walkhighlands

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.

Cape Wrath Trail - North to South

Cape Wrath Trail - North to South


Postby Serpentinite » Mon Oct 12, 2020 8:05 pm

Route description: Cape Wrath Trail

Date walked: 10/09/2020

Time taken: 14 days

Distance: 417 km

9 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Introduction

2020 has been a tough year for most of us. We had to delay or forsake many of our plans and dreams. Short or long hikes became impossible. But, in late summer, as restrictions started to ease, I saw a window of opportunity to walk the Cape Wrath Trail (CWT) sometime in September. It seemed like the ideal time of year:

  • Cooler temperatures but no ice or snow
  • Reduced midge numbers
  • River crossings not in spate conditions
  • Still a good 12 hours of daylight each day

I had read and reread the Walk Highlands (WH) Walk Descriptions. I felt that the CWT would be a stretch for my capabilities but I wanted to try it. My previous longest overnight hikes had lasted for about one week (e.g. West Highland Way) and they had followed good, marked paths with decent terrain.
I decided to walk the CWT from North to South since I thought it would be easier to return home from Fort William (more transport options). I figured that the ferry crossing would be more reliable at Fort William (the ferry at the northern end in Keoldale sometimes doesn't run because of bad weather). And there was a planned, late-September two week closure of the MOD Firing Range at Cape Wrath. I wanted to finish my walk by early October at the latest. I planned to wild camp each night of my walk. Even though lockdown restrictions had been lifted I still wanted to follow a good social distancing approach.

Of the challenges I might have faced, most turned out not to be significant problems for my walk:

  • Restricted access due to deer stalking - no issues for me. I did read and carry the 'Heading for the Scottish Hills' deer stalking notes on my phone
  • Prevailing winds blowing against me - no significant problems for me
  • Midges - very minimal. I did treat my clothes and gear with Sawyer Permethrin Spray before starting. I got a few bites on my feet one sunny evening near Inchnadamph.
  • Ticks - thankfully I encountered none.
  • Power (inability to recharge) My power bank was charged before the start of the walk and was still 75% full by the end - I didn't use my iPhone or inReach that much.
  • Food - resupply was a challenge. I only resupplied once. I would have liked to have had more options but some shops I expected to be open were closed (presumably due to social distancing measures)
  • Mobile Phone Coverage - I wanted to keep in touch with home. There were quite a few of places on the CWT where there was no mobile phone coverage. The Garmin inReach solved this problem - at the end of each day I used it to send a message home that also provided a link to a map showing my exact position. My family really liked this feature. I never had to recharge the inReach once and it was still at 90% battery capacity when I finished my walk.

I have recorded my daily diary entries and photographs further below in this post along with a list of the gear I used.



Summary

I completed the CWT in 14 days (plus once day to walk to the Cape Wrath Lighthouse). I was *very* fortunate to have only six days with rain. Rain seems to make everything more challenging.

Plan on walking fewer daily miles than you think. Prior to the walk, I underestimated the daily distances quoted in the WH Walk Descriptions. I would think to myself 'I will be able to walk much further than that in one day'

To quote WH:
"The trail is completely unmarked and passes through extremely wild and rugged terrain. Although many sections follow paths and tracks, there are also some sections which are pathless and a high degree of navigational skill is required."

For me, the key items in this quote are 'unmarked' , 'rugged terrain' and 'navigational skill'. These are the things I underestimated - a lot - before I started. These are the things that will often slow your progress to a crawl and have a negative effect on your mental attitude.

You really impose a physical and mental challenge on yourself when you take this journey. Meeting that challenge and completing the walk are a huge reward. Equally rewarding are the great people you meet, the fantastic landscapes you see and the overall sense of wilderness adventure!

My favourite place on the CWT was Sandwood Bay. Maybe this was a downside of walking north to south. I can see that the impact of reaching Sandwood (and then the Cape) would be all the more profound if you walked from south to north - you would get that big reward at the end after all the trials endured.

I am truly grateful to WH for being with me throughout the CWT - the walk descriptions on my phone and the GPS waypoints in case I ever got really lost. And thankyou COVID19, without you I would have followed my original plans for 2020 and I would probably have missed out on the grand adventure that is the CWT!


