Day 117, 118. Thursday & Fri, 27th & 28th July. Broadford to Acharacle.
I woke up with more aches and pains than I usually do. My left knee and my right hip had nice big bruises and my neck was stiff as a board so I decided to stay on the campsite for a second night. I got up and went down for a hot shower to see if that would help a bit, it did so I spent 15 minutes doing my daily stretches until I could move freely again. I have got into a good routine of doing a series of stretches in the morning and sometimes in the evening, my body is always aching somewhere these days but being assaulted by a motorhome definitely didn't help... A lovely young couple arrived on a tandem yesterday while I was sitting by my tent having a nice chicken salad, they were from Hunstanton in Norfolk and were riding the NC500.
It's great to meet such young people, getting out there and having serious adventures like this and after our chat, the young man was going to do some research into joining Freemasonry on his return to Norfolk. I woke a few times in the night and actually thought the very loud snoring was coming from their tent, getting up in the morning I realised it wasn't, there was actually a pig pen on the campsite. That was the picture on yesterdays blog, posting that picture wasn't in any way making any reference to my new French motorhome mate !!!
After meeting Callum on the train, I did call Steve, the WM of the Lodge Kyle No. 1117 and we arranged to meet at the lodge at 12 noon so I jumped on a bus to travel the 9 miles back over the Skye Bridge.
After a tour of the Lodge Steve very kindly invited me back to his lovely home for lunch. Pat prepared us a delicious lunch which we enjoyed sitting outside in the garden with a cold beer while chatting for a few hours. Originally from Leicestershire, Steve had been an Engineer and had worked all over the world before deciding to retire to Scotland, I had to admit, it was a beautiful setting and I could imagine enjoying a peaceful retirement there, with the aid of the very clever midge catching machine... I'd never seen one before, an American gas operated devise that hoovers up millions of the little horrors, I considered getting one and fitting it to my rucksack...
Steve dropped me back to a bus stop and I travelled back onto The Isle of Skye. I had also emailed the secretary from the the Lodge on Skye but there was nobody available to meet me and being the summer recess, they were having work done on the ceiling of the lodge room, I'd have to make a return journey to see this lodge in Portree.
After studying my maps, I spent the next day walking and hopping on and off buses for short stints where I considered it too dangerous to walk. Studying an OS map, I could work out where the road turned into a narrow, winding, undulating death trap so I'd work out where the bus stops were and avoid that section by jumping on a bus. A narrow road with shear rock faces up both sides is very unforgiving when a vehicle comes flying around a blind bend, there's nowhere to go !!!
I got the ferry from Ardvasar back to Mallaig on the mainland, a half hour crossing in the pouring rain and from Mallaig walked around the coast line to Arisaig. A boring walking on the road but at least they were safe enough and the rain was just coming in showers rather than hammering down as it had been all morning.
I sat in a little bar a decided to get an evening meal as I was unsure where I could camp, it's not a great plan to get all my cooking gear out and make like I'm on a campsite if I'm camping somewhere I shouldn't be. This pretty little village had no-camping signs everywhere !!! A few mouthfuls into my pie 'n' mash with fresh vegetables a young man introduced himself, shook my hand, explained that he couldn't hang around but informed me that he'd paid for my dinner. What a top man, turns out, Frazer was the youngest ever Worshipful Master in Scotland when he was the Madter of his Lodge, the son of a very proud dad Huge and Granddad, I met Huge as I was leaving the village the following morning, sadly I never met granddad, he had recently received his certificate of merit for 70 years in Freemasonry so I would have loved to have chatted with him for a while.
Chatting with a chap at the bar and explaining that I was struggling to find somewhere to pitch up due to all of the No-camping signs, a few calls later and I'd been given permission to camp on the grass next to a Czech/Slovak war memorial, so long as I was up and away nice and early.
This whole area was used by the SOE, (Special Operations Executive) from 1941, to train their agents in specialist combat methods. Many Czech and Slovak volunteers were trained here before being parachuted into Nazi occupied Bohemia, Moravia and the Slovak Republic. Those selected for these Ops were then sent to Ringway, now Manchester Airport for parachute training before going on missions to wreak havoc behind the German lines. It was an honour to spend the night under the names of these brave men and as respectfully requested, I was up and gone by 7am so as not to upset any of the natives...
Todays walk started off coastal but unfortunately ended up coming inland a long way.
By early evening and after 23 miles I reached the little village of Acharacle, no pub but the bar in the hotel was open so I set about my own Special Operations Intelligence gathering, where could I camp, how good was the beer, etc. etc. ??? The barmaid did a great job at making me feel incredibly inferior by explaining that waking the coast of the UK is no big deal, they get one a week in there attempting the treck !!! This was verified by one of the waitresses and the ex Army Catering Corp cook, I say cook and not chef but who knows ?? If you've eaten in an Army cookhouse, you'll know !!! Tired, emotional and feeling like I'd just been slapped, I intended on finishing my pint and walking out of the bar crestfallen to find a pitch. It was then a fisherman walked over, shook my hand and got me another pint. The Junior Warden of a Lodge in Fort William, what a top guy. Within half an hour, he had introduced me to everyone in the bar and was then going round with a glass demanding 'donations with menaces' !!! This was then added to and donated to my MCF Givetap page by a lovely lady, I think they raised £91... what a man and I'm ashamed to say, I was personally introduced to so many people and was given so many names, I have no idea which name belonged to which face.... thank you to the lovely folk of Acharacle for making me feel so welcome and for your kind donations. It was nearly dark and raining when I left so I pitched up on the grass in the kids playpark, I'd be gone before the kids showed up in the morning.