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Cape Wrath Trail 2013 Part 3

PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:13 pm
by whiteburn

Day 10 - 13.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Day 10 - Loch Carn nan Conbhairean to Glendhu Bothy; 23km

The weather had improved with the new day, the peaks were still cloaked in clag & there was a stiff wind but no rain.
The end of the path at the outlet of Loch Bealach a’Mhadaidh was reached after a couple of hours; no dry boulder hopping crossing of the ford today, nearly knee deep on greasy rock.
From the ford I was to cut across country to gain the track down Glen Pean, around 5km of rough Assynt!

The first significant obstacle proved to getting around to the west of Gorm Loch Mor, I chose a high route between the bands of crags but looking back a lower route probably would have been easier.

I cut straight across the head of the loch, knee deep, before making a bee line for the end of the Glen Pean track almost due north.
The 5km cross country trek took me 2hrs of slogging but the scenery once in Glen Coul was worth it.

Further down the glen the vista opened up with a marvellous view down Loch Glencoul with Kylesku in the distance.

The track down to the bothy proved steep & composed of large pointy rocks which seemed to have been specifically selected to inflict pain of wearers of trail shoes, but it was soon over.
The Glencoul bothy must inhabit one of the most idyllic places in the world (on a sunny day) & I was very tempted to stay.

But Glendhu beckoned & a nice pony track led up & over the ridge into Gleann Dubh, the path did deteriorate a bit on the north side but was always easy to follow.
No–one at home again so I claimed a room & settled in. Later that evening a trio from Nottingham rolled in, it turned out that they were also headed for the Cape having started their trek at Ullapool & had come over that day from Inchnadamph.
That night my sleep (& everyone else’s) was rudely disturbed sometime past midnight by some idiot shouting “Hello, is there anyone in” or something to that effect, I didn’t answer only very rude words came to mind! Some people need to learn bothy etiquette!

Day 11 - Glendhu Bothy to Rhoconich; 31km

I was up at 6 am & away by 7am, making sure I made enough noise to wake ‘the idiot’.
The track up to Loch an Leathaid Bhuain & across Lochmore Lodge has been ‘improved’ for a hydro project & is now almost a B class roadway (minus the tarmac), at least the planners have got them the hide the turbines & pipelines underground. It provided an easy track up to the turn off for Ben Dreavie which lay somewhere to the NW in the clag; simple enough navigation to the summit, a nice LRT leads almost to the cairn!

The route down to the west proved less obliging, the map must have ‘smoothed out’ all the wrinkles that I found while stumbling around through bog in the mist. It wasn’t until well down the hill, almost to the 4 lochs that I got a clear picture of the way ahead making navigation a lot easier.

Once I joined the main track it was time for lunch time & the sock drying ritual before heading off down to Lochstack Lodge.
By the time I got to the Lodge the sun was melting the tarmac again, what a difference in a few hours can make & on rounding a bend I noted the Nott’s trio 200 – 300m ahead. I caught them up over the next 1km; they’d lost their map the day previous so had very sensibly bypassed a claggy crossing of Dreavie in favour of Lochmore Lodge & a 6km road trudge.
After a brief chat we parted ways & I set off again making my way around the NW flank of Arkle heading to take a high level route across the humps & bumps to Cnoc an Lochain Dubh. The humps & bumps provided interesting going, but not easy, & the scenery was interesting but more spectacular was Arkle.

And of course it’s neighbour, Foinavon.

The crossing of the Garbh Allt was a simple knee deep wade (I’d didn’t really search for an optimum crossing point given the reasonable conditions) & the path down the glen was easily located after a few hundred metres of bush whacking. No time for finesse, there was a cold beer with my name on it only 2km away!
Rhoconich Hotel: beer, steak, more beer before pitching up on a nice spot by the river.

Day 12 - Rhoconich to Sandywood Bay; 18km

It felt like a rest day; a 9am start followed by a slow meander down to the London Store to pick up a few bits & pieces & then onto the Kinlochbervie Hotel for lunch where I ran into the Nott’s trio again.
The afternoon was only a little more taxing a 9km stroll to Sandywood Bay in blazing sunshine.

I pitched up by the ruins to gain the most from the cooling breeze before a very relaxing evening watching the bunnies maintain the camping lawn and an early bed. I was awoken around 10pm by heavy footsteps & someone/ something at the entrance & it took me a few seconds to recognise the head & horns of a highland cow about 1m away licking the tarp entrance! Clapping my hands, shouting “go away” (or words to that effect) had no impact, it just stared back at me, the last thing I wanted was to leap out of bed & spook it!
Finally it decided its buddies were moving away so it backed off a couple of metres before following them.

Day 13 - Sandywood Bay to Cape Wrath; 14km

5 am alarm, 6 am on the trail, the plan was to get to the Cape to meet the first bus back to the ferry at around midday (Sunday timetable).
The rest of the beach was still kicking out the Z’s as I passed through, only the gulls disturbs the peace and quiet. Cutting across the outlet of Sandywood loch I took off the trail shoes & had a paddle; I thought it was too early in the day for wet feet.
The top of the rise gave a nice parting view of Sandywood bay, before the bogs.

The undulating ground was drier than anticipated probably making for easier going than typical. A bit of zigzagging and pole vaulting was all that was needed to avoid the worse of the bogs & the northern slopes of Cnoc a’Ghiubhais were reached in around 3 hrs allowing a tantalising view of the finish line; the Light House is hidden below the skyline.

It seemed just a short hop & I was wandering into the Lighthouse grounds, it felt a bit of an anticlimax really, another micro-adventure completed!

The Nott’s trio had arrived an hour earlier having camped on the high ground north of the bay and a 5 am start; they were horizontal on the grass basking in the sunshine. Only one thing left to do; have a brew!

It had been quite a tough but immensely enjoyable couple of weeks, now I’ll have to start planning a return to the Cape along a different route!

Base Kit – 6.03 kg
Rucksack, MLD Exodus + Polythene rucksack liner - 680 g
Bits & bobs - Map, compass, GPS, iphone, toiletries, 1st aid, trowel, etc - 990 g
MLD Trailstar & pegs + Bear Paws Nest - 1150 g
3mm EVA foam footprint - 140 g
Cumulus 250 Quilt - 470 g
Exped Synmat - 470 g
MSR Micro rocket + windscreen + stand – 150 g
Evernew 1L Pasta pot + cosy + cup + spoon - 225 g
2L & 1L Platypus bottles 75 g
Gas container (230) – 150 g
Montane windproof smock - 90 g
Marmot PreCip jacket - 370 g
Berghaus Paclite over trousers - 200 g
Terra Nova Over mitts - 75 g
Micro fleece + Aeon tee + leggings – 500g
Buff, gloves, hat, socks - 300 g

Consumables – 5.28 kg
Water - 500 g
Gas – 230 g
Food – 4550 g (initial supplies)
Breakfast – Granola + milk powder; Bolero drinks powder; Coffee
Lunch – Oat cakes; chorizo; primula; cereal bar; snicker bar; trail mix
Dinner – Soup; dehydrated meal (home made); coffee + left over lunch snacks.

Total – 11.31kg

Re: Cape Wrath Trail 2013 Part 3

PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2013 9:24 pm
by UncleSimes
Love reading these long distance trip reports, each one is unique in some way, thanks for posting. :clap: Looks like you had good weather for the most part, beautiful part of the world. 8)

Re: Cape Wrath Trail 2013 Part 3

PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 12:36 pm
by whiteburn
UncleSimes wrote:.... Looks like you had good weather for the most part...)

The weather was remarkably good & even the midges we're as bad as I expected. The Clegs (deer flies) were horrendous; I must have collected a 100 bites through the trip, the HH base layer I was using seemed to offer zero protection against them. :(

UncleSimes wrote:.... beautiful part of the world...)

Most certainly is, I find backpacking through such country (as opposed to 'day raids') lets me appreciate it to the full. :D

Re: Cape Wrath Trail 2013 Part 3

PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2013 4:47 pm
by brpro26
Inspiring report. Must admit the CWT is certainly on the radar and it's reports like this that make it all the more appealing. Looks like you travelled really light going by your pack size and pack list. Guess that's the way to do it. Fair enjoyed the read....cheers :thumbup:

Re: Cape Wrath Trail 2013 Part 3

PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:36 pm
by whiteburn
brpro26 wrote:.......Looks like you travelled really light going by your pack size and pack list. Guess that's the way to do it......:

I like light weight but comfortable. :) Could easily 'save' 400g by replacing the Symat with a thin 1/2 karrimat but I'm toooooo soft & welcome a good night's sleep.
Getting the base weight below 10kg is pretty easy, particular if there are 2 people to share the some of the load.
Getting to 5 – 6 kg requires a careful selection of everything in the pack (shelter, sleeping, cooking, safety & clothing). Plus knowing how to use them to best affect, even after tooooo many years yomping I’m still learning.

Re: Cape Wrath Trail 2013 Part 3

PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:48 pm
by ness64
Well done, a great report and you make it all look so easy :)

The CWT is one of my potential alternatives in case I don't get on next year's TGO Challenge, but I made a mental note to myself already: Don't camp by the ruins at Sandwood Bay!! :shock: :shock: :shock:

Re: Cape Wrath Trail 2013 Part 3

PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:31 am
by whiteburn
ness64 wrote:Well done, a great report and you make it all look so easy :)

It didn't feel easy at the time (Day 8 through Glen Douchary felt the toughest) & I did have the benefit of 'summer'. I dropped around 1kg from my TGOC base load (mainly insulation) and generally had very good weather allowing me to take regular breaks & really enjoy them (usually took a couple of short breaks am/ pm & around 1hr for lunch), definitely helped keep the spirits on a high.

ness64 wrote:.......but I made a mental note to myself already: Don't camp by the ruins at Sandwood Bay!! :shock: :shock: :shock:

Thought you'd enjoy that photo :twisted: the small herd of Highlands have free range all round Sandywood bay; just zip up the Laser Comp & put the ear plugs in. :lol: :lol:
See you on the TGOC if we make the cut.

Re: Cape Wrath Trail 2013 Part 3

PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 4:03 pm
by mountainstar
It was great to read your excellent report, brings back all of the memories of my trip a few years ago.
I hopefully will be doing the 1st part to Ullapool with a friend again next year...and the 2nd half the year after...if she behaves herself! :D

Re: Cape Wrath Trail 2013 Part 3

PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:30 pm
by whiteburn
mountainstar wrote:It was great to read your excellent report, brings back all of the memories of my trip a few years ago..... :D's definitely a memorable part of the world.....I shall return...better start the route planning! :D :D