_sandwood.JPG
Sandwood Bay at sunset







Diary

Day: 0
From: Keoldale
To: Cape Wrath Lighthouse
Mileage: 13
Walking Duration /hours: 4
Terrain: Uneven but surfaced road (I saw one day visitor with a bicycle attempting to fix a puncture)
Navigation: No issues
Weather: Breezy with occasional drizzle.
Wild Camp: near lighthouse, very windy!
Notes: 10 minute ferry crossing from Keoldale at 10.30am. The ferryman started crossings at 7.30am that day and his last return to Keoldale was to be at 2.30pm. On the prior two days he had not run the ferry due to bad weather. The minibus that normally takes you to the lighthouse is not running this year due to social distancing concerns. Great coffee at Ozone Cafe at the lighthouse! Cafe owner advised 'rough' weather for the next day....

0a.JPG
Preparing to board the ferry at Keoldale

0b.JPG
Seals at the Kyle of Durness just after being dropped off from the ferry

0c.JPG
Cape Wrath Lighthouse




Day: 1
From: Cape Wrath Lighthouse
To: Sandwood Bay
Mileage: 10
Walking Duration /hours: 7
Terrain: Very boggy. Several river crossings. Slow going.
Navigation: Mostly pathless or very faint paths. Challenging in the bad weather.
Weather: Very windy and heavy rain in the morning. Sporadic sunshine in the afternoon.
Wild Camp: Sandwood Bay Dunes
Notes: I was woken by the sound of wind and rain on my tent. Not a great start! Packing up the tent was tricky in the high wind. Of course my feet were soaked as soon as I put my first foot onto/into the boggy ground - that's trail runners for you. I immediately questioned the wisdom of walking the CWT southbound since the high wind was blowing straight at me. Near the sea cliffs, the wind was so strong as to be pushing me backwards. I had to wear my sunglasses to stop the needle-like rain from stinging my eyes. There were several river crossings during this day - I lost count after the first few. I had never crossed a river before (without using a bridge or stepping stones!)
The highest river crossing reached my upper thighs - but it was a slow current. Another crossing reached to just below my knees but the current was strong. I just moved very slowly and deliberately using both my poles to support me. The most challenging crossing was at the southern boundary of the MOD zone - the Keisaig River. This river is in a steep sided V-shaped gully. I found a point to cross where the current was minimal. But the opposite bank was a steep climb of stones and heather. I was glad to finally climb over the barbed wire fence that marked the exit from the MOD zone.
Finally arriving at the spectacular Sandwood Bay made up for the days challenges. I pitched my tent amongst the dunes and watched the dramatic scenery as it changed with the light and the weather.

1a.JPG
Keisaig River Crossing

1c.JPG
Strath Chailleach River Crossing

1b.JPG
First view of Sandwood Bay



Day: 2
From: Sandwood Bay
To: Near Loch Stack Lodge
Mileage: 20
Walking Duration /hours: 11.5
Terrain: Clear paths and minor roads to Richonich. Muddy, overgrown and boulder strewn path along the Richonich River and intervening lochs. Boggy and pathless then finally following an old stalkers track.
Navigation: Straightforward until the end of Loch a'Garbh-bhaid Mor then pathless until reaching an old stalkers track at the foot of Arkle. Aiming for the right hand side of the base of Arkle and watching for cairns helped keep me on track.
Weather: Sunny in the morning. Heavy rain and poor visibility for the remainder of the day.
Wild Camp: Under the pine trees at the rear of Loch Stack Lodge
Notes: One of my tent poles fell over during my night in the dunes - I hadn't used a heavy enough stone to keep the stake in place in the sand. The beach was deserted when I awoke. This is truly a magical place!
It was a very relaxing walk from the beach until Richonich! But then the weather became increasingly rainy.
Difficult terrain made for very slow going along the Richonich river and beyond.
One significant river crossing was the Garbh Allt. This was wide but no more than shin deep when I crossed.
Path finding made for slow progress - as did a slip then a slide down a muddy slope.
Getting late in the afternoon, there were still no decent camping spots to be found. I ended up walking until Loch Stack Lodge where I saw a stand of pine trees a few hundred meters behind the buildings. Not a great tent pitch but I was out of the rain (somewhat). The rain continued through the evening. That night in the tent was damp and miserable. It didn't help that a large bag of peanuts burst open and the tent floor was covered with them.

