walkhighlands

Share your personal walking route experiences in Scotland, and comment on other peoples' reports.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

A stravaig up the Cape Wrath Trail

A stravaig up the Cape Wrath Trail


Postby benno » Sat Aug 04, 2012 3:35 pm

Munros included on this walk: Gairich, Sgurr Mor (Loch Quoich)

Corbetts included on this walk: Sgurr an Fhuarain

Date walked: 31/07/2012

Distance: 80 km

Ascent: 4000m

3 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).

Well, part of it anyway. The nature of modern life meant I had to cut my walk short, but still a great few days backpacking through the hills in weather you could only get in Scotland. I will go and carry on when life allows it.


Day 1

On Tuesday I took the train up to Glenfinnan, arriving after 1pm in gorgeous sunshine. I've only ever been to Glenfinnan twice, and both times its been positively mediterranean - is there some secret about this place that nobody is telling me?

Image

Heading up the glen towards Corryhully, toying with the idea of bagging Coireachan and Thuilm before heading into Glen Pean, but thinking the better of it thanks to the time of day and heavy pack - as a first time long distance walker I think I planned on eating too much food, better too much than too little though! I headed up over the bealach and down into Glen Pean, heeding the advice of a guy I met on the train and crossing the river early to avoid the lack of bridge down at the bottom. The glen was alive Scotch Argus (or should it be Argi), following me down the riverside and crowding me, and many dragonflies. Arriving at the River Pean I crossed over and headed up to the track in the woods, following it round to A'Chuil for an early night, and my first night in a bothy. Arriving at 6.45 there was a guy fast asleep so I tried to tiptoe and eat my dinner quietly...

Back towards Corryhully
Image

A useful gate at the bealach
Image

Down towards Glen Pean
Image

Streap, what a fantastic hill
Image

Dragonfly, one of many seen in this glen. One of them was about 3 inches long - I've never seen such a beast
Image

A'Chuil
Image

My cosy corner for the night
Image

View up Glen Dessary
Image


Day 2

Next morning, the guy left before I rose, and crawling out of my sleeping bag I popped outside to see this:

Ah, oh dear.
Image

The plan had been to head over to Sourlies (possibly popping up Ciche) and aim to bag the Knoydart munros the next day, but having not seen the forecast (they're inevitably wrong more than a couple of days ahead) and not wanting to spend the day getting drenched only to find the famously busy Sourlies bothy fully booked on my arrival, I decided to change plan and head North, cutting a couple of days from my schedule. I crossed over Glen Dessary and headed down the track towards Loch Arkaig, before turning up the pass to Glen Kingie.

Cue the Indiana Jones music
Image

Some downed power lines I had to gingerly hop over at the start of the Glen Kingie path
Image

Up the pass, the wind and rain got heavy, buffeting me and my heavy pack, and arriving at the bealach, Sgurr Mor appeared briefly to beckon me daringly through the gloom. I just couldn't say no. I descended to the River Kingie and hopped across, dry shod, dumped the sack, and plodded on up the endless slopes to the ridge of Sgurr Mor, wind and rain increasing, occasional sudden glimpses downwards, until I was fully immersed in the cloud (and drenched to the skin, boxers included - I've never had such problems with my waterproofs, they're decent Rab Bergen made from eVent so I was disappointed that they soaked up the water like a sponge today).

Come on, up you come! Sgurr Mor from the pass.
Image

Easy crossing the Kingie
Image

Don't recognise this one, anyone?
Image

Arriving on the ridge, I made a marker with stones on the path so that I could find my way back to the pack, and headed up the path towards Sgurr Mor (I say path, but it was more like the Tay that day). As I ascended, the buffeting got worse, having to crouch in a couple of really bad gusts, beginning to ask myself whether coming up here was such a great plan, and finally arriving on the summit. What a view (not).

A brief glimpse ahead
Image

Summit
Image

I hastily descended, hoping to reach the pack ASAP, and as I did so, the clouds suddenly began to clear, drawing my eye to a patch of blue sky above Sgurr an Fhuarain ahead. Come on, you know you want to...

