428 Sand to Cuaig viewpoint

[This walk took place on the 12th August 2019]

I spend the morning sheltering from the rain in my van, before driving up from Applecross, and parking at a beautiful viewpoint just south of Cuaig.

Pull on my waterproof trousers and zip up my raincoat. Hop onto Scooty, and sail down the road to the parking spot at Sand, where I hide Scooty in a clearing surrounded by dripping bracken.

By the time I’ve locked the bike up, the rain has stopped. I strip off my waterproof trousers, noting that my trousers are damp – not from rain, but from perspiration. I really HATE wearing waterproofs. You get wet anyway!

Set off back up the road, on foot now. Wow, this hill is steep!

02 steep hill up to Sand, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

It’s still raining over the mountains across there. A lone sailing boat glides up the coast. I wonder if it is the same one I saw yesterday?

03 sailing ship and rain clouds, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

When I reach the brow of the hill, I stop to admire the view over the beach below and to take photographs. This place is called Sands. Such an apt name.

04 Sand beach, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

The beach is accessed via a road, which continues down to a group of white buildings set on the Sands peninsula. Now I can see them clearly, they don’t look like holiday cottages after all, as I first assumed. Maybe it’s an outdoor centre? Or a sailing centre?

05 naval base at Sand, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

[It’s not until later – in fact, not until I wrote up this blog – that I discovered from other commentators that the buildings on the Sand peninsula actually belong to the military!]

Hear voices above me, and am surprised to see a family striding along the hillside just above the road. They look rather bedraggled.

06 walkers on the path, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

I check my map. Oh yes, there is a footpath running along the slope, I remember now. I considered using it. But I decided the road was closer to the sea, and not busy enough with traffic to justify breaking my rule – I must stick  as close to the sea as is safe, legal and reasonable.

I’m approaching the turnoff to Sand. The footpath ends here, anyway, and the group come off the slope and onto the road.

07 turnoff to Sand, walkers and car, Ruth hiking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

They head down towards Sand, and have disappeared by the time I get to the junction. Shame, I was hoping for a chat.

The camp site in Applecross is full of people – but frenetic with coming and going. Most people only stay one night and, because of the midges, there is not much time for outdoor chitchat. It’s been a lonely few days and I long for a conversation.

Onwards. The road undulates up and down.

08 wet road, near Sand, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

After such a wet start to the day, the sky is clearing nicely, and I begin to get some terrific views across the water. 

09 clearing view, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

There is a steady stream of traffic along the road, and it increases as the weather cheers up. (By steady, I mean some sort of vehicle every 5 minutes or so!)

10 traffic on the coast road, Ruth hiking up the coast from Applecross, Scotland

Look at this odd circle of trees. Obviously planted to enclose something. What? Was there once a cottage here? Or a sheepfold?

11 magic circle of trees, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

A caravan trundles by. I find it hard enough navigating along here in my little campervan (aka The Beast), because the road is narrow and passing places are tricky to negotiate. I don’t know how people cope with larger vehicles.

12 caravans on the road to Applecross, Ruth hiking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

Anyway, I wouldn’t swap my Beast for anything else.

Onwards. Glad it’s stopped raining, and my trousers have dried off in the breeze. Past waterfalls, and the occasional driveway leading to some half-hidden cottage, this section of road is long and flattish. Easy walking.

13 road from Applecross to Cuaig, Ruth hiking round the coast of Scotland

Oh, just look at this dramatic waterfall! I stop to take more photographs.

14 waterfall on road to Cuaig, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

Further along, and I’m overtaken by a stream of motorcyclists. They’re carrying luggage, and are probably doing the NC500 tour.

15 motorbikes and cattle grids, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

I spot a sign lying fallen in the grass by the side of the road, and stop to read it. It talks about the North Applecross Woodlands project, and marks the beginning of a footpath which leads into the woodlands, and you can visit a “spectacular waterfall”.

16 woodland project sign, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

Apparently a number of native trees have been planted here: birch, alder, hazel, rowan and grey willow. In fact, my map shows a woodland at the top of the hill. 

I stare up the slope, but can’t see a single tree. Perhaps they’re over the brow of the hill and on the opposite slope? I hope the deer haven’t eaten them all.

Onwards. That must be Londain below. Not exactly a large place. Looks like a small farm and maybe some holiday cottages.

