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Cape Wrath May 2015 Part 3
by Guinessman » Mon Jun 01, 2015 4:04 pm
Route description: Cape Wrath Trail
Date walked: 31/05/20158 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).
Ullapool to Duag Bridge bothy 15.5 miles.
Monday morning in Ullapool was completely different to the day before. The sun was out and the temperature In the mid teens, the May temperature I was expecting. The B and B owner got me up early thinking I would want to be on my way. I visited Tesco for supplies and was walking through the town by 08.20 hrs and heading for the turn off on the quarry road up towards Glen Achall. The walking was pleasant on a 4 a 4 track on an easy gradient and the miles passed easily up to Loch achall.
Continued on past the loch on the same easy tracks, the only concern for me was the cattle roaming free signs, as cattle do concern me and I don't enjoy walking through them. Walking past Cadubh the weather started to change back to the showers necessitating the waterproofs again. As I walked on I had the weird sensation of the wind on the cliffs above the glen at Creag Ruadh. The Glen was quiet and no wind and yet the cliffs above, about 300 feet, were whistling loudly as if in a strong wind. I walked on having lunch on the top of the moor overlooking Loch an Diamh. I checked the map as I thought that the bothy was halfway along the loch and couldn't see it, checking the map shows it is actually just past the loch. I felt that the whole vista was a bleak open place and I could feel the blast of the strengthening wind. I headed on and got to Knockdamph bothy around 1PM
Had a break in the bothy, already resident was Janet who was doing John O Groats to Lands end and taking 5 months over it and was staying for the night. It puts your own journey into perspective.
After talking for about 45 mins I decided to head to Duag Bridge bothy, the Schoolhouse, for the night as it was only 13.45hrs at the time. Got to that bothy around 16.30hrs. The walk over to the bothy reminded me of some of the Pennine areas, flattish moorland with big 4 x 4 tracks. Got settled into the bothy and unpacking I found that I had left my sleeping gear, Helly Hansen polyester top which doubled as emergency kit and shorts on the bathroom floor of the Ullapool B and B. c**p! Around 6pm I was joined by Jim the MO for the bothy who had arrived to do some drilling work for woodworm spraying over the coming days. Had a pleasant night with Jim discussing bothies, the MBA and hills in general. Outside a storm raged on, there is something comforting being in a bothy when the wind is raging outside.
Tuesday 12th May 2015
Duag Bridge to Loch Ailsh 14.5 miles
Started with another crap morning, waterproofs on straight away as rain and wind pounded in. Left the bothy around 8.30hrs and started the walk to Oykel bridge initially taking the higher path as Ian harpers book. The walk to the hotel area was uneventful , just a straight 4 x 4 track built to serve Corriemulzie. Got to the hotel and toyed with idea of going in and getting a pot of tea but decided to walk on as I was soaking. Continued on and walked past the Caplich cattle herd which were safely fenced in. Seeing the speed they moved over the muddied pen areas as I walked past, I'm pleased they were fenced in. The rain and wind continued all day as I walked along the Salachy river and eventually up to diversion sign posts at the Alt Rugaidh Mhor. Harvey's maps shows the diverted path suggesting that the diversion is permanent, yet Harpers book has the original route by the river. Got to Loch Ailsh and started to look for a camping spot as it was now 5 pm and the rain and wind continued. There was nothing suitable by the loch so I continued on after consulting the map which showed the forest edges and I reckoned that I might get shelter from the wind which was blowing northwards. Around 324122 I found a clearing in the forest with a water supply with flat boggy ground which was sheltered. Got the tent up, fed and watered by 7Pm I got into my pit by 8Pm to keep warm fully expecting the TN shower in the morning. The shot should show Ben more Assynt and Conival area but was clouded out
Wednesday 13th may 2015
Loch Ailsh to Glencoul bothy 16 miles
Woke up and got the usual TN morning shower. I got out the tent to find a tent pitched not far away, in the same clearing. I didn't hear them during the night. Upon seeing them emerging from the tent I was pleased to see it was Jan and Chris with their Robert Saunders tent who I hadn't seen since the Kinlochewe hotel, who after swapping stories I learned that they had originally pitched near the buildings near to the top of Loch Ailsh and had been moved on. Again I complimented them on their tent which was perfectly dry inside. Jan and Chris were going over to Inchnadamph whilst my choice was going over the moors to Glencoul. The initial paths that go over the moors and around loch Sail an Ruathair and loch carn nan corbhaireaan were boggy and damp. I fully expected the type of path to continue and was surprised to find an estate 4 x 4 track bleased across the moors towards the loch from about 346193 giving quick passage. When I got to Loch Bealach a Mhadaidh the path ended and from then on it was very hard going to get to the path that descends to Glencoul
I got to Glencoul Bothy to find it empty. Around 7PM I sat outside on the bench in the blazing sun, with only the birdsong for company. I wrote in the bothy diary that "it doesn't get much better than this" The photograph doesn't do it justice, it was a fantastic evening the best of the trip.
