Scotland 07/18 | Bothy Bound on the Applecross Peninsula

After a night of heavy rain, I actually exclaimed out loud with glee when we awoke to clear blue skies. There were soft clouds rolling in the distance but Raasay was drenched in the bright morning light, illuminating all the details of its coastline. With the door open we packed up slowly, watching the clouds roll across the sea, feeling the cool breeze against the warmth of the sun.

Just before heading off for the day we decided to go for the walk we had missed out on the previous night. Past the long grass and thistles and down the undulating grassy slope we made our way to the edge, looking down on the sea crashing into a small rocky shore just below us. It was a beautiful morning and after the underwhelming weather of the previous couple of days we hung around to enjoy it.

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We drove in the direction we had come the previous day, actually heading back towards Applecross. Just before re-entering the village we pulled up on some higher ground, looking down on the small amount of civilization, this time the tide was in and the expanse of sand had given way to blue water. We decided a sausage sandwich in the sunshine was a grand way to continue our morning; once again Carnivore Cal was enjoying the meat free option with me. We both felt chipper as the weather was perfect for our next little adventure.

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Back though the village and out the other side we continued down the narrow roads until our next destination. It was a pretty drive with the sea on one side of the road and large ponds on the other, only the single track road and a grassy mound separating them. The ponds were covered in tall reeds which offered ample resting space for the small birds that flitted to and fro – a wooden hide perched at one end. The general contrast between the blue and greens, vivid in the sunshine was very appealing.

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We drove until we found a place to leave the van overnight and proceeded to fill our packs with the essentials for an overnight stay on the coast. We were headed to a bothy on the edge of the water, you never know if they will be deserted or full, but we opted to just take our bivvy bags, leaving the tent behind and hope for the best. With our bags packed, we hoisted them on and walked away from our van for the night.

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We started along the single track road we had originally been driving on, sloping up and down casually as we walked south, either side of us bracken and then fields. Eventually we came to a small gathering of houses, it was one section of a small village, and this is where we left the road, crossed the bridge and left civilisation behind. It felt like quintessential highland countryside, rocky uneven heathland, hardy shrubs littered the ground and large rock faces would rise up and sink back in a short distance further, offering no real indication of it true size, lurking below ground.

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The packs always feel heavy when you first start walking, however a short while in we grow accustomed to the pressure points and they just become an extension of ourselves. Every now and again the path would disappear and we found ourselves cutting makeshift tracks through the undergrowth, our feet getting caught repeatedly as we went. The walk was, generally speaking, low level however there were intermittent ups and down for its entirety, we would pass by hefty crags, rock faces our path would skirt around or clamber over.

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For the entire walk the views were spectacular. As we peaked and troughed we would alternate between rough heathland shining in the sunlight, which illuminated every contour of the misshapen ground with great mounds which rose up around us as we meandered through them, and a wide view across the water over to Skye. The water was grey/blue with the ever-changing light creating silver patches which would appear and disintegrate as quickly as they had come.

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As well as the views, the insect life was something to marvel at, with every step we would notice huge hairy caterpillars in various colours clinging to the undergrowth, emerald beetles glinting in the sun, crickets scattering in all directions with every approaching step and dragonflies… so many dragonflies. They ranged massively in colour and size, from huge black and yellow ones, buzzing around like little helicopters to small, almost silent brown ones, green and black striped ones, medium sized lilac ones, their delicate colour complimented by the silver shimmer of their wings, and super speedy orange and red ones… they were awesome!

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After rounding a few more corners and crossing a couple more streams we entered a small copse of gnarled trees, their light leaves catching the light and casting dappled shade on the long billowy grass growing below. The trees gave way to a bracken patch, almost as tall as me, with a narrow track trodden through the middle… a tick paradise I am sure! At the end of this path stood our home for the night, the bothy was a small stone building with a corrugated roof, a typical two up and two down building with the stairs running up the middle.

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On the outside it had been decorated (by other visitors, I assume) with odds and ends obviously found around the site: buoys, fishing netting, shells, logs etc. The two downstairs rooms, were basic with stone walls and very minimalist furniture (a big table in one room and a couple of moth eaten chairs in the other), the upstairs however had been revamped fairly recently – pine clad in a basic but effective manner, it was clean, bright and had a mild resemblance to a ski chalet somewhere far off. There was nothing in the rooms and we dumped our bags in one of them to lay claim to the space for the evening.

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Out the front was a space of meadow-like grass, perfect for tent pitching, a picnic bench was sat up on the rocks overlooking the sea and there was a small rocky bay, the waves rolling in and out under the bright sun. On the other side of the grassy spot were 3 ruined crofter’s huts, just the outside shells remaining, no roofs and trees growing out of the walls. Behind these huts the land rose up for a short distance, a small hill which looked over to the Skye Bridge and down onto the bothy and its idyllic location.

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We were the only ones there and occupied the picnic bench, reading our books for a while. I disappeared off for a wander to explore and had to take a second glance as I had spotted a snake in my peripheral vision – curled up, warming itself in the sun, it obviously wasn’t accustomed to being disturbed by humans. It didn’t move for a long while and I was half convinced it was fake, until it raised its head to stare straight at me. I tried to get Callum’s attention and in doing so disturbed him enough that he uncoiled himself and slithered off between the rocks and under the little bridge I was standing on, his tail flicked behind him and he was very nonchalant about the whole thing. I haven’t had much interaction with wild snakes however I am pretty sure it was an adder, its body about 3cm in diameter with black zig-zagged markings and an orangey/brown tinge to its underside – it was very cool to see it up close and out in the open and I am sad I didn’t have my phone on me to get a photo!

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Our evening was spent much like the rest, reading and generally enjoying our surroundings. Before the tide made its way back in we headed down to the little bay and spent some time rock-pooling. The rocks were covered in clumps of mussels, there was nothing terribly exciting to find but a few small fish, a couple of tiny crabs and some insanely fast shrimp.

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A guy turned up and we introduced ourselves, after some small talk he disappeared off to pitch his tent – he was there to film sunrises and sunsets and wanted the quick access location of being down by the bay, we had a couple of short chats with him but we generally kept to ourselves. We spent some time ambling around the area, exploring the ruined huts and climbing the small surrounding hills but we always came back to the water’s edge, and the tranquil view.

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As the evening wore on the sun drenched everything in golden light, the sea shone a rich blue reflecting the bright summer’s sky and it was very close to being a perfect evening! We cooked a simple dinner on the stove as the clouds filled the sky, eventually (as always!) the wind died down and the midgies came out in force – we decided to head inside and play some cards for a while, this time is was my turn to win… constantly! Sat in the room with the big table we could see the light changing outside and as the shadows grew longer we wandered out to see what kind of sunset we might be treated to.

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The sky was filed with fluffy, tumbling clouds; tinted blue at the bottom and changing to a golden yellow colour at the top. The sun barely showed through until an occasional break emerged casting long rays across the immediate clouds and down onto the calm water. We sat on our rock, watching until the gaps closed up entirely before heading inside. When the light started fading quickly, it was time to get some sleep. With our roll mats, sleeping bags and bivvy bags we tucked in for the night, the hard floor wasn’t the most comfortable, however as we started to drift off we could hear the rain hammering against the corrugated roof and we fell asleep grateful for the dry shelter.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. James Douglass says:

    Excellent descriptive writing which captures the magic of the rugged land. Glad you both enjoyed it. xx


    1. Journey Far : WM says:

      Thank you – it’s easy to be inspired by such a beautiful place! X


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