2a.JPG
Path along the Richonich River

2b.JPG
Garbh Allt River Crossing

2c.JPG
Tent with peanuts




Day: 3
From: Near Loch Stack Lodge
To: Kylestrome
Mileage: 14
Walking Duration /hours: 7
Terrain: Road, forestry track, stalkers track
Navigation: Straightforward (I suspect the alternate route would have been challenging given the weather)
Weather: Heavy rain and wind
Wild Camp: near Kylestrome estate buildings
Notes: It was still raining when I awoke and it rained for the whole day. I wasn't feeling in the best of spirits as I decamped. My planned route would have taken me around the side of Ben Stack and then over the summit of Ben Dreavie. But I couldn't see any of those features as I started walking. The peaks were shrouded in mist and cloud. I decided to take the alternate route - following the A838 for a few miles until reaching Achfary. Just after Achfary, the map showed the route taking a right turn up through forestry. I missed this and walked an extra half mile or so. I backtracked and found the track - the forest had been felled and the access gate looked like it was restricted access. But it was OK for hikers. As I climbed the track the wind and rain became more intense. I followed the undulating track to Kylestrome where I decided to pitch my tent in the mid-afternoon due to the bad weather. With hindsight, it would have been better to have taken the cutoff route from about two miles before Kylestrome to the Maldie Burn Waterfall part-way along Loch Glendhu and then carried on until Glendhu Bothy (where there is good, flat ground for tents). Again, I fell asleep hoping for better weather tomorrow.

3a.JPG
A dreary day


Day: 4
From: Kylestrome
To: Glencoul Bothy
Mileage: 15
Walking Duration /hours: 9
Terrain: Mostly tracks with slight boggy/rocky section crossing the shoulder of Beinn Aird da Loch
Navigation: Straightforward
Weather: Dry with clear skies
Wild Camp: Near Glencoul Bothy
Notes: I woke to fine weather!! The walking today was great and sometimes the sun was quite hot. The absence of wind made for nice views over Glendhu and Glencoul. I reached the Glencoul Bothy mid-afternoon and decided to carry on walking. After walking about a mile beyond the bothy I knew I was making very slow progress. The terrain was very rough with no obvious camp spots. I decided to retrace my steps and camp for the night near the bothy on the shore of the loch. This was a great camp spot although there were a few midges there.

4a.JPG
Path alongside Loch Glendhu

4b.JPG
Across Loch Glendhu to the Glendhu Bothy

4c.JPG
At the head of Loch Glencoul



Day: 5
From: Glencoul Bothy
To: Inchnadamph
Mileage: 13
Walking Duration /hours: 9
Terrain: Initially boggy and rocky. Later, well defined tracks.
Navigation: Straightforward
Weather: Warm and sunny
Wild Camp: Near pine trees about two miles after Inchnadamph
Notes: A tough walking day. The first two miles beyond the bothy saw me revisiting some of the terrain I gave up on yesterday. Two hours to cover two miles along the 'flat' valley floor gives a hint of the rough terrain I encountered. Undulating, boulder strewn bog occasionally embedded with wires from a collapsed iron fence. This was one of the sections of the CWT I found to be really taxing mentally i.e. you feel like you are making no progress and every step has to be planned. There was a faint path from previous hikers but it was elusive and very easy to lose. Trying to keep on the that path was often harder than just making your own path. But after a while I would decide that the 'faint path' must be better than my 'no path' so then I'd spend time trying to find the faint path again. I alternated back and forth several times on this pathfinding dilemma.
There were many other sections on the CWT like this. They tested my patience and depleted my morale.
A bright spot in this short section was passing Eas a' Chual Aluinn - the highest waterfall in Britain. Plus the weather was great by this point - blue skies and warm sun. Finally, the route started to climb out of the valley. A steep climb - but welcome! The higher I climbed, the more grand were the vistas. Following the long descent towards Inchnadamph, I decided not to visit the hostel shop since I didn't need food supplies and I suspected it might be closed. Instead I started on the track that would eventually get me to Oykel bridge. After a few miles I found a good camp spot near some pine trees. I set my shoes and socks out to dry in the late afternoon sun.

