It has to be official !! This west coast of Scotland has got to be the wettest place on the planet. In the last 13 days there has only been one day when it hasn't raining at all, every other day, I've been wet !!! It's a pain having to keep stopping to put waterproofs on and then half an hour later stop again to take them off but the worst thing is having to pack away a soaking wet tent in the morning. It's obviously heavier to carry all day but when it's still raining in the evening and you have to put it up again, crawling into a damp tent when you and your kit are wet is horrible. The only saving grace I suppose, being July, it does stop raining for a bit and it's not particularly cold, that would be a really misserable experience.
Walking up the long, never ending hill out of Ullapool, I was watching the sky up in front of me getting darker and darker, the clouds building and looking more menacing every minute. The clouds were slowly rolling down the hill towards me as I was walking up and then the loudest crash of thunder echoed through the surrounding forrest. Weirdly though, it sounded like the thunder came from behind me rather than from the angry looking sky in front. I swung around and was amazed to see that the sky behind me was more black and much more angry looking, there was a storm coming in from the sea which was going to collide with the storm coming down from the mountains and the weather gods had clearly decided that the two should meet, right above me !!!
Having nowhere to shelter there was nothing I could do but put my waterproofs on and plod on. I was contemplating going over the hills on a trail rather than walking the extra 5 miles round on the side of the road but the lightning made that decision for me, I definitely didn't want to be exposed on the the top of hills getting frazzled... the days walk was long, wet and boring and I made a bad choice at the end of the day by going into a campsite and not wild camping. It was a tiny little site and the owner wasn't there so the sign said to pitch up and he would collect the money on his return. The site was on the edge of a hill so was completey still with no wind and the grass, although cut was absolutely wringing wet. As I was pitching up, the rain stopped and the midges appeared in their millions... sweating with my waterproofs and my head net on I pitched up and headed for a much needed shower, only to find that the shower/toilet block was one of those facilities that had not been updated since 1978, cold concrete floors, plain block walls with a corrugated iron roof and the shower required a 50 pence piece or no water, not even cold water !!! Naturally, I had two pound coins and a ten pence piece, no 50's... 🤬 I stripped off and did the best I could to wash my stinking sweaty body in the sink and retired to my tent as the rain returned. I did hear the owner turn up just before 10pm but there was no way I was going out to see him. He was there in the morning and I grudgingly handed over £15 for my pitch, the brass necked bloody cheek of it, £15 for what ??? To compound my frustration, I walked 15 minutes up to the top of the hill and there was a perfect wild camping pitch where a lovely couple were pitched with their caravan. A lady walked to the roadside as I approached the top of the hill and offered me a cuppa so I thankfully accepted. I had a great conversation with Peter and his good lady over a nice hot brew, they were touring around Scotland house hunting and staying in their caravan while looking. Peter was a fascinating chap, he has taken part in many physical and often very dangerous challenges throughout his life, in 2014 he drove 8000 miles up to Nordcap and back, on a vintage tractor !!! In 2017, he renovated a small sailing boat and sailed around thd coast of the UK, (bumble Ahoy, look it up), always with his dog and always raising money for children's cancer charities. Thanks for the brew guys, it was a pleasure meeting and happy house hunting.
My walk got a little more interesting as later in the day I walked around Loch Ewe. Being a very large, deep and well positioned loch, between 1941-1945 it was the perfect base for the Artic Convoys and sometimes had as many as 95 merchant and Royal Navy vessels anchored in the loch.
Described by Winston Churchill as 'The worst journey in the world', in the four years, over 3000 allied sailors and over 100 merchant and navy vessels were lost. All to supply the Russians with equipment and arms to defend themselves against the Germans.
After just over 23 miles I walked down the hill into Poolewe where I knew there was a campsite just on the edge of the village. As I walked down, a man crossed the road and walked up to meet me, he was camping with his wife and dog in their caravan and they had passed me on the roads a couple of times in the past few days. He invited me into the site and as I was checking in, he returned from his caravan with a big mug of tea and a couple of large pieces of homemade cake... what a diamond and you'll never believe where he was from ?? Yep, Yorkshire... a Yorkshire man in a caravan, what can I say ??? 😍 the tea and cake were a lifesaver and I was very grateful.
Being a camping and caravan site, it had fantastic facilities, a proper drying room, amazing hot showers and all for the princely sum of £10.50 a night !!! I decided to stay for two nights so I could sort myself out, my maps were showing that I'd being having two or possibly three wild camps in the next few days so I needed to find a shop, dry my kit properly and study my maps.