17 Londain and PO van, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

Here’s the turn off to Londain. Hang on. It says Londain on my OS map, but the signpost says Lonbain. It looks as though the ‘b’ is a new addition to the sign, as it is a different kind of typeface to the rest of the letters. Darker and larger.

18 Londbain sign, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

[On an earlier post, a fellow coastal-walker, Jon, mentioned the two spelling variants of Kalnakill and Callakille. I’m amazed by the continuing flexibility of Scottish place names, and later discover this interesting site: http://www.applecrossplacenames.org.uk/]

Above Lonbain, I meet a fellow walker and we stop for a chat. She is Scottish, on holiday here, and is just out walking her little dog and not going far. She loves the place and comes regularly, but couldn’t live here permanently. We discuss the absence of shops, and the absence of fresh food in the few shops that do exist. She admires my long coastal trek, and says how few walkers she meets along the road.

19 dog walker on the road, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

After this encounter, I feel surprisingly cheerful. It was really good to have a proper conversation with a fellow human being. 

Further along, and I spot the perfect holiday cottage. On its own. Overlooking the sea. Just the right size. And what a view.

20 perfect holiday cottage, Lonbain, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

[A year later, this pretty place turns out to be our Prime Minister’s holiday cottage!]

Onwards, past Lonbain, the road snakes up a rise. I’m beginning to feel unusually tired. 

21 long and winding road, to Cuaig, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

Here’s another pretty cottage. Actually, it’s a proper house. Maybe a farm. What an idyllic setting. 

22 watching sheep, road to Cuaig, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

Not all the cottages along here are so beautiful. Take this one, for example. Definitely in need of major renovation. And the neighbouring building is in even worse shape.

23 in need of renovation, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

In a field below are a herd of Highland Cattle, with a few calves among them. They are some distance away, and the photos I take are blurry.

24 Scottish highland cows, from a safe distance, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

Earlier today, when I cycled along the road on my Scooty bike, there were several cows on the tarmac, stopping the traffic. Motorists had got out of their vehicles to take photos of them, with several tourists trying to drape their arms around the beasts’ necks. Most of the Highland cows I’ve come across are docile and appear very friendly, but I thought the tourists were pushing their luck.

Anyway, now the road is empty of cows. Shame, because I would like to take a few photos of them, from a reasonably safe distance, of course. 

At the top of the next hill is the car park at the viewpoint, and I can just see my beautiful silver Beast, waiting for me.

25 up the hill to the viewpoint near Cuaig, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

I cross over another river, and stop to take more photos of the tumbling waters. Allt an t-Srathain. I can hear the roaring of a waterfall, but the falls themselves are not visible from up on the road.

26 Allt an t-Strathain, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

The road continues to rise. A boat – maybe a ferry – is chugging along slowly just off the shore. There are no cows on the road, but a recently-shorn sheep gives me a baleful look.

27 Shorn the sheep, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

When I reach the car park, I take more photos of the boat, and the beautiful views. So glad the weather has cheered up. What a difference the sunshine makes!

28 view from the viewpoint, near Cuaig, Ruth walking up the coast of Applecross, Scotland

I’ve only walked just over 5 miles today. My plan, now, is to drive back, pick up my Scooty bike, and drive further along the road to extend my walk. But, I make the mistake of brewing up a cup of tea in my van, and getting out the biscuits, and, after a while, I decide I’ve done enough walking for the day.

Later, when changing out of my walking trousers, I discover a strange red rash in the crease of my groin. Oh, how annoying. It must be chafing, sweat rash from cycling this morning with my waterproof trousers on. Luckily, it doesn’t itch and isn’t sore. I’m sure it will heal up soon.

Miles walked today = 5.5 miles (Really, I’ll never finish the coast at this rate!)
Total around coast = 4,424.5 miles


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
This entry was posted in 22 Highlands and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to 428 Sand to Cuaig viewpoint

  1. Brian Williamson says:

    Keep ’em coming, I’ll just be going back to Cornwall again next year, let’s hope this COVID (now total rubbish) has gone. And I’ll be able to go in Spring, which is what I wanted to but couldn’t because of the lockdown.
    Mr Williamson

  2. john says:

    5.5 (but they were joyous and eventful) miles. As soon as I saw the picture of THAT cottage I thought that the building and its view looked familiar. I prefer the view to Applecross from Skye, but each to their own.

