Ducky’s meanderings – 2
|14/04/2014||Filled under caravanning, Scotland|
How do you define’ ‘bad weather’? In the mind of the manager of the Durness campsite, bad weather is when it is too windy for the ferry across the estuary to the Cape Wrath headland to operate, this being largely because the ferry is part of his small business empire, and no doubt a nice little tourism earner too. In many people’s eyes if you have come this far then the last few miles to Cape Wrath itself are almost essential, despite the headland being entirely devoted to the military so that there’ll be no stepping out to explore without someone in uniform shooting at you. So a windy day is bad news for some then.
Our van has been shuddering all night, buffeted from side to side and lashed with rain. However in the morning with the wind still howling, building in strength, when we finally peep our noses outside Ducky’s warm interior after our almost sleepless night we find the rain has stopped, the sky is blue and the sun beams down. So despite the fact that standing upright outside is a struggle and anything light enough to carry will fly off at speed downwind if let loose, to us this is good weather.
But we have had enough of the ‘windiest campsite in Britain’ and have resolved to find somewhere more sheltered for the night ahead as this promises to be equally windy, if not more so. Our eastward journey begins with an awe inspiring cliff-top drive which gives us views down onto golden sandy bays where the sea is a turquoise blue and the wave-tops are blown off into dazzling white mist. The strength of the wind is quite staggering, but nothing prevents us from stopping to examine the ‘erratic’ perched on a hillock close beside our road. It may seem selfish but in some ways we are grateful that this wild place is not everybody’s cup of tea so we get to enjoy it without having to share the experience. The roads are almost empty of traffic (which is just as well as ‘A’ roads in this part of the world are single track) and the tourist season is barely underway anyway. Of course this can have its drawbacks too, as we discover when trying to find a site for the night ahead. Each village (Sutherland has no towns) we pass proudly advertises the facilities it offers, many boasting caravan and camping facilities to die for, but finding them proves impossible; they are either closed or too well hidden. At Talmine we are tempted away down a tiny lane by a large brown sign and discover an empty field, close by the sea, with a sign on the gate that reads ‘Site Full’. Our intelligence insulted we drive past and soon pull up beside the tiny village harbour to make ourselves comfortable for the night. We have everything we need on board so if our money is not needed through lack of enterprise then the loss is not ours.
From our own private site we gaze out across the Kyle of Tongue and watch the battle between the Atlantic swell rolling in around the headland and the fierce south-westerly wind coming down the Kyle. A mist hangs over the sea, fine spray being picked up from each wave crest, and a distant rainbow hovers above the horizon supporting an arch of clouds like some unearthly bridge. An obliging visitor cavorts in the sea close by so we can sit inside with our eyes glued to binoculars. Bird No.1 in our Pocket Guide is a Great Northern Diver, something of a rarity it seems, but one has chosen this spot to grab a bit of dinner while we cook ours. I always find it hard to understand how such small creatures can survive in what is to us such a hostile environment but he seems to spend more time beneath the waves than above, suggesting that his perception of the world is vastly different from ours. Oblivious to the wind above, his world is perhaps calmer and more predictable than ours.