continued from here
Day something: Kinlochbervie to Strathcailleach bothy
I was a man of leisure from here on. The army had obliged by stopping their target practice on Friday, so I could saunter across Sandwood, camp there or nearby, and make my way to the Cape on Sunday.
I enjoyed a huge breakfast, stocked up on cheap whisky and chocolate at the supermarket, and was on my way along the road to the Sandwood bay track.
The first glimpse of the bay was a real thrill. This wasn't my real destination, nor would it be the most spectacular beach I'd see, but it still felt like a massive accomplishment.
The track was great riding all the way to the beach, although it was busier than any track I'd ridden since day 1.
I planned to camp on the beach, so dropped my kit and took a wander. i quickly found a group of folk from Edinburgh Uni who I shared a drink (several) and a smoke (many) with. They were full of stories of the chinooks thundering across the bay the night before, sounds like I'd missed an interesting night!
The weather moved in though and I decided to push on for Strathcailleach bothy over the hill. Camping would have been nice but my new friends were moving on and tent was now wet and covered in sand.
Bloody hippies, ruining a perfectly good epic photo...
The walk to Strathcailleach was a sign of things to come, very wet, trackless terrain, with very little to navigate by. I could also see a couple of hikers on the horizon who I figured were headed to the bothy as well. Not wanting to be stuck outside I upped the pace a little...
The bothy was situated in a little depression amongst an endless peat bog. Inside were Bob, who maintained the bothy and lived behind it in a tent, with his cat, and Eric the dutchman. They already had a roaring peat fire going, and it turned out Bob was a big fan of healthy drams of single malt and stories about the bothy (mostly featuring a famous squatter called James McRory smith).
The two hikers turned up and decided to camp outside, but not before cooking their dinner and entertaining us with their neurotic burping collie
The penultimate day: Strathcailleach to Kearvaig via Cape Wrath
So, 'only' a 9km push to the lighthouse today. The first challenge was crossing the swollen burn behind the bothy, although thankfully the bike served as a very useful crutch when crossing the burn, although my feet still got soaked. Big shout to Icebreaker merino socks here, two pairs lasted the trip, and even when sodden they stayed warm and comfy.
Which was useful as there wasn't a dry bit of ground between the bothy and the lighthouse. I stayed away from the coast as I was keen to take the most direct route, although this still involved plenty of river crossings, a couple of tiny, deep glens, and lots of interesting bog flora (and a stag wallowing in the peat, that was very primeval).
Finally though I crested a rise and was greeted with the sight of the minibus hareing away in the opposite direction, I clambered onto the road and wobbled round the corner on my bike, Salomon fell running shoes proving quite tricky on SPDs.
Thar she blew...
I didn't know what to do now I was there. It was very cold, wet and windy, and it was too early to set up tent anywhere, so i mooched around, got a photo (so i could get my "Cape Wrath Fellowship" certificate ) and set off, doubtfully, for Kearvaig.
I knew there was a workparty scheduled for kearvaig bothy, so wasn't sure if I'd be allowed in.
Of course I was! Not only that, they fed me and warmed me in front of the fire. Suitably revived I pitched in and helped hammer a few nails, and paint a few walls...
The night ended at a long table of about 15, drinking whisky and talking bollocks. Brilliant!
The penultimate day (2)
I was supposed to set off for Durness, but time was on my side, and the bothy workparty was too much fun, so I stayed. I took a break for a wander to take in some of the sights of Kearvaig bay (and have a snooze on the rocks by the sea). Kearvaig knocked Sandwood into a cocked hat for scenery, and wildlife.
Then my camera finally ran out of batteries, after about fifty attempts to catch a puffin in flight. What a day...
After another night of whisky and chat, and another lazy breakfast, I had to say goodbye to the workparty and head for the Durness ferry. I could easily have stayed another week though.
The road to the ferry was idyllic, and thankfully my mobile phone seems to take a good photo...
I'd never actually left the mainland, but waiting for the ferry was like returning back to earth, although thankfully without a bump.
The queue for the ferry on the other side had plenty of cyclists, and I must confess to feeling a bit smug when they asked me where I'd come from
All that was left for me to do was coast into Durness, book into the first hostel I found, pick up some books in the second hand shop, and sit in the pub drinking Red McGregor and reading Day of the Jackal for two days until my mates came to pick me up.