Posted by: natsevs | August 17, 2010

Ullapool to Achnacarnin

The dorm was way too hot and I woke up sweating after just an hour then at least every hour from then on. After having a breakfast which included Swiss roll I went out to the supermarket. It wasn’t the biggest of shops but it did the job and I got well stocked up.

Back at the hostel I found space in my bag for everything then set off. As I did I bumped into the guy and his sons who said they were going out to do the coastal path so we would pass each other at some point. On the way out it started pouring down as I was on the phone to my sister so I hid by a house to get my waterproofs on. It was all main road to Ardmair then there was a gate earlier than expected.

I went through it and the overgrown path led to a house who’s ground I was forced to walk through by a fence. I got onto the track quickly and followed that along the shore to get over a river bridge. I started down the other side then climbed up a bank to get on another track. This track was dug about 3feet down in the peat to the solid rock as Richard Smith had told me it would be when I stayed with him in Portree.

The map shows the coast path going out from the track but the deer fence to my right started worrying me thanks to previous experiences. After a while I headed back to get through the gate I had seen earlier. It was nailed shut so that was a fun climb over. When I got down to where the path does actually come out there was a nice proper gate there.

There was a lot of climbing for the first few miles in miserable weather. There was a definite path at least, even with bogs interrupting it now and then. I stepped down one dip to lose both legs up to my knees in one of these bogs and had to pull myself out. My feet were obviously soaked after that. The scenery was great but my camera wasn’t working again. Overall I wasn’t happy.

When I reached a gully the path went inland but a second worn path went over the fence and down to the beach. I took that one hoping for easier going. It was fine to start with, then rocky, then some proper climbing. I had to get up onto a platform blocking me off completely. It was hard going and I had to throw my bag across a gap to get up then manouvre it again so I could get down without the weight. It was a right hassle and knackering.

After that I climbed up a rock fall to reach the proper path and from there it was ok. The journey so far had taken a lot longer than expected though so when I got to Acheninver I decided I would stop at the hostel there to dry out and take advantage of a bed again.

A German couple turned up later who blanked me when I said hello. Then later the woman asked if it was my ‘red’ clothes in the room. ‘Red? No I haven’t got any red clothes’, she went on to say they were making the room smell. Firstly, she wasn’t even staying in my dorm, her partner was and secondly, hostel rooms smell, especially ‘rustic’ ones like this. I realised she had meant wet but I hadn’t understood her accent and therefore they were my clothes. Not that I would have moved them anyway.

The other people staying at the hostel rocked up at 1am so who knows what they’d been up to. I nabbed some free porridge from the spare food shelf for breakfast and was away by 9. The path comes out to the car park on the road and it was along the road that I continued. When I reached Achiltibuie I went into the local shop to be presented with the usual massive choice of top quality food stuffs. The woman behind the counter was jolly though which went some way to make up for that.  I took another road off towards Reiff, immediately passing a really nice beach with tents set up along the grass behind it. Felt slightly like I’d missed out on a good camping spot.

Whilst walking past a pub in one of the villages, a little dog ran out barking at me. It was one of those tiny rattish dogs with inferiority complexes. As well as barking it went for my feet whilst it’s owner shouted at it from the decking, drink in hand. The little bugger ran off before the temptation to kick it grew too big.

Along the way I was passed by a car with REIFF as it’s number plate. That’s real pride in your village. Reiff itself was quite nice with a lovely holiday cottage right on the beach. I got to the end of the road there and started along the path along the edge of an inland loch. There was a really nice beach and bay further on then I had to make my way from the end of the path across. It got pretty boggy and the weather came in in a serious way. Wind and rain lashing at my face whilst my feet sunk into spongey pools.

I made it to the road as the rain cleared and followed that round a nice bay and past Loch Oscaig. Off from Loch Oscaig was a steep hill as I now headed in the direction of Lochinver. Once over the first hill I came to a valley and took a road and track to Inverpolly lodge then a path along the coast. At a bay the track stopped with a river in front but there was a place to cross and a vague path onwards from there. The path disappeared quite regularly but it was easy to navigate through and I reached a second river. Crossing it to get back onto the road. Some more serious rain looked iminent so I was eager to find somewhere to camp. Half an hour’s walking took me to a parking and picnic area by a river where I stopped and set up the tent as the rain started again.

I woke up around 2am which isn’t unusual but this time my feet were wet. Considering I had socks on, then my sleeping bag, this was quite worrying. I felt the floor of my tent and it was very wet, then I put my hand out the door and found I was now camped in a puddle.

The rain was still coming down so I got on my coat, grabbed my torch and ventured out to see if there was a dry spot around. Across the car park was a non flooded spot so I set about moving my stuff over to the other table, then putting the tent down and up again in the new spot. All of this was done with my torch in my mouth as my headtorch had died. I was back in the tent and drier at 3.30 and settled down again.

Needless to say, I was knackered in the morning. It was still raining as I made my way along the road to Lochinver. When I got there I stocked up on food majorly before also popping into the pie shop and cafe there. All of the pies looked and sounded really good but I went for the beef stroganoff to go in the end. I wasn’t disappointed.

Carrying on around to Baddidarach where there is a path over to Ardroe. It was actually a real path as well, on which I saw a few boar foraging away. That reached another road and a steep hill before going down to Achmelvich bay. The sun had turned up now and the bay was very pretty. I spoke to a guy and his son there who had offered me a lift the day before. Another path took me to the coast road to another nice bay at Clachtoll where I stopped for a little sit.

When I recommenced I made my way to Stoer, taking road and tracks to the lighthouse. There were a good few people up there even though it was around 5 and the rain was back again. A path took me along the coast a bit before carrying on along pathless terrain round the headland to Culkein. The going was boggy and there was now misty rain and the air was completely still. Perfect midge weather. It was horrible. I finally made Culkein and took the road along the front then started cutting across land between roads. I stopped on top of a hill in the hope of it being less boggy and to make sure there was no chance of flooding tonight. I set up as quick as possible to minimise midge attacks but the citronella candle I bought in Ullapool seemed to work quite well.

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