Following on from last week’s post, here are notes, a map and two pictures for the second week of my walk across Scotland three years ago. I did fewer miles this week. Partly it was lollygagging. But I also suffered injuries that slowed things up – a bruised rib from a slip on a mountainside and, more seriously, a strained thigh muscle. I am quite sure the strain was caused by an assault course of a trail leaving Kinlochewe. Anyway, I ended up walking only four days out of seven.
Tomorrow, of course, is a huge day for Scotland, probably the biggest for 307 years. Whichever way the vote goes – independence or staying a part of the UK – the trails, I suspect, will be much the same. Or maybe I have missed a promise or a warning from the campaign. Week Two:
START: Shenavall bothy, Saturday September 10th.
FINISH: Ratagan youth hostel, Friday 17th.
DISTANCE: 53 miles.
TERRAIN: Same as the first week, everything from trackless mountain to the main A87 road, with every standard of path and track in between.
BEST WEATHER: Thursday, definitely. Sunny and warm for the hike over a 1,700-foot bealach (pass) to Loch Duich.
WORST WEATHER: The remnants of Hurricane Katia on Monday bringing heavy rain to Glen Carron.
WILDLIFE HIGHLIGHT: Startling a stag below Bealach na Croise, north of Kinlochewe.
MOST IMPRESSIVE HILL: An Teallach (photo right – the far-off, jagged ridge).
BEST COMPANY: Joe and Brid from Ayrshire, fellow guests at the Strathcarron Hotel. They set me on the right track to fix my injured leg, and were good company too during my enforced rest.
BEST “CRAIC”: The bar of the Kinlochewe Hotel – MC’ed by barman Scott.
BEST LODGING: Willie Nicolson’s bunkhouse in Camusluinie, all to myself and a wood-burning stove too.
HIGHEST HIGH: Probably seeing a soaked tent with two mountain bikes strewn outside it after decending from Bealach na Croise. They meant I would surely soon find the trail to Kinlochewe next after miles of heather-whacking.
LOWEST LOW: No doubt about this one. Developing a shooting pain along the inside of my right thigh on Monday, and fearing the whole hike might be over. Katia’s rain came along to cheer things up further.
HISTORY NOTE: The area around Kyle of Lochalsh is the most Gaelic-speaking of mainland Scotland (about 20% of the local people can speak the language). I heard not a snatch. A thousand years ago nearly all Scotland spoke this Celtic tongue. Only parts of Skye and the Outer Hebrides are majority Gaelic-speaking today.