Day 72: 03 Jun 2014; Dundonnell to Knockdamph

Day 72: 03 Jun 2014; Dundonnell to Knockdamph
Walk descriptor LEJOG2014 Day 72
Date Tue 03 Jun 2014 Start to end time 10h 58m
Start point Dundonnell End point Knockdamph
Miles today 22.65 Cu miles 1,334.04
Ft today 4,689 Cu ft 189,180
Route miles left 179.81 Route ft left 16,998
Today’s weather Overcast and dull most of the day; heavy rain early afternoon; some sun later. No wind. About 13C
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Today’s location
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
GPX based track of today’s walk
(click here to access to access downloadable file)

“On most measures, today was harder even than yesterday – much longer in duration, more climbing, no welcoming hotel to look forward to, and a pack that weighed at least 10lb more than yesterday, as a result of all the extra food and water I was carrying for the night in the bothy. And just like the night before, I’d had a restless night worrying about how the day would go.

But today seemed to prove that it’s as much mental attitude as physical stamina that determines how easy or hard the day will be. I got myself into a positive frame of mind, telling myself that after today, although the walks would be long, they would mostly be on roads and tracks, and much less arduous than the last few have been.

And although I can’t claim today was easy, it certainly seemed a lot less painful than yesterday. I decided to take it relatively slowly, and because I didn’t particularly want to get to the bothy early as there would be nothing to do when I got there, I didn’t leave Dundonnell until 8 am. There were, to my disappointment, no shops in Dundonnell, so I got the hotel to make up an extra-large packed lunch, which served for both lunch and dinner today. I packed in six litres of water as well, so my rucksack weighed a ton.

Someone had said to me that the problem with walking South to North in the West of Scotland is that all the mountain ranges run East to West, so you hit them perpendicularly and have to climb over each one. And indeed, since leaving Invergarry, I have crossed seven ranges of hills, including two yesterday and two more today. No wonder I’m finding it tiring! So I slogged up the hill out of Dundonnell and then immediately dropped right back to sea level again at Inverlael. That went quite well, on an easy path, so I set off up the next range to Glen Douchary and then the Knockdamph bothy with enthusiasm. That didn’t last long, however, as the path ended after a couple of miles and the next ten miles were a case of walking on bearings across ankle-twisting boggy moorland until I came to a faint path midway down Glen Douchary. The pain was relieved a little, however, when the path turned a corner and briefly the Coigach mountains came into view, including at their centre, Stac Pollaidh, one of the most alluring hills in North West Scotland.

The Glen itself was stunningly beautiful – a sort of lost world, entirely cut off from the outside world. It almost looked as if it had been landscape-gardened, it seemed so well manicured complete with hidden, spectacular waterfalls along the way. But the path flattered to deceive. It was rough, hard to follow, and kept leading off into bogs and then disappearing. It was a very hard slog indeed across country to Loch an Daimh and the bothy.

Bothies are great when there is a fire lit and a big crowd of friends in there with you. But when you’re on your own, as I am tonight, they can be a bit creepy. So, being a bit of a wimp, I’ve pitched the tent nearby and after making a cup of coffee and eating the rest of my sandwiches in the bothy, am retiring to the slightly more cosy ambience of my tent!

Tomorrow is another long day – 25 miles or more, probably. But as it’s mostly on by-roads and downhill to my next campsite at Lairg, I’m not overly concerned about it. Just a case of putting one foot in front of the other and plodding along!”

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
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At the top of the pass between Dundonnell and Inverlael looking back to An Teallach Sunshine after the rain! Magnificent cloudscapes once the shower had passed
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A solitary cairn guides the way across vast pathless moorland to Glen Douchary Buried in the peat – remains of the old Caledonian Forrest, preserved for hundreds of years since the Clearances
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Knockdamph Bothy where I am staying tonight. Decided to camp outside… Stove being put to good use making a brilliant up of hot coffee in the bothy!
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Magnificent waterfalls, almost totally inaccessible, in Glen Douchary
The previous day’s blog follows below the blue line
Solid line blue