The Cape Wrath Trail. 18-24th May 2014.
In May 2009 I did the Cape Wrath trail for the first time.
Trip report of that adventure can be found here…
That walk will forever live in my mind as my greatest adventure in the Scottish Highlands, (I’ve had many, many others) I knew one day I would have to go back and do it again.
Rewind back 12 months…My friend Jane and I had just completed the Skye trail (Trip report of that adventure can be found here… http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=32151)
She asked if we could come back again next year and do something similar, it didn’t take long for me to suggest The CWT…and for her to jump at the chance of us doing it together.
I invited another friend (Janet) who also loves to do long distance trails, she also jumped at the chance of joining us.
We only had 1 week to play with, so it would have to be just half of the complete trail, after considering all the logistics I decided it would be best starting from Ullapool and walking south to Glenfinnan.
To make it somewhat easier, we would also have the backup of my wife (who did not want to do the walk) and car to drop and pick us up at various points along the road sections.
Thursday 15th. Jane travelled from her home town of Hastings by train to her sister’s in Perth, ready for us to pick her up en route to Ullapool on the Saturday.
Friday 16th. My wife and I travelled up from Wales to Janet’s house in Glasgow to save a very long journey otherwise on Saturday.
Saturday 17th. With a jam packed car we headed for the wonderful town of Ullapool, where Jane and I would be camping, and Ele and Janet would be Lording it up in the Caledonian Hotel (A flavour of things to come! )
Well it would have been wonderful except it was p***ing down…that Hotel looked a good idea all of a sudden!
Nothing for it than to hit the pubs then. (well we would have done that anyway!) The Ferry Boat Inn was our 2nd port of call, where I noticed an ale called “Brazilian”
I couldn’t help but ask the barmaid “can I have a wee taste of your Brazilian please?” Suffice to say my wife was not amused, and even less amused when after tasting it I declared “It tastes a wee bit fishy!” Now I thought that that was funny, and the comment that “you should keep to Sheep shagger” was not called for!
Day 1 Part 1
Inverbroom (Nr Ullapool) to Corrie Hallie.
8.02km, 4.98m. Ascent : 444m.
Weather. Cloudy, showers, cool.
Since the small passenger ferry stopped sailing from Ullapool to Altnaharrie, the only alternative route (If you want to visit Ullapool) is a long walk along the busy road to Inverbroom, but with our car come taxi option, we were able to just drive down to Inverbroom to start the walk from there.
Start of our walk by mountainman55, on Flickr
All smiles now!
Leaving Loch Broom by mountainman55, on Flickr
Leaving Loch Broom
A path takes you high fairly quickly, shame the cloud hung low, as there are great views of An Teallach on a fine day.
We re-met Ele at Corrie Hallie when we changed from daysacks to backpacks for our overnight stop-over at Shenavail Bothy.
Day 1 Part 2
Corrie Hallie to Shenavail Bothy
7.29km, 4.53m. Ascent : 367m.
We left Ele who would be staying in the Poolewe Hotel. Another good path leads gradually up to another pass, by now the showers had eased and the cloud had lifted slightly.
The track to Shenavail Bothy by mountainman55, on Flickr
Shenavail Bothy comes into view by mountainman55, on Flickr
Shenavail Bothy by mountainman55, on Flickr
As I dropped down to Shenavail I saw the welcome sight of smoke drifting from the chimney, and an even more welcome sight as I entered, our good friend Monty greeted me with a beer and a man hug. (We had arranged to meet some time back as he was on holiday in Gairloch for a few weeks.)
The 2 lassies caught up about an hour later.
We were joined in the Bothy by an American called Rich, now it’s not very often you get this answer to the question “what do you do?” Rich replied “I work in Hollywood, I’ve just finished filming with Ben Affleck in a movie called Gone Girl”
Rich was “The lead guy” a person who designs the sets in Movies. He was now a million miles from that lifestyle, and far from the stereotype you would expect from Hollywood, far from it, he was a really nice unassuming guy, not loud and brash as you might expect
Shenavail Bothy (2) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Shenavail Bothy (3) by mountainman55, on Flickr
We all settled in for the evening, with Monty in fine form blasting out the tunes on his guitar.
Monty entertains, Shenavail Bothy by mountainman55, on Flickr
Shenavail Bothy (4) by mountainman55, on Flickr
To cap a brilliant night we were all treated to a spectacular sunset…life was simple…life was good!
Shenavail Bothy sunset (5) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Shenavail Bothy sunset by mountainman55, on Flickr
Shenavail Bothy sunset (2) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Shenavail Bothy sunset (6) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Shenavail Bothy sunset (10) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Shenavail Bothy sunset (9) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Shenavail Bothy sunset (12) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Day 2. Shenavail Bothy to Kinlochewe via Loch an Nid and Lochan Fada.
24.7km, 15.4m, Ascent : 598m. 5:39hrs.
Weather. Mainly sunny and warm.
After saying our goodbye’s to Monty and Rich we walked towards Loch an Nid along good and easy going paths.
