It had been a while since either of us had carried our belongings, tent and food (for us and for the dog) for 2 nights, but after a few moans from our legs as we heaved our packs on we set off on the 4 ½ mile walk into Sandwood bay. The rain had obediently stopped as the weather forecast had predicted. It’s a really easy walk on a good track with a few gentle inclines. We had toyed with idea of filling the pouches on the dogs harness with her food to alleviate some of the weight from our backs, fortunately we had decided against this. She had gone for a dip in every lochan we passed on the way. Her food would have swollen to the size of her by the time we had arrived on the beach.
It was around 6pm when we set off. We passed a weary group of JMT volunteers, back from a day beach cleaning, and numerous day trippers. We were certain the beach would be deserted by the time we arrived. An hour and a half later we were on the beach.
We pitched our tent among the dunes, cooked dinner, took our boots off and headed to the beach to eat. At the other end of the beach we could make out the specks of about 12 people. The beach is busy tonight we commented, in fact, we used the word ‘heaving’. Perhaps a slight over exaggeration, but last time we visited Sandwood, we were the only people there. Think word has got out….. However, there was certainly enough room for all of us still to feel we had the beach to ourselves.
We watched gulls fish, marvelled at the splendour of the sea stack (Am Buachaille) and dug our toes into the white sand. The only thing left to do was have a wee dram before bed (once we found it buried at the bottom of a ruck-sac after a ‘discussion’ of you packed it, no you packed it).
Next morning we awoke to a summers day, which isn’t as common as you may think in July in these parts. We awarded another gold star to xc weather for getting the forecast right. We headed out barefooted for a wander. As the tide was out we were able to walk around the headland at the north end of the beach and explore a small bay where the sand was untouched by human feet, at least so far today! Next, a dip in the sea, however there was a fair bit of surf so we thought a freshwater dip in Sandwood Loch would be more appealing. We wandered up the river from the beach to the loch after being mesmerised by pebbles, pushed by the force of the water, rolling along the sand towards the sea, and kept going….and kept going….and kept going, but the water didn’t get much deeper than ankle height, only eventually edging up to almost our knees. We never did get our upper bodies wet! We did contemplate lying on our bellies, but ‘doing the beached whale’ is never a good look.
The rest of the day was spent pottering between our tent and the beach. We considered heading up the hill on the north end of the beach, but that would have required putting our boots on and we had decided to have a barefoot day. It’s always good to leave something to do on another trip.
Overnight, as expected, the weather changed; the wind picked up and the rain came down. Next morning we got the tent down, packed up and headed for home. The beach, unsurprisingly, was deserted. However, there were footprints, 20 abreast all the way along the beach. How did we miss all these people tramping passed? Once on the track the going was much easier. We passed some very muddy and drookit John Muir Trust volunteers who were doing some path work, their spirits still high (it was still morning!). Got to hand it to those guys and girls…..
By the time we got back to the car we had dried off. What a grand camping trip.