5a.JPG
Eas a' Chual Aluinn - the highest waterfall in Britain

5b.JPG
Lochan near Bealach na h-Uidhe

5c.JPG
View from the top of Bealach na h-Uidhe



Day: 6
From: Inchnadamph
To: Oykel Bridge
Mileage: 20 miles
Walking Duration /hours: 13
Terrain: Riverside path then boggy then forestry tracks
Navigation: Straightforward except for the pathless sections before and after Bealach Trallgill
Weather: Warm and sunny
Wild Camp: Under the trees near the Oykel Bridge Hotel and the bridge
Notes: Another good weather day. There were remarkable views once I crossed over the Bealach Trallgill. Pathfinding was challenging in this section. I guess frogs must like the boggy terrain since I saw a few today! I ended up walking further than I intended because I wasn't finding a good camping spot and because of a detour just after the Benmore Lodge. This detour was signposted 'CWT Detour' - it said follow the blue signs and blue rocks. The route was along forestry tracks. After about a mile I saw some blue painted rocks so I kept on going. After another two miles I reached a Y-junction with no signs! Getting frustrated by this point, I chose the track that appeared to head towards Oykel Bridge. After a quarter mile I regretted this decision. The track ended. I could see the target path running by the Oykel River ahead but in the intervening space was a few hundred meters of felled forestry that was littered with dead branches, rocks, and bog. With much grumbling I slowly picked my way across this 'battlefield'. Back on the riverside path, I kept walking to Oykel Bridge, never finding a camping spot. Finally, I exited the hunting estate and found myself at Oykel Bridge. It was dark and 8.30pm. The hotel was closed to non-residents so no end of day beer for me. I pitched my tent by the light of my headlamp.

6a.JPG
Crossing Bealach Trallgill

6b.JPG
Looking towards Glen Oykel




Day: 7
From: Oykel Bridge
To: Glen Douchary
Mileage: 16
Walking Duration /hours: 9
Terrain: Forestry tracks then very boggy
Navigation: Straightforward until just after end of Loch an Daimh then faint/no tracks
Weather: Fine until mid-afternoon then heavy rain and wind
Wild Camp: Glen Douchary - about 6 miles from Inverlael at old shielings below Meall Dubh
Notes: With fine weather and good tracks I made good early progress. I hoped to reach Inverlael by days end. I passed the Schoolhouse Bothy and later the Knockdamph Bothy. The tracks had been great so far! I was tempted to follow the same track all the way to Ullapool. But since my food supplies were still good ( estimated I still had enough to get me to Kinlochewe) I stepped off the 'good' track into what would be 'bad' paths for the rest of the day! Starting just as I reached the end Loch an Daimh, this route took me through the Inverlael Forest area. Lots of boggy terrain and hard to find faint paths. Following along the edge of the River Douchary, I saw several waterfalls and gorges. And there was a steep sided ravine to be crossed - climbing up the heathery, muddy slope was a bit tense as I worried about slipping. Glad to be back on just 'regular' boggy terrain, I finally met two groups of people who were headed north on the CWT. We didn't chat for more than a few minutes since the rain and wind had started. I figured I wouldn't reach Inverael as planned - they mentioned some old shieling ruins they had passed so I made for them. I pitched my tent in the lee of one of the shieling walls. I fell asleep wondering what the big holes were close by my tent - animal burrows for sure but much larger than rabbit holes! The wind and rain howled that night - my tent flapped like crazy.

7a.JPG
One of many waterfalls on River Douchary

7b.JPG
Old shieling provides some respite from the wind




Day: 8
From: Glen Douchary
To: Near Dundonnell
Mileage: 16
Walking Duration /hours: 10
Terrain: Initially boggy then reasonable tracks
Navigation: Challenging until Meall Dubh was passed then straightforward.
Weather: Heavy rain and wind
Wild Camp: Woodland adjacent to the A832 near to Dundonnell House
Notes: Again I awoke to rain. It took me four hours to reach Inverlael (a distance of about six miles). This slow speed reflects the terrain I was crossing. Boggy, faint/disappearing paths, mini-valleys/cliffs of bog and a long climb around the flank of Meall Dubh. And the wind was against me! This was another of those memorably challenging CWT sections for me. The descent to Inveralael was along forestry tracks. After a short road walk along the A835 I began climbing again. Visibility worsened due to rain and mist. The path passed over lots of exposed rock bedding planes. The rocks were often covered by lichens of many different colours. And I saw another fantastic frog!
But for the rain I would have walked further. So when I reached the A832 I pitched my tent under some trees and hoped for no rain tomorrow!

