Day 105, 106 & 107. Sun, Mon, Tues. 9th, 10th & 11th July. Drumbeg to Achiltibuie.
I didn't wake John, I was up and away before 9am and I knew he would have to pass me on the road to get to Achmelvich. We had planned to go to the campsite there, it was to be John's last night with me as he wanted to have a slow drive south taking in a few places on his way back to Lincolnshire. It was just before lunch time when I rounded a bend and was met with a view of the most stunning little beach, I could have been transported to a Carabean Island. Pure white sand with clear turquoise water gently lapping at the shore, it was beautiful and I had to stop.
I had stripped to my shorts and was having a paddle in the crystal clear water when John drove around the corner and joined me on the beach. It was pure bliss to lose my rucksack for an hour or so and wander up and down the beach cooling my feet off, the water was absolutely freezing.
I found John later in the day on another beach, this time with his metal detector, searching for long lost treasures...
I couldn't stop laughing when he returned to the campsite and turned out his pockets. A big pile of junk, bottle tops and tent pegs, oh and a fork !!! Which actually was quite handy as he had only brought one fork with him in his van so every time we ate, I had to dig my spork out of my bag, our last supper of scallop languini was pure heaven, made all the better eating it with my newly cleaned fork... washed down with a nice bottle of Merlot, in real glasses that we borrowed from the campsite kitchen.
A huge thank you to the folks at Clachtoll Beach Campsite for allowing me to stay for free and an even bigger thank you to John for driving all the way up here to see me. It had been a fantastic week to be in his company, we had a lot of laughs, some lovely meals and my daily stress of wondering where I'd be trying to find a pitch each night had been put on hold. You're a diamond John and I know there will be a 'part two', at some point in the future.
The following morning, John set off on his long journey back to Lincolnshire with plans to visit the Isle of Skye and the Lake District and I wandered off into the hills, once more alone and once again not knowing where I'd be stopping that night.
It was a longer walk than I'd planned as I couldn't find anywhere suitable to pitch. It had been raining steadily for a couple of hours when I found a small patch of level ground, high on a plateau, it was sodden wet but it would have to do.
It chucked it down for most of the night and was still raining the following morning so I had to pack everything away soaking wet. It was a long, boring wet walk for the entire day, impossible to walk near the coast so I just had to trudge on to get back to the sea. With plenty of time to think while I was walking, I realised that while it is fantastic to have a visitor join me for a day, 3 days or even a week. It is completely soul destroying when they have to leave me to return home to get on with their lives. For a couple of days after they have left, I find it really difficult to motivate myself and it's a real challenge to maintain any positive feelings. Especially when the weather is bad and when the walking is boring and inland, I needed to get back near the sea, give myself a good talking to and get on with the job in hand.
In the late afternoon, I was at last back near the sea, or at least back on the edge of a sea loch, that would have to do. I stopped at a tiny village store for a hot cuppa and noticed a sign on the wall pointing out a hostel further down the road I was heading. Just what I needed to cheer myself up, a hot shower or maybe even a hot bath and a real bed. I'd been thinking while I was walking about when it was that I'd actually last slept in a bed and I'd realised, it had been nearly a month ago !!! I was gutted when I eventually got there to discover there were no beds available but Ruth, the lovely lady that owns the Acheninver Hostel very kindly pointed out where I could pitch my tent down near the shore and better than that, she provided me with a clean towel and allowed me to use the showers.
All scrubbed up, pants and socks washed and drying on the radiator, I sat in the hostel common room by the fire with a nice warm cuppa while my boots dried out a bit, trying to stave off having to walk down the hill to spend the night by myself, in a cold, very damp tent...