Leaving Shenavail Bothy (3) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Leaving Shenavail Bothy (4) by mountainman55, on Flickr
En route to Loch an Nid (2) by mountainman55, on Flickr
En route to Loch an Nid (3) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Loch an Nid (3) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Route to Bealach na Croise by mountainman55, on Flickr
Route to Bealach na Croise (2) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Route to Bealach na Croise (3) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Gradually the path deteriorates as we climb towards the high pass of the day, by now the lassies are flagging, and then there’s some pathless rough going over more rolling hillside before we drop down to Lochan Fada, all I hear is winge, winge, winge! Time to make my excuses as we reach the path that leads from the Loch “I’ll press on ahead, as we will be later than expected”
Lochan Fada by mountainman55, on Flickr
Beinn Eighe from the Heights of Kinlochewe by mountainman55, on Flickr
I enjoyed a peaceful walk down past the Heights of Kinlochewe…the lassies turned up about 90 minutes later…still winging!
Mon night: We stopped in Torridon YH.
Day 3. Torridon to Coulags. Via Bealach a’Choire Ghairbh.
12.5k. 7.8m. Ascent : 438meters.
Weather. Sunny, hot and calm.
This was probably our best day, the sun was shining, the scenery was spectacular and all I could hear today was praise, praise, praise…in fact they loved me so much that they almost wanted to have my baby’s lol.
This walk is of the highest order, starting from the shores of Loch Torridon with the magnificent Liathach as a backdrop, the excellent path eases gently past burns and waterfalls, several Lochans with Torridian peaks towering above, and a eagle soaring above us to cap it all. Yes, today was a good day.
Torridon by mountainman55, on Flickr
Leaving Torridon by mountainman55, on Flickr
Leaving Torridon (2) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Leaving Torridon (3) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Leaving Torridon (4) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Lochans en route to Bealach na Lice by mountainman55, on Flickr
Loch Coire Fionnaraith by mountainman55, on Flickr
Loch Coire Fionnaraith (2) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Coire Fionnaraith Bothy by mountainman55, on Flickr
With Janet & Ele booked into a B&B at Achnashellach station, Jane and I were looking forward to camping at Lochcarron, but the campsite was closed, our only other (cheap) option was Gerry hostel. As I recalled from my only ever stay at Gerry’s many years ago that he and the hostel are a bit on the eccentric side, with this information Jane was quickly Googling Trip adviser, which confirmed that we were going to have an “interesting” night.
Jane was thankful when we departed for our meal to the B&B with Jerry still hovering around her with no shirt on! I’m sure she slept with one eye open when we returned later!
Day 4, Attadale to Loch Duich via Killilan.
21km, 13.0m, Ascent : 9522m.
Weather. Rain, Rain, Rain.
Loch Carron by mountainman55, on Flickr
The cloud had started to roll in during the evening, and by the morning it had started to rain. Janet declared she was going to have an “Ele day” (Driving around to coffee shops and sightseeing.) Rather enviously we left them at Attadale in the gloom and wet. At least the path was good through the estate and up through the forest to the pass. From the pass the path basically had turned into a stream. At Killilan we followed some roads, then climbed steeply up rough terrain, the path shown on the map was hard to find and very sketchy. Once at the pass we crossed the burn high up, fearing it would be problematic crossing lower down.
We were glad to get that one behind us as we reached the road, it was certainly the worst day weather wise.
Waterfall by mountainman55, on Flickr
Wed night: We stayed at the Sheil Bridge Hotel trekkers lodge.
Note to myself…When you have a holiday with 3 women, at times the conversation can be not what I’d call interesting to a male…they and another lady who has joined us for our meal had somehow wondered into a detailed conversation about knitting!
Day 5 Glen Shiel to Kinloch Hourn via Bealach Coire Mhalagain
11.8km, 7.3m, Ascent : 887m.
Weather. Sunny spells.
After a good night’s sleep dreaming about different knitting patterns , we drove up Glen Shiel to start our walk on the track that leads to The Saddle.
Glen Shiel by mountainman55, on Flickr
The Saddle path by mountainman55, on Flickr
There is a great viewpoint at the Bealach…
The Saddle by mountainman55, on Flickr
The ridge is followed westward towards the Saddle, just short of the Forcan ridge a path leads to the Bealach Coire Mhalagain, from there it’s a pathless drop down the Glen until a track is picked up lower down. Easy going from there and the river I could not cross the last time I did this trail was easily rock hopped today.
Forcan Ridge by mountainman55, on Flickr
Loch Hourn (2) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Our friends, Carol and Keith (along with Ele), met us at Kinloch Hourn in their camper van. Later that evening we had a campfire and barbeque…Happy days.
Camping at Kinloch Loch Hourn (2) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Yes, that’s 2 beers I want Janet!
Camping at Kinloch Loch Hourn (3) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Thurs night: Kinloch Hourn. Janet and Ele in the B&B, Jane and I camping again.
Day 6 Kinloch Hourn to Sourlies Bothy via Barrisdale & Mam Unndalain.
