Today would’ve been Kevin’s birthday and it turned out to be a very special but challenging day!
We set off to Balnakeil Beach to start the day, deciding to head down the ‘wrong’ peninsula to add some more miles and get a different view which was definitely worth it!
Heading back the way we’d come we set about negotiating the dunes towards Faraid Head. It was at this point we started the notice the wind! The Maran grass was just about bent in half, creating beautiful patterns across the dunes.
As we neared the coast we came across some beautiful beaches which wouldn’t have been out of place in the Caribbean! We spent some time admiring the view and watching the gannets diving for fish.
Continuing on, and leaving the dunes behind we walked amongst some beautiful flowers as we headed towards a hill.
We thought we’d experienced strong wind before but the wind on top of the hill was something else! We sat for a while just taking it all in and leaning into it. It was difficult to even hold a phone up to take a picture!
Heading back down, we made our way round the Ministry of Defence Bombardment Range which was quite a sight!
Continuing on along the fence we reached the furthest point we could where we sat for a while again, looking at the Cape Wrath lighthouse in the distance and watching more gannets.
We then headed back along the road with a slight diversion around some cows! Weaving our way between the dunes the wind was whipping sand into our faces, which was so painful that we had to walk backwards for a while but eventually we made it down to the beach where the dogs had a good run and a play.
Back at the car park and with the rain starting to fall we left our rucksacks at the car and swiftly headed up the hill towards Cocoa Mountain. It was very different to our last Cocoa Mountain experience in Dornoch - there was certainly no sitting outside in the sun with the dogs but just as delicious!
Fully refuelled and with the sun shining we set off back to the beach but instead of turning right in the direction of Faraid Head we went left towards Keoldale. This was supposed to be an easy 3 mile walk however the wind had other ideas! The start of the walk was windy but lovely and there was a beautiful rainbow over Balnakeil Bay.
From here the wind strengthened and it got progressively more difficult! We almost gave up and turned round a few times as we were struggling to stand upright, never mind walk anywhere. The wind was gusting at about 40mph and we could definitely feel it, even breathing was hard work!
The path went very close to the edge of the cliffs which, with the wind as it was, was far too dangerous to follow. We headed inland where had to pick our own way through the Marram Grass and boggy areas whilst being careful not to lose sight of the coast. There were times when we were balancing on the side of dunes, blinded by the whirling sand and unsure whether we should just sit down and wait for the wind to calm down.
We kept going however, watching the wind whip up the sea when we could. Eventually we saw the road in the distance and staggered gratefully to the car which we ended up nearly being blown past! Kate said it was the scariest walk she’s ever done. We sat for a short time watching an otter close to the rocks whilst we caught our breath.
We had aimed for 16 miles today, however after being battered by the wind almost all day we didn’t quite manage it which was a bit frustrating but we can’t control the weather! Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit calmer and we can get a decent number of miles done!
In August 2019 we're walking 500 miles round the North Coast of Scotland in memory of Kevin Kerr, raising money for MND Scotland, Marie Curie & SITraN
Day by day