CCVII – Shieldaig to Shieldaig

Hasteful MammalTHE third day of my April 2019 trip promised to be a long one. This was entirely of my own choosing because, when I’d looked at the map, something had leapt right out at me —two places called Shieldaig! This isn’t that amazing in itself; Gaelic toponyms are often repeated as they’re mostly descriptive in nature. ‘Shieldaig’, for instance, is the Anglicised spelling of a Gaelicised version of Old Norse síld-vík, meaning ‘herring bay’ and more than one bay in Scotland would have had herring in it. So, why my excitement about spotting two Shieldaigs?

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CCV – Strathcarron to Applecross

Hasteful MammalAROUND the middle of April 2019, I found myself back in Wester Ross, ready to embark upon a seven-day trek from Strathcarron to Ullapool. This naturally required that I start in Strathcarron, which would have been easier had the Strathcarron Hotel had a vacancy. Alas, it did not. Plan B was to stay in Kyle of Lochalsh, knowing that I could catch the early morning train (on which I’d left the area at the end of my last trip) to whisk myself there at some awful, ungodly pre-breakfast hour. So that’s what I did.

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CCI – Portree to Flodigarry

Hasteful MammalTHE first day of September 2018 saw me back in Portree, wondering what had happened to the blazing sunshine in which I’d travelled the day before. A band of low cloud had swept in overnight and was filling the air with the sort of misty drizzle that isn’t so much rain as floaty dampness.

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CXCVII – Broadford to Elgol

Hasteful MammalTWO days into July 2018 and three days into a walking trip, I arose bright and early to find that outside it was brighter (though no earlier) than I was. The grey skies and rain of the previous evening — which had added a level of meteorological mockery after searing heat had prompted route revisions — had dissipated overnight and the air temperature was back to feeling like the inside of an oven. This was brought home to me as I stood on the shoreline, looking across to the harbour pier where I’d stood in the rain twelve hours earlier.

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CLXXXVII – Tobermory to Mingarry

Hasteful MammalMY FOURTH walking day in 2018 began with dull grey skies and the promise of drizzle all morning. Who can resist such tempting conditions as that? Clearly not me. Noël Coward once sang that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun but he never said anything about venturing out in an antemeridian downpour. Even the maddest of dogs would refuse to countenance such nonsense and so, like the Englishman I was, I would have to do this walk alone.

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CLXXXV – Pennyghael to Salen

Hasteful MammalWHILE my first walking day of 2018 was blessed by blue skies and sunshine, the second saw neither of those things.  The forecast had become one for unrelenting rain but, to be honest, that was okay because it was better than the sleet that it had previously predicted.  Armed with a seemingly bottomless packed lunch courtesy of my B&B (Seaview in Fionnphort), I caught the bus back to rain-sodden Pennyghael and prepared to splish-splash the 23 miles to Salen.

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CLXXXIII – Strontian to Craignure

Hasteful MammalIN KEEPING with my unintentional Christmas tradition of not writing up the last walk of the year until the festive season, it’s time I recounted the details of my walk from Strontian to Craignure. Not that I walked the entirety of that distance; Craignure is on the Isle of Mull (Muile), so a ferry crossing was involved.

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CLXXX – South Ballachulish to Fort William

Hasteful MammalON THE fifth and final day of my August 2017 trip I walked from South Ballachulish to Fort William, which lay about 15 miles up what was once a drove road along the shores of Loch Linnhe but is now the A82.  With this in mind, I emerged from the Ballachulish Hotel to face the narrows at the mouth of Loch Leven, which stood between me and that road. If I wanted to walk it, I would first need to cross them.

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CLXXIX – Port Appin to South Ballachulish

Hasteful MammalON THE penultimate day of my August 2017 walking trip, I awoke and breakfasted as early as possible.  It had rained through the night and the forecast was uncertain though the clouds seemed pretty sure that they hadn’t finished yet. I was equally sure that I wanted to get going and cover as much distance as possible while the water was just hanging there, threatening and grey, but not dropping onto everything.

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CLXXVI – Kilmelford to Ellenabeich

Hasteful MammalIT’S been a bit of an unsettled summer and I kept a careful weather eye on forecasts for Scotland with a view to picking the timing of my latest trip carefully.  This turned out to be entirely pointless, though not because of the omnipresent threat of showers.  Rather it was because, as a non-parent, I totally failed to account for the school holidays and their effect on accommodation.

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