It was a lovely day the next day after my Ben Hope cycle and hike. Just one minute down from Crask Inn, there is path leading to Loch Coire about 7 or so miles away. This is where I was going that day.
I have to apologise that my record of the trip – the map above – does not include my way back, which was slightly more meandering, 9 miles, but essentially I just retraced my steps.
Much like most other areas in this part of the country, this was truly the exploration of what some call “middle of nowhere”. Away from the main road, on this day, I didn’t hear a single car until coming back to Crask later, saw just one person for 7 hours, and there were no planes flying above. It was, essentially, yet again, a complete removal from “the civilisation” – the way I like it.
Here, the walker starts completely on the flat, having the uninterrupted view of miles and miles of empty space. As much as hills and mountains are what speaks to me best, the ability to see what is 5 miles away is almost unnerving in a calming kind of way if most of your days are spent in the city.
The path, following a stream first, after about a mile turns into a grassy one, with slight difficulty figuring out the direction of it, so one has to be careful. Eventually, after about 3 miles, the path swings slightly left (towards the north) and starts going up. I had absolutely no notion of what incredible view and area I was about to be greeted by! Looking at a map gives you little clue of what you are going to see in real life!
The gentle, slow ascent seen in the last picture of the batch below, is just about 200ft up. It leads to a path from which you are able to look down at the lochs on the other side.
This is the view from above. The weather being excellent, it looked like something out of a postcard. I stood up there, overwhelmed, enchanted, shrunk in admiration.
In the image above, you might be able to discern a path to the left of the picture slowly descending down to more grassy area near the first of the lochs, Loch a’Bhealaich. This is where I was going next.
I was in one of the most beautiful places I had ever been to. It wasn’t just that it was a stunning view, with the crescent of mountains behind and the view of the shiny, undisturbed waters of the lochs ahead of me. It was that there was nobody here. It was just that – intense, undisturbed beauty. So quiet, so serene; essentially, heart-wrenching. Time stood still. Time didn’t matter here. There was no rush or deadlines. One was afraid to move so as not to disturb it.
But it was about to get even more pristine. As I was walking towards the first of the lochs, I spotted a small sandy beach, about 1 mile off the path. Getting there required getting off the path, over the grassy area, but it was worth it.
I noticed animal hooves on this bank. I sat down for about 20 minutes, simply listening to the sound of the miniature waves on the loch, and allowed myself to relax completely.
How odd, I thought, how odd indeed,
That life is found where world stands still.
Where hush is life and sound its enemy;
I hadn’t known. The curtains opened
To world anew. Something changed.
The sand stroked my palm, sighing gently.
I ached, contentedly.
This was the place to heal and to be me.
After a good while in this pristine place, I moved on towards Loch Coire.
Now, I was walking on the banks of Loch Coire, and decided to make a little detour up the elevation seen in the photo just above. The views all around were quite stunning.
Eventually, I made my way back down to near Loch Coire, and shortly began walking back – I believe it was already 3pm at that time, and I needed, as much as I wanted to stay here for much longer! – to get back for my dinner at Crask Inn.
I simply retraced my steps back past Loch a’Bhealaich and up towards the pass where I had previously been in the morning.
It was time to stop again and take it all in yet again.
I continued back towards the pass and made a short food break there. It was getting slightly cloudier now, presenting the mountains and the lakes in a very different light.
Now, this remarkable day was drawing to a close and I was walking back on flatter and flatter back towards Crask.
I had this beautiful view of the mountains accompany me all the way to the inn for about 2-3 miles.
Closer to my final destination, I was able to discern the inn, and suddenly realised that the distance at which I saw the inn, would’ve been about 2 miles or so. Exact same distance as I walking to my previous workplace was in Hull. There is something calming about being able to see that far into the distance; it relaxes the mind; it feels like a natural thing for a human being to be able to do.
The stream above was about 10 minutes’ walk from the inn. This was, for all intents and purposes, the end of my Sutherland trip; it was back home the following day. But the bug has been caught: the pursuit of the beautiful: the hills, the mountains, the remote, has now important. More important, it was my healer, the way I can revitalise my mental powers and energies.
All images from this trip can be seen in the video below: