Saturday 15 June 2013

The Quiraing, Skye.

Eilean Donan Castle

Bad weather forecast, so we had a bit of a road trip to Skye...

Eilean Donan Castle from near Dornie

Stopping off for elevenses by Eilean Donan Castle...

Trotternish Ridge from The Quiraing

And then on for a walk around the Quiraing on the Trotternish Peninsula...

Over the Minch from The Quiraing

Rafe - The Quiraing

The Trotternish Ridge, south from The Quiraing

Rafe - The Quiraing

Torridon from The Quiraing

Jim on a pointy bit - The Quiraing

Spring - The Quiraing

The Quiraing

Jim on another pointy bit - The Quiraing

The Quiraing

East from The Quiraing

The Quiraing

The Quiraing

The Quiraing

The Quiraing

The Quiraing

The Quiraing - the mist rolls in

Mist rolls in (briefly) over The Quiraing

Jim above the Quiraing

Jim and Rafe looking south along the Trotternish Ridgefrom above
The Quiraing

What happened to the bad weather...?

The Quiraing - Trotternish Ridge - looking south

Monday 10 June 2013

Aviemore to Hopeman Day 4 - Findhorn to Hopeman.

Rafe - ZZZZZZZ - Findhorn campsite

I woke up early, sun shining through the tent, to the sound of Rafe snoring gently away, dreaming of chasing rabbits.

Rafe - morning sunshine at Findhorn campsite

But as soon as I moved, he was awake and wanting out and off. So a quick walk down to the shore was in order.

Rafe by Findhorn Bay

Breakfast in the sunshine set us up for the day and apart from a few bits to keep us going through the morning (and the emergency food of course) we polished off all our rations.

Rafe makes a brew - Findhorn campsite

Tent down and all packed, we paid our dues to the campsite and set off northwards, along the road which runs beside Findhorn Bay, to the village.

Mist over Findhorn Bay

Just along the coast was a thick layer of haar, gradually burning off in the warm sunshine.

Rafe in Findhorn village "Which way now ?"

Findhorn village was quiet, not another person to be seen. We passed through quickly today, to turn east along the Moray Firth, towards home.

Rafe - dunes east of Findhorn

The dunes were eerie in the mist. Rafe led the way, bounding from waymark to waymark through the sand and shingle.

Rafe - dunes near Findhorn

Findhorn Foundation wind turbines

We soon came out onto the shore, passing behind the Findhorn Foundation and the rear of Kinloss Barracks. Rafe was ready to take to the beach and loup into the sea (it was getting hot), but the sand dunes had been eroded into cliffs and the drop was too far for him to jump down (although he would have tried if allowed).

The back way in to Kinloss Barracks - by Burghead Bay

As we passed the fences, gates and military paraphernalia of Kinloss Barracks I found myself whistling the theme tune to "The Great Escape"...

Eroded path by Kinloss Barracks

The mist was burning off fast.

Burghead Bay by Kinloss

Roseisle Forest and Burghead Bay

As the coast path entered Roseisle Forest the sand cliffs started to slump and we ran down onto the beach, Rafe leaping straight into the sea.

Burghead Bay and Roseisle Forest

Burghead Bay looking east

Rafe - Burghead Bay

Anti tank blocks and pill boxes line Burghead Bay, left over from World War II.

Burghead Bay looking east

Roseisle Forest was also used as a training ground for the troops taking part in the D Day Landings.

Burghead Bay looking west

Rafe - Burghead Bay

It was warm walking, and Burghead seemed a long way off.

Burghead Bay, looking west

But by lunchtime we were in Burghead and making the most of the local shop.

Looking east towards Hopeman from Burghead

Once we had purchased the makings of an excellent picnic, we crossed the headland, anticipating the view of Hopeman and home.

What a change though, it was blowing in a strong easterly, cold and constant, whipping up white horses. Our leisurely final picnic was actually a hurried scran, making a move before we got too chilly.

A RIB came around the promontory from the harbour and into the wind. It bounced from wave to wave, spray coursing over those in the boat - looked fun - but I hope they were suitably dressed.

Burghead from the east

The path between Burghead and Cummingston has recently been tarmacked (all access apparently), which meant for quick and easy walking and we made good time. Once out of the wind, away from the Burghead peninsula, it soon warmed up.

We were only a stones throw from home and the last couple of miles were completed with mixed feelings.

Coastline at Cummingston

We were blessed with clear views on the last stretch, the Moray Coast is truly beautiful...

Hopeman Church and railway bridge

Route: Findhorn Foundation campsite, N to Findhorn village, follow waymarked route (1st waymark at NJ037646) to Hopeman along Moray Coast Trail.

Statistics:  Distance: 17.1km  Ascent: 30m  Time: 5 hours.