Thursday 14th May 2015
Glencoul Bothy to Lochstack 15.6 miles.
The day started warm ,dry and sunny and stayed like that all day. Started off up the estate track up over the headland. You got to admire the nerve of these ATV drivers as the track is steep in places. I was rewarded with views of Loch Coul and the view back to the path to Inchnadamph as I climbed. The estate track does not last and merely stops. I struggled to find a track from that and ended up cutting around the headland too early and dropping down steep heather slopes to regain the track on the Glendhu side. Judging by the amount of footwear impressions on the heather slopes I don't think I'm the first. when you see the headland from the other side the shelf for the pathway is obvious. Regained the track and walked to Glendhu bothy where I had break sitting outside in the sun. Continued along the lochside on the 4 x 4 track and then turned right up the Maldie burn on excellent tracks that make for fast progress all the way up to the shieling's near to Ben Dreavie.
The original plan had been to go over Ben Dreavie and drop down to Lochstack to camp but I was concerned regarding the trackless section as I had my fill of untracked areas just getting to Glencoul so I dropped down to Lochmore lodge. You are rewarded with fine views of arkle as you descend. The track does not go Achfary as Harvey's map states as a gate is locked for forestry operations. I reckoned I would be able to camp on the shore of loch Stack but ended up walking 4 miles along the lochside all the way up to the turn off for Loch Stack lodge where I saw a boarded up fisherman's hut . The wind was quite strong and a bit of shelter was required. There was one other tent there a car camper. I asked out of courtesy if he minded if I joined him, "its a free country" was his grumpy reply as he disappeared into his tent. He was right it was free and I was camping anyway.
Friday 15th May 2015
Loch Stack to Kinlochbervie 11.2 miles.
The day was grey and overcast with little wind. I thought rain was in the air and wanted to get over the trackless sections on the way to Rhiconich before it started. Went over the bridge towards the lodge and then initially E and then NE on the estate track. Only saw one potential camping spot as I walked on. Followed the track as it veered N towards the slopes of Foinaven. You leave the track and head over the heather trying to keep on the higher points for about a mile to the shore of Loch a Garbh-bhaid mor. The map is marked as trackless but there is a rough track starting to develop through the heather on the loch shore which is followed for 1 1/2 miles to the Garbh Alt. The views back to Arkle dominate the skyline. I had read that the Garbh alt may be a problem in spate so I looked for the crossing point further up the burn. I couldn't find it so put the crocs on and went to cross only to slip in the water resulting in the walking boots getting filled with water
Just after the burn crossing the walking becomes easier as a walkable track becomes more prominent as you walk on. I got to Rhiconich in around 4 1/2 hours from Loch Stack and walked along the road as there is not much at Rhiconich to detain you unless you stay at the hotel. My intention was to go to Kinlochbervie. Went to the London stores on the way through and replenished the stocks buying the best flapjacks I've ever seen. The owner is quite a character just as much there for the talk as the shopping. Got to Kinlochbervie around 3pm and it had started to rain heavily. Got booked into a B and B and then later went to the hotel for an excellent meal and a few beers.
Saturday 16th May 2015
Kinlochbervie to Strathchailleach bothy 9.60 miles
Set away at 9am walking the road to Blairmore. As I walked squally showers blew in from the west requiring full waterproofs to be donned. Got to Blairmore around 10.45hrs and then set off over the moor on the 4 x 4 track towards Sandwood bay. The storms had stopped for a while but a cold wind blew. The original plan had been to camp in the dunes at Sandwood bay but the wind had me thinking more of the bothy. Caught sight of cape Wrath as I walked
The first sight of Sandwood bay is magical and I'm afraid my camera equipment doesn't do it justice. Walked down onto the beach and tried to get photos of a passing storm. I would have liked to have hung around for a while but the wind was just too strong and camping definitely out so I walked on towards Strathchailleach bothy, initially going up to the 217 spot height to have a look at the land, to stay the night. Inside was Paul also staying overnight who did wonders with one bit of wood and some peat from the pile outside making a fire lasting for 3 hours. The fire heated up the room but the sleeping area was freezing. Sandy must have a hardy soul.
Sunday 17th May 2015
Strathchailleach bothy to Cape Wrath 6.53 miles.
The initial plan had been to finish the next day, go to Kervaig and walk out on the Tuesday to the ferry. I had a train ticket booked for the Thursday incorporating a rest day should one be needed, however with the way the weather had been my thinking now was if the ferry was running today then I would get it rather than risk either a return to Kinlochbervie or a walk out and around the headland to Durness.
Set off around 8am, Paul had already gone at 7am to walk by the cliffs to the Cape. I intended doing the route by Harpers book. Walked northwards over the trackless moorland to Loch a Gheodha Ruaidh and then NE following the natural line of the land in the direction of Loch Keisgeig bearing N after a mile towards the military fence which was crossed at a stile. No warning flags were flying. There were excellent views of the coves with the waves crashing in as I walked. Climbed to the col between Cnoc a Ghubhais and Sithean na h-lolairech and then got a glimpse of Cape Wrath about 3 miles away as I got over the col. Continued on the trackless moor until I hit the road that leads to Cape Wrath. Another storm then blew in which was typical of the whole trip so I ended the journey in waterproofs. Walked on for about a mile and the lighthouse came into view. Got to the lighthouse in 3 1/4 hrs from the bothy. I thought my efforts were worthy of a victory pose!
