31/05/12 What’s the point of Ardnamurchan?

Having stayed at Teen’s family seat, I decided to walk the length of the Ardnamurchan peninsula.

My map reading remains the same today as it’s always been – left slightly wanting in the areas of distance, inclines and direction…

The important bits.

Ask me to spot a church with a tower – I’m your man.

The not so important bits.

Ardnamurchan gives you all of Scotland in one strip of land. From lochs to rolling hills fashioned by glaciation, to mountains that have been forced up through violent volcanic turbulence millions of years ago.

But what’s the point of Ardnamurchan ?
Well, dear reader, I’m so glad you asked. It provides habitat for a wide range of Scottish beasties – from deer and otter to your human crofters.

No, you arse, the point – what is the point of Ardnamurchan.

Hey, settle down – no need to get shirty – just because you don’t know how to phrase a question…

The point of Ardnamurchan is the most westerly point of the UK mainland. At it’s tip is a beautiful lighthouse which, for the princely fee of £6, you can enter and ascend the 152 steps therein.

Now, I’d had yet another pretty funky day. I’d been met by the young couple Alex and Millie….

Hold on, that makes me sound about a hundred years old – and them about 12…

I met the younger couple…they were gazing with awe at the unpronounceable mountain when I wandered up and told them about the sacred ramble.

It was great hearing their enthusiasm – and thus I was recharged to carry on my way.

I met others like them who wished me well – mainly – one woman may have said, ‘Are you nuts?’

But none taken.

I met Alex and Millie again just outside Kilchoan.

‘We didn’t have any money to give you earlier,’ she said, thrusting a tenner into my hand…

‘So you mugged an old man in the village?’ I smiled.

‘Yeah, if you find him lying in the street, just walk by…’

I walked into the village and got supplies – 2 curried chicken pies, a bag of ready salted crisps and 4 litres of Irn Bru.

Yeah, I know…just say ‘no’.

Replenished, I started back onto the final leg – the road to the lighthouse…

No, I didn’t drink all 4 litres – I was planning ahead.

As I stood up I met a man, Rob, who lived locally. A quick chat and he gave me the necessary cash to get myself a pint of shandy at Britain’s most westerly pub.

No, I didn’t get a photo. No I can’t even remember it’s name.

Thanks to my shoddy map reading, I was delirious with fatigue.

A couple sitting having a meal in the bar smiled at me as I staggered in, ‘You were quick ,’ she laughed,’My husband wanted to stop and talk to you, but I said ‘don’t stop, he might be a weirdo…and then you waved with a big smile…’

Weirdos don’t wave?

She told me to be warned – you buy the tickets for entrance into the lighthouse at the cafe.

I ended up having 2 shandies – 1 thanks to my new friends and 1 courtesy of Rob in the village.

Realising the randomness of my map reading I asked the barmaid if I had far to go.

‘About 2 miles, see those two houses there in the distance? It’s just past them…’

Turns out she’s as ordinance surveyly challenged as me. I staggered on for half an hour – got to the houses in the distance – and found I had 2 more miles to go.

Am I whinging? You would tell me?
I got to the walled garden next to the lighthouse as promised to me by a guy who stopped in his car to tell me – stopping traffic in both directions on the single track road. I stuck the tent up and fell asleep.

I’d walked about 27 miles.

So, sorry, where were we?

Ah yes, the top of the lighthouse. I’d met up with Sarah, who’s driving around the edge of the UK, taking photos of as many lighthouses she can on the way.

She lives in London where people don’t talk to each other…

That said, it was her who said hello to me in the cafe and sat down next to me….

I, er, well, I dunno…

We wandered around the top of the lighthouse for a bit with the slightly sullen guide.

There were great views over to Muck and back down over Ardnamurchan.
A couple of people climbed the 152 steps up. They hadn’t been warned about getting your tickets at the cafe.

They were met with, ‘Have you got a ticket?’

‘Well, er no…were do you get them from? Er…how much are they? Er…’
This was met with a resounding, ‘On yer bike…you get the tickets in the cafe…’

He looked at us in a way that suggested we should be in full agreement with the way he dispensed with the now tired and stammering tourists.

Customer service…? Discuss.
Since I had already walked the road to the lighthouse, I felt it was reasonable to blag my way back.

Sara kindly obliged. For someone who’d passed their test only last year, single track roads with sheep acting as mobile speed bumps and the occasional individual approaching as fast as they could, fancying themselves as rally drivers, this was a bit of a trial by fire for the lighthouse lady from Kilburn.

She managed it very well.

Anyway – that’s the point of Ardnamurchan.

I’m off to get the Tobermory ferry.

Walk a mile

Chris

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