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The thin line between adventure … and a forced march


The lonely Moine Path from Loch Hope to the Kyle of Tongue

The lonely Moine Path from Loch Hope to the Kyle of Tongue. We didn’t see another soul all day.

The next eight hours looked grim.

I  had a splitting headache, nausea and 15 miles to walk across boggy, inhospitable ground and empty roads before there was any prospect of a hostel bed. Could it have been an overdose of cleg poison?

Ill as I felt, there was no alternative to walking. No cars. No houses. No people. But hey, this was an adventure, wasn’t it? I popped some pills, heaved on my pack and we set off.

I figured we could do the most isolated bit in four hours if I just kept my head down and followed Noreen’s relentless red socks all the way across the bog. And we almost did.

The first 10 miles were the worst, up and over the 1000 year old Moine Path (henceforth remembered as the Vomit Path – too much information?) a raised track across tussocky moorland between the great rocky strongholds of Ben Hope and Ben Loyal. After nine miles I lay down on a stone and slept, spontaneously, and woke after 20 minutes, feeling decidedly better.

One of the beautifully built bridges that keeps the ancient path drier than the surrounding bog

One of the beautifully built bridges that keeps the ancient path drier than the surrounding bog

By the time we reached the village of Tongue on the far north coast I’d made a full recovery and we celebrated the end of the trail with an ice cream at the shop.

And life got even better when Julia, the fantastic warden of the Youth Hostel spotted our rucksacks outside the Post Office and popped in to see if we wanted a lift to our beds. We knocked her down in the rush.

I bought shampoo and had a long, blissful shower which was only marred by the revelation of considerable insect damage. We doctored our bites with antihistamine and hydrocortisone  then drank cup after cup of tea while we laughed and relived our adventure from the comfort of a soft armchair.

Finally I picked up a thriller from the hostel shelves and lost myself in someone else’s drama; so much less stressful than one’s own.


We walked towards Ben Loyal, a beacon across the moor, and were finally rewarded with a view from a different perspective


9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Horseflies and midges are my idea of hell – give me bedbugs any day – at least I can protect myself against them. Congratulations on conquering the difficulties and having the stamina and determination to complete your adventure.

    I’ve just been looking at my photos from the ‘0’ km point – I hope you catch a stunning sunset when you arrive.

    July 19, 2014
    • I’m really looking forward to it. There’s always been a niggling regret that I didn’t carry on when I did the rest of the Frances but this will be a new experience and adventure. I assume you enjoyed the walk to Finisterre ?

      July 19, 2014
      • Apart from the rain, of which there was plenty – and it does really change the way you walk and what you see. We walked via Muxia and I was delighted that the rain stopped just before we got our first glimpse of the ocean. That was a very special moment. And I really enjoyed having an extra day in Finisterre and lazing on the beach searching for scallop shells.

        It’s lovely that you are meeting up with your camino family to finish your adventure. I am quite envious.

        July 19, 2014
  2. You are SO tough!! What a nightmare hike.

    July 19, 2014
    • It certainly had its challenges Anneli, but it was still great fun. Planning the next one already!

      July 19, 2014
  3. A sense of humor is often the very best medicine. Glad to hear of the seemingly quick recovery, though the nine miles must have been a lesson in endurance.

    July 19, 2014
    • Yes, but they’re remembered now with wry amusement. And our experiences did make the hostel feel like the ultimate five star luxury. It’s a great way of getting everything in your life back into perspective very quickly.

      July 19, 2014
  4. Nancy, the rigours of the walk seem to have done nothing to dent your writing style and your sense of humour so good on you. I’m slightly hesitant to hear that you will be retracing your steps home though.

    July 18, 2014
    • Thanks Scott. And no, not a chance of venturing into the wilds of Sutherland for the rest of the insect season. I’m heading back to Santiago at the end of Sept to meet up with some of the old pilgrim family to walk on to Finisterre. Did you go to the End of the World back in 2012?

      July 19, 2014

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