This was quite an adventure and one that we were lucky to be properly equipped for!
I normally check walk reports as well as walk descriptions, however this time I neglected to do so, otherwise I might have noticed that it hadn't been updated in a while. In any case, after a short stop at Fortrose and an unsuccessful attempt to spot some dolphins, we arrived in the lovely village of Cromarty late afternoon. We set for what I promised my other half would be an easy coastal walk to soothe our calves after having climbed Ben Wyvis the day before.
We followed the directions out of the village and then the sign for the Sutor of Cromarty viewpoint. Continued trying to spot some dolphins while walking along the coast, but instead ended up repeatedly checking out the prominent oil rig. The path was still clear when we reached the forest and while the walk started to acquire a lush jungle vibe, we had no problems reaching the viewpoint at the top of the hill.
It was after this that the walk became tricky. We saw the sign for McFarquhar's Bed and followed the directions through the farm gate. Here the path became very faint and we lost it a couple of times, but stayed on track with the help of the GPX file. Went over the next two gates alright, and although the grass was up to our knees, we were enjoying the tranquillity of the walk and the late summer colours in the fields.
At one point we reached a canola crop field and the walk continued along the side and bottom of this. With crops taller than us on one side and overgrown ferns taking over the path on the other side, this is where the midge nets had to come out. When the ferns started to become mixed with nettles, our arms went up and we carried on walking as if we were threatened with guns for what felt like a good mile. We eventually arrived at the final gate, just before having to crawl over a rather large fallen tree.
Here there was a fence post with arrows on it pointing to the two return walks but none to the Bed, the bench mentioned in the description was nowhere to be seen and the path was very hard to pick up, so we once again had to rely on the GPX file to get a sense of where to go. By this time we were rather shocked that our "easy coastal path" turned into quite an adventure and proper rambling, so we were keen to get a reward for all our efforts. We eventually got to the edge and we were able to see the rocks and the arches.
The path down was steep and very eroded in places, so I would be rather nervous about bringing any children or dogs with. We eventually got down and the reward was there indeed: a tyre swing! My favourite thing to find at the end of a walk. We spent some time exploring the area, looked out for dolphins again (none to be seen) and then decided it was time to go back as it was already past six and we were staring to feel the hunger pangs.
Once we made it back to the top of the cliff, we had one final unpleasant surprise: the path went through the middle of a gorse bush, completely overgrown with only a gap the size of a small child. So this is where our waterproofs had to go on, hoods up, and we just had to crouch down and power through, before stepping over and under another large fallen tree. With these adventures behind us, we were glad to find the final walk over the farm and down the hill easy and uneventful.
All in all, it was one of the more interesting walks I've been on for sure, but not what we expected at all. I don't know if the level of overgrown ferns and the disappearing paths had anything to do with the lockdown period, it's maybe also why the walk was not boggy at all. On the more positive note, the tyre swing was a joy, the path was dry throughout and none of the gates were blocked off by barbed wire as I can see the case was a number of years ago. Would definitely recommend it, as long as people know not to attempt it in shorts and T-shirts!
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