Image

On fire
Image

Sgurr Mor
Image

Loch Quoich, going there tomorrow
Image

I followed the ridge up to Fhuarain, seeing some haggard sheep on the way, and the hills in every direction clearing for my perusal. Suddenly elated, finally feeling that the toil had been worth it, I headed down to the pack, freezing from my soaked clothes.

From the summit of Fhurain - Ciche visible to the left of Sgurr Mor
Image

As I descended, the weather came in again, and I longed for the roaring fire in Kinbreack which I knew I would have soon. Arriving back at the Kingie, things had changed:

Image
Image

What a difference a couple of hours can make! I headed upstream, painfully moving further away from that fireplace, eventually deciding just to wade across where it wasn't too deep (turned out to be between knee and waist - I was drenched anyway), grabbed a pile of bogwood, and bog hopped my way over to the bothy, having to wade another two torrents on the way.

From afar
Image

The Allt a' Chinn Bhric by the bothy, another one to wade
Image

Arriving at the bothy, I got the fire going nicely, had a hot brew, some dinner, and things began to feel OK again - this is a really lovely bothy, I'm going to have to revisit it someday. Then, half an hour later, the sun decided to come out again, so I went outside to admire the gorgeous Glen Kingie, only to retreat hastily as the midges attacked.

My home from home
Image

By the bothy
Image

Sun?
Image


Day 3

Waking up to a stunning morning, I decided to attack Gairich, opting to traverse the Southern slopes to the East ridge and dump the sack, rather than carrying the thing over Gairich beag and over 3000ft. Hopping over the (now low again - amazing) Kingie, I headed up the the main path, crossing over the Allt a' Choire Ghlas and started a rising traverse over the endless, though full of interesting waterfalls and rock features, not to mention the deer, slopes of Gairich, at first donning only my trousers but eventually putting a top on after being plagued by clegs (not the deputy PM, though one could draw parallels...).

Lovely, Gairich across the glen
Image

Easy Kingie
Image

Back to the bothy, Fraoch Bheinn centre
Image

A lovely oasis of trees and waterfalls on the Southern slopes of Gairich
Image

Last view to the bothy
Image

Arriving at the East ridge of Gairich, I dumped the sack and headed up the brilliant fun path to the summit, views of summits in all directions, and by this time getting a little sunburnt (only Scottish weather could drench you to a freezing wreck one day then burn you to a crisp the next).

Gairich
Image

Distant Quoich Dam
Image

On top, Sgurr Mor centre with Sgurr na Ciche popping up over his right shoulder
Image

On the descent to the rucksack, running low on water, I stopped to squeeze out some moss in order to drink (yes I was that desperate), the ground and path dry as the desert, what a contrast to yesterday. I reached the sack and headed down the ridge to the forest, marching over that last boggy path to reach the Quoich dam, on which I had lunch.

Anyone know what this is a larva for? There were loads of them on the boggy path
Image

Gairich and a wee lochan
Image

The dam
Image

I walked along the road towards Kinlochhourn, turning down the several lifts I was offered (3 I think - I must have looked dreadful for so many passers by to have sympathy on me), crossed the bridge over the northern spur of the loch, and headed up the path towards Alltbeithe, passing a few people returning from either Sgurr a' Mhaoraich or just a walk up the glen. Arriving at Alltbeithe, I had to stop myself from knocking on the door: "'scuse me, how much for your house?" - what a stunning spot. The weather might have had something to do with it.

Gairich across Loch Quoich, quintessentially Scottish
Image

I love Loch Quoich
Image
Image

Shame about this bit though. The loch was low enought to reveal the walls of an old house, buried by the man made loch
Image

Mhaoraich's Am Bathaich ridge looking great in the evening sun
Image

Back to the Loch
Image

Alltbeithe
Image

I headed East, passing some bemused highland cattle, hoping to reach the watershed before camping but giving up a little short after nearly 10 hours and at the sight of some lovely flat grass by the river. Out came the midges, into the tent I went.

