Plans For the Cape Wrath Trail
by Justalittlefurther » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:48 pm
I will be 16 years old in summer and plan to walk from my house in the Trossachs to Cape Wrath. I have done a bit of walking and overnight trips before and totally understand what I'm in for in terms of fitness.
I have found it relatively easy to plan my route and intend to join the West Highland way before following the Cape Wrath Trail the rest of the way. My route is roughly 500km and I plan to walk it in around 3 weeks, averaging roughly 20km a day, pushing on when I can and resting when knackered.
The biggest issue I have encountered so far is food. Can anyone enlighten me on the best way to organise the 7 day stretch between Kinlochewe and Kinlochbervie, as I don't think there is any way to restock along this section?
Although the plan is to use YH and bothies when possible, I will definitely be taking a tent. Instead of cooking inside it, I reckon I'll face the midges and rain outside, I'm also quite small (5ft7), so space shouldn't be an issue. Durability and weight are the two key features for me and I'm on a pretty tight budget. Any suggestions or advice on this would be greatly appreciated.
Lastly, it would be great to hear any tips or DOs and DONTs for walking the CWT and long-distance backpacking in general.
by walkingpoles » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:07 pm
There is always the option to go through Ullapool. I didn't. But I left Kinlochewe well fed (took a rest day), had breakfast at Oykel bridge hotel (and bought a piece of cake for lunch), dinner (they sell stuff) and breakfast at Inchnadamph hostel and pub dinner in Kinlochbervie. In total I didn't need to carry massive amounts of food.
by walkingpoles » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:31 pm
Wrap/pitta bread (more kcal per gram and doesnt go funny within a week), being replaced with oats after Kinlochewe, with marzipan for lunchs. Dinner was dehydrated bag from Tiso, laced with egg powder followed by egg powder-bouillon soup. Breakfast was a peronine laced muesli, best served cold. In addition I ate through more than a kg of chocolate, easiest thing to restock. And 3 bars of Kendal mint cake, keeping the fourth one as reserve. Vitamine pills served as a placebo. Fresh stuff was a welcome sight when being near a shop.
As a general guidance I tried to avoid food with less than 350kcal per 100g carrying weight. I did lose some weight, but not a lot.
I don't know whether it can be backed up by science, but I was really happy to have the soup cubes to replace the salt I lost due to sweat. I thought that the Tiso bags contain sufficient salt for this purpose, but my body felt like asking for more.
Cooking in a tent has gone wrong before. Carbon monoxide for example. Rather eat your food cold, in my view. I carried a stove which works in rain. In hindsight maybe overkill.
by gammy leg walker » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:49 pm
This is worth a read
by mynthdd2 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:11 pm
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by Old Stag » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:59 pm
The Inchnadamph Hostel has some basic noodles and beans etc for sale usually.
You could always take the coastal road from Inchnadamph which would give you an chance to resupply at Scourie. There's a campsite there too. Note that the post office in Kylesku has gone, but there is a hotel that does food.
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by Justalittlefurther » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:22 pm
by Andy J » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:18 pm
> averaging roughly 20km a day, pushing on when I can and resting when knackered
Assuming you're fit, 20km a day is totally doable, but over three weeks my advice would be to build-in time for rests. Maybe take a day off a Ullapool and a few half-days at other places. This is a hard thing you're planning to do.
> best way to organise the 7 day stretch between Kinlochewe and Kinlochbervie
It's difficult to do this without diverting to Ullapool after Inverlael. As others have said, you can get food and fuel in Ullapool. Buses to/from Ullapool will pick-up and drop off (usually...) At your age don't be tempted to hitch. From Ullapool I'd take the route option via Loch Achall to Oykel Bridge - better than going back to Inverlael. The Schoolroom Bothy is nice.
On the trail, fuel is harder to obtain than food. Gas canisters are best in my experience. Make sure you know how much fuel your stove consumes so you can plan for it and keep a small reserve. Never, ever cook in a tent (CO2 and fire risk).
Don't take too much stuff, and know where your stuff is in your pack. Constantly looking for things gets tedious very quickly.
As a parent with a son only a few years younger than you', I'd say make sure you check-in with someone every few days. Parents worry! 99.9% of the people you meet will be great, but remember that personal safety in remote areas is still something to consider, especially at your age. I hope this doesn't sound patronising!
The Inchnadamph hostel often gets block-booked in the summer. Book early. There is also a small hotel at Inchnadamph and they will accept resupply parcels if you stay there.
Getting back from the cape is difficult if the weather is bad and the minibuses aren't working. In my experience the people who operate the ferry and minibus service can be hard to contact. Make sure you have a plan when you leave Kinlochbervie.
