Saturday 30 April
I got up early to go to the loo and came back to discover that the tent was crawling with ticks - not a good way to start the day. So we got up, shook everything out, had some breakfast on a picnic table, and then left as soon as we could.
We started by backtracking up the way we had come the night before but then set off left before we crossed the footbridge and started up Allt Poll an Droighinn. The path quickly deteriorated into a boggy heath covered trudge and the wind had picked up to gust us along and about. It was wet and featureless and we were both in bad moods after the efforts of the day before and the disappointment with ticks making it almost impossible for us to stop and rest and enjoy the places we were passing through (when it wasn't too boggy anyway). It makes it sound grim but it was also awesome and we were heading up towards a rocky looking bealach with an eagle flying above and strange duck-like birds waddling across the rocks. It was hot when it wasn't windy and once again there didn't seem to be much of an early morning let up in the temperature.
Once we reached the Bealach na h-Uidhe it was a long zig-zag of a descent, but on a good and well-defined path that was a change from the peat bog - for as long as it lasted.
At the point where the path turned off to visit the Eas a'Chual Aluinn waterfall - the biggest waterfall in Britain - we stowed our packs behind a rock (not that there seemed much chance of random thieves considering there weren't even any walkers) and followed the burn down to the drop - noting that some of the peat had dried out so much that it was cracked as if it was in the desert. It was a bit too much of a drop for me but the view from the ledge above the drop looked a long way down and over towards Loch Beag. The lack of rain meant that the volume of the fall wasn't high but it was still spectacular.
We'd been told by a couple of people that it was possible to descend somehow directly from the waterfall and head over the east side of Loch Beag and to head towards a couple of bothies that meant you cut out the long bit of road walking. But we couldn't quite see how that would work so we stuck with the route in mind, also because it would have added quite a bit of distance on, and because we'd been told about one CWT walker who'd managed to poison themselves with the water in that area, and maybe because the bridge lights of Kylesku were tempting (probably not the last one!).
Instead we went back to our packs and loaded up again to continue on the windy path, as usual good in some places and boggy or missing in others, and headed down towards the road following another burn. The mountains ahead seemed to be smaller now and there were patches of vast lochs ahead.
We hit the A894, after walking along the side of Loch na Gainmhich, and walked along it for some time. This is a relatively pleasant bit of road, relatively wide for the amount of traffic and with better grass verges to jump on to when needed. At the bottom of the steep descent just after we'd joined the road we had a brief chat with a European cyclist (who was just about it go up the hill and head towards Ullapool) - it struck us that the windy way we were going was so indirect in many ways as to be indecipherable to most people!
It might have been pleasant but the tarmac has an almost instantaneous effect on our feet - making them much sorer than the tricksy but soft peat and heather. So by the time we arrived at the Kylesku Hotel, http://www.kyleskuhotel.co.uk/, especially with the heat and with the tick-related mood, I was definitely ready for a stop. We had some beer and crisps and then we had some more and eventually we decided to hang out here - watching the wind lap against the slipway and admiring the loch and the mountains and the blue sky and the various people who were coming and going on the bank holiday weekend. I tried to get us a bed for the night (feeling a bit pathetic and dirty and wanting to have a shower - especially knowing this would almost certainly be the last chance before Durness) but with no luck. So instead we ate at the hotel, nice and friendly and busy place, and then headed off to find somewhere to wild camp before it got dark. We didn't get far. Just along the path shortcut back to the road Dave recognised the Kylesku Bridge as somewhere where people had camped on the route (the joy of other peoples' blogs) and so we set up camp underneath the road bridge and watched the last of the sunset.
It might sound grim to camp under a road bridge but it was flat and comfortable and realtively sheltered and tick-free and we had a very good night's sleep despite the gusting wind (tent didn't bat an eyelid).
It had been a hard day psychologically, mainly because the last two days had been hard work and had exacted a toll. It's not much fun to be in glorious weather and fantastic scenery and yet not be able to stop to enjoy it for fear of being attacked by tiny but potentially lethal creatures. Luckily the day had ended much more positively.
Time on feet: 8.15 to about 4, about 7 hours
Distance covered: 18k