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  • Chris Jones

Day 113, 114. Thursday & Friday, 20th, 21st July. Torridon to Applecross.

I set off from my free pitch in Torridon when the rain had let up for just long enough for me to pack my tent away... the worst way to start the day knowing it will be festering by the time I get it out later, I just had to hope that it isn't raining when I pitch up and a breeze would be nice to help dry it out before I have to climb in for the night. I knew I was only in for a short day and there was possibly a campsite in Shieldaig, there was also a path through the forest which would keep me closer to the coast and away from the roads which would make a nice change.


After only 13 miles I walked down the hill into the little village of Shieldaig, it was founded in 1800 with a view to training up seamen for war against Napoleon. After his initial defeat and exile to Elba, the village found a new role as a fishing village. The little island in the harbour boasts some fantastic tall pines, which were never harvested to rig war ships and now the island is a nature sanctuary, home to a thriving bird colony which includes breeding sea eagles. With my binoculars I sat and watched these magnificent creatures for a while flying to and from their nests.



As the evening drew in, I was walking towards the little pub on the shore when a lady walking towards me asked in an American accent if I was a travelling man. She turned back from the door as I was answering and seeing the square and compasses on my hat replied, "No, you're a Journeyman". Both descriptions having Masonic connotations I was intrigued to chat to this lady to find out what secrets I could learn !! I was heading in for a pint and so was Cynthia, she introduced me to her husband Forrest and we started what turned out to be a very pleasant evening. Over a number of beers, I learnt that Cynthia was the daughter of a Mason and herself a member of The Order of the Eastern Star, a Masonic appendant body which is open to both male and female members. Men must be a Master Mason and the females have to have specific relationships with Masons. They operate mainly in the States and are not recognised by UGLE but that wouldn't stop me having a fascinating conversation with these lovely people from Texas. They kindly invited me to join them for dinner and treated me to fish 'n' chips, they even offered me the floor space in their hotel room to save me having to pitch my tent. I couldn't impose on their privacy but as Forrest and I were the last ones to leave the bar, even the hotel staff had all gone to bed, I slipped into a warm and comfortable reception room, pulled two sofas together and crashed for the night !!!

What made my evening a little more special, when the kitchen closed, this young man came through to the bar. He thought he recognised me so we started chatting, he'd lived in Spalding as a kid and had attended an alternative education provider in Lincoln.... it was thought that my School, Build-a-Future possibly wouldn't meet his needs so he went to Accorn, another provider based in Lincoln. We had a good laugh about the idiot that used to run that establishment back in the day, I hadn't realised he ended up in prison !!! 🫣



Thankfully, my new mate Pedro didn't, keep working hard mate and living the dream, you are living proof that a bad start in life with a questionable education doesn't mean you can't work hard and realise your dreams. It was lovely to meet Cynthia, Forrest and Pedro in Shieldaig and after my unexpected night on the hotel sofa, it was time to crack on. I was expecting a tough day, after a mile or so of walking out of the village, the sign said 24 Miles to Applecross, it was Friday, I was in need of a day off so whatever the distance, I wasn't stopping until I got there...



There were a few small paths which got me off the road for short periods but it was mostly all road walking, I really wasn't fussed though, I was walking along the waters edge for most of the 11 hour walk and the rain had stopped !!! Yes, 11 hours of walking... I was heading for that pyramid for hours and hours and it never seemed to get closer... who built a pyramid in the highlands anyway ??? A bit posh for a Crofters hut...

I'd been to Applecross twice before on my motorbike and had stopped once with Michelle at the cafe and the other time I'd been with some of the guys from The Round Table Lodge on a bike tour and we had stopped at the walled garden for lunch. I'd never been to the pub before and I couldn't remember where abouts it was located in the bay... can you imagine the torture when I rounded the headland, I could see the bay stretching out but couldn't see the pub. Checking the map, it was still another three mile walk to get right round to the other end of the bay !!! 🥵

I shuffled up to a table outside the pub, kicked my boots and socks off and fell onto a bar stool. The first cold pint never touched the sides and checking my phone to check todays distance, at first I thought it must have broken...



I cross checked it with my secondary tracker and it was correct , 55,412 steps... a massive 30.04 miles... I was hanging and clearly that was why, the furthest I'd done in a day up to now had been 24 miles... that was a long tough day...

I met a lovely couple that kindly took this pic when they were laughing at me trying to take a selfie !!! They had travelled up to the area to visit their son and his wife and to meet their first granddaughter for the first time... 😍 I'll be honest, I was so shattered and emotional she had me in tears, I was remembering the first time I met each of my amazing grandchildren, I'm welling up now thinking about that, it's not easy typing with blurry eyes you know !!! 🥹Another 3 more pints and up to the campsite for a shower, I needed my bed... I was beyond tired but I knew I had tomorrow off, in fact I was soo tired, I was considering having two days off and once again, I was stinking.... 🥱😴




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k.edwards1805
Aug 02, 2023

Well done Chris. I love reading about your adventures.

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abagworth
Aug 01, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

A big day Chris but you continue to meet some lovely people. Applecross bring good memories for me also - hope you enjoyed some well earned rest there! Keep cracking mate and keep these fantastic blogs coming.

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Karl F
Karl F
Jul 31, 2023

Great read Chris as always. Beautiful area. Take care mate and enjoy your days off.

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