10-Jun-2008 -- The Quest for 58N-05W started Sunday at 53N-01W, continued at 54N-01W, then 55N-02W before overnighting in Edinburgh. It continued yesterday at 56N-04W after which I continued on to overnight in Ullapool
For the past seven weeks in this area there has been no rain, not simply not very much but NO rain. Very unusual for the UK and certainly for an area that borders the North Atlantic. Should be good weather in the morning.
The day dawns very early - 4am or something silly like that - I roll over and go back to sleep before getting up at 7am. Shower and down for a full cooked breakfast. As with my visit back in 2006 to 57N-05W I fully expected to burn off ALL of the calories.
Walk into the dining room and up to the large panoramic windows of the B&B I am staying in Ardvreck and look out on very strong winds and driving rain :-(
Oh well, I haven't come all this way to give up now, this visit is to complete the set of all the land based UK points. What's a bit of dampness anyway...
After breakfast I stowed all of my gear - or as it was to transpire, most of my gear, in the car and set off heading North along the A835 towards Strathcanaird (pronounced Strathkannard) where I planned to turn off and start my approach.
Turning right leads you onto a single track road which you drive along for 1.3 miles before you reach a designated parking space - concrete hard standing - on the left. You park amongst farm equipment. In Scotland there is the Right to Roam as I have previously referred to. The landowner here has embraced it. Half a mile before the car park there is a sign that says walkers are welcome, and to please park in the designated place as this is a farm.
Get changed into my walking gear and check the equipment off. GPSMap76Csx, EOS300D, 10-22mm lens, 18-55mm lens. Emergency whistle - this place is extremely remote - and plenty of fluids.
Let's go. Through the farmyard, past the barking dogs - in kennels! - and have a brief chat with the farm owner. A very nice lady. We had a chat about where I was going and again I was told that walkers are very welcome. The farm relies on spring water (no mains) and the rain was a welcome relief as the last seven weeks had caused a substantial drop in water levels.
I pass a sign that says no vehicles are allowed and round a corner to find a rickety patched up bridge over a quiet river. The rocks though suggest that when in flood it might be a bit more "interesting". Through a gate, closing it behind me as required by the Countryside Code
At this point the going is nice and easy, and I quickly cover the remaining 1/2 mile to where the track splits. I bear left and immediately the going gets tougher with some reasonably steep climbs. Fairly quickly you go from an altitude of 200' to just over 600', the views measurably improve.
A further 1.7 miles brings you to the western end of Loch Chroisk and I crossed over the bridge. At this point I was still reasonably dry. If you have been following my exploits then you will know that I usually just head directly towards the point. This time though I have checked Google Earth first! I decide to follow the line of least resistance and go around the side of the hill. My path can be seen here.
Previous visitors have all referred to how wet this area is. Not at the moment it isn't. There are large patches of dried and cracked peaty bog where you should sink in to. Instead I just walk straight across...
After about another hour or so I approach my target, the hollow that it sits in is bone dry. Drop off my back pack and take the required photo's. For the fifth consecutive visit I get a WAAS lock. The other 11 satellites are all showing maximum signal strength, that's as good as it gets for accuracy. Less than 6 feet will do for me.
Having finished the requirements I take a while, to take in the fact that all I can hear is nature. Not a single man made sound to be heard. The landscape is essentially unchanged from when the last ice age left about 10,000 years ago. I ponder the fact that I have now completed "this sceptred isle" there have been many highlights including...
First ever visit to 55N-05W
First and only succesful visit to 55N-03W
My first ever UK visit, which was 53N-02W
My first visit to my "home" point at 52N-01W
My first visit in in Wales at 53N-03W
First time I stood on the Prime Meridan at 53N-00
, which also happened on the Winter Solstice and is also the last land based point before you reach Antartica.
The first point I visited in my country of birth - Scotland - at 55N-04W
Completing all of the points in England with 51N-02W
Completing Wales with 52N-05W
with a BBC film crew.
My first water confluence at 51N-01E
My first visit to the most visited point on the planet, on the Prime Meridian at 52N-00
However time is marching and I still have to get back to the car, get changed and drive home. On the way back I DO take the direct route, after all it is mostly downhill. It is now raining quite heavily and the wind gathers strength, when I get back to the car I am soaked through, despite wearing a waterproof coat. Luckily it is deserted, so a quick strip off and change all my clothes.
I am surprised to find that I have been gone for over 5 hours, but not surprised to find that I have walked just over 10 miles, my legs were telling me that for the last hour. I turned on my phone to get a voicemail from Evelyn (at the Ardvreck) saying I had left my electric shaver behind. Oops. However as I have to drive past it I call in for a cup of coffee and two wonderful Oatcakes. We chat about daughters and generally put the world to rights.
If you are ever in the area and need somewhere to stay, I can thoroughly recommend it.
All to soon it is time to leave and I set off home. How far was it? 562 miles and 9 hours 33 minutes driving time.
It has been a very eventful nearly 7 years and 127 visits in total, including 4 in California, 11 in Texas, 4 in Florida, 2 in New Jersey and 3 in New York.
I wonder what the future holds?