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Cape Wrath - A Tale of Two Bothies, another mega adventure

Cape Wrath - A Tale of Two Bothies, another mega adventure


Postby Jaxter » Tue Aug 16, 2016 10:16 pm

Route description: Glen Strathfarrar Munros circuit

Munros included on this walk: Carn nan Gobhar (Strathfarrar), Sgurr a'Choire Ghlais, Sgurr Fhuar-thuill, Sgurr na Ruaidhe

Date walked: 07/08/2016

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Someone wise once said that the best way to see a place is with someone who already loves it. And so it was, when Dooterbang brought me to Assynt at the beginning of June he started me on a long term love affair :D Assynt became my playground too, and having only been home 4 days from the Inchnadamph meet, I found myself heading back up the A9 8)

Despite the hurricane force winds trying to blow me off the road (I exaggerate only a little :shock: ), the journey up was spectacular, and I opted to take the Kinlochewe road as it wasn't hugely longer and I wanted to see "the view" again. Sadly the weather did close in a little but it's still an unbelievable sight.
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I also had to stop along the beautiful Loch Maree for a view of the mighty Slioch
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Arriving at my destination near Laide, I enjoyed a relaxing evening and hit the hay. :thumbup:



Monday 8th August
The new day arrived and brought with it some wonderful sunshine. However the winds were still pretty insane.
I made a quick wee stop at a previous haunt for a photo…

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…before meeting up with Keith; we decided to walk to Loch na Sealag for some tremendous views of An Teallach and the Fisherfield corbetts. This was an 11 mile walk, and although it was on a good track the whole way, it would be the biggest I had done in a while and a good test for my knee, the current bane of my life... :roll:

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We met at the parking place and set off down the track. As all the water in existence had fallen from the sky overnight, there was a lot of puddle hopping, but no disasters.

The walk itself was straightforward but the views were sensational :D Thanks to the couple in the land rover who offered us a lift across a very swollen stream so we didn't get soaked! Fortunately the level had dropped before we returned!! Arriving at Loch na Sealag we enjoyed a picnic before we started to get cold and had to return.

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I headed for Ullapool as I was starving after the most exercise I'd had in some time. The obligatory photo stops along the way…
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Stopping for a photo of the Fannichs, I turned round and was treated to this :D
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And a rainbow in Ullapool
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Coming out of a pub after a delicious Mac n cheese at about 8.30 I could see the tell-tale glow signifying the beginnings of a spectacular sunset. Jumping in the car and driving like a bat out of Ullapool I chased the sunset all the way to Assynt where it set in between Cul Beag and Cul Mor. Perfection. :-D :angel:
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Now on the hunt for a camp spot, I set myself up at the base of Knockan Crags as the dusk light set in.
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It was then that I had another one of my 'great ideas'....grabbing my camera, I headed up the path to the top of the crags to see how the new camera fared at nighttime photography. I think the results are, in the immortal words of Laconic Surf, "not sh*te" :lol:

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Tuesday 9th August
After the excitement of waking up in Assynt, I waved goodbye for Polly (for now) and headed up the road to Durness, with a few photo stops along the way.

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Some wild waves
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The first point of call was the Smoo caves which were pretty cavey…
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…followed by a few more photo stops before heading towards the car park for Faraid head.
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For reasons best known to myself, I decided this was the best time to de-clutter the boot of my car by attaching my pannier rack to the bike...a lot of fiddling around later I finally got round to packing my bag with all my camping gear and heading along the road... :roll:

I got some funny looks walking along a beach with the kitchen sink on my back, but I knew what I was doing :lol: Reaching the end of the beach I followed the track towards Faraid Head until I tried to take a short cut (which wasn't), tried to get past the MOD fence to the end (which I couldn't) and then saw the perfect camp spot (which unfortunately involved some steep downhill off-roading and bog hopping...ouchies) but it was worth it :D

Spotted the perfect spot…
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I surveyed my spot with a smile on my face before battling the wind to put the tent up and then settling down in the sun to eat strawberries and see what the evening might bring.
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A Jaxter special
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Posing a la Dooterbang, a la Mountainstar :lol:
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Fun with glowsticks and long exposure :D
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And one of the sunrise the next morning…
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Cape Wrath, a tale of two bothies
Wednesday 10th August

On my way back to the car, I bumped into a man taking a photo, and in a manner quite unlike myself ( :lol: ) I stopped for a blether. The upshot of this conversation was the news that the Cape Wrath ferry left at 12.30. I had plenty of time. Arriving back at the car, I jumped in, plugged in gadgets to charge and headed to Cocoa Mountain in search of a well-earned breakfast of the best hot chocolate (I believe them :D ) and a coconut chocolate brownie (those of you who know of my brownie experimentation can be pretty sure as to what I'm trying next :lol: ) as well as checking in with the real world on the wifi.

Continuing to Durness, I stopped for a quick freshen up and a paper. The cheapest and most flammable appeared to be the Daily Star. Possibly the best use for it, as I discovered later :lol:

It was time to head for the ferry and I packed my bag in the rain before heading to the jetty, where it alternated rain with midges as I chatted to anyone around me. "It'll make it more atmospheric" I said. Less waterproofed people laughed nervously... :crazy: :lol:

Unfortunately only 32 people could fit on the minibus... I was number 37 :shock: Time for a new plan? Of course. They could fit me on the ferry so I would walk, Bothy overnight as planned and get the ferry back tomorrow. Perfect. Until I discovered halfway across that there would be no ferries for the next 2 days due to gale force winds... The sensible thing to do might have been to go back and save Cape Wrath for another day. But Jaxter doesn't give in easily and is always in search of new adventures :D

So as 32 people got onto the minibuses and headed for Cape Wrath, I shouldered my stuffed rucksack and my bag of coal and headed up the road. To say that everyone else thought I was nuts would be an understatement... :shock:

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On the way along the road, I met a couple walking back who gifted me a cereal bar when they heard my plan - very kind of them as I would be pushing it for rations for the extra day :thumbup: Further along I met a couple on bikes so stopped for a blether again. As I came over the rise and Cape Wrath appeared ahead, the rain eased and the sun almost came out 8)
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Shortly before the turning to the Bothy, the minibuses passed me on their way back. I waved happily at the warm dry people and they waved back. Jaxter the hero :D Or Jaxter the nutcase...only time will tell... :shock: Reaching the turning, I double checked the map before heading down to Kervaig Bothy. The weather may have gone back to being miserable again, but this Bothy is in a stunning location and was very very welcome!

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I had a wee explore, before settling down with the map to plan tomorrow's movements, a book, the crossword from the paper and then dinner. I then (appropriately) burnt the paper :wink:

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Thursday 11th August
As this was going to be a tough day over difficult terrain which would be testing for an already slightly sore dodgy knee, I had made the decision to leave Cape Wrath itself for another day as it would add around 8km onto my day. It's only a light house after all.... :lol: I would return another day either on the bus or with a bike when I was fit :D

Not knowing anything about the terrain other than what the map said, I had plotted a route that was fairly direct but using as many landmarks as possible as the forecast was not good. My navigation skills would be severely tested and I only hoped that they were up to the task, especially as I was pretty sure no-one knew my plans other than a vague "heading to cape wrath"... :crazy: I had forgotten to message anyone when plans changed and was out of signal by the time I realised... :shock:

I had had a good sleep and felt ready to face the challenges of the new day as I had a very scant breakfast. It was pure pelting it doon with rain as I left, but I cheerfully headed back up to the track before taking a bearing across the bleak, wet moorland. Compass in hand, I battled against the rain and the wind across streams, through bog and peat hags and generally upwards. Stopping to check my trusty Etrex 10 I ascertained my location - absolutely spot on! Bingo! :D As the battery was low I would only check occasionally. The next checkpoint - spot on! :thumbup:

It was here that I suspect overconfidence got me, or perhaps I just made a mistake, but well before my next checkpoint something felt wrong...checking, it seemed I had gone in a circle... :crazy: correcting myself I continued. Wishing that I'd brought a map case as my map was getting very wet, I continued on my journey; bearing, walk, check, repeat. Other than my one mistake, my nav was faultless and after about 3 and a half hours of battling the wind, rain and clag I could see Strathchailleach Bothy ahead of me. And The B*stard River (as it was named later) :shock:

Arriving at said river, I had a bad feeling. It was an absolute torrent of water :shock: There was smoke rising from the chimney of the Bothy! So close I could almost touch it! Wandering up and down the side of the river I looked for a crossing point. Nothing....picking what I though was the best option, I decided to go for it. Ironically my feet were pretty dry up to this point, but there was no way this was going to be a bare feet job; I would need all the help I could get on the river bed :shock:

Making sure that everything important was in dry bags, I walked into the river. It was strong and fast moving. Too far in to change my mind now, I continued :shock: I'm not going to lie, there were a few moments where I was terrified. And one point where I was braced one foot against a rock and holding poles for dear life. But I took my time and eventually I was across! Hauling myself out onto the bank, I grabbed a large piece of wood (for the fire) and headed for the Bothy. Inside were 3 new friends waiting to be made - Ant, Uli and Yara (sorry for spelling!!) had come from the south and had been halted the previous day by the river.

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I hung all my wet things up in front of the fire and started to warm up. We were joined briefly by 3 more walkers from the south but the river had dropped and they decided to continue to Kervaig. I hope you got there ok guys! The remaining 4 of us spent a very enjoyable afternoon and evening in Strathchailleach (the haunted Bothy!) eating, laughing, feeding the fire and learning that if you put a toilet paper wick into a tin of sunflower oil tuna it makes a cracking candle :lol: :D



Friday 12th August
Waking up after a great sleep, Ant and I packed our things, tidied and swept the Bothy and then realised that we had run out of reasons not to get going.... :lol: we said goodbye to the others who would follow him north later.

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The B*astard river, now dropped
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I saw Ant across the river unscathed (except for the loss of one flip flop :lol: ) and headed west. Again my navigation was good and I soon hit the loch before turning SSW towards the tip of Sandwood loch. And how different it looked compared to 10 days ago!! Very atmospheric...

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The next river crossing I knew was possible having watched Steve (Yorjick) do it in his bare feet, but it was much higher today. Carefully selecting my route, I headed across slowly and carefully, coming out the other side unscathed and no wetter than I was already :D

The hard bit now done, I headed along the beach and picked up the path out towards Blairmore.
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I met a few people coming in, one on the CW trail heading from Strathchailleach so I was able to enlighten him on river crossings, and others heading for the beach. I probably looked a fright so wasn't offended that the beach brigade weren't too chatty :lol:

Starting to brighten up a wee bit :thumbup:
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Reaching Blairmore I headed along the road, hoping for a lift. Getting enough signal, I phoned my brother; "happy birthday...I think...is it Friday today?" He though I was nuts until I explained I'd been in the wild for days... :roll: He still thought I was nuts but at least there was an excuse :lol: Just before Kinlochbervie i was picked up by a lovely French lady who took me as far as Rhiconich, and then about 3 miles along the Durness road a group of German tourists picked me up and took me the rest of the way. All such lovely people; I was very grateful as it would have been a very long walk :lol:

Finally at my car, I was able to change into dry shoes at last! Heading for Durness I had a sneaky wee shower at the campsite (there was no one around otherwise I would have happily paid) before heading for the chocolate shop for a well earned drink and flapjack for lunch/breakfast. Yum!!

I was heading back to my beloved Assynt for the final 2 days, so I headed down the road in search of the perfect camp spot.

Assynt, I’m back!
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I found such a bonnie spot with one downside - the rampant midges.... :roll: hey ho....midge net at the ready, I got the tent up just before it started raining heavily, so I dived inside to chill, eat strawberries and get a nice early night, for tomorrow there would be pies.
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Saturday 13th August
Despite my early night, I managed to sleep late (ish) and once awake enjoyed a lazy morning finishing off the strawberries and my book with hot chocolate. It was very cosy, and I wasn't hugely enthusiastic about moving, despite the rain stopping and the midges being replaced by a light breeze (yass). The visibility was non existent and Polly did not want to be seen... :roll:

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Eventually I packed my things and headed to Lochinver to refuel Blondie and also myself. The pie shop was up to the usual high standard and I had a delicious lunch of pork, chorizo and manchego pie. After the absence of proper dinner (through sheer laziness) the night before it was doubly welcome!!
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Re-packing my rucksack with Bothy stuff, I drove a few miles round to the Glencanisp lodge car park where I set off for my target - Suileag Bothy.

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Suilven itself remained elusive throughout the walk and the rain was coming on and off, it was a very pleasant walk to the Bothy. As I arrived I got a lovely treat - an almost view of Suilven!!
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I had a flick through the bothy book and found an entry from a certain Mountainstar :lol: Two people (Drew and Clare) arrived shortly after me and we spent a lovely evening in front of the fire sharing stories. They were hoping to climb Suilven the next day as the weather was to improve. I hoped that they were right as it would be nice to actually see Assynt before leaving it!



