Tuesday 23 October 2012--It's a beautiful sunny morning, and I'm looking forward to exploring the northwest corner of Scotland, which I always seem
to be rushing through. Cross the Kylesku Bridge and head north. A few miles along, a short spur leads to Badcall; back on the main road, I stop to have
a look at Scourie. Then there is a side loop through Foindle, Fanagmore, and Tarbet, where the summer passenger ferry to Handa Island departs from. Can't
take a bad picture today.
Back on the main road, I pass through Laxford Bridge, then turn off at Rhiconich. This spur leads through another Badcall (something has to be done about these umps) to the village of Kinlochbervie. There's a hotel here; might be worth a stay sometime. On past Oldshoremore I go, and park at a small lot in Blairmore. There are several nice beaches down spurs to the southwest, but I walk instead northeast across the street, through a gate marked "Walkers Welcome". I'm going to Sandwood Bay, four and a half miles away.
The trail is almost disappointingly tame, wide and fairly level. There isn't a cloud in the sky, and it's warm enough to walk in a t-shirt. Did I really see snow on the hills a few days ago? An hour or so along, the ruin of Sandwood Cottage appears, and I catch the faint sound of surf. Then the bay comes into sight. The light at Cape Wrath, Scotland's remote northwesternmost point, six or seven miles distant, peers over the far headland. A few minutes later, I am weaving through the dunes, with their electric green marram grass. And then I am standing on what must be the most magnificent beach in all of Scotland, a mile and a half of beautiful pinkish sand.
I stroll along the beach and wander in the dunes for two hours. There are lots of footprints around, and occasionally I catch sight of other people, but it really feels as if I have the place to myself.
Reluctantly, I make the trek back to the car. I stayed longer than I meant to on the beach, and it's 4:30 when I get back on the road. I have a fair bit to drive yet, and so find myself once again dashing past Durness and around Loch Eriboll. The gorgeous golden afternoon light fades to a soft pink alpenglow, begging me to stop to photograph the spectacular landscape. I don't have time. Arrive in Tongue just after sunset and find my B&B. As frustrating as that last stretch of driving was, I know the memory of a glorious couple of hours at Sandwood Bay on a warm, cloudless afternoon will stay with me forever.