The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday 30 June 2008

Day 76 - After Loch An Nid to After Inverlael

29 June
Distance: 15 miles (plus a bit of wandering around a forest)
Number of people seen out walking today: 5 (one group of four and a singleton, all within a ten minute period and all off for a jaunt up An Teallach)

Yesterday the streams appeared to be quite full. Then it rained through the late afternoon and evening and torrentially most of the night. By comparison with their state this morning, yesterday's streams were mere trickles.

Getting up late and with reluctance, given the frantic drumming of rain on taut nylon, we packed away expecting a grim and damp day ahead.

Luck was on our side. After a couple of heavy downpours early on, as we made our way up a good track, the weather started to clear. By the time we were approaching Corrie Hallie the sun was showing signs of bursting through and the mountain tops were clear (and what mountain tops they are!).

The second uphill pull of the day was out of Dundonnell, and the sun beating down was a very pleasant change - we even started overheating!

Two pulls out of valleys were not enough for us on this day. After lunch we attacked the third, and steepest of the day - if Anquet is to be believed this is one of the biggest ascent days of the whole trip.

The third uphill didn't go entirely smoothly. I always get annoyed when either I don't know where I am, or when I can't find the way to go and that annoyance only increases when such circumstances occur near the end of a day - particularly a day with lots of upping and downing.

So, there we were with only 3km to go, standing in the midst of a large construction site in the forest above Inverlael, trying to find the track we needed to take which, according to the End to End Trail book, zig zags up the felled hillside.

The description in the book said to ignore the first track, a while before, and that track was shown on the sketch map. What it didn't mention, in words or sketch, was the second track which happened to be about five yards before the one we wanted. To make things even more tricky the one we wanted has clearly not been used in a lot of years and is completely overgrown with young firs, bracken and heather. To make things even more tricky, neither the track we could see nor the one we wanted was marked on the OS map, so we only had the guide book words and sketch to go on.

Not being happy that we were going the right way we first tried the visible track, but when it didn't zag back on itself we had to conclude that it wasn't going in our direction. Back we went and scratched our heads again.

"Perhaps we can just get out of the forestry via the main track and follow the outside edge up the hillside", we thought. We tried it, but were thwarted by the construction works. Back we went, scratching our heads and dreaming of a nice warm tent and a cup of tea.

Off went Mick to bash through the bracken and new trees in the hope of finding this elusive zig-zagging track. Personally, after the Hideous Nightmare 2km From Hell last week, I was reluctant to give up on finding the right route and taking a direct line.

Standing back on the main path, looking up the hillside, I then noticed the vaguest of lines in the bracken. Up through it I waded and within a few yards it was obvious that I was on the long abandonned track. Success. The cup of tea was getting closer.

We had already decided that we would stop short tonight, purely because tomorrow is a short day so we thought we would even up the mileages a bit.

It was a good decision. As we were choosing a pitch the rain started. We threw the tent up without our usual care of ensuring that it was as level and lump free as possible and had just got in side when it started coming down like stair rods again.

A wind is accompanying that rain. We're being fairly whipped by it just now. I think we're safe from the midges tonight.

Post Script: the Steripen lives! Sitting in the tent this evening, I just thought that I'd give it another go, just in case it had dried out, and to my surprise it worked. There's still lots of moisture in the light tube, so I'm not convinced that it would be effective, but it shows hope that it may recover in time.


  1. I remember that tricky bit well myself - in the end I just clambered up a small stream until I got to the upper track, climbing over rotten fallen tree trunks abd dragging myself up the steeper bits by hanging on to the bracken!

    The pass over to the next valley is sensational though with incredible views to the head of the Douchary.


  2. Sue and I had similar problems in Inverlael as the hydro electric development there is well underway (sept '08). Being a Sunday, there was no-one to ask directions (or conversely to be told 'you can't come through here!). We back tracked and eventually made our way out of the forest. In hindsight, the best way is probably to cross the first bridge and start working up through the zig-zags as soon as possible.

    Apart from this, looking back on this day my lasting memories are of the absolutely spectacular views of an Teallach.