NEW : See my campaign to establish a National Coastal Path here
I was looking forward to today’s walk no end and I was dead chuffed that the weather held up and I was going to enjoy some great views. Strictly speaking, If I was going to go by the rule book, my route today should be along the coast, passed Applecross vilage, on to Toscaig and then hacking my way heather and ferns around a steep slope till I reached the old oil rig construction yard at Kishorn. But a much more tantalising option was to hike my was up the Bealach na Ba, which means “Pass of the Cattle” and down the other side to Tornapress. Why was this a better option? – well the Bealach na Ba road goes from sea level to over 2000 ft in about 5 miles – I would also have the fun of cycling down from the top to the start of the walk in the morning. Anyway that morning early, I drove up the hill from Applecross (in 2nd gear all the way) and at parked the van. I had a chat with some guys who were preparing to go stalking for deer – they had the telescopes, tweeds, gaiters, hip flasks – the lot. – rutting season had started as the deer had kept me awake last night. I was sorely tempted to go out and shout “Oi – go and rut somewhere else – some people are trying to get some sleep”, but I desisted. Rutting is probably the only fun a deer gets.
Anyway I set off although it was bloody freezing when I set off. I pulled an old pair of socks over my hands as I hadnt packed any gloves, and all the way down I had both fingers pulling on the brakes. There is a new cycle race that races up and down the Bealach. In fact my daughter’s boyfriend’s brother unfortunately had a serious accident, albeit a freak one, when he skidded on a cattle grid and fractured his skull. The previous year another cyclist came off and was paralysed I believe. I believe the cyclist hurtle down doing up to 60 miles an hour but I was going at a much more sedate pace. In fact my fingers were cramping keeping the brakes on all the way down.
Once at the bottom I then had to face a long stiff climb back up the hill this time on foot. I had a wander around the village of Applecross first and popped in to the camp site for a coffee before I started. The owner there told me he met a guy called John Merril who walked through there on his circumnavigation of the UK. This guy is a big time masochist – he fractured his feet walking so far each day and would cover 30 miles a day continuously. He also boasts on his web site that he did it without water etc. Personally I dont see the point in killing yourself – but I think he was ex SAS or somesuchlike so his way of doing things is different from mine. Anyway there is more than one way to skin a cat as the saying goes.