We were headed with anticipation to what is becoming a Very Favourite Private Knumptying Spot not far from Poolewe and Iverasdale, the exact location of which is left deliberately vague so we stand a slim chance of finding space for the Knumptywagen next time we visit.
Despite the nearby existence of a well-situated official camp-site with all mod-cons, we were slightly flummoxed to find that our own very low-key, help-yourself, leave-your camping-fee-in-the-honesty-box beachside ‘wild’ campsite we’d enjoyed so much on our last trip in September 2015 was closed (that’s C-L-O-S-E-D !) until May 1st (18 days hence), and no amount of wishful thinking was going to miraculously dissolve the chain, padlock and enormous rock which held the gate so cruelly closed against us.
(Sigh!) Visions of a couple of peaceful nights ‘camped’ on the beach with awning unfurled; lounger chairs out; door-mat laid out on the white sand; barbecue lit under the setting sun; cigars at twilight with Bloody Mary’s served (on a tray!) prior to magnificent in-van Gourmet dinners – all evaporated like Scotch mist as we swiftly re-evaluated our plans (we Knumptyers have Degrees in such things, don’t you know?) and decided instead to drive to the head of the point, where (slightly incongruously) there existed a monument to the World War ll Russian Fleet, which was (in some way I don’t fully understand) connected with the Scottish sea-Loch Ewe, which we currently overlooked.
As the afternoon meandered on, we wandered aimlessly about trying frustratedly not to kick rocks larger than would be good for us – and engaging momentarily with a trio of excitable, shiny-bald headed twitchers, armed with alarmingly huge, camouflaged monoculars, who were seeking any small brown birds we might have seen thereabouts.
It is at such times of need that The Trout-Acquiring Pikess Navigator Beyond Equal determined that the small public car-park immediately adjacent to OUR beach would now be devoid of lightweight day-visitors (who would have, by now, needed to have dashed home for scones) and therefore be wholly available to us where we might establish base-camp, if not actually ON, but at least overlooking OUR beach.
Thus, we made it so. And enjoyed a walk along the tidal edge of pristine sands, marvelling at the gentle waves and thriving rock-pools and pondering the volume of peculiarly huge vehicle tracks etched all over the non-tidal sands and low-level dunes at the rear of the beach*
In fact, having staked a claim to the best view from the empty car-park, we even carted the cumbersome sun-loungers; cigars and Bloody Mary’s (not on a tray, I couldn’t find it) on to the beach itself, where – barely insulated in gloves, puffa-jackets, scarves and woolly bobble-hats – we froze half-to-death enjoying an evening of what-might-have-been, to be followed swiftly by a delightfully warm in-van supper – including a barbecue!
At which point, accidentally and maybe serendipitously, came about our very tenuous and indirect introduction to a gentlemen called Tim. As we cavorted lasciviously (as only Knumptyers can) in the now-empty public car-park, a young family arrived in their car to enjoy the evening highlights of an unoccupied beach, and of course, with 3 young children, we got chatting, as you do.
Within but a short while, the two youngest children are examining every nook and cranny of the van (the oldest daughter, probably all of nine years old, clearly felt this level of interest and excitement was decidedly below her) but younger sister and brother wanted to know all the workings of such a wonderful ‘Wendy House On Wheels’ that their parents were even exhorted to marvel at our compact washroom and toileting facilities.
While baby brother sat himself in the driving seat and continually sounded the horn (note to Fiat; only let it work when the ignition’s on, OK?), daughter number two avidly plotted the interior sleeping layout in order for it to accommodate all nine of her cousins so they could have a holiday together. Neatly sidestepping her gender-sensitive question of who was the better driver; Daddy or Mummy, we engaged in social chit-chat with the (clearly competitive) Daddy & Mummy, to learn that they had been on an excellent glass-bottomed boat trip ‘with a lovely man, who’d only been doing it for a week and needed guinea-pigs for his tours, which departed from Gairloch (the next loch down) at 10:00, 12:00, 2:00 and 4:00pm daily’.
Such unintentional sales-patter couldn’t really be resisted, so, with the alarming thought of a timed awakening to make the 10:00 sailing the following morning, we retired to bed, content in the knowledge that we were overlooking (if not actually on) OUR very-most favourite beach on the west coast of Scotland.
*The mystery of such extensive vehicle tracks is solved later in the week. It transpires that OUR beach campsite was closed against us until 1st May because the combined military might of Europe’s armed forces have been manoeuvring all over it in tanks, landing craft and many other large armoured vehicles (while Navy ships and submarines apparently skulked offshore and in the waters of the Loch.) Exercise Joint Warrior has involved “more than 11,600 military personnel from over 17 nations in one of the largest exercises of its kind in Europe” (it says here) and we’re just glad it was all concluded before our arrival, as that might have proved an interesting surprise waking up to witness a full-blown invasion – especially while we were without any viable radio or phone coverage!