitely didn’t look edible! Memorial to Donald McLeod who witnessed the mass eviction of families from the region during clearances in the early 1800s. He was forced to emigrate to Canada where he wrote a book entitled “Gloomy Memories” recording his experiences.
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Peat cutting with recently cut peats set to the side to dry out before being burned on domestic fires On the road to Garvault. Miles and miles of completely traffic-free tarmac
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Perfect reflections of Ben Klibreck in Loch Naver this morning, on leaving Altnaharra
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