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Cape Wrath Trail part 2 of 2
by cookachoo » Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:37 pm
Route description: Cape Wrath Trail
Date walked: 01/09/20139 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).
Day 9 Dundonnel
Day 10 Dundonnel – Oykel Bridge
Distance 27.77km or 18m
Ascent 549m or 1,801ft
Time 8.25 hrs
Raining again this morning but it stopped after I had been walking for about 20 mins. Dry most of the day then constant rain came on again at night.
Again, I was lucky enough to secure a lift to Ullapool and started at the quarry. I followed the road that went to Rhidorroch House and along the side of Loch Achall. I passed a small field with some sheep and tiny lambs in. I noticed something strange about the lambs. After studying them for a couple of minutes I realised what it was. Each lamb had a lambskin wrapped round it. This must be a field of orphaned lambs. I have heard of farmers doing this to try and get a sheep to adopt it by using the skin removed from a dead lamb to trick the sheep into thinking it is its own. Stopped in at Knochdamph bothy and found four elderly men from Essex in having lunch. They were on the CWT but with support and transport. They did half last year so were back to complete this year. They were carrying day packs and were collected at the end of every day and taken to accommodation, then dropped off again in the morning to do the next leg and so on. They offered me a cup of hot coffee so I chatted for a while. I let them get ahead of me before I set out again, next stop the old School House bothy, Duag Bridge which I was looking forward to seeing. Caught up with them at the river Abhainn Poiblidh which was wide, deep and moving fast. They were stepping into black bin bags, securing them at the thigh with bungees and walking across so no need to remove boots. They kindly threw over a couple of bags for me to use as well so I didn’t have to remove my boots. It worked a treat. We all stopped in at the bothy for a bite to eat. My plan A was to spend the night here but it wasn’t very late and I had plenty of walking in me yet so decided to push on to Oykel Bridge and see if the hotel had a room, if not I would camp near by. I got the last room in the hotel which was a good decision as it turned into a horrible night. It was full of really posh gents, all there for the fishing. I had a lovely bar meal and a dram before bed.
Left Ullapool 10.15am
Old School House 4.45pm
Oykel Bridge hotel 6.40pm
Day 11 Oykel Bridge – Inchnadamph
Distance 30.74km or 19m
Ascent 1,052m or 3,451ft
It was a drizzle this morning which went off about mid-day. The sun ended up coming out and it was really nice. It stayed nice and dry for the rest of the day.
After a lovely breakfast I set out to start a lovely walk alongside the river with its many numbered fishing beats. Got to the fire break in the trees which I assumed was Salachy but you can’t actually see any ruin from the track. Once a bit up the hill you see the ruin on your left. On the high track it was easy walking all the way to Benmore Lodge. Not far past here I met a chap having a break next to the river. Richard from Derbyshire. He was on the CWT and had done sections over the last two years so he was back to finish it this time. He was going to camp a little further on which was also my plan A but I had made up my mind to carry on and get to Inchnadamph a day early. I'm obviously getting used to the long days. The track soon runs out and vears away from the river so I picked what I hoped was a good line heading up to the high pass at 510m. I managed to boulder hop across the river coming down from Dubh-Loch Mor then it was very steep up to the bealach which was a lovely narrow chasm. Once through to the other side, the ground drops away very steeply more so to the right so I opted to keep to the left of the river. It was OK to start with, the slabby rock being good to walk on but that soon disappeared making way for really horrible peat hags. The bare, wet, sodden black stuff that you daren’t stand on in case you disappear for ever. To save time I made a change in direction and made a bee line for a point in the distance. Big mistake. I ended up in horrible ground, really high hillocks that channelled you in a certain direction, totally knocking me off course. Eventually I had to climb steeply out of the hillocks to get a visual on something and an idea of where I was. I was just N of Loch Mhaolach-coire. Now I could get myself back on track and eventually hit a track which took me all the way down to the hostel at Inchnadamph. Mmmmm, that dog leg had just made a long day even longer. The four elderly men were in, they had walked from Oykel Bridge to Ben More Lodge and got picked up and brought here for the night. They will start again at the Lodge tomorrow and walk to here for another night. I now had a choice, do I have a rest day tomorrow and spend another night here which will get me back on my original plan or head out tomorrow. I had a look at the forecast for tomorrow and it was really bad with severe gales so I decided on the rest day.