8a.JPG
Lichen

8b.JPG
Frog



Day: 9
From: Near Dundonnell
To: Kinlochewe
Mileage: 21
Walking Duration /hours: 12
Terrain: Mostly tracks with some boggy sections
Navigation: Straightforward
Weather: Sunny - just one hour of rain at the end of the day
Wild Camp: Field adjacent to Incheril carpark near Kinlochewe
Notes: Woohoo! No rain today!! I wanted to reach Kinlochewe by the end of the day so that I could be ready to visit the local shop when it opened at 9am the next day. And I met my goal - assisted by good weather and mostly good tracks.
I was rewarded by lots of remarkable landscapes during my days walk. The peaks of An Teallach glowed in the morning sun. I bypassed Sheneval but saw the valley in which it lies - what a great location! I met two northbound CWT hikers - we were all in a positive mood since we were each at about the CWT half-way point. The descent to Loch Fada was slow going due to indistinct paths, a steep descent and heavy bog. But the views of Slioch and the loch compensated for any difficulty. The remainder of the walk was on well defined tracks so the miles passed by quickly.

9a.JPG
An Teallach - Pyramid-like peak in the morning sun

9b.JPG
Sheneval Bothy in the distance

9c.JPG
Loch Fada




Day: 10
From: Kinlochewe
To: About 4 miles after Craig
Mileage: 14
Walking Duration /hours: 9
Terrain: Roads and forestry tracks. Short steep, muddy descent into Craig.
Navigation: Straightforward
Weather: Cold start otherwise fine and sunny
Wild Camp: About 4 miles after Craig on the river bank just before the climb to the Bealach Bhearnais
Notes: I woke to frost on my tent! But that's better than rain. My damp shoes and socks were semi-frozen so it took me a while to put them on. I had cold soaked some couscous overnight - that was also semi-frozen. Overall a chilly start to the day. After a 10 minute walk I was outside the Kinlochewe Post Office and General Store waiting for it to open at 9am. My shopping was complete within 10 minutes and my pack was quite a bit heavier again. This shop did not have the greatest selection of foods for the trail. I ended up buying lots of oatcakes, snickers bars and a few other less than ideal foods. But I had no other options and the next food shop was supposed to be at Shiel Bridge Garage about 45 miles further south.
Leaving Kinlochewe, I followed the A896 for about two miles then followed forestry tracks to climb to the Coulin Pass (the WH Walk Description for this section describes a very overgrown path into to Kinlochewe, hence my detour) Once over the Coulin Pass the descent to Craig followed a steep, muddy and overgrown path. Thankfully this only lasted for less than a mile. By the rail tracks at Craig I gathered handfuls of bramble berries - a welcome, healthy treat - then walked another few miles along the side of the Allt a'Chaonais River. I met two more northbound CWT hikers. For once the weather was good and nobody was in a hurry so there was time to chat! During this conversation they told me that the Shiel Bridge Garage was closed but there was a gift/antique shop in the same vicinity that might sell snacks. I found a good camp spot just before the climb to the Bealach Bhearnais close by the two-wire bridge. I fell asleep listening to the river and the deer wailing in the hills.

10a.jpg
Free Lunch!

10b.jpg
Bridge over the River Allt a'Chaonais



Day: 11
From: About 4 miles after Craig
To: Midway between Iron Lodge and Carnach
Mileage: 19
Walking Duration /hours: 11
Terrain: Some tracks but two major sections of heavy bog
Navigation: Straightforward except for the bealach initial descent and from Loch Calavie to the bothy
Weather: Rain throughout the day until late afternoon.
Wild Camp: Midway between Iron Lodge and Carnach
Notes: I woke to the sound of rain. I didn't cross the river using the wire bridge - my feet were always wet anyway. After a steep climb to the top of the Bealach Bhearnais I began a very challenging descent. The terrain was pathless, boggy, rocky and muddy - very slow going. I did see a vole - or something that looked like a vole. When you are moving so slowly and often staring at your feet, you see things you would otherwise miss. As I descended, the path improved somewhat. Once I passed the end of Loch Calavie, the path disappeared (in fact I kept walking on the 'good' track too long and missed my turnoff so I had to backtrack). When I saw the terrain of the 'non-path' I said 'You've got to be kidding' or words to that effect. From that point until Maol Bhuide bothy the going was very rough. Again I tried to follow a vague path but kept losing it. Its good that I was alone because I had become bad tempered. I had slipped in the mud - again - and started screaming at the bog 'There is no @#$&*!# path! There is no @#$&*!# path!!'. I imagine the bog smiled serenely...
Beyond the bothy, the path improved greatly and I made good progress for the remainder of the day. I met three groups of northbound CWT hikers that afternoon - one of whom said they had followed a bypass around the Falls of Glomach (rather than risk the normal falls descent route). I pitched my tent as the sun was setting and thought about my ascent of the falls tomorrow - maybe I should follow the bypass? And I thought about food resupply.

