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 52 - after Loch an Nid to Inverlael

Friday 14 May (0650-1230)
Distance: 11.25 miles (Tot: 885.25 miles)
Ascent: 2500' (the 1300 stated on the itinerary was clearly wrong in that the second pass of the day was that high in itself)
Weather: Warm sunny intervals, one violent shower (and quite a few more violent showers after we pitched, but they don't count)

It was raining as we retired from the dining room to the bedroom last night (which, in our tent translates to getting into our sleeping bags). I'm not sure for how long it continued, as I was soon asleep, but the river was certainly carrying more water this morning.

With the cloud cover it was also a very warm night, until about 4am, which must have been when the skies cleared, allowing the temperature to drop remarkably. The skies were still pretty clear when we set off, just before 7 this morning. In lieu of the sun having made it over the hill to reach us, we warmed up by attacking the pony track which starts off rather steeply before taking us gently up and over to Dundonnell.

The views of An Teallach were superb (we met a few people on their way up, the first of whom were impressed at how early we must have started to be on our way down already; perhaps they hadn't considered that there are other places to walk nearby?), and just kept getting better as we headed up the hillside opposite.

Mick found the walk up the track which took us over the pass and down to Inverlael rather unremarkable. I found it all rather nice, with the spectacular view of An Teallach being replaced with snow-topped peaks to the east as we popped over the top, not to mention the pretty waterfall we passed on the way.

Mick had commented a couple of days ago that, for a south-to-north walk, we seem to be heading east or west an awful lot. The route certainly does wiggle around a bit (understandably), and today we found ourselves heading south-east for a few miles, which is something of a counterintuitive direction, given the aim of our walk! We did get back onto a northerly heading with a horrible descent featuring fallen trees and dense gorse (ouch, ouch, prickle), and with a little bit of a walk along the main road we had finished our day's walking and needed to get into Ullapool to resupply.

It was laughable - the very moment we got to the point from where we needed a lift, all traffic heading to Ullapool disappeared. Minutes and minutes went by, with no sign of a vehicle.

Eventually some cars did come, and lots sped straight past the two scruffy backpackers ("They're missing out on meeting two people on an interesting adventure" we said).

As dispair was starting to set in, a battered landrover came along. "This will stop for us" said Mick, and so it did.

Contrary to laws about passengers being seated with seatbelts, we hopped into the back with a length of cast iron drainpipe, two wooden oars and a very nice dog. The very nice lady farmer gave us a lift the whole way to Tesco.

She even offered us a lift back out again, and was prepared to wait a little while for us to finish our shopping, if we were going to longer than her errands would take. We were very tempted to accept so as to make our lives easier.

In the end though, we opted to spend the night in Ullapool, and so are now pitched on the campsite, right on the loch-side with stunning views. Pity that the wind direction (and that's quite a keen breeze!) has dictated that we pitch in the other direction to the views.

At the moment we have no way (other than standing at the roadside and praying for a ride) to get back out to Inverlael in the morning, and tomorrow's a long day for which an early start would be welcome...

(Richard - with the ticks I didn't go clockwise or anti, I merely pulled gently. It's still quite early for midges, and hopefully the cold weather will have retarded their usual march towards world domination. We haven't seen any yet at any rate (and it'd be good if they could stay wherever they hide for winter for another week!)
Chris - so many superb hills around here, and so lucky that we've mainly had weather such that we can see them.
Sophie - how's Patch's noise phobia doing? Our fast-jet count for the trip stands at 4 so far - a Tornado somewhere back in England, 2 Hawks together just outside Ft Bill and another Tornado today. Seems remarkably few.
Ken - I recall Moby the Haddock, but hadn't recalled that it was at Kintail Lodge. We only had the soup at lunchtime (having already lunched once), but would willingly have gone back in the evening had a lift been available.
Conrad - it had occurred to us a week or so ago, passing by all these magnificent Munros, that you must have been in all of these places. All the best for France; we look forward to hearing about it, and I assume that you'll be blogging it?)

Post blog note: transport for the morning is sorted, so I don't need to spend the night fretting about that.

Post-post Blog Note: I just laundered all of our clothes with a proper dose of whatever powdered detergent was in the machine in the laundry. I'm now sitting here in a pub and all I can smell is 'clean'. That's not something to which I have been accustomed!
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