High track at Salachy 12.10pm
Benmore Lodge 1.40pm
Original planned camp spot 2.30pm
510m pass 5.20pm
Day 12 Inchnadamph
Had a wander about today, down by river and upto the monument etc. The wind is really really strong at this level, I’m being buffeted just walking on the road. Good choice I think to stay put today. Richard, the chap I met yesterday came into the hostel and we had a good chat over some lunch. He said it was really bad coming over the 510m pass as the wind was catching his rucksack. Met more people on the CWT at dinner time ie. two guys from Holland and Richard said he had also spoke to a French chap. Richard was on the same itinerary as me for the next couple of days so we were going to walk together.
Day 13 Inchnadamph – Glendu
Distance 20.65km or 14m
Ascent 1,096m or 3,595ft
Time 9.15 hrs
Warm this morning and dry. By early afternoon it was blue sky and lovely and sunny. It stayed nice all night and even had a bit of a sunset.
Picked up the track not far behind the hostel and gained height quickly. We spotted someone with a pack on heading down towards the hostel and we were wondering where on earth they had come from to be here at this time in the morning. Richard then thought that it looked like the French chap that was in the hostel and sure as fate he turned up to join the track that we were on. I reckon he had missed the track and after spotting us, realised his error and backtracked to find the start of our track. We kept going slowly, enjoying the heat and eventually the French chap caught us up. His name is Marc from Font-Roheu, South of France. He planned to stay at either Glencoul or Glendhu bothy so we told him our plans and said he could join us if he wanted. He happily accepted so now we were three. Looking back down the hill we could see the two Dutch chaps and behind them the four elderly men. That’s nine of us together on the same bit of the CWT. Waw. Got to the high point of today 620m which gave spectacular 360 degree views. This section had been a worry if there was no visibility but today was perfect so no worries. I picked up a zig zag track going down the other side which led all the way down to the two small lochans. It was very faint in places but I managed to stick with it. The track splits here roughly N and S. We took the S one which would again split after a short distance. This split was fairly obvious and disappeared steeply down the Eastern slope to the river Abhainn an Loch Bhig. Following this river took us to the base of Britain's highest waterfall, Eas a chual Aluinn. It actually wasn't as spectacular as I was hoping for despite all the rain. Heading on towards Glencoul, I was really looking forward to seeing the next two bothies as I had not been to either of them before. Well, Glencoul did not dissapoint, it truly is a spectacular setting, especially on a blue sky day. The track which takes you round the headland is pretty obvious and not difficult, although it does contour on quite a steep slope. Some burnt heather made it a bit harder underfoot. Once round the headland at the 205m point you can see Glendhu. We had a ten minute break here taking in the wonderful scenery. Richard said he was going to push on to the bothy, Marc said he was going to sit for a while so I pottered off slowly, immersed in my surroundings, the wilderness and the silence. I passed through a small area of beautiful natural woodland before reaching the shore of the loch. Once at the bothy, I got a cup of tea on the go. Both Richard and Marc put up their tents but I wanted to stay in the bothy so I had the whole place to myself. Richard went for a wash in the loch and ended up going for a swim. Marc had a dip and me, well I'm a wimp so used my ration of wet wipes. We sat outside chatting, drinking tea and eating till about 10.15pm. There is a colony of bats in the eaves. So it was just me and the bats in the bothy.
High bealach 620m 11.30am
Base of Eas a Chual Aluinn waterfall 1.45pm
Headland point at 205m 4.40pm
Day 14 Glendu – Rhiconich
Distance 27.04km or 16m
Ascent 1,018m or 3,339ft
Time 9.00 hrs
Today started off beautiful. Blue skies, lovely and warm. Got my first light shower about 1.45pm. It was then on and off for the rest of the day. By night time, it was back to constant rain.