  3. jcombe says:

    Funnily enough I did this exact same walk (starting and ending at the same places) as you and also cycled from the view point down to the beach at Sand (I was hoping given the view point is high up, the beach is low down and my bike isn’t electric it would be downhill all the way, but sadly not).

    The highland cattle were roaming all over the road there too when I walked, and tourists were stopping to photograph them too (but fortunately, not trying to hug them!).

    I spotted many of the same things as you, but not that circle of trees I must have missed they were a circle. As to the woodland inland (as mentioned on the OS map … but seemingly not existing) there is no evidence of them on Google earth either. I wonder if it was planned to plant woodland and it hasn’t happened, or if it is just an error though I suspect the latter (the Ordnance Survey tend to mark things as they are not how they might be planned to be in future).

  4. Maura says:

    i’ve really enjoyed reading your recent posts. It’s too bad that so many of us around the globe are stuck at home this summer and unable to travel. Are you still in lockdown where you live? Here, in Chicago, we are still in partial lockdown. Most people I know are only venturing out for exercise or the grocery store, Target, Home Depot.

    Schools will be online only next month, which is so tough on kids, teachers and parents. Daycares are open. My 6 month old and 3 year old grandsons attend daycare. Parents are not allowed to enter the daycare buildings. The 3 year olds are required to wear masks indoors They do a pretty good job of keeping their masks on! Babies do not have to wear a mask, thank goodness!

    • Robin Massey says:

      Sympathies Maura. In Melbourne, Australia we hoping to finish a severe lockdown in a couple of weeks. Our kids don’t have to wear masks if aged under 12 though I wonder if that will change over time. I agree, lovely to read of Ruth’s ongoing adventures in beautiful Scotland.

    • Oh Maura, life must be so difficult for you and for the kids. I couldn’t see my granddaughter for 3 months, despite living 5 mins walk away, which was tough for both of us. Still in partial lockdown here in Manchester.

  5. Eunice says:

    Maybe Lonbain was supposed to be Londain and someone stuck the letter on the wrong way round 🙂 The sunshine certainly makes a difference, I love the first view across the water and the one of Londain (Lonbain?) 🙂

  6. Thank you so much fo the link to the website of the local place names and their meanings. The Gaelic pronunciation is good to hear. I would imagine that locals (the old and the young) in that area speak the language?

    Some of the words have more than a passing similarity to the Welsh equivalents.

    So so pleased and impressed that you are still walking. An amazing adventure and hope that you are safe and well in these strange times.

    • Hi Brian and Jane, yes, you do hear the locals speaking Gaelic. It’s not protected in the same way as Welsh, so I hope it doesn’t die out. Because Covid has put an end to foreign travel for me, I’m in the process of buying a holiday place in Wales, so I’m going to try and learn a bit of Welsh.

  7. Chris Elliott says:

    Hi Ruth – when I walked this stretch I got to about Fearn (I think) which is a little further along the road. There I found a notice that explained all about the efforts to create a new forest of indigenous species. I guess the reason you could not see any trees is that they are still all too wee. Give it 40 years and we might have something to look at. I am so pleased the estate owners are ripping out all the rhododendrons and non indigenous species of trees in Scotland and trying to take the country back to how it used to be. When you get further north to Eriboll and Hope and Altnaharra you will learn about Anders Holch Povlsen. He is now the biggest landowner in Scotland. At the last count he owned something like 12 estates in Scotland. Something like 150,000 acres. He has a grand 100 year plan to take Scotland back to how it was 150 years ago. He also wants to develop eco tourism on a massive scale. He is a multi billionaire and so he has the clout to probably get his way. He is an amazing man . It’s worth reading about him. Three of his four adult children were killed a couple of years ago in a terrorist bomb attack in Sri Lanka but he is still dedicating himself to implementing his plan for Scotland, although understandably he is quite reclusive now.

    • Anders Holch Povlsen sounds interesting and what an awful tragedy, poor man. I’ve been impressed by the amount of new forestation going on in Scotland – not horrible fir plantations, but proper broadleaved woodland.

  8. We have Highland cattle on Arnside Knott and they are always docile. You can walk past within a couple of feet and they don’t bother.
    You remind me of my ex-gp friend and another friend who was a surgeon both not very good a diagnosing themselves. The latter advised me to avoid any operations at all costs if at all possible.

    • When it comes to self-diagnosis, doctors are either rampant hypochondriacs, or arrogantly dismissive of every symptom they experience. I veer between the two extremes. In retrospect, I should have taken more notice of that rash.

