Scottish Coast • Day 16 • Carlingheugh Bay to Lunan Bay

Carlingheugh Bay to Lunan Bay
Saturday 18 June 2022

14.61km • 4h 30min (including breaks)
lowest: -2m • highest: 71m • total ascent 269m

See the route on OS Maps

Happily, after two days of brutalising myself with over 40k, this was a short day. And an actual short day rather than the times when I think it’s going to be a short day but completely underestimate the ability of the twisting coastline to add considerable distance to my estimation of the map.

We were going to have a fairly leisurely morning, and the weather was definitely nice enough to sit around a while, but someone started burning stuff in one of the fields at the top of the cliffs and the smoke was blowing out over the bay, so it kind of pushed us to move on. We tried exploring the rocks and caves at the other end of the beach, but the rocks were so slippery we quickly gave up on that and hauled ourselves back up to the cliffs again to start walking.

I keep telling Valerie that she chose the best part of this walk to do, and got a very lucky bit of weather for her first ever wild camp. It also felt kind of crazy for me to be the more experienced one in terms of camping, because I still know relatively little. But I guess it only takes a night or two over none. The rest of the cliff trail we did in the morning was just as nice as the day before. Excellent views in all directions.

We originally hoped to eat lunch at the But ’n’ Ben in Auchmithie (and get an Arbroath Smokie), but it was fully booked when we’d called a few days prior. In the end, I’m glad we couldn’t get a reservation because we would have had to wait around a very long time from when we arrived in the little village, which is at the other end of the cliff trail. There’s nothing else there but public toilets (hooray!) so we’d have been poking around on the beach for hours. Instead we had a quick snack on a bench overlooking the harbour and went on towards the farm track portion of the day.

The rest of the walk until we reached Lunan Bay was inland through farms and minor roads. It was still very clear and hot, and the hayfever hit me hard on this stretch too. Sooo much grass.

It’s always nice to have someone to chat to on roads that seem to go on forever. But that didn’t stop the songs looping in my head, and given all the long straight roads, ‘Outside’ by the Foo Fighters crept in first. This became a dominant one on this trip, along with ‘Ruby Tuesday’ by the Rolling Stones and ‘Michelle’ by the Beatles. I can’t tell you where those two came from, they just appeared.

We made it to the south end of Lunan Bay beach just before noon and had a break with our bags off before continuing up the beach towards the campsite and the pub. We mainly walked through the water, but it was incredibly windy which made the whole thing pretty hard going and dashed my hopes for a swim. There were also a ton of giant dead jellyfish, mostly lions mane, as well as dead gannets because of avian flu. Those birds are absolutely massive. I think a week or two after we were there the community arranged a cleanup because there were just so many of them.

It took us well over an hour to get up the beach to our destination. Cutting away from the water was pretty rough in the wind. We got properly sandblasted and the sand under us was hard and ridged, so it was a relief to make it to the dunes and put our shoes back on. We went straight to the pub for lunch and a pint, and I devoured a steak and cheese sandwich. There was a guy at the next table asking about the walk. He’d just done the West Highland Way with his wife for her 60th because she’d done it for her 30th, 40th, and 50th as well.

We got ice cream from the camp shop and Valerie then headed off to get a bus to start her trip home. I set up the tent in the little campsite, had a glorious shower, and rinsed out all my sweaty, dirty things hoping I could get them mostly dry in the sun before the next day. I spent the afternoon hiding in the tent completely knackered before going out for a walk up to the other end of the beach, unburdened by my massive bag. It was still very windy though, to the point that no one was really in the water. Later when I spoke to people at the campsite, they said they’d come to surf or SUP and basically gave up on the idea. It seemed there were a lot of abandoned watersports plans in the campsite, but it’s such a nice little place that I don’t think anyone minded just hanging around. The wind wasn’t so bad behind the dunes.

When I was making my dinner on the table next to my tent, a guy walked up asking about my Moomin mug because his wife was Finnish. (I maintain that carrying this mug is always worth the extra weight!) He spoke to me for a while about where I got the mug and what I was up to. He told me he’d SUPed the Tay from the falls to the mouth in 4 days for charity, so he’s apparently in some record books now. His wife came over for a chat and we talked about the Trans-Siberian, which she’d done when she was 7! They were camping with their friends who had a baby and a dog. They both had pretty good setups with tents on the backs of their cars. I wished my friends had been there with their kids. We could have all had a party. I like wild camping in beautiful places but it’s also nice to stay somewhere with cool people around and find out about their adventures.

After dinner I pretty much tapped out. I went into my tent and read for a bit but that quickly turned to dozing and sleep. Some kids on the campsite started playing football with the guy I’d been chatting to somewhere outside until the ball hit my tent and he said they should all move to the field. I didn’t mind though. It was nice to listen to as I drifted off. One of the kids was doubting his abilities, so the other one was telling him to just believe in himself, which was very Ted Lasso. I slept incredibly well, and for a long time.

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