[This walk took place on the 8th August, 2020]
I’m tired after my long hike out to Craig’s Bothy and back, followed by my trek up the road. But my day isn’t over yet. I need to join up with yesterday’s walk, which ended further down the road, at the bridge over the Abhainn Alligin, just above Inveralligin.
Having retrieved the Monster bike, I park my car, again, at the view point near the top of the pass.
A white campervan has pulled up beside me, and a couple get out. They watch as I heave my bike out of the car. “Good for you,” they say. Followed by, “You’re brave.”
“I’m only cycling a short distance downhill,” I tell them. “I’ll be walking back up, soon.”
Of course, I planned today’s trek around the principle that all the cycling I do must be downhill, but this section of road really is steep. And, I do mean STEEP. A series of hairpin bends to start off with. I’m aware of the couple watching me, as fight the feeling of fear in my stomach and climb onto the Monster.
Squeeze the brakes with both hands – set off – wobble a bit – try to feel “brave”…
…and don’t let go of the brakes until I’ve reached the bridge at the bottom.
Brave? Hardly. My hands are cramping with the effort of pulling on the brakes, and my legs feel like partially-set jelly. But, I’m mightily relieved to have got down that hill in one piece.
I decide I definitely prefer walking to cycling.
With shaky hands, I wheel the Monster bike off the road, and hide him in a field. The horrible thing will have a lovely view while he waits for me to return to pick him up again.
I set off to walk back up the road to the top of the hill.
Soon, I come across a sign that says “unsuitable for caravans”, just past a turn-off to Wester Alligin. Where’s Wester Alligin?
I pull out my OS map. No “Wester Alligin” is marked, but somewhere called Alligin Shuas instead. (As I’ve discovered, OS maps are surprisingly inaccurate about place names in this part of Scotland!)
If the weather had been better yesterday, I would have walked along the shore a little further, and come up this road. I look down towards Wester Alligin (or Alligin Shuas). Can’t see much. Ruined walls, a few cottages in the distance, and the shining water of Loch Torridon beyond.
I always wonder about the places I haven’t been – the paths I didn’t take – and sometimes make a resolution to come back and visit them another day, when I’ve finished my round-the-coast trek. Here’s another one to add to the list.
Cross over a cattle grid, and continue up the road. My legs are tired now, and I stop constantly to
rest take photographs. Love the orange-red colour of the roof of this little cottage.
These painted roofs are a common feature in this part of the highlands, and provide a gentle contrast to the muted colours of the scenery.
Here’s another little cottage… more of a hut really…
…oh, it’s something to do with Scottish Water. A water pumping station?
The road is getting steeper. Oh, my poor, tired legs. Thank goodness this day is nearly over. I’m nearly there.
High above me is a ridge. I search it for a glimpse of my car… and notice a couple of figures appear to be sitting on a bench near the viewpoint.
When I stop for another breather, I zoom in with my camera and take a very poor photo against the sun. Yes, definitely a couple of figures on the bench. Hope they’re not watching my slow progress up this road.
I stop again on the last corner, and turn around to look back at Loch Torridon. What a view!
Onwards. Nearly there.
I can see my car. Just this one, last, steep bit to climb.
When I get to the top, the couple with the campervan were walking back from the bench. Yes, they had been watching my slow progress up the hill. “We watched you climbing back up,” they said. “Well done.”
I take one last photo of that first, terrifying bend. Yes. Well done, me. Another difficult section completed.
Tomorrow I’m driving round to Red Point, which is a surprisingly long distance away by road. From there, I’ll walk back to Craig’s Bothy. Another there-and-back walk, but the only way I could see of tackling this section.
I’m worrying about tomorrow already. Why? Can’t be tougher than today.
Miles walked today = 14.5 miles (and 5+ miles cycled)
Total distance around coast = 4,474.5 miles