  9. Russell White says:

    Hi Ruth – You do make me smile as you mention the dreaded subject of Waterproof Over Trousers. I suggest to you a pair of Truly Breathable easy to put on over walking boots & non chaffing pair is in actual fact a Unicorn. If any of your experienced readers knows of such a beast I would be really interested to hear. (Next stop for me is Bigbury on Sea – I have rented a remote house for 7 nights so looking forward to that) Good Loch and Best wishes Russ

    • 5000milewalk says:

      I suppose you could always just wear shorts and accept you’re going to get wet? I’m still wearing jeans on my trek so don’t take any advice off me! 😄

      • I rarely wear waterproofs, I have to confess. But was wearing them mainly for the bike ride and to try to stop my socks getting wet. I don’t mind wet trousers, but the water runs down and into your boots, which is not very pleasant. Shorts might be better. But then there are midges and ticks to worry about…

        • 5000milewalk says:

          Hmm, midges and ticks too. Rain, no shops, nowhere to stay, isolation, loneliness…. the reasons for me to miss out Scotland for the time being and head on over to Berwick are stacking up higher and higher!

          I really don’t think I’m mentally ready for it yet! 😄

      • That’s what I do (in summer.) The shorts I wear, part of Mountain Warehouse zip-offs dry within minutes when the rain stops.

    • Hi Russell, for one moment you almost had me searching for Unicorn trousers! 😀 Lucky you going to Bigbury on Sea. Should be lovely.

  10. Chris Elliott says:

    Ruth – like you I rarely wore waterproof trousers unless the rain was torrential. Your legs soon dry. I would not recommend shorts to anyone. Far too many of the paths in England are overgrown with brambles and nettles and the windchill on the coast discourages them anyway. As you say in Scotland I am always very wary of Lymes Disease. So I frequently wore not only long trousers but leggings too in the Highlands on boggy ground. I was always very careful to de-tick / de-leach my boots and socks afterwards. But to be honest I was incredibly lucky with the weather on my walk. Only 22% of my days had any form of rain. 14% in England / 21% in Wales and 30% in Scotland – and that was with no planning for the weather – I planned my walk annually in advance and took whatever came. I hate waterproof trousers. They are just too hot even with vents. All the best.

    • Hi Chris, I rarely wear shorts while out walking, for the same reasons – brambles, nettles, thistles, ticks and midges. And, an additional hazard, I remember getting sunburnt calves on the south coast.

  11. This is the cliffhanger then Ruth after all those ticks a few weeks back. My walking friend was asking if you had a reaction after showing us the picture of various sizes of ticks with the smallest being the worst. I told her we would have to wait and see. We are living near the Holderness coast and have just completed 30 miles of very easy beach walking between Bridlington and Withernsea. It has only taken us 3 years in stages and finished much quicker thanks to lockdown. I hope you are managing to do some more walking despite the pandemic. Always an enjoyable read thank you.

    • Hi Sally, now that’s a section of the coast I haven’t walked yet, but I was once at boarding school in Hunmanby and regularly went to the beaches at Filey and Hunmanby gap. Just been browsing your blog. I lived in Eye for a few years – bought our first house there!

      • Filey is lovely, like stepping back in time and I need to revisit Hunmanby gap. What a coincidence that you lived in Eye but perhaps it was the town of Eye in Suffolk? Whereas the village of Eye I was born in, was in Northamptonshire, 3 miles from Peterborough but now in Cambridgeshire!

        • Hi Sally, yes, it was the Eye near Peterborough. Dominated by a large brick factory when we lived there, and the busy A47.

          • Brian Williamson says:

            Let’s just all hope this COVID thing goes soon and all gets back to normal (even for people like me who just go to The Lizard in Cornwall)
            Brian Williamson

          • Yes the brickworks! I was born in Eye in the Midwife’s house next door to the Spade and Shovel on the High Street. When and where did you live? I lived in The Crescent and left home in 1974. What a coincidence!

  12. alison uttley says:

    Hi Ruth
    Would you be able to point me in the direction of a blog of someone who’s going the other way to you . ?anticlockwise.. water on the right ?.. it would seem counterintuitive to most I’m sure – but I’ve started walking now and am struggling to find a blog i don’t need to reverse !
    Many Thanks Alison

I welcome your views

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s