11a.JPG
Landscape as seen from the top of Bealach Bhearnais

11c.JPG
Path on the descent from Bealach Bhearnais

11d.JPG
Trying to find the path to Maol Bhuide Bothy



Day: 12
From: Midway between Iron Lodge and Carnach
To: About half a mile before Grannda Falls
Mileage: 16
Walking Duration /hours: 10
Terrain: Good. Ascent of the falls was muddy with some slippery rocks
Navigation: Straightforward
Weather: Dry. Cloudy in the morning. Sunny in the afternoon.
Wild Camp: Hillside about half a mile before Grannda Falls
Notes: I heard rain overnight but woke to a dry morning. This convinced me that I should try the Falls of Glomach ascent route. Soon I was making the steep climb. The path was muddy in places and exposed stones were wet from overnight rain. But I took my time and moved cautiously (the ravine to my left was very deep).
I only encountered two tricky obstacles. One was a large block of stone about chest height that I had to climb up. The other not far from the top of the climb: a side ravine with running water with lots of moss covered slippery stones - one slip here and you might get a short taste of zero G! But I made it. I think it was the wrong time of year to see the falls at their best but they were still quite powerful. Close to the top I met a CWT hiker and their dog who were just about to descend the path I had just climbed. I have to say, I would much prefer to climb up the falls path than climb down it. Amazingly, the dog (a border collie) was missing a hind leg. That was a truly brave and inspiring dog! I wished them both well! The walk from the valley floor (Carnach) to the top of the falls took about three hours. Then I spent another three hours walking to the Morvich road. This section had good paths or forestry tracks. During this three hours I decided I was going to follow the Great Glen variant of the CWT rather than follow my original plan (Knoydart/Glenfinnan). Why the change of heart? Frankly I was fed up with boggy terrain. I had read the WH walk descriptions and could foresee even more 'rough' terrain via Knoydart. And I was concerned about my food supply. The hiker I'd just met told me that the camp site at Morvich was closed. And if the 'gift/antique shop' mentioned on day 10 didn't materialize I was going to be very short on food during the Knoydart section. I figured I would cut my remaining journey time by one day by taking Great Glen route. Feeling a renewed energy - and able to eat a bit more - I walked another five miles before pitching my tent.

12a.JPG
Loch na Leitreach

12b.JPG
The Falls of Glomach



Day: 13
From: About half a mile before Grannda Falls
To: About a quarter mile before the Loyne River crossing
Mileage: 20
Walking Duration /hours: 11
Terrain: Mostly good tracks except for the very heavy bog following the hostel.
Navigation: Straightforward. Vague paths for the three mile section following the hostel.
Weather: Sunny, cool.
Wild Camp: About a quarter mile before the Loyne River crossing
Notes: It was a steep, long climb from last nights camp spot but the path was good. As I approached the summit ridge, I got a great view of the Grannda Falls. Once over the ridge I saw quite a bit of frost on the ground. I passed the Camban Bothy and a little later I met a few northbound hikers. At the Alltbeith hostel the route took a turn for the worse. The path was nightmarishly boggy for the next two hours (about three miles). Of all the bog treks I endured on the CWT, this was in my top three worst! This slowed me down considerably so I had to walk until sundown to make up the miles. I wanted to cross the Loyne River before the end of the day (WH warned it could be a problematic crossing). I got to within a quarter mile of the river but it was getting too dark so I pitched my tent and hoped it wouldn't rain overnight. My food supply was dwindling - only oatcakes left!
The bog ordeal earlier in the day was ironic. The previous day I had chosen to follow the 'Great Glen' variant hoping to avoid the bogs of Knoydart! I wasn't going to escape so easily. The next day would prove that....

13a.JPG
Camban Bothy

13b.JPG
Deer at Loch Cluanie



Day: 14
From: About a quarter mile before the Loyne River crossing
To: Laggan Bridge
Mileage: 22
Walking Duration /hours: 13
Terrain: Mostly good tracks but two sections of major bog
Navigation: Straightforward
Weather: Rain in the morning. Dry for rest of the day.
Wild Camp: Forest edge just before Laggan Bridge
Notes: I woke to the sound of rain and immediately worried about the crossing of the Loyne. As it turned out, the river was quite shallow that day. The morning weather was very misty and dreary. The river crossing was followed by a long climb up to the top of Mam na Seilg. It was boggy of course! At the top the bog was more intense and swamp-like. I slipped and was thigh deep in a bog pool. What a mess - I was covered in mud. Once on the descent, the path improved somewhat. This was followed by a road walk for about one mile to Poulary. After Poulary, I started on the route to Mandally walking alongside Loch Garry. For four miles the terrain was a 'swamp'. This was maybe the worst of my whole CWT hike - mind numbingly frustrating. I had another thigh deep dip into a bog. 'Bring it on Bog - I bet you can't do any worse than that!' - I was talking to the bog again! It took me three hours to cover four miles. But at least the rain had stopped. I finally reached the buildings at Garrygualach - this is where the fantastic forestry track started! The remainder of the day was on forestry tracks. I walked until after sundown since I wanted to try to reach Fort William tomorrow.