West Beach and Harbour, Hopeman

Final Comments:

I really enjoyed my four days with Rafe and the tent. I was lucky with the weather and this made for an easy walk. The route was excellent for backpacking, a good surface for walking and very little ascent. I also had very little to do in the way of navigation. I will be a little more adventurous in both these departments when I go again. I was just getting into the swing of walking when I reached the end, I can see me walking further and for longer in future. I was relaxing into a good pace by the end, rather that the "must get there" attitude of days one and two.

Its always a learning curve. I loved it - when can I go again...?

Total Statistics:  Distance: 95.6km  Ascent: 480m

Sunday 9 June 2013

Aviemore to Hopeman Day 3 - Altyre Bridge to Findhorn.

Wild campsite by the Altyre Burn (NJ041532)

An early start today, up and packed by 06:45. Quick first breakfast and a swim for Rafe in the Altyre Burn and we were off, continuing north along the Dava Way. The pack was a bit lighter (but not much) and the track was flat and smooth, we made good time.

Scurrypool Bridge on the Altyre Burn

The Way continued through the woods past Scurrypool Bridge, where Rafe took another dip, fetching a few sticks thrown into the burn.

Rafe in the Altyre Burn by Surrypool Bridge

The weather was a touch grey, but warm and humid as we sweated ever closer to the end of the Dava Way. The path left the route of the old railway as it passed through a wet cutting. A pleasant tramp along forest tracks, wild flowers abounded, but with a bit of extra up and down than we had become used to. Rafe was off into the undergrowth, sniffing and mooching about.

Dallas Dhu Distillery near Forres

I was hoping there would be a cafe at the Dallas Dhu historic whiskey distillery, just short of Forres, but no luck - being Sunday morning and still not 09:00. It looked like a good place to visit - definitely worth a trip on another day.

The Dava Way near Forres

The day started to brighten up a touch, still cloudy, but brightened by shining gorse and broom.

Rafe on The Dava Way near Forres

The end of the Dava Way came suddenly, the only warning a bit of an increase in litter, depositing us in the middle of a housing estate (a very nice housing estate) on the outskirts of Forres.

The finish/start of the Dava Way in Forres

Good waymarks continued though, taking us through the streets of Forres into the town centre, to the unofficial finish point at the Falconer Museum (shut at this time on a Sunday, but I wouldn't have been able to go in with Rafe anyway). We had a short rest on the benches here, 7km or so under our belts already this morning.

The Falconer Museum, Forres

Stopped in the shop for provisions for a second breakfast (and a treat for Rafe) and enjoyed the danish pastry sitting in the sunken gardens in Grant Park - lovely.

Grant Park Sunken Garden, Forres

Following the Moray Coast Trail now, we passed the Sueno Stone, the largest Pictish carved stone to be found, now encased in glass, before crossing the main A96 on the footbridge.

Sueno Stone, Forres

A few kilometres of road walking came next, through pleasant, though very flat farmland. The roads were mostly quiet and Rafe was able to come off the lead once away from the main road, but we were happy to reach Kinloss.

The Muckle Burn, near Forres, with views to Kinloss Barracks

Kinloss Abbey was well worth a visit and a good opportunity to divest myself of the rucksack for a while. Also a lovely spot to linger over a picnic lunch.

Kinloss Abbey

Kinloss Abbey

We continued north, tarmac bashing, along the Findhorn road, as the sun came out. Findhorn Bay, famous for wading birds and sailing boats, reflecting the brightness back at the sky.

Rafe guards the tent at Findhorn campsite

We pitched up at the Findhorn Foundation campsite. Lovely, well equipped site with plenty of space for a little tent, a dog and footsore backpacker - I was glad of a shorter day and to drop the pack.

Rafe - "This is my bed now"

It didn't take long to get the tent up and a brew on.

Findhorn Bay

After a bit of a chill, laid out on the warm grass, and a look around the campsite shop (a good selection of local bottled beers) we took a walk into the village of Findhorn, another mile or so along the coast.

Findhorn Bay

Findhorn Bay

Rafe took a swim in the bay...

Rafe in Findhorn Bay

Findhorn Bay

Dunes at Findhorn

And a run about the sand dunes.

Views east to Burghead from Findhorn

I had a coffee at the beach front cafe, Rafe hobnobbing with the other canine customers.

Views west to Culbin Forest from Findhorn

Back at the campsite we rested up before tea...

Views upwards from the Findhorn campsite

And took an evening walk along the mudflats of Findhorn Bay, before turning in at sunset.

Forres across Findhorn Bay with the tide out

Route: Altyre Bridge (NJ041532 7km south of Forres), continue on the waymarked Dava Way to Forres, follow the waymarks to Forres town centre and the Falconer Museum, E along High Street, NE to Sueno Stone (NJ047597), footbridge over A96, B9011 N to NJ050601, turn L at sp Milton of Grange, turn R at NJ043607, NE to Kinloss, B9011 to Findhorn.

Rafe - ?

Statistics:  Distance: 19.2km  Ascent: 50m  Time: 7 hours.

Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor

Setting off from Glen Feshie - it was chilly - before the sun had a chance to peep over the hills...  Off we go! Jim - Setting off near Auch...