Day 230: Badrallach to Ullapool
Distance: 18.98 miles
Ascent: 2755 feet
Weather: Sunny Spells
Accommodation: The Ceilidh Place (Kindly Reduced)
I woke early but as others were in the Bothy I didn’t get up till 6:30 and tried my best to make as little noise as possible once I did move. I was off about 7:30 and what a morning, the forecast had said 0mph wind (which is a first for the whole walk) and indeed there was pretty much no wind and the sun was doing its best to try and shift the thin cloud cover.
It was perfect conditions to set off in and the only thing I was worried about was a midge explosion due to the rain recently and now warming conditions and no wind. So I didn’t hang about and just got moving straight away. During research I had read that the far side of this peninsula was unwalkable and I had also been told it yesterday, and the contours on the map did appear to be a very steep slope all the way down to sea level. So for the second time this week I had to cut of a bit of a peninsula, albeit both small ones, (I promise that there are very few others that are cut off on the whole walk) though unlike the other one I had no qualms about this one as there was a very clear reason why.
I followed the road until it did a steep turn and then joined a track that is obviously still in use (and even had a sign 4x4’s only) which I hadn’t expected. It made for simple walking and the views from up here on the plateau were fantastic. In the direction the track headed it felt like I was at the highest point and you could just see ridge after ridge as far as the eye could see, made even more beautiful by the stunning morning conditions. The track started to drop down here all the way to Castaway Cottage. From this point only an hour into the walk I was only ½ mile from Ullapool my finish point and could clearly see it but I still had at least 5 hours walking to go as had to head up and all the way around the loch.
From here there was actually a path shown on my map but I could not find the start of it at all, I believe from now checking that it may have been partially washed away in storms several years ago and probably has been barely used since then due to this so has slowly been reclaimed by the land. But it didn’t overly matter as to start with the land made for easyish walking if a bit boggy and then I decided to drop down to foreshore where I had to do some rock scrambles and a very brief bit of actual bouldering before I came to a clearing presumably a croft called Newton Loggie on my map. Three seals decided to follow me for about a mile along this stretch.
I joined a track here that started very rough and slowly became gravel and finally tarmac as it reached the villages. I was on this for about 5 miles but it was so quiet it actually made for nice walking. I finally reached the head of the loch and an obviously wealthy estate as all the farm gates were beautifully detailed with crafted metalwork and there was a series of tree avenues and hedges that had recently been planted.
I crossed over the Inverbroom Bridge, which originally was a beautiful arched metal bridge but is now a standard concrete bridge over the river. I had not been looking forward to the next part which entailed about 7 miles on a busy, fast road following the loch all the way to Ullapool. Not much to say about it other than it was not nice but the verge was just about wide enough. Not far from Ullapool I was surprised to see 3 others on the verge but it was for a very sad reason, one of their brothers had been in a lorry which had a crash and he had burned to death in the cab, I can’t imagine how emotional it must have been for the woman planting flowers here beside the road.
I had been getting incredibly hungry as I had no snacks left at all, I almost opened my emergency rations an hour shy of Ullapool but decided I could last an hour. By the time I got to Ullapool I was starving, I did not care about the signs for Museum, Smokehouse and whatever other touristy things there were I just wanted Tescos! I passed the tourist office and must have been the first ever person to desperately ask where Tescos was. Then the blue and red stripes appeared, and I was at Tescos, I would probably have barged anyone out of the way for food and I grabbed some stuff for lunch and a couple of snacks and literally sat outside by the trollies and ate it. This walk is most definitely not glamorous.
Content, I made my way down to the Ceilidh Place which has a bunkhouse and had kindly given me a reduced price for my rest day. It has been a short week, with easy walking (albeit still 83 miles in 4 days) and has allowed my body to recover a fair bit from the battering it took in the previous 5 weeks. I will be back to wild camping, bothies and off piste walking again next week.
Barring the final road section a lovely day and Ullapool should be perfect for my rest day, in fact my first proper, full rest day since Mallaig 5 or so weeks ago.