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Cape Wrath Trail 2013 Part 2

PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:13 pm
by whiteburn

Day 5 - 8.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Day 5 - Bendronaig Bothy to Easan Dorcha; 23km

The walk up Bearneas from the bothy was quite a pleasant start to the day, nothing too taxing, a LRT led up past Loch an Laoigh where the Bearneas bothy came into view a tiny white speck across the loch.

Further up the glen the path to what looks like an old stalkers pony track which provided an enjoyable meander up to the Allt Coire Bheithe where it disappointingly stops.
Beyond proved heavy going traversing across heather, bog & boulder fields; I was getting rather familiar with this kind of territory.

The Bealach Bearneas was only 2km from the end of the stalkers path but it felt like it took at least an hour of hard going. Looking down the other side the footpath down looked wonderful.

On hitting the Allt a’Chonais it was simple to hop across the boulders rather than mess around with the wire bridge. Then it was the usual routine of trail shoes off, socks to dry, a well earned lunch & an hour lazing around on the ‘lawn’ in the sun before trotting off down to Craig.

I was glad to be off then A82 after dodging traffic for the 1.5km, some off the drivers hurtling past at break neck speed cut the corners without thought for nor man nor beast; the bloated red deer carcass stinking on the verge bore testament to this!
The old pony track & succeeding LRT made for a quick passage up & over the Coulin Pass & provided some spectacular scenery to enjoy.

I took a wander up the track to the Tea House bothy, again no one at home, the place is in a wonderful setting but I’d decided on camping to provide the coolest sleep so I headed back down the 1.5km track to the bridge where I’d spotted a fine site near the bridge that enjoyed an ample breeze.

Day 6 - Easan Dorcha to Gleann Tanagaidh; 23km

Down to Kinlochewe looked like a fairly straight forward dawdle, I was to be proved wrong. The route over to & through the now clear felled & replanted forest just south of Kinlochewe proved straight forward enough but the last 2-3 km proved to be a bit of a nightmare. There was the odd marker post but the path was covered in dense 1.5 – 1.8m high bracken & I ended up following quite a few ‘rabbit’ trails into dead ends or bush whacking through birch scrub that lined hidden gullies. I could have done with Ray Mears & his machete! I should have chosen the easy option of crossing the river by the forestry bridge (NH 019592) & then an easy 3km road trudge. I nearly doubled back but bloody mindedness eventually saw be in open country 1km short of town.
I poked my head in the Kinlochewe stores to see what they stocked; not an overwhelming assortment but it had the basics including meths & gas. I did pick up some really excellent ‘Torridon Smoke House’ Cheddar & crusty bread that made a nice change from oatcakes & Primula over the next couple of days.
An hour’s break for a long lunch in the hotel (tee total again) followed before hitting the easy LWT from Incheril up to the Heights of Kinlochewe, narrowly avoiding getting mown down by a large pickup doing 50mph around a bend.

Turning up Gleann na Muice the route definitely felt a lot pleasanter & more remote.

At the bealach I turned off the main track & headed up a good stalkers path up past the summit of Meallan Odhar which provided a great view down Lochan Fada & Fisherfield.

The path led down into Gleann Tanagaidh, beyond what’s indicated on the map, & once across the river it continued pleasantly upstream for a few hundred metres before ending at a ruined shieling at the junction with the Allt Eas na Speireig (NH 083699). It seemed like an ideal stopping point for the day, setting me up nicely for the crossing of the Bealach Gorm tomorrow. A quick boulder hop back across the river & I soon found a nice spot, amazingly I'd managed a complete day with dry feet! It wasn't long after I was settled in that quite heavy rain hit & continued intermittently through the night; refueling the bogs for tomorrow’s cross country jaunt.

Day 7 - Gleann Tanagaidh to Lael; 19km

I’d climbed half way up the 200m ascent to the Bealach Gorm following deer trails up the south bank of the Allt Eas na Speireig when I noticed what looked like an old path across the opposite side but there was now a deep steep sided gulley separating it from me. A 50:50 chance & I’d chosen the mountain goat route again.

I crossed the stream at the first opportunity to gain the track but this was only short lived & only a little higher up it soon deteriorated back to deer trails before eventually disappearing altogether. Descending north across the now familiar trackless heather & bog Loch a’Bhraoin was soon visible & the faint line of the track to Lochiraon.

The track down Loch a’Bhraoin proved to be a relatively rough LWT, but made for easy enough going down to the old boat house. The shelter of the trees against the stiff SW wind came in very handy for a spot of lunch.
The 4km trudge down the road was as usual boring but soon over & done with. I had planned to take an excursion down through the Corrieshalloch gorge but I noticed a ‘new’ track down to the Cuileig hydro plant; an opportunity? It wasn't shown on my 1:50,000 map, so having a signal I called up Walkhighlands GPS Router Planner on the iPhone & checked out the 1:25,000, sure enough it seemed to lead down to a footbridge across the River Broom & a track down the west side of the river avoiding a lot of black top; game on!
On reaching the river (& power station) I searched around in vain for the footbridge & I’d no signal so I couldn't check the map again (the lesson is that I should have taken a screen shot). The wade across the Broom was knee deep & the boulders really greasy but I wasn’t going to walk back up the hill!