Image

Good spot?
Image


Day 4

Another beautiful morning, Mhaoraich looking very fine indeed. The plan was to reach Camban by nighfall, picking up my food parcel at Cluanie on the way. As it so happened, after a phone conversation on the pass over to Cluanie it became clear that I had to go home, though the regularity of cleg attacks prevented me from being too upset about it. Arriving at 12 I picked up my food parcel, stuffed it in the rucksack, watched the Glasgow bus go by about 30 seconds before I could have hailed it, and dutifully stuck my thumb out in a bid to make the 2.35 from Kyle.

Yes!
Image

Gleouraich - what a rocky hill, great contrast to the Southern side
Image

Approaching Glen Shiel
Image
Image

After about 30mins of baking in the sun, a lovely couple who had been in the Inn and had seen me a few minutes ago offered me a lift, saying that they'd been very grateful to people picking them up in New Zealand. People don't really hitch here anymore - it's a shame that so many people assume that just because you have a beard you're a wierdo - in reality people hitching are normally just people trying to get to (or away from) their homes and wives. Ofcourse there are wierdos, so I'm not saying pick anyone up who waves a thumb at you, but when you're in a position when being given a lift is the difference between getting home or not you really come to appreciate people who do it.

After the mandatory stop at Eilean Donnan we arrived in Kyle, and bidding farewell to the lovely couple, I bought myself a ticket home and a beer (though not necessarily in that order).


our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

User avatar
benno
 
Posts: 404
Munros:236   Corbetts:22
Grahams:10   Donalds:10
Sub 2000:25   Hewitts:9
Wainwrights:9   
Joined: Aug 15, 2008
Location: Dunblane

Re: A stravaig up the Cape Wrath Trail

Postby soulminer » Sat Aug 04, 2012 6:51 pm

A very enjoyable read Benno :clap:
I don't always pick up hitchhikers- usually because of the dogs in the back, but the ones I have were interesting company. I would say the ones that are 'scruffier' have a better chance of me picking them up :)
Cheers.
User avatar
soulminer
 
Posts: 804
Joined: Mar 18, 2010
Location: Johnstone

Re: A stravaig up the Cape Wrath Trail

Postby captainslow » Sat Aug 04, 2012 10:42 pm

+1 on the enjoyable read.

I have a trip up that way in the planning for next month (a friend wants to go to Cape Wrath) so I think I may be returning to you report for some ideas!
captainslow
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 283
Munros:122   Corbetts:41
Grahams:48   Donalds:26
Sub 2000:35   Hewitts:53
Wainwrights:41   
Joined: Jul 24, 2012

Re: A stravaig up the Cape Wrath Trail

Postby MacAoidh » Sun Aug 05, 2012 8:34 am

[quote="benno"]Don't recognise this one, anyone?
Image

Very much enjoyed reading your report. I would say that the wild flower you spotted looks like it is Grass-of-Parnassuis (Parnassia palustris).
User avatar
MacAoidh
 
Posts: 60
Munros:282   Corbetts:90
Grahams:102   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:64   Hewitts:8
Wainwrights:6   
Joined: Jan 2, 2009
Location: Largs - North Ayrshire

Re: A stravaig up the Cape Wrath Trail

Postby lochlaggan » Sun Aug 05, 2012 8:36 pm

I really enjoyed your report and found it useful.

Cheers

Grant
lochlaggan
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 151
Munros:280   Corbetts:187
Grahams:4   Donalds:3
Sub 2000:8   
Joined: Jul 2, 2011

Re: A stravaig up the Cape Wrath Trail

Postby LeithySuburbs » Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:06 pm

Absolutely fantastic report Benno :clap: . So much useful info here for anyone planning a similar trip. Back to reality must have been a struggle :) .
User avatar
LeithySuburbs
Ambler
 
Posts: 1936
Munros:253   Corbetts:50
Grahams:26   Donalds:33
Sub 2000:41   Hewitts:14
Wainwrights:23   Islands:13
Joined: Feb 19, 2009
Location: The Capital

3 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 now advert free

We need help to keep the site online.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by setting up a monthly donation by direct debit?



Return to Walk reports - Scotland

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 45 guests