14a.JPG
Looking back towards the River Loyne

14b.JPG
My Old Friend The Bog - At the top of Mam na Seilg



Day: 15
From: Forest just before Laggan Swing Bridge
To: Fort William
Mileage: 23
Walking Duration /hours: 10
Terrain: Canal tow path, forestry tracks and minor roads.
Navigation: Straightforward.
Weather: Fine and sunny.
Wild Camp: None!
Notes: This final day was a very relaxing way to end the walk. The sun was shining all day long. Walking alongside Loch Lochy, the mirror-flat canal and on the minor roads was a breeze. The miles quickly accumulated. No worrying about navigation or terrain. No Bog! No Mud!! It was such a contrast to the past two weeks. I guess this was what I was hoping for when I made my route choice back on day 12.
I was mighty glad to reach Fort William. The adventure was over! For now....

15b.JPG
The tranquility of the Caledonian Canal




Gear

I tried to minimize my base weight so I could carry more food. The anticipated 'reasonable' September weather helped me avoid carrying more clothing, heavier tent etc. Water was almost always available so I often walked with my bottle empty. I used a Sawyer Squeeze Water filter.

  • Base Weight 12.5 lbs / 5.7 kg
  • Water (1 liter bottle) 2.5 lbs / 1.1 kg
  • Food (max) 9.7 lbs / 4.4 kg

I never needed my headnet. My Anker Power Bank PowerCore 26,800mAh was too large. A 10,000 mAh power bank would have been sufficient on a single charge prior to starting the walk.
I wore my rain pants for a few days but as the days progressed I decided not to use them even in heavy rain. My legs were always damp up to my knees due to river crossings, damp vegetation and bogs.

Using Trail Runners rather than boots meant my feet were always wet during the day. It took a while to dry my feet in the evening (they looked like they had been in the bath for too long). I was never able to dry my shoes or socks so I had to put them back on damp each morning. On the plus side, since the shoes are so light I could walk that much further each day (I have problems with heavier shoes/boots where my legs start to tire after many hours of hiking). Also I didn't have to avoid or walk around sections of the path that are water-logged, muddy or submerged in water. I would just walk straight through - this does help to stop the 'braiding' effect you see on some paths as each hiker makes a new path around an obstacle.



Equipment:
  • Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60
  • Zpacks Duplex Tent
  • TNH Outdoors Tent Stakes
  • Western Mountaineering 10 Degree Versalite Sleeping Bag (6ft)
  • Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Long
  • Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Premium
  • Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Poles


Water, Sanitation, Emergency:
  • Sawyer Squeeze Filter
  • Recycled 1L Water Bottle
  • CNOC 2L Water Bladder
  • TheTentLab The Deuce #2 Trowel
  • Wet Wipes
  • Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent (5ml dropper bottle)
  • Hand Sanitizer (5ml dropper bottle)
  • Antiseptic Cream (5ml dropper bottle)
  • Ibuprofen pills
  • Immodium pills
  • Sea to Summit Head Net
  • Toothbrush
  • Travel Toothpaste
  • Tick Remover
  • Needle/Thread
  • Space Blanket
  • Gorilla Tape (wrapped around poles)
  • Leukotape (wrapped around poles)
  • Ballpoint Pen
  • Rite in the Rain Notebook 3 x 5 inch (for my daily diary)
  • Victorinox Classic SD Swiss Army Pocket Tool


Electronics:
  • iPhone SE (2016)
  • SPIDERCASE iPhone SE Waterproof Case
  • Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way Satellite Communicator
  • Headphones
  • Petzl Tikka Headlamp with Petzl Core Battery
  • Anker Power Bank PowerCore 26800mAh
  • Lightning to USB A cable
  • Micro USB to USB A cable


