Happy birthday to me! A simple breakfast accompanied by my “secretly” purchased Skye Brewery glass as a unique birthday card, plus one gift – a T-shirt – from Kate and Chris which had been deemed at the outset of our trip to be transportable without taking up too much weight or space. Packed up for departure and thenset off from the campsite, stopping to u-turn half a mile down the road as we’d set off in the wrong direction. Drove on so-far unexplored perimeter roads as far as Mol, where we’d hoped we might see otters – but perhaps inevitably, a sighting was not to be. However, we found ourselves in yet another fantastic location where we then feasted on a full-blown van-cooked Hobbit breakfast; had a gentle walk along an unused secondary road to a river bridge – still no evidence of otters – but spectacular scenic backdrops for photos of the van, dwarfed amidst the scenery.
There then followed a mad and wholly spontaneous bout of van-cleaning before we retraced our route back across the Bridge of Skye, through the Kyle of Lochalsh continuing northwards beneath bright but overcast skies. A brief stop at a memorial viewpoint above Gairloch – an alleged fishing village with separate harbour and linear cottages facing the Loch – picturesque but without much in the way of stop-and-see-and-do so on we went towards Poolewe, at the head of Loch Ewe, a sea loch where we’d decided to find somewhere to spend the night as we had previously targeted the adjacent Inverewe Gardens as worthy of a visit.
Crossing a river bridge with a deep peat-coloured swirling salmon pool to our left we stumbled across a proper campsite – pleasant enough and well laid out with an approximation of palm trees (which was certainly more than was evident from our brief recce of Inverewe Gardens – part of which was viewable from the road – and which looked decidedly drab and autumnal.) Deferring our visit there until the following day we retraced our route back into Poolewe hopeful of finding somewhere wild and picturesque to park up for the night.
Nothing having immediately presented itself in the village, we elected to investigate a signposted 8-mile single-track road which ran alongside the edge of Loch Ewe. With not too much anticipation, we set off into the wilderness and the fading late-afternoon light. Well, what a result! At the tiny hamlet of Inverasdale we espied our first truly sandy beach, split into two small open bays by a rocky promontory. Pulling up to investigate, we found ourselves at an open gate to ta field immediately adjoining the beach where, on the gatepost, was a small sign and an Honesty Box provided by the landowner for wild campers to pay a fiver a night “for the upkeep of the surroundings”.
There were already two or three motorhomes dotted around – but the field was huge and we found a spot well away from others, adjacent to the beach and promontory. Pleased with our diligence and such a delightful stroke of luck (especially as we had almost decided not to travel the 8-mile distance in the first place.) So, a Wellington-booted walk to the water’s edge, a paddle in the gentle surf, a scramble over the rocks and then back to the cosiness of the van – excited by our location and the unimpeded sea views – for a relaxing and triumphant evening enjoying our isolation and the sound of the gently breaking surf on our beach.