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Sound of the waves at Sandwood bay

PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2015 9:26 pm
by Bean
Enticed up to Sutherland by Ben Hope, Ben Loyal its neighbouring Corbett and mysterious Foinaven, it felt like a real adventure setting off to explore the far reaches of the Munro map and a new part of Scotland.

We were surprisingly and completely done in after the first two, especially Ben Loyal (intended as a warm up!) ..........:crazy: obviously not as fit as we would like!! Foinaven we knew was a long day, so due to low energy stores and my new found, rapidly worsening fear of heights, ledges, sides and edges.........I talked myself out of it this time.
This has only served to make it more intimidating and it has now been added to my list of nemesis mountains which one day I will probably force myself to walk up and then seriously regret! It now joins Ben Eighe (after a complete freak out on reaching the top of the stone shoot) & Liatach (which I have never attempted). Alistair ensures me they are just easy walks, of course.

After reading a captivating description of Sandwood Bay in Poucher's Peaks, we decided to slacken the pace and take a visit. Poucher also described it as a good rest day after Foinaven :? so along with a little pang of inadequcy there :roll: it went on the itinary.

''The bay is a lovely retreat but to some conveys a sense of haunting. Those who reach it on a sunny summer morning, when the light is curving on the cliffs, will be rewarded by a scene of exquisite beauty''.

How could one resist?

Arriving at 7pm we were amazed to see about 15 cars in the carpark and began to wonder if it would quite the quiet escape we had imagined. Luckily we passed almost all these walkers on our way down.

The track is wide and easy going over the moorland (good for mountain bikes) with lots of wildlife and lochans dotted along the way. The dusk air was full of what looked like midges but lucky for us they did not seem remotely interested.....which definately prevented hell on earth :crazy:

Starting the walk in

Passing a lochan

Over looking the dunes

We arrived with a few hours of light to spare and from the hill top could see a couple of tents in the far distance with the same idea, one with canoes (bit jealous). We set up tent amongst the sand dunes with a sea view and got a much needed dinner on the go.

Descending a steep sand dune

Walking through the dunes

Happy to be here


Chef getting to work

The weather was perfect for an evening stroll along the deserted beach, still midge free thanks to a light sea breeze and with a pretty spectacular sunset thrown in.

Evening stroll along the beach

A poor Gannet washed up

Not a bad sunset

Keen to see the scene poucher described, we set the alarm for 5.15am and drifted off to the song of the waves.
I woke 1 minute before the alarm dreaming I had missed the sunrise, and having had the best nights sleep in months.
Indeed a lovely sight.

View from the tent

Tent in the morning sun

Sun rise stroll

During our evening stroll the night before we accidentaly distured a family of Eider ducks roosting on the sand at the end of the beach, some seemed very young. On seeing us they headed out to sea in the dark and I was worried they might come to harm. It was a beautiful sight to see them the next day safe and sound.

Eider duck, 16Jul15, Sandwood Bay.JPG
The eider ducks heading out to sea

Sea stack - Am Buachaille

We stumbled across this old plane engine and propeller on the beach, as it appeared to be on top of the beach we wondered if it had been recently washed up. An internet search revealed that this was the known crash site of spitfire R7154 which set off from Cape Wrath on patrol on the 30th of September 1941. The pilot Micheal Kilburn survived and walked out to safety. The plane was destroyed and the remains are intermittently uncovered by the sea.

Spitfire R7154 propeller and engine uncovered by the seas


Tent under the cliffs

After a nice cuppa & few hours of sunshine we were once more on the long track out. Some nice wildlife along the way. Near the car we passed the first set of visitors for the day.

Morning brew

Interesting patterns in the sand, and some very small foot prints

Buzzard, 16Jul15, Sandwood Bay.JPG
Buzzard high in the sky, we disturbed him from the sand dunes

Common Sand Piper, 16Jul15, Sandwood Bay.JPG
A common sand piper keeping his lochan guard

Skylark, 16Jul15, Sandwood Bay (3).JPG
One of many lovely sky larks

Off home, good bye Sandwood Bay

This place is good for the soul, I cant remember the last time I felt so well rested and refreshed.

Re: Sound of the waves at Sandwood bay

PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2015 9:46 pm
by weaselmaster
Glad you got it almost to yourselves. It is a very special place. We were lucky a couple summers back to have good weather and the sands entirely to ourselves overnight. I have very fond memories of strolling along the waterline with a glass of whisky to keep the evening chill away :D
Nice photos too

Re: Sound of the waves at Sandwood bay

PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2015 10:10 pm
by Bean
Yes the evening stroll was special, it is a lovely place to get lost in your thoughts! We saw no one else only their tents and we were also very lucky with the weather :)

Re: Sound of the waves at Sandwood bay

PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2015 6:48 am
by spiderwebb
Enjoyable read and beautiful photos...been a while since I heard mention of 'Poucher' :lol: The original guides to walking before the McNeish days, still on my bookshelf, love reading them and still use them now. Thank you for posting :D

Re: Sound of the waves at Sandwood bay

PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2015 12:37 pm
by Mal Grey
Beautiful, it truly is an amazing place and you were lucky with the weather. What a place to wake up.

I've heard of all sorts of stories of strange happenings and feelings around the place, ghosts etc, etc. But to me it is one of the most joyously peaceful places I've ever been.

I too hadn't thought of the Poucher books for years.

Re: Sound of the waves at Sandwood bay

PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2015 2:57 pm
by dogplodder
What a camp site! 8)

Re: Sound of the waves at Sandwood bay

PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2015 5:07 pm
by jamesb63
In 1 word beautiful ,now I know why we done get great weather here in Scotland
places like this would be ruined :lol:

Re: Sound of the waves at Sandwood bay

PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:07 pm
by Bean
Wow it is nice to know others use it, I don't know much about other guides, sometimes it doesn't give a lot about times/difficulties except when something is a rock climb not a walk!! That is why I started using walkhiglands too :) My dad gave me Pouchers Peaks about 10 years ago, really like it and have been working my way through! He gives the mountains & walks a personality and something a bit deeper :)

That article is great, I had heard snippets here and there about these goings on but I agree with you, it was such a calm, happy and light place.

A perfect campsite, just couldn't get over how well I slept there!

You are spot on about the weather, thank goodness :lol: