NC500 - Day 16
Updated: Jun 1, 2018
Applecross to Plockton to Glenbrittle (86 Miles)
Today was the day, the big day. We were waking early to travel the Bealach na Bà which sounded so scary that Mummy didn't sleep well at all. I knew because she fidgeted all night and set her alarm for 6.00 a.m. Leaving me in Bertie, Mummy went to find the showers. She seemed gone for ages and when she came back, she said that there was no hot water and had showered in the freezing cold. I don't know why she was fussing as I am always having my feet dipped in cold water to clean them off. We packed up Bertie and by 6.45, while it was still dark outside, pulled off our pitch and made a quiet drive to the campsite exit. It was so dark, only the Bambi were up and awake, enjoying the quiet time before all the humans started their daily activities.
Mummy let me sit on the floor on my blanket as she said she didn't want me trying to hang myself again when we were going around the hairpin bends. I was still so tired that I didn't play up one bit, and settled down as Mummy slowly began the ascent to the pass. It was a slow dark drive with the rain on our windscreen and only the sound of the engine grumbling in second gear. The higher we went the more the rain smacked on Bertie and the fog began to blanket heavily down on us. Mummy said it was like an alien landing strip ahead of us, our beams so high that they were all we could see, except the rain within them, little diamond pellets shining in front to guide our way.
Bertie groaned and grumbled as he pushed us up to the top of the climb. Bealach na Bà is a winding, single track road through the mountains of the Applecross Penisula - like the Swiss Alps. Mummy said it has gradients of 20% and is 2,054 feet above the sea and is the third highest road in Scotland. Our ears popped as we got to the top and then Mummy had to stop as she realised she couldn't see anything in front of her except the fog and the rain. I sat up and looked out the window but there was nothing to see except the recreation of Wuthering Heights as the wind made Bertie rattle and sway. We were at the pinnacle of the weather Gods home, where they lived and fought, and it was all happening at the top where Mummy stopped to re-evaluate our adventure.
Taking a few deep breaths, I heard Bertie pull away again, and then I heard Mummy say we were going to die. I couldn't be blamed this time ... it was Mummy's fault we were up there in the early hours of the morning, not mine, but I nudged her hand to let her know that if we died, we would die together, on our way to a beach, a dream we shared ... a dream we sought out. We didn't know if we were going to be Thelma and Louise or Julie Andrews singing the Hills are Alive, but we knew whatever we were going to be, we would be it together.
From the top of the ascent we started to descend and I felt Bertie slowly turn into the hairpin bends. Mummy started to count them, preparing us both as she guided Bertie, our now faithful steed, tamed and trusted, letting us ride him like the knights that we were from the Poos of the Round Table. We were warriors of the night, secretly negotiating hushabye mountain as our enemies slept, unprepared. We were ahead of the game as Mummy did a few woop-woops with each switchback in the road. After the third and final one, Mummy took Bertie out of gear and let him glide down the descent, free and silent, as the views started to come into sight. The midnight sky began to seep through the fog and eventually we were entering the break of dawn as we glided, just me and Mummy. It felt like riding a bike with no hands and screaming at the top of our voices, and for a moment, we were in a state of absolute delight.
We wanted to do it again and again, in daylight when we could see what we'd done, but Mummy said she'd heard of a place where the water was a mirror shining from the sun, and we could have a little walk together to catch our breath and let our adrenaline settle calmly back down. We drove down and around to a place called Plockton and sat on the water's edge with a cup of hot chocolate and a bowl of kibble with left over steak from our Applecross adventure.
After a lovely walk with Mummy, we left the mainland and went over the bridge to Skye. Landscapes changed and everywhere we looked there was gushing loud water that people gathered around to take photos. We quickly threw Bertie into a car park and followed the flow of people to see what everyone was looking at. The rain poured on our heads as if it was never going to end, but we carried on to find the most amazing angry river that was thrashing its swell against the river banks and under the bridge. We wowed as we watched and then without any words, we nodded at each other and ran off, leaving everyone still staring at the raging waters while we found solace in a nearby pub for hot chocolate and a scone. I wasn't just allowed into the pub, I was allowed to get tummy rubs and have a good sniff around. Mummy said it was because Whisky was on the menu and everyone was rather jolly.
Still wet and soggy, we drove our way to our new campsite in Glenbrittle. Mummy was excited because there was both a beach and mountains, her two favourite views but when we got there our hearts sank. We gazed at each other in dismay. The beach was black with not a golden grain of sand to be seen, and it was so full of the sea slime monsters that even I didn't want to walk on it. The campsite was black too, black with misery. Someone had taken the happiness away and we were at a muddy Glastonbury without any music or dancing. Nothing and no one smiled. Oh we felt sad. We tried walking on the beach but we knew we couldn't stay for two nights as planned. Our souls felt dark at the muddy dirty Glenbrittle camp, so after our walk, we studied the map together and plotted our escape the next morning. Mummy pondered and paced until she'd worked out a plan, and then we went to bed, deflated after such wonderful adventures all day. I licked Mummy's watch strap to tell her that we didn't need to be sad ... new adventures would start again in the morning and we would find something spontaneous to spark us back up again. She understood, and we fell asleep curled together, a little bundle of companionship and love that didn't need anything more than a few tummy tickles and watch strap licks to show how much we loved each other.