Skerray wild camp
Today has turned into something rather special.
We leave Durness under leaden skies but there is a hint of brightness on the horizon that draws us on towards the east. Cliffs and islands off this most northerly coast of Scotland give way to the vast expanse of Loch Eriboll as we turn south along its shore and follow it for eight miles to the point where it shrinks to just its feeding river.
The heavy rain shower and sudden drop in temperature can’t spoil our wonder at this enormous sheet of silvery splendour and now we are gazing back at the west side of the water as we head north once more. A couple of challenging climbs warm us up again and the rain gives up and passes away behind us.
We plunge back down to yet another sparkling loch, this time Loch Hope, and then begin to climb to a much higher wilder place where heather and rock replace the vivid green grasses of the lowlands and deer peer down at us from their vantage points above.
Cloud wraps around us and steals the views for a while. We are lost in a mysterious small world, shrunk to just the next thirty yards or so and the occasional pair of car headlights emerge from time to time like the eyes of some eerie beast approaching from the gloom. It’s cold and wet and we are relieved when we feel the ground begin to fall and finally after an age of speeding through the fog we emerge into a wonderland of sunlight glinting off the waters of the Kyle of Tongue as we race across the causeway and head for the village and a welcome break.
Fuelled by tea and cake we continue on the single track main road towards Bettyhill but we peel off north on a road that feels as if it is taking us into a different level of remoteness. We are surrounded by grey rock, auburn heather and the ground sparkles with water everywhere. White fluffy tufts of cotton grass give away the fact that this is boggy ground, wholly unsuited to a wild campsite but that’s fine as we don’t want to stop just yet. The road rises and falls and weaves between the rock knolls and then we begin to descend. We are heading for the coast but it keeps itself well hidden until suddenly, like the curtain going up on some sensational drama there is sea and huge, huge cliffs right there in front of us. And this is our home for the night. It’s a dramatic wild place but with a small solid harbour nursing half a dozen tiny boats in its strong stone arms. We find a patch of grass and pitch the tent and then we just stare and stare at the wonder of it. There are sand martins nesting in the small cliffs next to our pitch and a heron is fishing the shallow water on the beach. Oyster catchers peep, peep their piercing calls against a backing track of the sea as it repeatedly swooshes onto the pebble shore just a few feet from the door of the tent.
The sun has finally won the day and pours its bright, colour filled light on blue sea and red rock cliffs. We sit in the porch and gaze in wonder at the scene and contemplate another day that will stay with us forever.