The Sutherland Trail: Day Four. Kylesku to Inchnadamph.
Day 4 Kylesku to Inchnadamph
Distance: 12 miles / 19.2 km
Total ascent: 3185 feet / 971 metres
Time: 6hrs 30
Average heart rate:98
Calories burned: 1965
After my previous day's feasting i awoke feeling utterly invigorated. Which was handy seeing this turned out to be the toughest section on the trail. The weather had dulled noticeably with a stiff breeze and cloud overcast at about 600m. Glas BheinnI headed up and along the A894 for about 8km till i got just past Loch na Gainmhich and took the path leading up to Cnoc na Creige. Once up about 200m the path levelled out a bit but still tough undulating terrain which meandered a lot on way up to the bealach (pass) between Glas Bheinn and Beinn Uidhe. The path spilt at quite a broad stream, just up from the Eas a Chual Aluinn waterfall. To get to the beleach i continued east on a faint path, with the more obvious path going way down passed the waterfall into the glen below. Ending up down in the glen would be have been an easy mistake to make here as the path is very up and down. Not much further on i took a sharp right, and finally turned in the direction of the beleach (pass), onto an even fainter path which cut between two small lochans. From here it was a straight forward slog up to the highest point of the Sutherland Trail at about 600m. Near the top i came into the cloud with the weather still relatively calm, but that was about to change. Just about to go over pass, the weather was still relatively calm at this pointJust off to the right here is The Loch of the Green Corrie. A favourite place of the poet Norman McCaig who wrote many poems about Assynt and its landscape. Which this section and the next section of the Sutherland Trail cut through. As soon as I got to the other side of the beleach i was met with very strong gusts of wind ranging from 60 to 70 mph. These intermittent gusts, after downright sneaky moments of complete calm, made the rain feel like a fire-hose being trained on me. I felt like i could be lifted up and dumped down the mountain at any point. Very quickly the path i was on faded out and with visibility down to 15 feet it was squeaky bum time. I should have stopped and taken a bearing at the first cairn i passed, and done some time and distance estimations, but a mixture of fatigue, impatience and misplaced confidence meant i just cracked on thinking i'd be out of the cloud in no time. But by only glancing at the A4 size map sheets i had mis-judged the distance, and on two occasions I had to nervously trace my steps back. I was up there much longer than i expected in none too pleasant conditions as well. Eventually and to much relief i came out of the cloud and it was not much longer before Inchandamph came into view. I was completely soaking and the goretex trail shoes i was wearing had proved no better than a pair of badly designed trainers. Really if you want to ensure dry feet on hiking in the Scottish Highlands wear good old leather boots. Inchnadamph Hostel in my opinion is the best hostel in Scotland, and after my battering by the elements i decided that i'd treat myself to a normal bed for the night and hot a shower. After all I was on holiday. My expectations grew the closer i got. Again food food and more food came to mind. Maybe even some wine and banter. I got to the hostel, with every bit of me sodden through, to find to my bitter disappointment the whole place was booked out by archaeologists from Leeds university. Cheers Leeds university! Gas firmly at a peep I walked round to try the nearby hotel, and was told quite coldly by the manager they had no vacancies. I looked and felt like I just been in a washing machine for an hour could he not have said it a bit more sympathetically. So this was Highland hospitality. I am kidding as far as i am concerned these remote hotels and hostels provide a great service in the highlands, and how they got about their business is fine by me. Maybe it was because I looked and perhaps smelled a bit rough. Boy did I feel it. It has to be said too that the owner of the hostel let me in for a shower the next morning for a small fee, and man what a shower! Almost ready to spit my dummy out of the pram I went looking for a campsite, and in-spite of the days hardships and disappointments i was keeping it together. It would have been easy to sit in a heap for an hour wearing a thousand yard stare but I set my up tent, and took care of my admin without even thinking about it. I've my training with the Castlemilk Commandos to thank for that. By the time i was finished i was glad i never got a room. My tent felt positively homely by now and I had saved 40 bucks. I freshened up, as much as humanly possible, and squelched along to the hotel where i ate, aside from my mothers, the best soup I have ever tasted. Pea and ham; thick as cement, and served by a nice wifie with manners and an accent you would expect from the Queen. Being in the remote highlands this felt a bit surreal. This place, the Inchnadamph Hotel, got it right with the food and i enjoyed the best meal of the trail here. Not as fancy as the seafood served at Kylesku but very tasty and big, big portions with every course. Deep fried veg too. Nice. Summary Take care on this section, and make sure to check the mountain weather forecast the night before. If its bad make sure to study the map and know what features to check off. You can easily get lost in the mountains on this section. Go up and along the A894 for about 8km till just past Loch na Gainmhich and take the path leading up to Cnoc na Creige. Keep on this path till pass rock pointing down to waterfall. Continue on the more faint path. The main path will take you down into below glen. keep an eye out for two small lochans, which the path then branches off between, and leads up to the beleach at around 600m. Paths on other side of beleach can be faint so on a bad weather day care will be needed. I did not see much on the way down as i was in the cloud. Only catching glimpses of features that i could not tell for sure were what i thought they were. Kylesku to Inchnadamph 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

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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