It’s been a while since Tom and I were in Torridon, and it was great to have a few days to spend just walking, and exploring the area on foot. I’d seen a walk I liked the look of in one of our Pocket Mountains books, that began at Diabaig – a place I’d never been to previously. To get to Diabaig, you first have to travel above Torridon over the Bealach na Gaoithe (pass of the wind). A heady road, in every way!
If there is a village anywhere in the UK in a more spectacular location than Diabaig I’ve yet to see it: surrounded by glorious rocky hills, with views along Lochs Torridon and Shieldaig; across to the Applecross peninsula, and beyond to the high mountains of Wester Ross. Even on a rather cloudy, muggy day – like the one on which we visited – this place is truly breathtaking. Wow!
I am, by now, a seasoned post-stroke walker, but, although I routinely walk between 5-7km a day with the dogs, my left leg still lacks strength and stamina. On walks longer than 12km, which involve a lot of climbing and descent, or during which I might encounter a range of tricky or uneven surfaces (eg tree roots, bogs, rocks), my leg has a tendency to just give up the ghost. If the weather is cold (or my body begins to feel chilled) my left arm and leg sometimes refuse to work at all, so when I’m walking in an unfamiliar place, somewhere in the back of my mind is always the niggling worry that my body might just become too tired (or cold) to allow me to continue. The route we’d selected was 8km on what was described as a ‘good path’, so I felt I’d probably be ok.
From Diagbaig, a well-maintained path rises up the hillside . . .
. . . over a characteristic “knock and lochan” landscape . . .
. . . with wonderful views before, and behind.
After a while, the sun came out . . .
and views opened up around the coastline
Toward Red Point Bay – which seemed caught in its own patch of sunlight.
The beach looked very inviting
We walked as far as Craig – where there is a mountain bothy (previously the youth hostel, routinely described as Scotland’s “most remote”) where we encountered a jolly group of teenagers, heading towards Torridon with their backpacks. Red Point was far too long a trek for me, so after a break for lunch, we turned back too.
The “good path” was still good on the return route but my left leg found its undulating rocky surfaces tricker as time wore on. My body became tired. I slowed down and began to lose my balance. I tripped and fell in a bog. Such is life.
So the last half hour of this walk was really quite tough for me. But I knew I was going to be able to make it back ok, and pretty much the entire time I was out there – when I wasn’t watching my step, or admiring my surroundings – I was thanking my wonky body for being capable of carrying me to and around these beautiful spaces. Be grateful for your bodies, people!
What a truly miraculous thing it is to walk – and how much I love to do so. Sometimes post-stroke walking is not particularly easy, but in a place like Torridon, always worthwhile.