I promised that I would let people know how I was faring in my attempt to complete the Sutherland Trail for charity. So here is a brief account as I prepare for Day Four.
The first three days have been as tough as I had anticipated. It is tough because the Sutherland Trail is really a series of shorter trails joined by stretches of walking over unmarked bogs and boulder fields. The weather changes dramatically in a matter of minutes. Almost, in the blink of an eye, what was an extraordinary vista of dramatic countryside becomes shrouded in rain. Far more dramatic though is the rain lifting to reveal a panorama of huge cliffs, lochs and rolling moorland without a road to be seen.
This land is remote. During 19 hours of walking, other than my own small group of walkers, I saw no more than 5 human beings. Deer though are rather more plentiful. I awoke on Day 3 at Kylesku to find a young stag grazing on the green opposite the hotel.
Mercifully the blisters are few, but the muscles ache. Pulling on my boots in the morning is the biggest challenge. It would be easy to stay with the support team in the bus. The decision to walk on then seems crazier during the first hour, when you walk the stiffness from your body. A steep ascent out of Inchandamph on the second day is good example. My muscles were tight; my feet heavy; the daysack pulling back my shoulders. All you can hear is your own breathing as the cold air rasps through your lungs that, ironically, feel as if they are burning.
Yet the decision to press on is justified. After that first hour, you are back in rhythm; you are able to witness sublime countryside that the car bound will never see. The pleasure increases, as the wind is so strong that the midges are kept away; a blessing in disguise. It does make you feel alive. As an urban dweller, the openness and bleakness of the terrain have a beauty and power that brings a different excitement – no materialism; no mobile phone signal – just natural, unadulterated splendour. In the nothingness there is fulfilment; a sense of spirituality, whether you have a God (or many gods) or not.
So to Day 4; a day of approximately 14 miles. Less steep ascents today are promised, although that is all relative. I must collect my equipment and boots from the drying room. Thank you to all my supporters and sponsors. I am sure that they will not mind me reminding other readers that you can still support New Futures Nepal by going to the Sutherland Trail page on this site and following the instructions.