Walking holidays in Sutherland
Three days of walking in the north-west Highlands
Cranstackie, Sandwood Bay and Farhaid Head with a little local produce and home cooking. A bespoke three day walking holiday at Ardmore.
Monday September 12th 2011
There is a distinctly autumnal feel here at Ardmore today, the vivid purples of the heather on A Chadh-Fi island are beginning to fade and we have just said goodbye to our last group of the season, a stalwart team of ladies, who have joined us here for three days of walking, home cooked food and a break from the hustle and bustle of the south-east of England.
Cathy (who organised for her team of friends to come) sent her son on our expedition summer camp a few years ago now, and the stories of his adventures at Ardmore were the trigger for her annual walking trip to head to the beautiful far north-west.
It was a cloudy and blustery day for our ascent of Cranstackie on Thursday and we could watch the line sqawls approaching as we climbed its western slopes above Rhigolter. The summit is guarded by a tricky boulder field beneath rocky ramparts. It is easy to bypass these at the southern, and lowest end and we hunkered down on the summit for lunch. As we descended the cloud lifted to expose the dramatic cliffs of the Foinaven massif on the southern side of Strath Dionard and views opened out to the Kyle of Durness to the north.
Sandwood Bay had always been the objective for the middle day but rather than the traditional approach along the footpath from Blairmore, we went cross-country from the end of the old peat road at Sheigra, striking out for the cliff tops, passing the stack of Am Buachaille and picking our way down to the white sands at the southern end of the beach. Sandwood has a drama about it, no matter what the weather and no matter the time of year, and we had the two mile stretch of sand to ourselves.
The staff team returned to reality two weeks ago with the departure of our last large group so Rebecca has been cooking for the ladies. Local venison, fresh farmed salmon from the waters of Loch Laxford and mussels picked from the raft in Loch A Chadh Fi have kept the team well fuelled and the wood burning stove has been glowing for the first time since May.
Forecasts of upland gales kept us to lower levels on Saturday, with a walk from Keoldale, along the coast to Balnakeil and Farhaid Head near Durness. There was sufficient warmth in the autumn sun for a swim at Balnakeil.