Land's End to John O'Groats Cycletouring Trip Part 2

Day 38 - Scourie to Durness

Some amazing scenery today, especially views of the peaks of Foinhaven, Beinn Spionnaidh and Cranstackie. There was a beautiful section through a valley and along its floor leading up to the Kyle of Durness.

Durness itself was mysteriously shrouded in mist, only a mile before the town and a mile after, the weather was completely clear. The next campsite was some distance away, so I decided to stay here at the Sango Sands Caravan and Camping site. This was £4.20 for the night.

The Tourist Information office was still open so I enquired about the best place to see Puffins. They were well prepared for this popular question but the Puffin breeding season was almost over and it was likely that they had all flown away to sea by now. The thick mist had reduced visibility significantly but I took the chance and cycled over to the headland that I had been given directions to. Clambering in the mist in an area I had no idea of the layout was a bit of fun but when I saw the path following a sudden steep descent with big cliffs on both sides I decided to call it a day and try again another time.

There was just enough time to see Smoo Cave just a mile up the coast. This is an impressive limestone cave which has formed at the head of a narrow coastal inlet. Its entrance is at least 30metres (100feet) wide, one of the largest cave entrances in Britain. A wooden pathway extends into the cave and allows viewing of the second inner chamber where the Alls Smoo falls from an opening in the roof above. Hart's-tongue fern and other limestone plants are found in the outer cave as is an ancient midden which indicates that Stone Age man once lived here.

There was no Spar shop in Durness so I would have to buy some food supplies as tomorrow was Sunday. All the little shops are closed around here on a Sunday of course so you have to be prepared.

In the Oasis Bar in the evening, the nearest and possibly only watering hole for a considerable distance, I met a couple of guys staying at the Youth Hostel up the road. One was a mountain climber who was up to bag a few peaks and the other was a bird watcher. I asked about Puffins and where and when I would be likely to see them. Then he told me about Corncrakes which this area is much more well known for. These are very rare birds indeed and have all but died out in Britain due to modern farming techniques.

As we left the bar, we could hear a call from a nearby field which the birdwatcher immediately identified as being from a Corncrake! They are almost impossible to see though as they like standing in tall grass.

The distance travelled today was 27 miles.

Photograph of some waterlogged ground with the peaks of Beinn Spionnaidh and Cranstackie in the background
A view of Beinn Spionnaidh and Cranstackie

Photograph of some waterlogged ground with the peak of Foinhaven in the background

Photograph of a silly signpost at the campsite in Durness with many signs pointing to different cities and places around the world
Signpost at the campsite in Durness

Photograph of Smoo Cave in Durness
Smoo Cave, Durness

Photograph of Smoo Cave in Durness
Smoo Cave, Durness

© Copyright  Piers Pettman - This page last updated 08 July 2006
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