Onwards through Sutherland

  • Day: 92 – Saturday 2nd September
  • Started at: Inverlael
  • Finished at: Schoolhouse bothy
  • Miles: 14.5
  • Miles from LE: 1119.5
  • Duration: 8.5hrs (8:45-17:15)
  • Trig points visited: 0
  • Ales imbibed: 0

I started where I left off and initially walked through Inverlael Forest. It was Saturday morning so there were a few day walkers about, no doubt bagging some nearby munros. I met a couple of chaps who went bounding off down the path and I thought that the direction they were going was a bit odd unless they had the LEJOG guidebook. 10mins later they came back waving their arms shouting “it’s a dead end, turn around”. I said “I know but I’m turning off here” and it transpired that they were already lost. They had a chaotic air about them and I never saw them reappear where they should’ve done. I wonder if they ever got up the hills!

Setting off again
As I was not at full strength I decided to have a longer day but on easier terrain as opposed to a long pathless section. Once up out of the forest I was on a broad plateau and had 4km of bog to negotiate. The River Douchary came into view and just beyond it the track that I could follow all the way down Strathmulzie, past Corriemulzie lodge and onwards to the Schoolhouse bothy.
My new boots were feeling good and were holding up much better against the bog than the old pair. I tested them against the river and they passed with flying colours! It was a warm and mostly sunny day and generally just enough breeze to keep the midges at bay – perfect walking weather. Must also have been perfect dragonfly weather as there were so many flying about.

Other than that it was an uneventful day, which is just what I needed. I met a couple of fisherman nearby the lodge who were captivated by my story and said that I should stroll into the lodge and demand a dram of whiskey or a cup of tea at least. I decided to take it in jest and head on to the bothy, I would need all the rest I could get.
The bothy was lovely, it was in fact a schoolhouse in the 1870s and was fully refurbished about 10 years ago. It is an iron clad structure with wooden cladding inside, and large windows. It was the biggest, brightest, cleanest and most interesting bothy I’ve stayed in. One room even has a couple of old school desks, a blackboard and a selection of academic books. It was a lovely sunny evening so I headed down to the river for a refreshing swim and wash.

Schoolhouse bothy

  • Day: 93 – Sunday 3rd September
  • Started at: Schoolhouse Bothy
  • Finished at: Oykel Bridge Hotel
  • Miles: 4
  • Miles from LE: 1123.5
  • Duration: 1.5hrs (11:30-13:00)
  • Trig points visited: 0
  • Ales imbibed: 0.5x McEwans 80′

Today was extra short due to my decision making yesterday, and was pretty dull – just 4 miles along a forest track to Oykel Bridge.

The interesting part of the day – after I had removed 8 ticks(!) – was the afternoon, as it turns out Sunday is changeover day for the gentlemen who come to fish the rivers. During the early afternoon the hotel had been so quiet you could hear a pin drop and then suddenly at 5pm it erupted into a hive of activity. Weary guests (most having traveled up from southern England) were streaming in with gear aplenty; most of it bound for the rod room. I had just landed into a world I know nothing about – Scottish estate salmon fishing. Everything I now know about this topic I learnt from overhearing the conversations that proceeded over the next couple of hours in the hotel bar. Including the classic anecdote; ‘the fish was this big’ said with hands held wide apart in front of them. I was captivated.
News quickly spread through the group about my presence and I had to be restrained at the offer of drinks. I had already learnt that beer won’t fix my upset tummy.

  • Day: 94 – Monday 4th September
  • Started at: Oykel Bridge Hotel
  • Finished at: Lairg
  • Miles: 15.5
  • Miles from LE: 1139
  • Duration: 8hrs (9:00-17:00)
  • Trig points visited: 0
  • Ales imbibed: 0

Bridge over the Oykel
I waved goodbye to the fishermen who were setting off at the same time and the walk today started along the River Oykel. It was pleasant walking but showery overhead. Further on down the river a fishermen (not one I recognised) came striding towards me from about 200yards to accost me. He firstly assumed that I was heading up the wrong valley, which put my back up. “Are you looking for Corriemulzie? It’s not down here.” “No I’m not” I replied, “I’m heading to Rosehall”. “Ah well you can’t get there down this side of the river.” “I know, I’m planning to cross at the bridge and continue”. He then rambled on about how I couldn’t go the way that I had described but I didn’t follow him and looking at the map, I didn’t think he was right, so I cracked on ignoring his advice and lo behold it was fine!
When the rain really came down luckily there was a barn with an open door so I popped in and took shelter while it passed. Then it was out onto the road for the rest of the day via a brief rest at the hotel bar in Rosehall. The afternoon brought some strong winds and rain as I trudged over the pass and 8miles later the outskirts of Lairg finally came into view.


I checked into the B&B, showered and then had a craving for fresh fruit. Satisfied with an orange and nectarine for pudding I went to bed.


I took a planned rest day in Lairg to pick up my next food parcel and secondly as I was still suffering with a rotten gut and one of my tick bites had come up in a rash I decided to head to the doctor. He thought it was a prolonged case of gastroenteritis and furnished me with antibiotics for potential Lyme disease.

Lairg and Loch Shin

Author: lhwood1

I enjoy a good walk and so I decided to go on quite a long walk from Lands End to John O'Groats this summer. You'll be able to keep up with my progress through this blog.

3 thoughts on “Onwards through Sutherland”

  1. Hey Lucy! You are phenomenal! Broken boots, gastroenteritis, tick bites – you just deal with it. All in the wilds of Scotland with no home comforts. Great strength of spirit. Go Lucy! You’re nearly there. xx


  2. Yes the Schoolhouse is lovely, more pics of it on my SNT blog Peter, hope those Molesworth books are still there! Great walk Lucy. Tummy trouble on a hike really gets you down 😦 Oykel Bridge Hotel is such a friendly place! best wishes.


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