What a huge couple of days this was. After two days rest in Ullapool we decided we could manage a big day to help us get further north. The guidebook said it would be a 30km day from Ullapool to Oykel Bridge and then similar to Inchnadamph. On this stage we finally accepted that the book is optimistic and everything is just that little bit further than the book says (based on our two GPS units).
Day 6 – Ullapool to Oykel River – 39.6km
After a lovely weekend the day dawned to misty rain. Our host at the B&B we’d stayed at made us a small breakfast and we were off. The whole day would be walking on fairly good farm tracks, without any big hills. This was good for covering a lot of ground, but with my hard soled boots and firm paths by the end of the day my feet were sore, not to mention the rest of my legs.
The dense mist and cloud all day meant we didn’t take many photos but the two very different bothies we passed were definitely highlights. Knockdamph was your classic old bothy over looking a big long loch, while the School House bothy is completely different, having been completely refitted so it has nice wood panelling and one room set up to reflect its history and tells it’s story.
We ended up setting up our tent in long grass by the side of the River Oykell at a random spot out of view of the many houses. It looked fairly flat, and the long grass made for a comfy nights sleep while the wind, rain and midges swarmed and buffeted the tent.
Day 7 – Oykell River to Inchnadamph – 28km
What a spectacular day! We woke to clear skies and sunshine, completely the opposite of yeaterday, and a forecast of 28 degrees!
Due to the crazy number of midges and slugs we packed and walked up the road to a nicer breakfast spot. While there we found flood marks on the banks and realised that the water level had maybe raised a little further than we though over night. Still it was certain the rivera would be in partial spate today so some of the crossing might be more interesting than planned.
After breakfast we followed the road up past Loch Ailsh and on the the upper River Oykell. We found more of a track than I had been expecting which was a bonus, and eventually stopped for lunch at the little waterfall by the track on the Alt añ Dubh Loch Bhig. I was feeling (and smelling) gross after yesterday and the early heat and humidity so I went for a swim while Rose wandered up the hill looking for a crossing and the Loch above us.
From there it was down to the river and then a steep climb up to An Bealach. It was a hugely steep and trackless route up to the saddle, but once we got there it was well and truly worth it with stunning views down to Inchnadamph, Loch Assynt and maybe even the sea. We saw deer on slopes above us, crystal clear streams and small lochans.
Coming down we were in the sun and the breeze had dropped, it must have been getting close to 30degrees in the sun and I struggled. The walking was still good, but the days of stomping in boots, sweating in rain gear or just the rain, and now sunburn on top of midges lead to me being somewhat grumpy and over it. By the time we got to Inchnadamph Lodge I was chaffed and not enjoying the walk much at all so we booked beds and called it quits for the walk for the moment.