The Sutherland Trail: Day Five. Inchnadamph to Lochinver.
Day 5 Inchnadamph to Lochinver
Distance: 13.5 miles / 21.6 km
Total ascent:2515 feet / 766 metres
Time: 7hrs
Average heart rate:94
Calories burned: 1800 (approx)
On this last day I had perfect weather for walking. No wind and broken sunshine made for a nice cool temperature. The start of this section, from Inchnadamph to Loch Fada, is the only part of the trail with no actual path. Rather get up high and take Cameron's route i decided i would walk down the main road a little allowing me to check out the bone caves. The bone caves are a circuit of caves where the remains of animals that used to roam Scotland have been found. However when i got there i found there was a bit of climb to get to them. I decided my energy and food levels would make it too hard a day to get to caves and make it to Lochinver. I headed off across the open ground towards Canisp at a much lower point than Cameron McNeish took in his book. In hindsight this was a mistake for i encountered more undulating terrain and had i went for the high ground as soon as possible after leaving Inchnadamph this leg would have been a lot easier. None the less it was beautiful on the way over and i felt great, just so free. Just as i was coming to Loch Fada i met the first and only person in the whole week who was actually walking the Sutherland Trail. He was on his first leg so naturally I was keen to offer some advice but when the man told me he intended to complete the trail unassisted in three days i had to try, very hard, to keep an incredulous look from my face. He based this time on his only previous long distance walk which was mostly done on flat tarmac. I hinted to him that the terrain on this trail would make it a slightly different ball game. But he seemed oblivious to the difference terrain can make. I wished him well and cracked on to Lochinver. Suilven from the east. My camera had died by this point. This was a shot taken 3 months earlierNow on a decent path I was soon passing the awesome monolith that is Suilven. The poet Norman McCaig labelled Suilven "that mountain of mountains", and it's a not a stretch to see why. I would have been tempted to scale it had i not already done so about three months earlier. Soon the path became a land rover track but still it undulated a lot, and i found it tough going. In spite of this the scenery on this section, sunshine and sense of open space was a great way to end the trail, and i could sense the Atlantic ocean just over the horizon. I was pretty much out of food but the thought of stuffing my face with seafood at Lochinver put a spring in my step and i finally arrived at Lochinver in the early evening. I had visited Lochinver a few months previously where saw a nice pub / restaurant called the Caberfeidh. So after resting on the harbour wall for a little while i made for the pub where i tried for the first time fresh scallops. Hand dived no less, and surprisingly found they tasted of nothing much really. Maybe that's why they are served with black pudding. Beautiful texture though, and i'm sure they are very good for you. As with the other pubs and hotels i had stopped at on the trail there was no sign of any walkers, certainly none that looked like they been on a long distance walk. I kind of felt out of place with my large back pack. It was packed with tourists and locals though. After yet another stomach busting meal I reflected how ironic it was that there amongst all those people in that bustling bar I felt really alone for the first time all week. The blank stares from people, dulling their senses at the bar, brought home the heart sinking realisation that it would not be long before this wonderful vitality, and freedom, i was feeling would soon fade away, and i'd be back in a stuffy Glasgow office, plonked in front a computer screen, zapping my brain, all day long. "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world" C.S. Lewis I played back the week in my mind. I treasured the immense freedom I felt, the people i'd met, and the challenges i had faced. Images flashed in my mind of awe inspiring landscapes that had touched my soul in a way that would make me remember this trip all my days. I was so grateful to my God for my life , but most of all i was grateful for Him, this fantastical God who in spite of his vast creation can still be intimate with his people. "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered" Jesus Christ.
Luke 12:7
Summary From Inchnadamph to Loch Fada the section has no set path. Aim to get on the highest ground as soon as possible, aiming for the shoulder of Canisp before descending to the corner of Loch Fada. From there its the same path all the way to Lochinver. Inchnadamph to Lochinver Map Use controls to zoom in/out and move around. The green line is a guide to direction of travel. See main map page for more detailed map
Getting back I camped the last night on a small hill on Lochinver harbour rising early to catch the post bus to Larig. From there i got the train to Inverness. Wow! John and Oliver Waiting for the bus home I spent some time people watching in Inverness city centre when two men strolled by me with hand held placards that simply said Jesus. They were Evangelists. I watched them as they strolled up the pedestrian precinct, then came then came to a halt, and just stood there holding up the Placards with Jesus written on it. No words at all just standing holding up a small sign that said Jesus. So powerful, so simple. I watched transfixed for a little while and then went up and spoke to them. Their names were John, and Oliver from Limerick in the Republic of Ireland. They told me they had been to twenty two countries doing this. I asked them what impact it made. They said sometimes people came up and talked, sometimes people abused them, but mostly people just stared. Staring was enough they said because at some point during their day or night the Lord will jog their memory of what they had seen, they would not be able to just walk by and forget. They asked me to have a go. I'll never forget the reactions in people's eyes as i walked by them holding the sign. It felt very powerful. I spoke with John and Oilver some more and Oilver gave me a word from the Lord. Which in itself was very encouraging, but that it came through a great man of faith made it even better.

Paul Stewart is Loved by Jesus Christ.

He is employed as a Web Developer and Corporal in the British Territorial Army where he has been Mountain Leader Trained.

A lover of the outdoors he is available as a summer mountain guide in the Scottish Highlands.

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