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Cape Wrath Take 1

Cape Wrath Take 1


Postby Guinessman » Fri Jan 30, 2015 2:55 pm

Date walked: 27/09/2014

Time taken: 3 days

Distance: 67 km

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I had been studying and reading reports for years of Cape wrath after first reading mountainstar,s report on walk highlands way back in 2009.I had planned it for a while but could never commit due to work and family holidays.
Finally in September 2014 I got the chance and made plans to be in Fort William on Monday 22/09/2014. The planning went well and I managed to squeeze several two dayers over in the Lakes and Cheviots. I managed to get by train from Newcastle to Fort William fairly cheaplyand had accomodation booked in Fort William. All was well
On Tuesday 23/09/2014 I got the train from Fort William to Glenfinnan at 08.30 and set off walking about 09.10hrs on an overcast damp morning. All seemed well and I got to Strathan about 13.30hrs. On the way over I was continually bombarded by what I later learnt were Deer Keds.

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Initially the plan had been to go via sourlies and Kinlochourn however I,ve been that way numerous times and decided to go over to the col to Kinbreak bothy.
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Anybody who has been that way will know its a bit of a bog probably worsened by the estate ATV. Throw in a Knoydart downpour and I got well and truly soaked, boots included. Kinbreak bothy was great and very welcome.
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Next day I walked to the east end of Loch qouich and managed to dry out a bit, down the main road towards the turn off near Tomdoun and up over towards Glen loyne and camping up on the hillside on the path to the Claunie.
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That night a storm and gale force wind blew in and I walked to the Claunie Hotel again soaked and into the wind. I stopped at the hotel to make a phone call to find that 3 days of gales were forecast. I had a decision to make as I had intended to go via Altbeithe YH to Glen Affric and via Gleann gniomhaidh up to Iron Lodge to Maol Bhuidhe bothy. Altbeithe seemed too short a day and the bothy too far given the conditions and as I didn't fancy camping I stayed at the Claunie inn. That night a gale blew blowing over heavy old furniture that was stacked around the back.
My boots having been wet/dry/wet had gone hard and crusty and painful to walk in, so I made the decision to abandon the CWT and as the forecast over in Fort William was more favourable than the NW coast to get the bus back to Fort William. The phone call back home told me it was 22c at home and like summer. sods Law!

Now being in Fort William decisions had to be made as I had time on my hands. I could put up with the boots and as long as the wind stayed low I could manage.Choices were The Great glen and stay relatively dry, walk back along the WHW back to Glasgow and get the train from there or cross country to Dalwhinnie. I decided to walk to Dalwhinnie, a favourite route. I started the walk down through Glen Nevis and walked on camping just around the corner from Meanach bothy.
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The next day was an absolute downpour, going via Loch Trieg, Loch Ossian and camping about 1 1/2 miles short of the Bealach dubh. Midges came out that night, the first time I've been bothered that late in the year

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The next day dawned more promising with a promise of sunshine. I knew there was an Aviemore train at 15.55 so left the camp area at 8 Am and walked towards the Bealach Dubh. Anybody who has walked that way will know that in places its an absolute bog until you can get on the stalkers path so you just have to get on with it

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I always find the Bealach Dubh a special atmospheric place. The clouds lifted but hung around and the view in both directions were excellent. The path although lengthy towards Culra is well maintained and a joy to walk and was worked on last year. It continues past Lancet edge and onto Culra. From there you cut across the moor and continue on the landrover track to Dalwhinnie.
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I got the train to aviemore and stayed in the bunkhouse. One guest was also in the room, he merely stared at me on entering the room. Despite attempts at conversation no response was forthcoming not even a nod. Might have been foreign or it could have been my Geordie twang! Even in the kitchen area no response

CWT on this occasion was a failure. My boots I should have replaced. They were dangerously worn on the soles and had been causing cuts across the tops of the toes for a while. The waterproofing must have been gone a while. I find getting new boots a right chew as I never seem to find a pair that's right and am naturally tight fisted anyway! I am now planning for a may attempt probably the first week and hopefully get better weather this time.
Last edited by Guinessman on Sun Feb 22, 2015 2:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Guinessman
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Re: Cape Wrath Take 1

Postby Old Stag » Wed Feb 04, 2015 5:31 pm

Thanks for sharing, I think you made the most of the trip in the circumstances!
I was also on the Cape Wrath Trail and was caught in the gales in an exposed part of Glen Oykel. I had to retreat to Lairg with a wrecked tent the next day.
And the deer keds were awful from Glenfinnan right up to Shiel Bridge!
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Re: Cape Wrath Take 1

Postby Guinessman » Wed Feb 11, 2015 11:21 am

Old Stag,It was some storm all right, couldn't believe that it blew over heavy wood furniture so a tent had no chance. Hope everything worked out for you. Are you planning a return?

Those Deer Keds were strange , some I've not experienced before, just landing In your hair, not doing anything and not flying off when being grabbed.
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Guinessman
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Posts: 1082
Munros:282   Corbetts:52
Grahams:27   Donalds:89
Hewitts:143
Wainwrights:214   Islands:15
Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Location: NW Durham

Re: Cape Wrath Take 1

Postby Old Stag » Thu Feb 12, 2015 9:14 pm

I was genuinely fearing for my life on the night of the storm. I was camped right next to the River Oykel and thought the wind might flip me into the water, it was that bad.
Luckily my main pole snapped near the end so I could make do. I stayed at Lairg campsite where the wind flipped over one of those heavy picnic tables with benches attached and it landed on a guy's tent!
The next day I got the excellent Durness bus service to Kinlochbervie and rejoined the trail there.

I want to try it again this year. Maybe change some of the route. I'm thinking of doing it in May rather than September, as I might see the puffins at the Cape that way and avoid the worst of the storms, although I do like hiking in September in the far north, there's something very atmospheric about it.
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Re: Cape Wrath Take 1

Postby Guinessman » Fri Feb 13, 2015 11:10 am

Train booked for 01/5/2015 this year arriving in Fort William on that day and setting off on Saturday 02/05/2015. Rough plan is to walk up the Great Glen to Clunes, up the dark mile, up through the forest tracks to Fedden area, over to Glengarry, over to Claunie from Poulary, to Altbeithe YH and Glen Affric and via Gleann Gniomhaidh and Loch a Bhealaich, up to Iron Lodge to Maol Bhuidhe bothy, Strathcarron, Torridon via Coulags and Bealach ban, Kinlochewe via the back of Beinn Eighe, Strath na Sealga, Inverleal, Ullapool, Oykel bridge, Loch Ailsh, Glendhu, Glencoul, Ben Dreavie, Lochstack, Rhiconich, Blairmore, Sandwood bay, Cape Wrath.

I had thought about Knoydart, via Sourlies and Barrisdale but I've been that way scores of times, wanted to give the falls of Glomach a miss, been that way with a full pack once coming upover and didn't like it at all, wanted to include Coire Fionnaraich area and Torridon and if I feel well might give Ullapool a miss and go via Glen Douchary.

Not made my mind up yet whether to go onto Durness or walk back to Kinlochbervie and sort transport from there.
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Guinessman
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Posts: 1082
Munros:282   Corbetts:52
Grahams:27   Donalds:89
Hewitts:143
Wainwrights:214   Islands:15
Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Location: NW Durham

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