It was our anniversary weekend, it was Joycee’s birthday, the weather looked good and we had no idea Holly was brewing scarlet fever while we were away. Sandwood Bay seems like an awful long time ago.
Luckily we took some photies. Actually we were lucky to have any photies to bring back, my Panasonic Lumix LX5 shat the bed, focus fault, dead in the water. Luckily the old LX3 with its will it work/won’t it work display saved the day. So did the phones, so here we’ve got two cameras and two smartphones snapping away. Too complicated for me. I’m going back to a sketchbook and telling tall tales.
We stopped at the Tain Asda for fuel and matches or a lighter for camp back-up and had a quick cuppa while we were at it. I went back to the motor to sort some kit outwhile Joycee went to the kiosk and she followed me out a minute later with a big grin on here face “They asked me for ID, I need my purse”. Not letting a 37 year old buy a lighter because she didn’t look 21? I’m still hearing all about it now…
The road from there is a pure joy, every mile of it. As you get further west the grin gets wider as the mountain shapes become more defined and wear names that bear witness to a different history to the peaks further south. Then suddenly you’re in heaven at the coast.
It was late when we left Blairmore with a four and a half mile trek to the beach. The sky was draining of light and colour but the going is good, it was cool and dinner was waiting for us at the end of the line.
The pace was good and we walked as far as we could using our eyes as they adjusted to the darkness. We went to red light and then to full beam as got near the end. We passed dark lochans, tiny dark beaches, silent expanses of heather but all with the beacon on the Cape Wrath lighthouse ahead. It could have been creepy, but it was more bracing for want of a better expression.
We knew we were nearly there because we heard it, the roar of the ocean. We couldn’t see it until it was just a few feet away, but its presence was definitely felt. Dark shapes disguised the cliffs and the wind whipped across the sand as we walked north towards the light.
We picked a spot near the fresh water river at the far end of the main stretch of beach. The dunes aren’t necessarily a great place to camp, but with some long pegs and some rocks the tent was surprisingly secure and we snuggled inside up as sand-free as we could and got the stove on.
Dinner and a wee bottle of red, a little music, layers of down and the sounds of the sea. The lullaby of doom indeed. The wind howled and the tent shook, but it held it’s ground and went nowhere.
The night sky cleared now and again as ships lights passed along the horizon, but it wasn’t a night for taking photies. Sleep called and we already there.
Not a glorious morning, but a pretty one, quite a calm one too. The wind had dropped a little but the waves had grown, they crashed onto the beach and rocks with a constant roar.
We could see now too, Am Buachaille standing proud and solo to the south and sheer cliffs bursting seewards all the way to the cape not too far to the north.
What a place this is.
We knew we weren’t alone, a fire at the far end of the beach when we’d arrived in the dark gave that away. We soon met the firemaker, Duncan and his girlfriend had been camping and Duncan had come to catch the waves as he worked his way through a ticklist of must-do surf spots. Fair play to him, and indeed the other board carriers we met on their way in later on.
It like meeting mountain bikers or paragliders on the hills, there’s always another way and another perspective, I love that.
Breakfast, break camp and head out while have a wee explore was the plan. The tide was going out, the rocks were emerging and we found a message in a bottle in the sand. It was addressed to Holly and had been sent by a mermaid. It was lucky we’d been there at the right time.
The showers that had drifted across cleared to a blue sky as we tred the miles back out. It was a different world we walked through on the way out, snow dusted peaks lined the eastern skyline, colour was all around and the lochans hidden in the heather were now indigo fringed with gold.
The pace was a little slower this time, no hurry to get back in the car seats, it would be along road home.
There were diversions on the way back, it would be a crime not to stop now and again and get out to have a better look. The part of the country pulls at me like no other place, the hills and the land around them hold their mystery no matter how many times I climb or trek them.
There’s also no more appropriate place for the two of us to spend our anniversary. When we got together the first thing we did was throw our gear into my van and head up here and elsewhere. From Ben Hope to Cairngorm we went visiting every tea shop inbetween. Things haven’t changed that much then.