22.6km, 14.1m, 6:33hrs. Ascent : 1093m.
Weather.Sunshine and showers.
This turned out to be our longest and hardest day (More winging!)
We left Keith and Ele, and walked along the very scenic path that follows the shores of Loch Hourn to Barrisdale Bay, with several switchbacks along this route I was soon way ahead.
Leaving Kinloch Hourn by mountainman55, on Flickr
Leaving Kinloch Hourn (2) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Loch Hourn path by mountainman55, on Flickr
A cruel sign! by mountainman55, on Flickr
A cruel sigh (Closed!)
Loch Hourn path (3) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Loch Hourn path (4) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Loch Hourn path (2) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Barrisdale Bay by mountainman55, on Flickr
Ladhar Bheinn from Barrisdale Bay by mountainman55, on Flickr
I reached the Bothy at Barrisdale and waited patiently for an hour or so, when they reached me they were tired, but there was still a high pass and a long way to go yet, oh dear!
Barrisdale bothy (2) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Barrisdale bothy (3) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Again I set off ahead, but waited over the pass to get them down to the Glen as we had to leave the path and drop down steeply though some tricky terrain.
View east from Gleann Unndalain pass by mountainman55, on Flickr
Glen Carnoch (2) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Glen Carnoch (3) by mountainman55, on Flickr
With several hard and boggy miles to go and time getting on I came up with a cunning plan …I would turn into a German tourist…load my rucksacks with all of their sleeping mats and press ahead to “bag” some sleeping space in the small and potentially busy Sourlies Bothy…Oh, and get me away from the winging again.
I arrived at the Bothy at about 7pm, already there were 4 inside and several in tents outside. The lassies turned up absolutely knackered about 2 hours later…if looks could kill! I made them a brew and slowly they recovered from a state that resembles the living dead! I had managed to squeeze our mats onto the sleeping platforms, but I had one other cunning plan up my sleeve…we had carried peat bricks with us, and within minutes of lighting these the Bothy was full of smoke (A on-going famous problem) That was enough to get 2 out and bail into their tent lol.
Sourlies Bothy (2) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Sunset from Sourlies Bothy by mountainman55, on Flickr
Sourlies Bothy (3) by mountainman55, on Flickr
The Smoky Bothy!
By 10.30pm the girls were in their sleeping bags ready for a good nights sleep…just as well I thought, they need and deserve a lie in….
Day 7. Sourlies Bothy to Strathan (Roadhead).
13.5km, 8.4m, Ascent 440m.
Weather. Mainly sunny and hot.
…Janet had other ideas! For some unknown reason she was up at 4.30am, kettle on… clutter, clutter, bang, bang. Surely she’s going back to sleep I thought, which I certainly couldn’t with the noise she was making! Next Carol was up, whisper, whisper, click, click (Carol taking pictures) Oh well, if you can’t beat them join them! I got up, more whisper, whisper, clutter, clutter, bang, bang, click, click. At this point Jane cried out “I’ve only just got to sleep 30 minutes ago!” and turned over in a huff, but 5 minutes she was up looking like an extra in a best selling Michael Jackson video…without the dancing!
Loch Nevis from Sourlies Bothy by mountainman55, on Flickr
Sourlies Bothy by mountainman55, on Flickr
We were away as the sun was just breaking onto the summits. I did not wait around for the winging to start!
Leaving Sourlies Bothy by mountainman55, on Flickr
The walk was a joy, I’ve walked this route several times before, but never in such lovely sunny weather, the Lochans at the pass were deep blue and calm as I passed, it was a day for many pictures…
Lochan a Mhaim (2) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Lochan a Mhaim (3) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Lochan a Mhaim (4) by mountainman55, on Flickr
Lochan a Mhaim by mountainman55, on Flickr
The pass leading to Glen Dessarry by mountainman55, on Flickr
View from Glen Dessarry by mountainman55, on Flickr
A'Chuil Bothy from Glen Dessarry by mountainman55, on Flickr
A'Chuil Bothy by mountainman55, on Flickr
Glen Dessarry by mountainman55, on Flickr
Streap and Sgurr Thuim from Glen Dessarry by mountainman55, on Flickr
Sign post at Strathan by mountainman55, on Flickr
Strathan was to be the end of our walk.
I had already decided yesterday we would not carry on to Glenfinnan as originally planned, it would be a step (or a million or so) to far after yesterday’s effort.
Keith and Ele were waiting for me when I arrived. I had about 2 hours to enjoy a beer in the sun as we waited for the lassies to arrive.
And when they did it was hugs and congratulations, hopefully they will forget the toil and pain, as part 2 and Cape Wrath beckons next year.
They did good!
The video of this walk can be seen here...
And Janet's much funnier report can be read here...
Read other users walk reports for the long distance trails - and add your own.
NB. This board is for reports on multi-day long distance routes - reports on simply long walks should be added to the standard boards.
NB. This board is for reports on multi-day long distance routes - reports on simply long walks should be added to the standard boards.