We awoke, after a long and deep sleep. The tent was, again, perfect, although sleeping on a slight slope had led to a night of sliding down to the bottom of the tent. We'd hitch ourselves back up, and cling on to the mats below, before nodding off, and starting that slow descent again. It would be the only night we'd pitch the tent on anything but level ground.
Waking in the birch wood the light was spectacular, dew glistened on the grass around us, and the river rushed by, swollen and full from a night of rain. The packing of the tent was easy. It's interesting how little wetness clung to the surface, and especially the under was bone dry. We packed it up carefully to ensure the dry bits remained dry, and the wet didn't spread.
As soon as the bag was on my back I could feel my weariness. My feet didn't bounce, my shoulders slumped and every step seemed to take too much effort. Luckily, we walked through some beautiful places: a planted native woodland, protected by deer fence from those that would nibble. There were many such plantations on our walk: far more than I expected. Living on an island bare of trees, I had become used to the look of these heather-clad hills. It's nice to know that Scotland is becoming, slowly but surely, reforested, and quietly moving forwards. We could hear long-tailed tits and goldcrest, although couldn't see them in the thicket of the trees, and so we continued downhill.
Before long we reached the burn we needed to cross, but it was a torrent not implied by the map. Rocks just too far to jump to were glistening with water rushing over. We walked up stream, seeking a crossing, but eventually gave up and detoured back up the hill to cross the bridge, as we should have done at the start. The bridge took us onto the wrong side of the large river that we'd camped next to the night before - the Allt Mhalagain, and as it too was swollen and full, we ended up walking out to the road so that we could cross via the road bridge and there catch the path that would take us up to the beallach of Meallan Odhar. This path proved to be one of the nicest we would walk upon. Some very hard working persons have made a most effective path, rocks interlacing with regular cut offs for the water to drain away. This path would take us upwards, so we could look back down Glen Sheil, and see the magnificent glen spread afore us.
But before we got that far, I asked for a break. I admitted that I was struggling - my bag just felt too heavy and my legs were slow. Joey took my bag and we swapped. Taking some things out of his (now mine), he lightened my load. I was grateful, and the way seemed much easier. His bag was ridiculously full, but he managed too - tomorrow was our rest day, and we'd both enjoy that.
Looking down Glen Sheil, the rainbows appeared and vanished in front of our eyes. Rain came and went, and the sunshine darted down the glen as the day before. The rainbows were gifts, never growing old: ever refreshing. How can our planet be so bone-achingly beautiful? We were above the rainbows on our lofty path and looking down at a perfect glen, spotted with rainbows, rain showers and sunshine was an experience I'll never forget.
Just before the top, the rain properly started: hoods up, hats on, hands tucked inside our sleeves, fingers curled into palms, we stomped on, heads down. The rain didn't stop. And then, once we'd reached the beallach, we were in the wind too. It sneaked the rain into our hoods and our sleeves and with our hands cold and spirits low, we wandered aimlessly looking for our path downwards. There wasn't one, and we followed numerous deer tracks before realising that these weren't descending as they should. So setting off cross-country, we just went down. Stopping for lunch was a cold, damp experience and oatcakes, cheese and an apple didn't satisfy our hunger in quite the way it was hoped for.
Onwards, still damp, still disheartened, it became very apparent that the rain was having a major impact on our moods. Eventually we found a path again, and it was a good one. Thank heavens. Our feet became easier as the path led us gently down the ways, the burn cackling next to us, spotted with trees. The rain eased, and instantly our moods became brighter. Talked as we walked down, about what food we would order from the pub that night: with accommodation planned, we could talk about such follies. The wind was less cold as we descended, and dried our waterproofs marvellously. Our progress seemed quicker, but soon we needed to cross a large river: the Allt Undalain, that blocked our entrance to our destination, and needed to be waded across.
Boots on, step by step, ease across. The water pulls at us, teasing and numbing our legs and the swirls are dizzying. Unable to see the bottom, I stumble: there's so much precious cargo on my back that I am nervous of falling. But neither of us do, and we emerge from the other side, soggy and grinning. One river down.
Arriving at Kintail Lodge is a point of celebration. Tomorrow will be our day off. Tonight and tomorrow we'll have a proper bed. We'll be able to get dried out, eat properly, and relax. We're ready for it, and Day 4 is healing. The hotel is perfect: the waiting staff wonderful and we feel very at home. All is well. But what were those five lines that I wrote in my diary for this day?
Legs leaden Rainbows fleeting Rain near constant and defeating Good paths help tired feet find firm footing.