Finally, beyond a reasonable level of fitness, the hardest part of solo long-distance walking is mental: managing your mood and morale. At times you'll definitely get tired, probably get lonely, and maybe unhappy. Try to recognise if this is happening and be honest with yourself about how you're feeling. Go easy on yourself. Take breaks. Occasional treats help. Be flexible about your plans.
Have an amazing time. Its a great walk!
- Andy J
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by Sjiep » Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:51 pm
If this is the 'best way' I don't know, but based on what I did, these are my thoughts about it. Doing this in only 7 days would be wicked fast imo.
I suppose you either stayed at the Kinlochewe Bunkhouse, camped at the Taagan campsite or wild camped somewhere between Incheril and Gleann Bianasdail.
1. Kinlochewe to Shenavall, stay at the bothy or wild camp near it.
2. Shenavall to Inverlael, hitchhike or jump on a bus to Ullapool. I believe there used to be a hostel at Inverlael but no more. Ullapool has a lot of very welcome services after a prolonged period of staying outdoors. The YH is good, the Tesco is great for restocking and there are some nice pubs that serve quality food and ales as well. Perhaps you're one who prefers to avoid this, but for me, it was quite welcome to put something in my belly that wasn't cooked on my little stove which I had been eating for about a week.
3. Ullapool to the Schoolhouse bothy. This is a fairly easy stretch and not too long, but after the Schoolhouse there aren't many other options to pitch up a tent, and the Oykel Bridge hotel is fairly upper end in terms of costs. I passed this all by and kept on walking well past Caplich Estate until I finally found a place to pitch up my tent where Allt Rugaidh Bheag flows into the Oykel River. I had covered near 40km from Ullapool by then and while this was a stretch with very little ascent I was completely knackered. If there were better options to wild camp around Oykel Bridge and Caplich Wood/Estate it would be easier but nope. Therefore I suggest to make a halt at Schoolhouse Bothy. It's in a nice location. If you decide to push on, Oykel Bridge Hotel has friendly staff and you can charge up on food and drinks there if needed.
I should mention that the trail from Ullapool might be underwhelming for some as it's a 4x4 track pretty much the whole way. Especially the first few kms from Ullapool aren't pretty with the quarry, but I found it became a lot better once you reach Loch Achall.
4. Schoolhouse to wild camp where Allt Sail an Ruathair joing Oykel river. Again, a not very difficult stretch and if you're feeling energetic feel feel to push on to Inchnadamph but the ascent to Bealach Trallgil is not an easy one. This wild camp spot is relatively popular as it's pretty big and comes after a long stretch of non-possibilities. Chances are you won't be camping alone here.
5. Camp spot to Inchnadamph. As others have warned for: the hostel at Inchnadamph gets block-booked often and early. In January I checked for availability for a bed in June and it was already a no go; completely full. An alternative is the hotel next door but yeah, more dineros to pay. I had a good dinner there though. I opted to wild camp at Ardvreck Castle, which is about 2 km further up the A837. There are some nice secluded spots away from tourists there. You have to backtrack the next morning the same way. You can make the next day less strenuous by adding a part of the ascent to Bealach na h-Uidhe, wild camping near Loch Fleodach Coire. This is probably a midget-heavy area in Summer.
Sidenote: on my way up to Bealach Trallgil I stepped in a hole and my leg disappeared up to my knee while my body was still moving forward and with the added weight of my backpack my knee bended a bit into the wrong direction. Kinda hurt the rest of the day so tread carefully around here.
6. Inchnadamph to Glendhu bothy. I found this a pretty damn tough stage. I did it on a very hot day and it sapped my energy. On the other hand it was very dry underfoot which made the stretch along Abhainn an Loch Bhig all the way to Glencoul bothy more doable. If this is part is very boggy it would take houurrrrrsssss. Glencoul bothy is one of the nicest (located) bothies I've been to and ascending the slop towards Glendhu you have some real ace views.
7. Glendhu to Rhiconich/Inshegra/Kinlochbervie. Long stage if you do this in one go. Maybe you want to break this up in 2 days and wild camp somewhere halfway near Stack Lodge. I chose to go via Achfary but in retrospect this was not a good choice. The stretch from Achfary to Stack Lodge is all tarmac and it hurt my feet a whole lot.
After these two tough days I chose to take it easy and I stayed for a night at The Old School in Inshegra. After restocking at the London Stores headed the next day to Kearvaig bothy which was the other best bothy I've been to (but busy).
Hope you have a blast. This is an amazing part of Scotland to hike through.