With yesterday’s climbs and rubbish road we only had 20kms to our next stop. We decided as the sun was out we’d visit a secluded beach that we’d visited before. This would add 20kms onto our journey across track.
The road immediately out of Glenuig was up, and it kept going up. The scenery was stunning and the road dropped down passed lochs. We climb again, basically jumping between glens going the short over the hill route as opposed to around the headland. Not that there was any choice but the road went over the hills and this one had a lovely 10% incline sign!
We eventually made it to Arachale where we were greeted with a sign promising a shop which was passed out turn off. I decided it was ok to break the no going back rule if it meant sandwiches for lunch. We were still cycling a mile down the road and eventually got there! “Thought you said it was just up the road” Andy said grumpily. We were in for a treat though as the shop was next to a bakery where we overstocked on food.
Off we went to the beach. We arrived to the head of the track. The Tarmac ending at a bridge. The track was more an arrangement of rocks, mud and grass as opposed to a nice forest track I’d remembered, this meant we’d need to ride carefully on our non mountain bike frames and lack of suspension on the rear, with fully laden panniers, the threat of a broken spoke, buckled wheel or puncture was never far from my mind. We were at walking pace cycling tentitively along, but this meant we could appreciate the wonderful scenery. The track followed the natural outline and tideline of Kentra bay, which was fully emptied of all water. There was hardly a cloud in the sky and the wind was non existent. We entered the forrest at the far end of the bay to take us to the beach. This is where a mountain bike would have come in very handy, the track got steep and for the first time on this holiday we dismounted and pushed. After ascending we mounted and tootled through the forrest snaking our way through, avoiding any large boulders, pot holes, roots, fallen trees and nettles that have overgrown from the side. There clearly wasn’t much in the way of traffic on this route. After gently going up hill we eventually started to descend. The track split abruptly, I was, as I have done all holiday, using my iPhone as a navigation tool after downloading the OS Map app and bought some 1:50000 maps of the area giving us enough detail and coupled with the GPS an arrow told us not only of our position but the direction of travel. The phone told us to hang a right and we descended rapidly. Rock and grass made way for sand and heather, the forrest opened up and in front of us lay a bay, with heather and sand clearing for dunes and marram grass. We pushed our bikes as the sand was too soft for my tyres, and we lay our bikes at the top of the dunes looking out over the beach which was at least 100m out as the tide was very low, the foreground a river meandered through the sand banks, Jelly fish dotted the beach like visible IEDs you wanted to avoid.
We were not alone as we had been 2 years previous when we visited this place by hiking in, but there was only 5 other people who were dotted about the bay giving each other our own space.
We lay in the sun, lying on the beach, using our panniers as cushions, reading, snoozing, watching, admiring the peacefulness and serenity.
I took a walk down to the water, paddled in the warm shallow waters, fish would be spooked and swim away, a few hermit crabs making their way down the beach to join me would stop when they noticed me, oyster catchers would screech and fly away, only to land and carry on their business a few metres down shore, this was repeated many times as I made my way slowly along the bay.
Two years ago, the tide was in, and the rocky outcrops that came out of the forrest that were now inland were covered to make private beaches, today I was able to see this dramatic coastline from afar and walk effortless on the exposed beach. Rock pools had formed trapping fish, crabs, and other sea creatures I didn’t know what they were. Limpets a plenty adorned the rocks with the odd mussel.
I looked down and scratched my leg, a tick had bitten me and was most definitely sucking blood. I took a few razor shells and used these as tweezers to remove the pest.
After a few hours the breeze was noticable with clouds covering the sun at times, it was getting late and we still needed to retreat out of this paradise and get to the hotel, which admittedly was 3 miles from the main road.
The return journey took less time but when reaching the main road, I could hear a rattle coming from my crank shaft, maybe this was the price to pay for taking a hybrid over a rugged track?
Arriving at the Salen hotel we got into the usual routine, shower, change, drink, dinner, sleep. The view over Salen Bay was beautiful, though we couldn’t enjoy too much as the midges were outin force.