This was the halfway day, so we had booked a B&B in Ullapool for a bit of luxury. We got up and ready, chatting with the others in the bothy, and headed out by 9am, straight up the hill behind the back of the bothy to the bealach. This was fairly steep with a clear path, but presented the usual bog horror. The weather was dry but overcast at least. It was a steady, steep climb, highlighted by the folk we met along the way that stopped for a chat.
After a nice breakfast of bacon and egg rolls (very welcome instead of the usual rehydrated porridge) at the bunkhouse, Ally and I headed out of Kinlochewe past the school and then turned right on the LR track along Gleann na Muice. This was a bit of a climb but easy going, revealing fantastic views as we got higher.
We ignored the green sign at a junction pointing us up the wrong way and carried on left, down past Loch Gleann na Muice with a lonely white swan floating in the middle, and then down to Loch Fada. This is a jaw-dropping spot – truly world-class scenery and so utterly remote and lonely.
We stopped for a quick break at the loch’s beach (again, another great wild camping spot) and then struck out north over the boggy tussocks to cross the Bealach na Croise. We had read reports to avoid the boggy low ground so stayed high and very quickly picked up a clear path to almost the summit.
After that it got trickier with a pathless section to cross the bealach where we contoured gradually round and down to pick up the stalker’s path.
This was a lot easier, but still rough going with plenty of bog and muck, and the path fading out and in, and lots of little diversions. However, the scenery was stunning, despite being overcast. We walked through the Fisherfields, turning left at Loch an Nid where we crossed the river easily, and sat there to have lunch.
We then carried on the path on the other side which wasn’t much better. It was hard going but there were great views of An Teallach ahead.
Eventually we picked up the LR track at the bend in the river and turned left to continue to Shenevall bothy. We were starting to tire now and the ground was very boggy and wet with a few river crossings (although they were OK).
We finally reached Shenevall, sharing the bothy with 1 Dutch guy, 4 guys from Stirling walking the Fisherfield munros, 2 guys walking the CWT in stages, 4 guys climbing some Corbetts nearby, and 4 others who came in but camped down the glen. A busy night! However the bothy is nice and roomy and there was plenty of firewood and candles. It turned into a really great, memorable night with plenty of whisky, fire, stories and good crack.
Ally and I lingered at Gerry’s, chatting to him in the morning. It turned out I knew two good friends of his. We admired his comfy homemade beds and fixed his record player (the arm wasn’t lifting properly). With another dreich but drier day, we left, walking along the road for a bit and then turning right at a Scottish Rights of Way sign pointing us up the pony path (where a helicopter flew past, below us!) to meet the Coulin Pass track, a fantastic path taking in marvellous views across to Ben Eighe and Liathach.
We woke in the bothy to typical west coast rain that looks very light but is actually very heavy and soaks you in seconds. We were glad we had walked that extra bit last night to get to Bendronaig. We packed up and headed off down the LR track following the river.
Ally and I started off from the hotel / bunkhouse along the path by the loch. From there we followed the minor road for a few kms until we turned along a path that was signposted for the Glomach Falls. This was very pleasant, walking through the trees and verdant fields in Inverinate Forest on a very well-made path. We want to come back here and walk along to Glen Affric – this looks a potentially beautiful route with incredible views over the Five Sisters and South Shiel Ridge. The lovely day as well made for easyish walking, although the climb up the Bealach na Sroine was very steep and high at 500 ft.
Today was effectively a day off – not what we had planned or wanted (see Day 2 and Day 3) but had to be done if we were to stay on schedule. So not much to say at all about today. After lunch at the Nevis Sport cafe we caught the bus to Shiel Bridge, getting stuck behind a gas tanker and a car for the last 15 miles. The car pulled out just as the bus was overtaking on a long stretch, taking out the car’s wing mirror (and which was about the limit of our adventure for the day).
Shiel Bridge is a stunning spot and we checked in at the bunkhouse where we had booked, and sat outside the hotel having a few beers in the sun. Later we took a stroll and sat down down by the loch for a few reflective drams and settled down to prepare for the next day.
Well the rain and wind lashed all night and we woke in the morning to more relentless rain battering the tent, but weirdly, the third waterfall up the hill that we couldn’t cross yesterday had gone down a little and we could see we could now cross. Roger wished us luck and headed off to Sourlies while we packed up and made the slog up over the steep bealach towards Inverie in rain and mist, the mountains swirling out of the clouds at the top.