11 June 2007

DAY 102: Strath na Sealga to River Douchary

Sunday 10th June 2007
(Posted from Oykel Bridge)
Today: 17.6 miles
Total so far: 1462.4 miles
Percentage Completed: 87.6%
(Click map to enlarge)
The midges where I camped were incredible. Looking out of the Wanda's top mesh vent, I tried to estimate their numbers (well, I did have some time on my hands) Conservatively, and I really mean that, I think there were about 100 midges per cubic foot of air. This was quite a difficult calculation as I was looking out of the vent, which was itself seething with the little devils.

I had camped around 5 o'clock the previous evening but the sun was still strong. This left me stranded in the tent with the door tightly zipped up against the marauding hordes. It was like a sweat box, so I lay there until quite late, snoozing.

Anyway, come the morning I pack up inside Wanda, (there is lots of room so this is quite easy), don the jacket, tightly done up the sleeves around the gloves, don the Midge head-net and exit Wanda.

By Gum Lad! The little buggers are at me in a flash!

I calmly drop Wanda and pack her away neat and tidily and make my way up the track, vowing never, ever to camp in such a ridiculous spot ever again: Next to two streams, a nice bit of bog, in a sheltered location away from any wind...

Enough of the Midges!

Early morning mist, Strath na Sealga

This is going to be a biggish day and so I am off up the track, taking it carefully. The track gently raises me to commanding views of An Teallach, and if the photos come out and Mr Hee posts them you should all get to see a smidgeon of the beauty of this morning.

An Teallach

I meet a host of walkers; coming from Shenaval, going to Shenaval and the more adventurous heading for An Teallach. True to its name, the Forge is boiling away, with steam rising from its 'crater' and clouds lowering over the lacey tops.

It's straightforward enough down to Corrie Hallie and soon I am on the second climb of the day up and over to Inverlael. Tricky route finding to start with to find the track, then a glorious path that leads diagonally over the moor with fabulous views back to An Teallach, that so dominates around here. The way the Sandstone rises from the Lewissian Gneiss in collosal orgasms of mountain architecture up here is incredible to witness.

Coming down off the moor is a little tricky, and following the 'North to the Cape' guidebook came in handy until the falls of trees and the landowner's new deer fences come into play.
However, a jolly nice lady from one of the cottages puts me on a route that gets me past these obstacles and passes me a glorious cup of tea through the deer fence as we chat. She had moved up here some twelve years ago to live with her husband, and they now live next door to the cottage where he was born. Their nearest town is Ullapool some twelve miles away, and once a month they visit Inverness, but are being put off now as the traffic congestion in Inverness is so dreadful!

They live an idyllic life.

Then it is off to the third climb of the day - from Inverlael up and over to the River Douchary. There is a bit of a struggle up a bouldery stream getting to the higher forest track, but after that the walk is one of unimaginable pleasure through the Inverlael Forest - a wide open spaces place where the ground is soft (after a few dry days, that is – I think it could be a nightmare after lots of rain), the sunlight dashing now and then through the lowering cloud cover. The moor is emerald green with the dark edges of the peat hags to the south of me as I head east.
Wide open spaces, Inverlael Forest.

You can see for miles up here and there is absolutely nothing to see except mountains, glens and more mountains and glens!

View from the cairn

I arrive down at the River Douchary 7km ahead of my schedule, knackered and delighted after a magnificent day.

Upper River Douchary

There are no signs of any midges and I am spoilt for camping spots choices in the warm breezes of Gleann a Chaga Dheirg. Up the glen, the view is staggering - more fantastic rock scenery so predominant in these parts.

It doesn't get much better than this.

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