NEW : See my campaign to establish a National Coastal Path here
Gruinard Island has the dubious distinction of having been used to test the effects of Anthrax on sheep
Despite there being a sea to shore wind that morning, I felt reasonably safe and, after inserting bacteria filters into both nostrils I set off for the wonderfully named Mellon Udrigle. A steep lung bursting effort up the road from the beach at Little Gruinard got me to the top of the hill where I could look back at the van far below set back from the beach. After I passed the equally wierd-named townships of “First Coast” and “Second Coast”, I cut off to the right to head along the minor road to Mellon Udrigle. The rain had started to come down again, and with it the sense of unease and slight anxiety. Im not sure why the weather conditions can affect my moods so much, but when the sun shines I positively revel in my walk, but when it rains I sometimes feel cut off from the whole world and feel that wherever I am is so isolated that I have an acute sense of foreboding. It is at times like these when I wonder why people choose to live in isolated spots. In fact I would say that the psychological aspects of this walk far outway the physical challenges. I try not to allow the negative aspects of the walk to influence me too much, but there are times that just blanking these thoughts out doesnt work and it can be a struggle to explain to myself what the purpose of the walk is and why on earth I am undertaking it. So, in order to minimise the effects of too much thinking, I try to busy myself with the practicalities of planning the next day, eating sleeping, cycling, driving the van etc. Loneliness is all just part of the challenge; which is why I admire the mental strength of those who have done this walk alone and full time.
When I arrived at the beach at Mellon Udrigle I watched the Ullapool ferry leave Loch Broom and head to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. It already looked a long distance away.