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]

Friday 14 May 2010

Day 51 - Kinlochewe to beyond Loch an Nid

Thursday 13 May (0920-1530)
Distance: 14.5 miles (Tot: 874 miles)
Weather: mainly grey with a few drops of light rain

It probably goes without saying that the weather has a big impact on my perception of how good a day's walking has been. Generally, when I make an exclamation about what a good day we've had, it's on a day when the weather has been fine. Give the hills a shroud of cloud, or force our heads into our hoods, and suddenly the surroundings become a lot less stupendous.

To counter that generalisation, today's walk was a mighty fine one even though it was a bit of a grey day, with cloud often shrouding the higher tops.

It was a day of comparisons, what with it being the same route that we walked on our way to John O'Groats. If you look at my blog for the previous rendition of this walk you'll see that it was rather a wet one, with the streams in spate and the waterfalls being shown in all of their glory.

Today, it was a completely different walk. The first notable thing was that the waterfall at the Heights of Kinlochewe was more of a trickle than a fall, and so continued the day, with all of the falls I recall, today being absent.

It made the going even easier than previously too (unsurprisingly). Having ambled our way on the good track and then good path to the significant body of water that is Lochan Fada, up to Loch Meallan an Fhudair we headed.

I'd paused to put my over-socks on before we headed up there, but the going was reasonably dry. I felt sure, however, that we would be tackling man-eating bogs as we flattened out and then on the way down to Loch an Nid, in between which there were two stream crossings.

We didn't exactly skip across the plateau of the spur, past the little loch, as hags tend to rule out skipping, but no legs were lost in the wet stuff and soon we were approaching the two streams. Easy-peasy. Without any need to ferret around for a suitable crossing point we stepped from one stone to another and were across.

The descent down the stream from the bealach to the loch stuck in our minds as being quite awful and very boggy indeed. Obviously that was a result of the previous two and a half week's rain in 2008, as today we merrily crossed back and forth across the stream where the fancy took us and with speed faster than I could comprehend to have been possible we were at the bottom. We didn't even bother to seek out the path which was slightly to the west of our line. There certainly was extensive squelchiness on the line we took, but all avoidable if you picked your way carefully, such that even in my mesh-topped Terrocs, I didn't get a shoe full of water at any point.

Loch an Nid is a stunning loch, with the massive slate slabs on its west side, and I commented in 2008 that I'd like to see the sight in good weather. Better though it was today, the cloud was quite low as we reached there, so I'd still like to return on a sunny day. For the avoidance of doubt, and contrary to my record to date, I don't intend to walk another end-to-end in order to pass this way again!

The path alongside the loch and beyond was far wetter than I recall. (Mick points out that by that point two years ago our feet were so wet that we weren't bothering to try to avoid any wet bits.) Even with the dampness of that path today, I did manage to avoid a shoe-full of water, right until our pitch for the night was within view.

With the prize within my view I, rather foolishly, headed the direct route towards it, which involved wading through a very sizeable bog. Ooops.

Arriving so early at the end of the day, and without being taxed on the way here, we could easily have carried on, but the pitch here is so lovely that it couldn't be passed by.
So, up we popped the tent, on a lovely area of short grass, right on the edge of the stream, and facing An Teallach. There are far worse places to spend the night, I'm sure!

It's going to be an early night tonight, with the aim of an early start tomorrow, not because we have a long walk, but because it would be nice to reach Ullapool at an early hour so that the re-stocking and chores don't have to be rushed.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

1 comment:

  1. Just caught up with you again. Been busy with new Apple iMac and getting ready to set off a week on Monday for France.

    Your posts are very nostalgic for me - The Falls of Glomach -B and B problems in Kinlochewe and above all Loch an Nid.

    I fancy going up to the far north later on, just before the clocks alter. I like it at that time of year hearing the stags rutting in the glens down below.

    I am impressed with your mileages, especially over the Scottish terrain - bon voyage for the rest of the trip.