On the edge of the Atlantic – Durness in the far north west corner of Scotland.
After having talked about it for 12 months the day for our trip up to Durness finally arrived. And what a weekend it was. Blue sky, turquoise sea and white sand.
Our base for the weekend was Sango Sands Oasis campsite which is a lovely site with fantastic views over Sango Bay. Very windy though so despite the blue skies and sunshine it certainly wasn’t shorts and tee shirt weather!
Left Dunfermline area at about 10.30am and arrived somewhere around 5pm having had a stop in Inverness where one member of our party purchased an air bed for the camp. Unfortunately, the last part of our journey was in rain which still persisted when we arrived at Durness. So in between the heavy showers we managed to get the tents up, apart from the new air bed which just did not want to co-operate. The rain eased off for the evening so we managed a short walk along Sango beach.
Saturday, the sun was splitting the sky and we headed down the road for the Cape Wrath Ferry. The sign at the pier said next ferry was at 11am (it was about 10.30 when we arrived). 11am came and went and it was 11.30 before any sign of activity when the ferry man arrived. His response was “somebody must have changed the sign” and “the tide will be a problem today”. As the next ferry was not going to be before 12.30 and we were told that there would be an 11.00 sailing the next day, we decided not to wait for the ferry but to go to Sandwood Bay instead. On the way to Kinlochbervie we stopped at the Old School which is highly recommended.
At the end of a 4.5 mile moorland track, Sandwood Bay does take a bit of effort to reach but is well worth it on a day like this. This is where the Atlantic Waves meet Scotland’s finest beach. We found a sheltered spot out of the wind in the sand dunes where we were able to spend a couple of hours.
Walk out was interesting. It was about 5pm and we passed a fair number of people who were walking in with the obvious intention of camping out for the night. People carrying large tents and even duvets! Yes, duvets ! Not quite my definition of wild camping.
The next day we were down at the pier for 11am and it was looking hopeful as the ferryman was there this time. BUT, “the tide will be a problem today” “no ferry before 2pm at the very earliest” were his stock phrases. So once again, we were thwarted by Cape Wrath.
Headed over to Smoo Cave to have a look around there, then back into Durness and down to Balnakiel for the walk out to Farraid Head though 3 members of our party had decided they didn’t want to do any more walking . Balnakiel and Farraid Head is just as lovely as Sandwood Bay. This really is where turquoise sea meets white sands. Although there is a concrete road that leads to a military installation, for much of the way, the sand has completely blown over the road and part of the walk has an almost desert like feel to it.
Afterwards, a trip to check out Cocoa Mountain was considered essential and it did not disappoint. Between us we tried the hot chocolate, coffee, tea, cake and chocolates and all were given the thumbs up. Cocoa Mountain is located in the Balnakiel Craft Village, so we had a wee wander around the other shops as well whilst we were there.
Later that evening, we rounded the weekend off with a barbeque at the campsite.
The journey home the next time deserves a few comments. Firstly, don’t try finding somewhere for lunch in Bonar Bridge or Lairg on a Monday. Even in June, everywhere was shut!
Secondly, all weekend Hugh had been looking forward to a stop at the House of Bruar on the way home. Not sure if it was just to sample the coffee and cake or if he wanted to buy expensive cashmere! Round about Newtonmore, we ran into some heavy weather (this despite having started the day in glorious sunshine). When we arrived at Bruar it didn’t seem overly busy compared to normal. Walked in through the main entrance to find it all in darkness! Yes, seems they had taken a lightning strike and all the power was out. Fortunately, they were still serving tea/coffee and cakes though and the conservatory seating meant that we had plenty of daylight. It was too dark to go shopping for that cashmere though!