Sunday 14th August
I woke after a cracking sleep and made my way back to the car. Hoping for a shower I headed for the Lochinver leisure centre only to find that they are closed on Sundays! New plan: I was planning to have pie for lunch but at 11am it was too early even for me, so I headed to Achmelvich beach for a bit of chill time overlooking the sea to enjoy (what I thought was) the last day of my holiday..... 8)
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However....regaining signal I received a message from Doots saying he was heading for Strathfarrar tomorrow if I was still around.... This was one of those moments where the answer should probably have been no :( So I immediately replied "YES!" :lol: I could go to a different in-service day and extend my holiday by another day. Perfect as the weather looked good!! 8) :D

Next stop, Lochinver. Pies for lunch and pies to take home. Relieved that I had my cool box with me, I stocked it full of pie and headed down the road, taking a leisurely tour along the coast and down to Glen Strathfarrar.

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Someone hilarious had put googley eyes on some of the road signs :lol:
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I finally found myself a camp spot (just inside the gate by the river), snapped this sunset and went to sleep to await the arrival of Dooterbang in the morning.
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Monday 15th August
The stars were out overnight meaning it was very cold, but it did bode well for the blue sky day I’d been promised. The news that Andy Murray had won the gold medal added to my good mood :D I was beginning to mobilise myself when I heard someone clear their throat outside my tent. Panicking that I was camped illegally, I popped my head out only to find Doots here already – goodness knows how many speed limits he had broken on the way up :lol: Quickly packing up, we awaited the “opening of the gates;” reports of the lady have been grossly exaggerated as she was lovely to me! :D

Released into the glen, we dodged pot-holes down to the end point, where we left one car, picked up new friend Mike who was planning to cycle ( :clap: ) and drove to the start. The midges were rampant so we got going pretty quick. It was already roasting; the sky was blue and the sun was out. I was back on the hills and Team JaxterBang was back together again :grin:

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I knew that I needed to be very careful with my knee if I was to make it around without a serious amount of pain, but we battered on through a lot of bog and finally made it to the first summit.

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I’m sure Doots will write his own award-winning report for this, so I’ll just share some photos of the fabulous views of previous conquests Torridon and Monar, and even Big Ben Nevis was clear!

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We arrived back at my car and went for a wee sunbathe and a dip in the river to enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery before heading to Beauly for an ice-cream and then the long drive home. Other than a few niggles, my knee stood up to this test pretty well, but the next few days will tell more…. :? :crazy:

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The sun was setting as I drove over the Drumochter pass and the colours in the sky were unbelievable.
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A wonderful end to an amazing holiday!! 8) :D
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Jaxter
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Re: Cape Wrath - A Tale of Two Bothies, another mega adventu

Postby Collaciotach » Tue Aug 16, 2016 10:51 pm

'S math sin ....a grand report ans i enjoyed the bothy section ,reckon i will leave that to a dry spell :D
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Collaciotach
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Re: Cape Wrath - A Tale of Two Bothies, another mega adventu

Postby Yorjick » Wed Aug 17, 2016 3:34 pm

Despite the hurricane force winds trying to blow me off the road (I exaggerate only a little :shock: )


Good job you've got new tyres!
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Yorjick
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Re: Cape Wrath - A Tale of Two Bothies, another mega adventu

Postby Jaxter » Fri Aug 19, 2016 9:20 pm

Collaciotach wrote:'S math sin ....a grand report ans i enjoyed the bothy section ,reckon i will leave that to a dry spell :D

Thanks - I'm not sure if Cape Wrath ever has a dry spell? :lol: But that river would definitely be easier with a bit less water :shock:



Yorjick wrote:
Despite the hurricane force winds trying to blow me off the road (I exaggerate only a little :shock: )


Good job you've got new tyres!

:lol: :lol:
Right enough! Value for money :wink:
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Jaxter
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Posts: 1199
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Location: Glasgow

Re: Cape Wrath - A Tale of Two Bothies, another mega adventu

Postby malky_c » Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:29 pm

Do you have problems standing on both feet? :wink:

A great tour of the area - some brilliant photos. I think because it's fairly close to me, I've never really gone off exploring the far NW for more than a couple of days at a time. That will change in the future, I think 8) . Kearvaig bothy would be a good start - always fancied going there.
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Re: Cape Wrath - A Tale of Two Bothies, another mega adventu

Postby Jaxter » Thu Aug 25, 2016 10:26 am

malky_c wrote:Do you have problems standing on both feet? :wink:

A great tour of the area - some brilliant photos. I think because it's fairly close to me, I've never really gone off exploring the far NW for more than a couple of days at a time. That will change in the future, I think 8) . Kearvaig bothy would be a good start - always fancied going there.

:lol: :lol: just practising my balance :wink:

Kervaig is stunning, even more so in good weather I would think! I just cannae stay away, it's amazing up there :D :D you're so lucky being close!
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