Went into the café and saw Paul, the only occupant who stated that he had spoke to John the café owner that the ferry had not ran the previous day due to the wind. He also stated that if the bus was not running then he normally got a phone call from the driver to tell him. No phone call had been made so he assumed the ferry was on. The decision was made to get the ferry that day and get over to Durness. By 13.30hrs the bus had not arrived so John got in his own bus to take me and Paul to the ferry crossing point. We drove on for about a mile and then saw the bus coming our way so went back to the café passing Jan and Chris as we did so. I met them back at the café. they had camped in the dunes at sandwood bay in their trusty Robert Saunders tent.
Eventually we got to the ferry and walked back to Durness. again the winds were strong and the campsite offered little shelter so I opted for a stay in the excellent Lazy Crofter bunkhouse. A few beers were sunk in the local bar that night.
A great trip, one I had thinking about for a few years. I did a total of 212 miles plus 7 hitching over a total of 16 days. I could have doubled up some of the days but what's the rush?
As usual after a trip away I cant wait for the next one so I'm already planning for this September and next May.
Robert, Jan, Chris and Paul if you're reading this thanks for your company.
by Mal Grey » Tue Jun 02, 2015 3:31 pm
by Sunset tripper » Thu Jun 04, 2015 7:52 pm
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by Scotjamie » Fri Jun 05, 2015 1:36 am
by Portboy » Fri Jun 26, 2015 11:38 am
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by Guinessman » Fri Jun 26, 2015 2:14 pm
When I was at Glencoul bothy there was an entry in the book from a person (Freddie?) doing Cape Wrath to Mull of Galloway who had walked Cape Wrath to Rhiconich, then Rhiconich to Glendhu, then Glendhu to Glencoul as a rest day, I'm guessing that was yourself?, if so I think we just missed as you would have been going to Inchnadamph the day I went to Glencoul. Rumour has it that a person doing your route slept in the toilets at Rhiconich??
I think you might have met Paul In the bar at Inchnadamph.
Look forward to reading you're report.
by Portboy » Mon Jul 06, 2015 11:40 am
My name is Frank (Freddie) Alexander from Portpatrick. I'm the same person that wrote that entry in the visitor's book in Glencoul, met Paul the Medical Professor in Inchnadamph Bunkhouse (looked very fit and a capable walker) and slept in one of the only three buildings at Riconich. Although I don't want to advertise it, I had a very comfortable night there and the hand drier managed to dry all my clothes which were soaked through after a long 1st day's walk from the Cape. One kind lady offered to drive me down to Kinlochbervie WC where there is a shower and wall heater! Luxury! I swiftly declined as the thought of walking back along that tarmac road again, did not appeal.
I can assure you, I slept in worse places later on in the walk. Just before I reached Riconich, I met a German who had walked for 14 days and I was the first person he met on the CWT. Half an hour later, I met another man who had completed the day before and had just got a lift from Durness.
Fantastic that you should remember that entry. There was so few of us out there on the Trail and in very poor conditions and at different times yet we can link-up and identify each other. You can learn so much from your time in a bothy.
The day I walked into Shenavall Bothy was the worst conditions I ever walked in, hail storm and high winds, blowing me off the track etc. I passed everyone coming off An Teallach (they couldn't even get to the 1st Munro, Sgurr Fiona) and then came across a man sheltering up against a big boulder, he had a 75 & 35 litre bags on, I said I would see him in the bothy and thought "poor sod" having to carry more than I was! I said to the man already there that that was the worst weather I had ever walked in, the "poor sod" appeared some time later and said the same the same thing to me. His name is James Ogilvie, who had climbed Mount Vinson in January to compleat the 7-summits. He climbed Everest in 2007 and was quite a "celebrity" in the bothy that weekend. With 35 Munros left to do, he was carrying the food in for himself & two friends who were doing the Fisherfield Round next day (although the weather scuppered that).
When I reached Mull of Galloway Lighthouse, the Committee was there and took an interest in my walk, they asked me to a report on it and it is now on their website. This week I will definitely transfer it to this Forum.
Thanks Guinessman for the mention. So few people realise what we're doing out there on the trails and I appreciate the interest from a fellow walker. Never give up, "keep on walking".
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by Guinessman » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:02 pm
I always have a read of the bothy books, you never know what you pick up, routes, times, other bothies etc.
I didn't know about the Kinlochbervie toilets , in fact I cant even think of seeing it when I went through, mind you it was raining heavy and I was probably walking head down!
I was surprised of how many people were out, in fact when I weigh it up, taking out the people in the hotels/ BB I probably only saw 20 people over the whole 16 days and that includes day walkers.
I might do the CWT again in a few years time via a different route, or might give yours a crack.