This summer (2015), we camped at a place called Tymdrum, the half way point along the west highland way. Ironically I was going to walk this with a friend but we failed to synchronise our holidays resulting in him doing half of it with some other friends. It was by chance that we stopped here. Our intention was to to camp at Arisaig but it looked like it was about to pour down, bails was getting agitated after spending five hours laid on the back seat with only two breaks. It turned out to be a good choice as the site was clean, staff friendly and they welcome dogs in fact the owner has a terrier and a Hancocks lurched. We went for dinner at a fish and chip shop. I say shop, it was a strange fish cafe, with Eastern European staff and Western European customers, with not a scot in sight. As it turned out I paid nearly £20 for two small portions of fish and chips. After this we walked back to the tent in the rain as I needed to lie down in order to recover! Fortunately it was only £14 a night for the camping.
Shortly after arriving back it started to rain more heavily. Then the wind started to blow. This became progressively worse as the night went on. Bails slept in the awning in a puddle of water, battered by the tent as it was blown into him. Water poured into the ex expedition company 20 year old tent horizontally, borne on a wind that would have taken the tent with it if it wasn't for our combined body weights. Needless to say that in the morning everything was soaked and it was still raining. Welcome to Scotland!
We couldn't sleep in the soaked tent a second night so we took the audacious decision to rent a hikers hut, sleeping two, for £35 per night. This turned out to be a great decision. It had two simple single beds, a very efficient wall heater, two power sockets a kettle and cups and enough floor space for Bails to stretch out. After hanging everything up to dry and putting stuff in the tumble dryer, I sat down with a filter coffee and the iPad and started browsing vw camper vans on eBay. A camper van would have all these little luxuries with the freedom to travel and stop pretty much where we wanted, as well as providing the beatnik feel of my youth. I could become Dean Morriarty, one of my heroes; Neil Cassidy. The only problem to all this is the slight lack of about ten grand, the going rate for a cheap but reliable camper van.
We stayed two nights in the hikers hut and it rained the whole time, with the odd break when the sun made a brief appearance to lull us into a false sense of optimism. We did a couple of short walks with Bailey, through coniferous woodland. Occasionally we would come across abandoned lead mines, surrounded by warning tape and signs announcing how dangerous these places are. When the sun was out the light was beautiful and photogenic. We found some great lichens and mosses covering tree trunks and rocks alike. I found some butterwort plants seemingly growing on bare rock, subsidising their existence by digesting insects, though we didn't see any hapless victims. I also found a couple of stands of another of my favourite plants, bog asphodel. These were in full yellow bloom in a wet area close to a stream, or perhaps that should be a burn! When they have finished flowering there is just the ochre orange stem, looking beautiful amongst the fresh green of the grasses and ferns. I managed to snap a couple of photos of the surrounding hills during the brief moments they were visible.
Fortunately I'd had the good sense to bring a 60mm macro lens with me, though not a tripod. This allowed me to get close to the flowers, but meant I had to use a fastish shutter speed to prevent any blurring due to the wind. As a result I had a very shallow depth of field. This wouldn't be a problem unless I wanted to submit them to Alamy. They don't seem to understand things like selective focus; if the whole image isn't spot on then it's rejected for being soft. I will be submitting them and I'll let you know what happens, if I remember.
After three nights we headed back South. We broke the journey by staying at a site we'd been to the previous year on the Solway Firth at Annan. It was a commercial caravan site that normally I walls avoid but Liz likes it so... It was only £16 a night, only! The tide was in, the first time we'd seen this. The next morning it was out, so far out that I couldn't see any water at all. We walked with Bailey on the sand. He managed to find the only mud available and was soon pitted. It's strange in that he gets covered in mud, yet within an hour or so he dries and reverts back to his spotless self. This is an art I need to master! To end the morning on a high, I watched two horse riders trotting along the beach as a grey heron flew past them, seemingly close enough for them to touch, though they remained oblivious! I did manage to get a pic but it wasn't great!
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