Distance: 23 miles (Tot: 859.5 miles)
Weather: glorious. V cold night; daytime warm only when in sun and out of wind.
Number of people seen out walking/cycling in vicinity of Coulin: 18
Number of people we saw out walking in 7 day period last time we passed through Coulin: 0
Last night I looked at the map for today and pointed out that we had an easy day ahead of us, particularly as we had already walked 1.5 miles of it and the rest was mainly on roads and tracks. I suggested that if we ran two days together we could reach Kinlochewe and reward ourselves with a B&B.
Mick gave me one of his 'what's up with this woman constantly trying to push us ahead of schedule' looks and declined to commit to any change in plan until we had achieved the planned end point of the day. Fair enough, I said.
There was not a cloud in the sky as we set out this morning, which made Lochcarron, across the other side of the mirror-still Loch Carron, look absolutely idyllic.
Along the road we marched, past the restaurant in Carron which wasn't open to serve us second breakfast, and onwards to Strathcarron, where the tea room was equally shut. That was unfortunate because I'm permanently hungry at the moment (another reason for pushing on to Kinlochewe tonight - a big meal tonight and a cooked breakfast in the morning).
For a while then we were off-road, along the river and through a forest, before joining another A road - this one of the single-track with passing places variety, which at least made most of the cars drive more sedately than you might expect on an A road.
Having positively steamed along (best to get the road walking over with, we thought), we arrived at the turn for Achnashellach and decided that it would be appropriate to have elevenses, even though our food breaks seemed to be coming close together today.
They then got ridiculously often when, not five minutes later, we saw the sign saying 'Teas' outside the Station House.
A sojourn was had drinking tea, eating hot, buttered crumpets and chatting to the very nice owners, until finally we concluded that if we were going to make it to Kinlochewe then we ought to get on with it.
A change of route had been decided at some point in the morning (in a definite move towards the long-day option), as we decided that our progress would be faster if we popped over the Coulin Pass. The distance looked about the same, but tracks would speed us along, whereas the going on our planned route was unknown.
The distance became a little longer thanks to forestry works closing a section of the track up to the pass, but that simply meant taking the lower track until we hit the old pony path (which we followed 2 years ago) - a nicer, if slightly longer route through the forest.
Things got busy with walkers and cyclists once we were over the pass, and as we levelled out in the glen, next to the river Coulin, we couldn't believe how the raging torrent next to which we had camped in 2008 was just a trickle of a stream today.
Notwithstanding having had breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses and second elevenses, we felt that a pause for lunch was still called for, so next to the river we parked ourselves for a while.
Considering the map over lunch (the map not being required as a table today, as rocks performed the job nicely), we thought about our route into Kinlochewe. Mick recalled that our previous route was a lot of hard work for little reward (I'd blanked that out, but having this evening looked at my blog for that day, I see that Mick's recollection was correct). Then we noted that the alternative route, to follow a track down to the road, and then the road into Kinlochewe was only a mile longer.
We took the easy route (for which my rather sore achilles was very grateful; it's not quite back to where it was in week 2, but it's not liking hills just now). The easy route turned out to have its own rewards - namely a spectacular close-up view of Beinn Eighe and an equally impressive view of the impenetrable-looking Liatach.
With less than a mile to go, I was starting to feel the effects of a lengthy day of hard surfaces, and called for a five minute break to air my pounding feet.
Into Kinlochewe we went, noticing that both of the B&B's on the way in, the details of which I had noted on the itinerary, were full. The one we'd called the other side of the village was full too. It was looking like we might end up in the bunkhouse, although first we went and batted our eyelids at the caravan site which so kindly let us stay in 2008. This year's warden is not as accommodating as the one we'd met before. She was shaking her head before the batting of eyelids was done.
There was just one other B&B, and to it we went. The landlady (she's definitely a landlady, rather than a host) looked us up and down and I really thought that she was going to deny the truth of the 'vacancies' sign. She did let us in, on condition that we take off our 'boots' (which after a few miles on road were almost sparkling with cleanliness). Not an unreasonable request, so into our room we were shown. A few minutes later we were being served with tea and warm Scotch pancakes (with jam and cream) in the living room and a dinner reservation was being made for us at the hotel.
A very fine three courses of dinner have been had, and now we shall go to bed for a comfortable (warm!) night, looking forward to a lie in and a big breakfast in the morning.
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