I arose early-ish and began with a foot check. I knew this wouldn’t be pretty. The swelling on my left foot had gone down and the blisters on that foot had been taking care of themselves. On the other foot, my right was shredded. I had felt a blister burst just before the Limg Hut and the road to Kinlochewe. Days of walking through bog had taken its toll and I was rapidly approaching the stage I’d need to worry about ending up with trench foot or at least infected blisters. As long as nothing got infected it’d be sore but fine. The torn blister between my big toe and the one next to it was going to prove painful. The toes along the line were also a bit sore so I decided to trim my nails while I was there. It took some careful hands while using a knife, but they felt better trimmed. Next job was to patch up a bit of rucksack then find something relatively clean to wipe my camera lens with. (I’m going to have a lot of blurry and smeary photos.) Finally, some jobs done and I set off.
The first stretch was pathless and awkward, particularly as I was being careful not to get my feet too bogged up. After a few hours I found a path to take me down into Kinlochewe, just in time for a cheese and onion sandwich lunch. I was an hour ahead of yesterday with five miles less distance to cover, this was beginning to look possible, only 148 miles to go, but first the sandwich.
It was a very tasty sandwich, but there were copious amounts of grated cheese and the bread was not entirely intact either. This was a sandwich of questionable structural integrity. While I ate the lady behind the counter talked to me. I quickly re-learned the natural order of things, for people in rural cafes to complain about the weird things that foreigners did. I smiled and nodded, only speaking between mouthfuls of grated cheese. It was all coming back to me: when they are talking I can eat; when they’re not talking I have to talk (Note to self: finish the mouthful of grated cheese first); when in doubt smile and nod.
The trek out of Kinlochewe started well enough, all the way until the footpath came to a half at Lochan Fada. From there I just had to make my way between Sgurr Dubh and Beinn Bheag through to Loch an Nid, easy really. This is where things started to go wrong.
I started following a path up towards Sgurr Dubh, there were two walkers ahead of me and I had heard rumour that there were others on the trail a short way ahead and that they had been managing less than 16 miles a day. I followed them up for a while, neglecting my map and compass. To be fair, my map wouldn’t have been all that much help, it’s not quite detailed enough when lost on top of a hill. Again my compass saved me as I swung down and around the hill. I saw a loch in the distance, not quite where I expected it to be, but it was there, that’s gotta be it, right?
Unfortunately my mapping software doesn’t show parts of the know universe that fall beyond the best fit for sticking my route onto sheets of A4. It therefore neglected to inform me of the existence of Loch a’ Bhraoin. As I made my way towards it I saw another loch to my left. This was closer and nearer to where I thought my loch should be, but meant that I was now somewhere I shouldn’t be. In the end I resorted to using my GPS; the one to my left was right. I hated using it and wondered if one day the hills would be full of tourists using a GPS that barked satnav type commands at them, “turn left next to the wee hillock, carry on north through heather and bog for approximately three county kilometres”… I felt that would somehow miss the point, getting a bit lost was part of the game (which I had just lost, again).
As I travelled along the Skye Boat Song replaced m previous earworm of Loch Lomond. I supposed that I was at least closer to Skye. Unfortunately I don’t know the words beyond the chorus and even there I’m sketchy. I mostly settled for my own random jibberish or a lot of “dum, diddly dum, dah dah” in my head. I also kept thinking one line should be “The crownless again shall be king”, which is of course Tolkein, but sort of fits.
The remaining few hours were slow, mostly consisting of being eaten by midges and clegs. I called time just a click short of my target of Shenavall bothy. I was exhausted and with a gentle breeze and beautiful weather I ignored the tarp for just a bivvy with the night sky overhead. Once inside the midges decided to pay me a visit.