Navigation:
  • Suunto A10 Compass
  • Harvey Maps - Cape Wrath Trail South XT40
  • Harvey Maps - Cape Wrath Trail North XT40
  • Gaia Maps App (pre-loaded with WH GPS waypoint routes)
  • Pacer App (used to track daily mileage, steps, calories)
  • Walk Highland Walk Descriptions - downloaded as Notes on my phone
  • Heading for the Scottish Hills Deer Stalking Notes - downloaded as Notes on my phone


Clothing:
  • Altra Lone Peak 4.0 Trailrunner Shoes
  • Altra Trail Gaiters
  • Darn Tough Light Micro Crew Socks x 2 pairs
  • Columbia Microfleece Pullover
  • Columbia Polyester T-Shirt
  • REI Sahara Cargo Pants
  • Smartwool Merino 150 Boxer Briefs x 2
  • REI Drypoint GTX Rain Jacket
  • REI XeroDry GTX Rain Pants
  • Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap
  • UV Buff
  • Sunglasses
  • Outdoor Research Active Ice Gloves


Food:
  • Sea to Summit Titanium Long Handle Spoon
  • Empty Peanut Butter Jar
  • Dried Couscous
  • KIND Maple Glazed Pecan Bars
  • LARABAR Peanut Butter Bars
  • Malt Loaf
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Oat Cakes
  • Snickers
  • Peanuts
  • Raisins
  • Fruit Pastilles
Serpentinite
Walker
 
Posts: 2
Joined: May 19, 2019

Re: Cape Wrath Trail - North to South

Postby Stevekerr188 » Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:13 pm

Well done. Enjoyed that, a good read. BTW every time I have been at Poulary on various CWT or TGO I have used the 4 mile road section to Garrygualach ,its far better than the boggy route.
Stevekerr188
Backpacker
 
Posts: 71
Munros:282   Corbetts:47
Grahams:23   Donalds:89
Hewitts:138
Wainwrights:214   Islands:16
Joined: Dec 29, 2019
Location: Co Durham

Re: Cape Wrath Trail - North to South

Postby arjh » Mon Oct 26, 2020 8:47 pm

Excellent report, photos and kit list. Thanks for posting :clap:
User avatar
arjh
Wanderer
 
Posts: 131
Munros:93   Corbetts:23
Grahams:10   Donalds:5
Sub 2000:9   Hewitts:291
Wainwrights:166   Islands:6
Joined: Sep 5, 2015
Location: Sussex

Re: Cape Wrath Trail - North to South

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Nov 01, 2020 11:45 pm

A great and informative read :clap: :clap: :clap: . Well done for managing for such a long period in that tiny tent!

Still not sure about whether I'd like to attempt the CWT. Some bits look wonderful (eg Knoydart Rough Bounds, and far North. But other stretches - quite long ones too - seem to have rather less to recommend them. My brother and I are contemplating a short taster....
User avatar
Alteknacker
Scrambler
 
Posts: 3169
Munros:173   Corbetts:31
Hewitts:236
Wainwrights:100   
Joined: May 25, 2013
Location: Effete South (of WIgan, anyway)

Re: Cape Wrath Trail - North to South

Postby Wilderwanderer » Mon Dec 21, 2020 3:00 pm

Thanks for posting this report.

Accounts like yours really help folk like me (who are planning the same route), to be both inspired and informed. Helpful photos always add some clarity, though a few bog-snorkelling images would have added some colour!!

Your honesty was welcomed and the sheer mental and emotional physicality of this 'trail' was glaringly evident. Great effort and look forward to hearing more from you.
Wilderwanderer
Walker
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 12, 2020

Re: Cape Wrath Trail - North to South

Postby wildmountaintimes » Sun Jan 03, 2021 11:42 pm

Well done.

Why the empty peanut butter jar, out of interest?
User avatar
wildmountaintimes
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 20
Munros:205   Corbetts:3
Sub 2000:1   
Joined: Jul 14, 2020

Re: Cape Wrath Trail - North to South

Postby Serpentinite » Mon Jan 04, 2021 2:48 pm

wildmountaintimes wrote:Well done.

Why the empty peanut butter jar, out of interest?


Thanks!
At the start of the day, I half-filled my jar with dried couscous then added cold water and sealed the jar. By evening the couscous was fully soaked and ready to eat (a cold treat!)
Serpentinite
Walker
 
Posts: 2
Joined: May 19, 2019

9 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).




Walkhighlands community forum is advert free


Your generosity keeps this site running.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Long Distance routes

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests