The plan tonight is to do our first wild camp – we have a rough idea where we would like to stay (Kyle of Tongue) but of course until we get there we have no idea if we will be able too.Off we trot again into Thurso to pick up some supplies – after the blown fuse incident I decided I needed one or two more just in case. Fuses bought and postcards posted we make our way past Dounreay Power Station and find a lovely bay (Sandside Bay) with great parking and a WC. Great walk along the beach with a flock of Ringed Plovers circling out at sea eventually settling on the shore front. On closer inspection we found a lone Dunlin just coming into summer plumage in the middle of them all. Just after exiting the beach we then noticed the signs NOT to pick up any metal objects, shells or pebbles as they might be contaminated with radiation – a quick check of the feet and I noted Janette’s were glowing a little!
Onwards towards our evening destination. What we are finding on this mini-tour is that time is of no consequence when there isn’t anything booked. Very calming, good for the soul. The scenery up here is breath taking, almost too much visual indigestion to appreciate it – but appreciate it we do. En-route we pass (or rather they pass us) at least 6 Ferrari’s we guess were doing the tour, Hilma tried to keep up but had to admit defeat despite having the larger engine! We eventually arrived at Tongue, over the causeway and took the Achuvoldrach side of the road and headed down the side of the Kyle of Tongue. Nerve wrackingly narrow road with occasional passing places, wide enough for Hilma but you wouldn’t want to get a wheel off the edge – bog, bog, bog. About 2 miles down the road we pulled in to a parking spot where there was already a motorhome – we thought we should ask if they minded us staying – we were thinking safety in numbers as this was our first wild camp. All was well and to be honest it was probably one of the safest places in the world! The view was incredible (see pics) and there was complete silence apart from the call of the birds.
After a very peaceful nights sleep in one of the most secluded spots I have ever been too. I was finding it hard to contemplate moving on, this was such a perfect spot and really moved me to the core. I’m not advocating everybody should up sticks and do the North Coast 500 but certainly find some wild places to stay for one or two nights and it really makes you appreciate our green and pleasant land (or in this case brown and pleasant land). But tear ourselves away did after a little walk down the road to take in the wonder of where we were (on the planet and the universe), we were able to drive all the way around the Kyle of Tongue before eventually emerging back onto the A838 and onward to our next wild camp. We drove across acres of ‘flow country’ passing a few clearance villages with Scandanavian sounding names, onward through a place called ‘Hope’ (which you would have needed plenty of to live there) and onto Loch Eriboll. The road now continues all the way around the loch (single track with passing places), a loch which is so deep the Royal Navy anchor ships when the weather takes a turn for the worse. You cannot do this quickly, every few minutes you will come across another motorhome, motorbike, car or van which you (or they) pull over to let each other pass.
When we arrived at our intended spot to camp we were not disappointed, our jaws dropped open at what must be the best view on the tour (so far). The lay-by we were stopping in overlooked Traigh Allt Chailgeag bay – 3.8 miles from Durness. Parked up and immediately went down for a wander on the beach – who needs the Carribean when you have beaches like this here (well the temperature would be better there). Gannets were flying high and then plummeting into the sea like huge white darts hitting a bulls eye in the North Sea. Terns were also feeding with much more elegance and delicacy, there must have been a wonderful feast of fish and sandeels in one hotspot seafood café for birds. Had a chat with someone who was taking a month off work camping around North Scotland. He had an old Range Rover with a collapsible boat and 6hp engine on the roof rack, all his cooking gear on the drop down tailgate and some conversion of the seats if he needed to sleep inside. He had just come from the Shetlands which I think is about 140 miles north again – now that is what I would consider hard work – not him.In the evening we walked around a local heritage trail covering the clearances near Durness in 1842 – very, very interesting. Makes one think about all the instances still continuing in the world where minority groups are persecuted. Mankind has a lot to answer for. My philosophical outlook though does nothing to dampen the beauty of this place, it is well worth visiting even if you don’t stop here.