I had a slow start from the B&B, mostly due to not getting up until eight, but partly due to wondering about feet. I had taken advice from the obvious blister expert and switched to new shoes for the day. I’ll try to keep these dry and use the old pair for boggy bits.
The foot fairies had been hard at work overnight and my feet were generally less sore. After trying on the new shoes, and resorting to my third and final set of socks, I decided to make do with only a few pieces of tape. It’s easier to add more tape to a blistered foot than it is to peel it off. The main area I taped was my heels, it seems that if inov8 trail runners rub, it’ll be at the heel. My old pair never did, but this new pair seem to a little, so better to fix that before it becomes a problem.
Breakfast was a bowl of cereal followed by two bacon and sausage sandwiches. Given that the Blacksmith’s Cottage B&B owner had also donated a fiver, it made the stay a worthwhile bargain. I’ll have to stop eating so much once I stop walking though, as I’m getting through an awful lot of food.
The morning plod was just that, a plod. I plodded down a single track lane and then I plodded some more. I’d like to be able to say it was due to being up late last night typing up blog reports and doing laundry, or that I was taking it easy because of the blisters. The real reason was that I now only have two walking paces, slow or limping; I preferred slow.
I made my way along this relatively flat track, first past Loch Achall then along a river, before stopping at Loch an Daimh for a lunch of crisps, fudge and macaroons. I’m saving the Irn-Bru flavoured macaroon for later.
The loch itself was as blue as the clear sky above it. On a hot day like this I was tempted to go for a swim; if only I knew how to swim. I’ll have to come here again for that swim one day.
As the path confined to Oykel Bridge it reminded me of the Great Glen Way, a good solid track to walk along, gradual ups and downs with lochs and trees along the way. The hills were changing here too. The hills here roll in a more gentle manner than those south of Beinn Eighe. The views were still wonderful, except for those bloody wind farms, but they were less dramatic than those that I had seen before.
I rolled into Oykel Bridge around 18.00. It’s a funny old place, like many I have encountered. From what I could see Oykel Bridge has two houses, a hotel, a bridge and an old-fashioned red telephone box. That’s it, that’s all you get. What I got from the hotel was a can of coke and a cup of tea while I rested for half an hour.
My spreadsheet told me that I had done 317.97 miles and my diary told me that I was on day 16. It felt like I was within touching distance of the finish line. Today was the fist day that I thought about the possibility of not being able to finish due to the military bombing the heck out of the wilderness that I hoped to be walking through shortly. As I had walked to Oykel Bridge, cruising along with my home on my back, my other reoccurring thought was “I’m like a turtle, lol.”
I continued plodding on into what was listed as day 17 on my maps. I decided to set myself the somewhat optimistic challenge of completing 30 miles by the end of the next night, because, you know, it was getting too easy otherwise. The Cape Wrath Trail guide I had looked at when preparing for this trip had suggested allowing a day for the twelve mile stretch between Inchnadamph and Glendhu. If I did nine miles of the stretch before that tonight and the other nine in the morning, I’d have all afternoon until nightfall to complete that stretch.
The walk from Oykel Bridge to Benmore lodge was quiet and, with more good path and no need to navigate, it had been an uneventful day. It had given me a lot of time to think about my life and the people in it. For me this has been a long journey, a long few weeks, most people won’t have even noticed that I’ve been away.
I hurried past Benmore Lodge as the sun set behind Loch Ailsh. Outside it were new off-road vehicles and a motorboat. I’d seen another lodge earlier in the trip with tennis courts outside it. I’d settle for a small cottage somewhere out here. I scurried past the big old house and camped out near the end of the forest. I knew there would be midges here but it was getting too late to continue in death of somewhere better.