The joys of Glen Douchary

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Kinlochewe was desolate in the rain and largely shut.  I saw three well dressed tourists, seeking coffee, being turned away, apologetically, from the hotel.  The hotel can’t have needed another £30+.  I headed up to the Heights and entered a large, fenced area where the natural forest was being restored with seeds from local trees.  An easy path took me to Lochan Fada and from there I headed up to Bealach na Croise.

Despite following the guide book instructions to avoid a world of boggy pain, I found this approach to the pass tedious.  The approach via Gleann Tanagaidh looked much nicer and appeared to offer good camping opportunities.  Maybe I was just going badly as the descent to Loch an Nid took forever.  Luckily, the meadows below Creag a’ Chada Bhriste offered wonderful camping.

Having been to Shenavall more than once, I took the short cut to Corrie Hallie.  Finding the onward path wasn’t easy.  Initially, I felt what I was on was more of a collapsed wall through woodland than a proper path but it ended up in the right place so was presumably the correct route.  At some slabby waterfalls, I stopped for sandwiches and to enjoy the views back to An Teallach.  I hadn’t expected much of the path to Croftown but it was lovely.

In his TGO write up, Alex Roddie admits to walking down the main road into Ullapool to resupply.  I only managed 1km to Inverlael but that was enough for a ParcelLinq driver to aim at me and turn away at the last moment, shaking his head.  He had threatened to kill me because I was walking on the bit of tarmac outside the solid paint line marking the edge of the road.  I was doing that because the grass verge was so uneven that I was worried about stumbling into the traffic.

The climb up away from Inverlael was easy despite the onset of rain.  I saw a few bad pitches inside the forest and then came across a cracker immediately after passing through the forest’s top gate.  The tent went up just before the rain became torrential.

In the morning the foul weather had passed on.  I opened the tent door to a fabulous view of Ben Dearg.  The onward route took me along an estate road scar and round a nondescript hillside to the broad meadows of upper Glen Douchary.  The river flows into a small valley, which becomes a gorge below a waterfall.  A path is marked boldly on the OS map.  In reality, the guidebook’s comments on the route across a sodden, slippery moor with sparse vegetation growing from peat need taking seriously.  It is hard to believe that this stretch lasts only 2.5km.

No one had a good word for Glen Douchary, which is a shame as the deepening gorge hid some stunning scenery with many more waterfalls than are shown on the map.  I forded the river at the point suggested by the OS and found it the most difficult river crossing of the entire Kintyre to Cape Wrath hike.    I’d advise crossing higher and bashing a way down the east bank of the river.  The gorge will prevent any crossings lower than mine.  By the time it reaches the sharp corner where the river heads back for East Rhidorroch Lodge, the gorge is very impressive and the waterfall dropping down to the hidden world inside is tall.

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At Loch an Daimh I took the estate road down to Ullapool for the bright lights and a misguided Sealskinz purchase.

 

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