Beautiful morning. What a fantastic view down the loch towards Kylesku. Sat outside and had breakfast. Left our tranquil spot and headed along the track towards Kylesku. Once across the Maldie Burn we took the track that cut off due North and leads over the hill and down to Achfary. This track is now a huge bulldozed scar on the landscape. A hydro electric pump station has been built here and it looks like electric cables have been laid and buried along this track all the way to Achfary. At the top of the track Richard was going to leave us and possibly camp up high, over by Ben Dreavie. I would see Richard again in Durness as he was booked into the same hostel as me. Marc was on the same schedule as me for the next couple of days so we carried on. Once down on the road Marc said he wanted to stop for a bit as his back and shoulders were sore. Knowing I still had a long walk ahead of me I said I would carry on and hopefully see him later that night. Had maybe 20 mins of road walk before a landrover stopped and drove me to Lochstack Lodge. Heading towards Arkle was great, it’s a wonderful mountain. At some point, I had to leave the track and head along the side of the two lochs. I decided to stay high along the side of Loch a' Garbh-bhaid Mor. Don’t know if this was a good decision or not, as it was up and down like a yo yo. It was easy enough under foot though, not too boggy. When I got to Loch a' Garbh-bhaid Beag, I dropped down to the loch side as there was a track shown on the map. This was hard going as it was a lot wetter. Had a river crossing here, across the Garbh Allt which I had to take my boots off for. The track along the side of the river was very wet and quite slow going. I was certainly glad to reach Rhiconich where I had a room booked. Once I was settled into my room, I made some phone calls to the bus man and ferry man for the Cape to enquire about Monday as I had heard about an MOD exercise starting. The closest thing to a decision I could get was “it should be alright on Monday morning but that could change at the last minute”. Mmmmm. Clothes scattered everywhere to dry, room like a bomb site, I went for a bar meal. I spotted someone pass with a big pack on and they set up camp down by the bridge. It wasn’t Marc.
Bealach nam Fiann above Achfary 11.45am
Lochstack Lodge 1.15pm
Rhiconich Hotel 5.45pm
Day 15 Rhiconich – Strathchailleach
Distance 9.97km or 6m
Ascent 235m or 70ft
Time 5.35 hrs
It rained heavy early this morning but stopped by the time I left. It came back on as a drizzle about midday, stopped again and was dry for the rest of the day and night.
I was really really lucky this morning. I got a lift all the way to Kinlochbervie and had only walked along the Blairmore road for about 15mins when I got another lift and was dropped right at the start of the Sandwood track. Waw, that saved me masses of time and sore feet. An uneventful walk into Sandwood in a light drizzle but it stopped just as I arrived at the beach. It was really warm and clammy. Went to the far end of the beach across the river and sat on the large boulders for over an hour taking in the scenery and listening to the surf. I was actually nodding off, it was that peaceful. I had to pull myself away and carry on so I climbed steeply up from the beach and headed for Lochan nan Sac. There were a lot of ups and downs to get to this point and not a lot of landmarks to use for navigation so I was glad to see the lochan. The next stretch was the same so careful navigation eventually got me in sight of the bothy. A glint of sunlight hitting the roof gave its location away. What a wonderful wee bothy and it’s a lovely touch having the story of Sandy, framed and on the wall. His wall painting are very atmospheric. No one else in, I made my bed and got a cuppa on the go. Once organised, I sat in the doorway out of the wind with my cuppa and a book. A couple of hours later, a figure appeared on the skyline, someone was heading towards the bothy, then five minutes later another two figures appeared. They were Sandy from Tayport, who was on his own and Jeff and Mark from Co. Durham all on the CWT. Later on, we got a peat fire on the go and we all had a good blether over dinner and numerous cups of tea. Turns out it was Sandy that had camped down by the river last night. We discussed our plans for tomorrow and they too, had heard about possible MOD activity on Monday. They had no idea how long it would take to walk from here to the lighthouse but I was allowing myself four hours going by other people’s timings. Concensus was to get up and away early enough to get to the Cape in time for the lunch time bus and leave the Cape on Sunday. My plan A had been to get to the Cape Sunday then go to Kervaig bothy for the night and leave Monday. I decided to get up early with the lads and get to the Cape and see if I could find out anything definite about MOD activity on the Monday.
Start of Sandwood track 9.15am
Sandwood beach 11.15am
Left beach 12.40pm
Strathchailleach bothy 2.00pm
Day 16 Strathchailleach – Cape Wrath
Distance 11.49km or 6m
Ascent 263m or 862ft
Time 3.05 hrs
Stayed dry all day today. Cloud was low but no high passes today so visibility was fine.