Checking it out later the footbridge may be 50m above the waterfall seen in the picture.
On the west bank a really nice fisherman’s path (recently mowed & footbridges over insignificant streams) provided a very easy & pleasant 2km stroll down the river bank to the Auchindrean Bridge, a neat bit of engineering & nearly 150 years old.

This pleasant diversion left only 500m of death defying road to walk to the Forestway Hostel, pasting the stinking carcase of another road victim (roe deer).
My resupply parcel had thankfully arrived safety so after doing the laundry & sorting out supplies all that was left to do was kick back & enjoy the afternoon sunshine lounging around in the garden for a few hours. The Forestway Hostel is a nice place, quite new, only 4 to a dormitory, the only down side is that there isn’t a hostelry nearby, it would have been nice to sip a few cold ones! I did enjoy a glass of a very nice glass of red wine with my dinner in the evening courtesy of John my roommate, for which I was very appreciative.

Day 8 - Lael to Duag Bridge; 32km

I was on the trail again at 7 am thanks to a restless night’s sleep, partly because of the heat & partly down to John’s snorting, in retrospect I think I would have been more comfortable sleeping on the lawn.
In black top avoidance mode I doubled back up the valley to the Auchindrean Bridge & took the farm road down past Inverbroom Lodge this probably added 1.5km but it was much pleasanter walking.
The pull up through the forest & over the ‘pass’, nearly a 500m climb, felt to take an age with the fresh food load & the heat but the view over towards Cadha Dheirg & Seana Bhraigh was refreshing.

From the ‘end’ of the track I’d thought to head north over Point 665m but an ATV trail led off NW across the bealach; with the promise of easier terrain I followed. After 1km the ATV tracks disappointing headed off SW so it was back to contouring across bog & heather then a straight line to the ruins at Douchary (NH 254902).

I settled down for long lunch in shade of the ruin, thinking at one point with my luck the walls would come crashing down, aired the wet feet & got the socks hung out dry.
Eventually I set off in search of the path down the River Douchary, at first a collection of deer trails seem to follow the general line but these soon dwindle to nothing. Crossing to the east bank, where the ford is shown, the path was again was notably absent so I set off following one faint deer trail after another, more contouring across boggy heather. The River Douchary flows through a really pretty & steep gorge at this point with steep gullies leading into it proving infuriating difficult ground & still no path; I finally decided that the path was a map makers dream & later when I checked aerial photos I couldn’t see one!
A short eternity later I was back on stable terrain, the track down Loch an Daimh & in less than an hour at the Knockdamph bothy; no one at home again, so after leaving my usual “I passed through here” note in the book it was downhill to Duag Bridge & the School House bothy.
Again no-one at home so I commandeered the recently refurbished ‘west wing’ & settled in.

Day 9 - Duag Bridge to Loch Carn nan Conbhairean; 30km

7:30am & I was on the road again, light drizzle & a stiff wind did make a change from the blistering sunshine but ominously dark clouds moving in from the west promised the unpleasantness to come.
By the time I’d reached Oykel Bridge the rain had turned heavier; the windshirt & Terra pants were thoroughly wetted out, time for real rain gear & a quick snap before hiding the camera away in an aloksak.

The trudge up the LRT following the River Oykel up the glen was boring! Almost constant rain, head down, no view to speak of since the hills were covered in clag; it’s times like this I ponder the vagaries of life the universe & everything; how come half way through a bag of trail mix that there’s no M&Ms left?
Beyond Benmore lodge the clouds lifted some & the going got a little more interesting, lightening the spirits a little but the rain still insisted on falling from the sky.

I swung east of the Ben More massif & by the time I’d reached the Allt Loch Carn nan Conbhairean ford I’d had enough. It was only 4:30 but I’d been on the go for 9hrs in the rain & enough’s enough; at the next reasonable spot I’d stop! The wild camping fairy must have been listening, only 100m further a spot magically appeared; who cares if it was half way across the track, it was going to be home for the tonight. It felt great to throw up the Trailstar, grab some water & then settle down out of the wind & rain.

Part 3

Re: Cape Wrath Trail 2013 Part 2

PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 9:28 pm
by jaworski86
It looks like a great trip! This is why I am planning to do it myself this year :D With only one difference - I am cycling :thumbup: The plan is to start in Thurso, cycle to Rhiconnich, then south this route to Maol Bhuidhe and finish with short Skye loop.
I am used to off road riding on quite rough terrain and I don't mind short walks and climbs with the bike, but before going I need to know is the terrain not too hard to ride.
Could you please tell me, do you think it's rideable? Have you seen any cyclists on the way?
Any advice would be much appreciated :wink:

Re: Cape Wrath Trail 2013 Part 2

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:13 am
by whiteburn
jaworski86 wrote:It looks like a great trip! This is why I am planning to do it myself this year :D With only one difference - I am cycling :thumbup: The plan is to start in Thurso, cycle to Rhiconnich, then south this route to Maol Bhuidhe and finish with short Skye loop.
I am used to off road riding on quite rough terrain and I don't mind short walks and climbs with the bike, but before going I need to know is the terrain not too hard to ride.
Could you please tell me, do you think it's rideable? Have you seen any cyclists on the way?
Any advice would be much appreciated :wink:

Following my route from Rhiconnich down to Maol Bhuidhe is not practical with a bike, there are many sections of quite a few km's of cross country (no path at all) and other sections where the 'path' is little more than a deer trail, the CWT is not a cycle way.
My advice is to either leave the bike at home or plan an alternative route.