Up at 6am and we all left by 7.15am. One of the Co. Durham chaps had a sore leg and felt that it would be easier to walk back to Sandwood and out to the road rather than go to the Cape. They had a small van at the road end at Sandwood. He planned to get the van, drive to Durness and get the boat and bus up to the lighthouse to meet us so he could still say he had been to Cape Wrath. Sandy and I had agreed on a line so off we all went. The ground was rough but I seemed to find the good bits and also the dryer parts. There were a lot of wet patches to be avoided. We were definately going well, and it certainly wasn’t as tough as I had imagined it, as all the reports I had read said this leg was really tough going with a lot of ups and downs. It felt great when the line of the road came into view. It was a fantastic feeling when I was standing on the road knowing I was 10 minutes away from my goal. We rounded the corner and there it was. We all congratulated each other and took the obligatory photos then crossed the last 60 odd metres to the lighthouse. On the approach some dogs started barking alerting the owner of our presence. The door opened and I shouted “are you open yet” he replied “ the kettles on”. So tea / coffee and biscuits all round to celebrate.
I was amazed at how quick we had got here, it was only 10.20am. I got enough of a signal to send out the “Ye Ha, I’ve made it” messages. That done, I spoke to the owner about the MOD activity on Monday and he said it was now cancelled. Telling him my plans he mentioned that the forecast was not good for tomorrow, possible gale force winds and the boat would not operate in those conditions. So not wanting to risk being stranded tomorrow I decided to leave the Cape today, will just need to come back to Kervaig another time. The bus turned up with the tourists and our pal from Co. Durham. Heading down the bumpy road we stopped and picked up three people who had spent the night in Kervaig. They said it was a spectacular setting. At the jetty there were nine of us waiting on the boat coming. The boat man would only take five people at a time so the four of us stayed behind and let the others go first. Sandy and I were going to Durness to stay but Jeff and Mark were just heading off on the start of their long journey home. We did however cadge a lift off them into Durness. We went straight to the hostel that I was booked into from tomorrow night to see if they had rooms. Thankfully they did.
I was staying here for another week. My hubby was coming up on Wednesday for a few days and we would climb some Marlyns. Then we were heading to Torridon then Invermoriston and then……. Home Sweet Home.
What an adventure. Thoroughly thoroughly recommended.
Footnote - Back in Durness a few days later, I spotted Marc, who was in the camp site. He arrived at the Cape on the Monday but as forecast the gales prevented the boat from operating so he had a long walk along the Kyle of Durness to a bridge before walking back into Durness.
Richard arrived at the hostel as planned and had got to the Cape on the Wednesday and got off no problem. We all went to the pub on the Wednesday night for a farewell drink as they were both leaving for home in the morning.
Link to Cape Wrath Trail - part 1 of 2 http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=35718
by Clach Liath » Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:32 pm
by captainslow » Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:18 pm
by monarchming » Mon Dec 23, 2013 1:03 pm
by Scott69 » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:24 am
I'm attempting this in May this year and that has made me wish time would hurry
Well done again.
by mountainstar » Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:29 am
Some great memories came flooding back reading it.
The adrenaline is pumping thinking about my 2nd time doing it again in May (well half this year and half next year)
Congratulations, it will live in your memory forever as one of the best things you have ever done I am sure.
by cookachoo » Thu Jan 16, 2014 3:32 pm
Don't know what on earth to do this year, how do you top that???? Busy looking at maps etc to make up a nice route of my own for a week. All very exciting.
Have a great time - all those who are setting out to do it this year. You never know, I may end up doing a stretch of it again myself in May.
by mountainstar » Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:38 pm
Don't know what on earth to do this year, how do you top that???? Busy looking at maps etc to make up a nice route of my own for a week. All very exciting.
You can never top that, but check out the Sutherland trail and Skye trail, also as I did the eastern alternative route of the CWT, and adding on a few extra days....http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=3090
by weebirdie » Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:47 pm
by allandowney » Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:53 pm
The writing and photography are A1. Looking forward to the report of this year's walk, Liz.
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