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Cape Wrath Fail 2017

Cape Wrath Fail 2017


Postby andrewl7642 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 6:27 pm

Route description: Cape Wrath Trail

Date walked: 20/07/2017

Time taken: 5 days

Distance: 112 km

Ascent: 1417m

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The Cape Wrath Trail is a long distance walk from Fort William to the northwesternmost point of mainland Britain, Cape Wrath. The route is unmarked and there is no official line. It is a superb route for very experienced long-distance backpackers, passing through magnificent wild landscapes for most of the route, with the freedom to choose your own exact route; we cover both the common variations starting via Glenfinnan and via the Great Glen.



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I attempted the Cape Wrath Trail for a second time in July 2017.

The original plan was to complete the trail in approximately 15 days while recording my progress as a video blog.
I would be walking the first 4 days solo before meeting up with my dutch friend at Shiel Bridge.
Unfortunately due to extremely sodden wet, blistered feet plus navigation issues, I only made it as far as Shiel Bridge before giving up. So I now share with you my 4/5 day expedition, presented in the form of 4 videos and one photo album of The Cape Wrath FAIL!

Day 1

I arrived at Fort William late afternoon and spent the first evening at Glen Nevis campsite before making a start from Camusnagaul the next morning. It stayed mostly dry as I walked approximately 18 miles between Camusnagaul and Glenfinnan. I was able to follow my Harvey's map through Cona Glen without getting lost and after a long days walking, I eventually found a fairly decent spot to set up camp by the River Callop, about 2 miles short of Glenfinnan.

Day 2

I make my way through Glenfinnan, Glen Pean and Glen Dessary covering 12 miles and climbing to a height of 598m to eventually arrive at A'Chuil bothy. I stop for a Coffee break at Corryhully bothy. The plan was to stay in A'Chuil bothy but there was already 4 people inside using both rooms so I settled for another night under the stars. Another guy called Blake from the U.S. (also walking to Cape Wrath) turned up and found a camping spot further down.

Day 3

On day 3, I have Coffee in the bothy before making my way towards Barisdale Bay (15 miles), stopping for a quick break at Sourlies bothy en-route. The plan was to stay at the bothy at Barisdale Bay or make use of the campground there but the route along the River Carnoch took much longer than expected. I ended up wild camping somewhere at the top of the River Carnoch, settling down quite late but just in the nick of time as it began to get dark.

Day 4 and 5

On the final two days of my Cape Wrath Fail, after climbing to a height of 878m, (Great way to start the day - not!) I pass through Barisdale Bay (where I stop for some lunch at the bothy) before making my way along Loch Beag to Kinloch Hourn.

I popped into the tearoom at Kinloch Hourn hoping to get some juice and maybe a snack but felt rather unwelcome by the owner who was quick to inform me that he only sells Tea and Fruitcake, making me feel like one!

I continued on past Kinloch Hourn, climbing a very steep hill towards the Coire Reidh but idiotically, I turned off the main track too early and ended up climbing the wrong hill. This is where it all went wrong.
I wasted over an hour here, realising I'd gone wrong I descended to the Coire Reidh, directly down the steep heathery slopes to get back onto the main track, tripping up over myself and almost breaking my leg.

Back on track, I thought I could still make it over the hills to Shiel Bridge to meet Thomas but due to my mistakes, I was way behind schedule. I followed the track crossing the Coire Reidh passing a tent pitched up near a wooden hut and continued for a short distance until the track disappeared at the next river crossing. This is the point where I became confused as the map indicates that you need to work out your own path in order to navigate over the hills to Shiel Bridge.

By this time it was getting dark, I knew I was doomed until the morning so I threw up my tent in the most flattest place I could find, which wasn't actually flat, I think it was beside the Coire Mhalagain. I was exhausted and dehydated and for some reason craved a Chocolate Milkshake, the best I had was a Hot Chocolate sachet so I mixed it up in cold water and drank it (the thought of it is quite rank now) before falling asleep and ending my absolute nightmare of a day! :?

Day 5
I woke up to a stunning morning as I quickly packed up at 5:30am and began to drag myself up the pathless hill.
I must have been slightly off route as I ended up bagging some random munros, taking in some fantastic views as I made my way towards Glen Shiel. By lunchtime the main road into Shiel Bridge eventually came into view, I was still very high and off route and just decided to descend to the road as quickly as possible. It took me about 3 hours to get down there and I was still 5 miles from Shiel Bridge. I had to hobble along the side of the road with sore feet in my damp boots and nobody offered me a lift. The time I finally got to Shiel Bridge it was about 4pm, my hiking buddy Thomas had already left and I decided I was going home on the next bus.

I could have caught up with Thomas and continued the trail if my feet had stayed in good condition but my boots had become saturated on the second day of the trip and I had been unable to get them dried out, causing my feet to severely blister. I think my boots were also about half a size too small.

So anyway that's the story of my second "Cape Wrath Fail".
I'm going to try again, start to finish sometime between May and September.
If anyone would like to join me, feel free to message me and we can talk and make some arrangements.
Thanks for reading/watching.

You can view the photo collection here:
https://www.flickr.com/gp/156143109@N02/2N936i
andrewl7642
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Re: Cape Wrath Fail 2017

Postby onsen » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:42 pm

Fail is probably to harsh a word...put it down as a learning experience. :wink:

Good luck with next attempt, Andrew. :thumbup:
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Re: Cape Wrath Fail 2017

Postby Guinessman » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:02 pm

Don't be too harsh on yourself Andrew, I opted out on my first attempt in Sept 2014 due to gales but I knew in my heart that fitness and feet would be a problem if I had continued. I did it the following May 2015, well worth the wait. I do intend to repeat the CWT, I normally backpack outside the midge months so this year might be Oct.
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Re: Cape Wrath Fail 2017

Postby Sgurr » Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:26 pm

Chatting to the guy who runs Kinlochhourn (where you can B & B if you are lucky) it seems that a good few people give up when they get as far as him. We met someone there who was doing just that due to bad feet
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Re: Cape Wrath Fail 2017

Postby walkingpoles » Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:00 pm

Going a bit easier on yourself looks like a good idea to me (but I have less long distance experience than you, so I don't feel like giving unsollicited advise. Feel free to ignore). I'd say, you climbed some munros in the process, so a fail is something else. If there were no deadline to reach Shielbridge, the detours and extra munroing wouldn't have been an issue, but simply an extra day. Nobody cares if you make it to the cape in 15 or 17 days. If there is a story to tell, it is how many mountains you climbed left and right. :D

If I were you, I'd absolutely allow for rest days (especially in places where you plan to meet up with somebody, as schedules are likely to get upside down anyway). Having a warm bedded bb, sensible breakfast, a potent drying room to dry boots and stuff and 24h walking in bothy sandals instead of hiking boots is a very sensible thing to do. And if turns out that you don't need the rest days, no problem neither.

You seem to have lugged an awfully heavy pack. I hope most of it is food. Plan the longer distances for later, when you are used to walking and the pack is lighter and go easy during the first stages, especially when shoes get wet and feets blistery.

I don't know how you did the orienteering process, but carrying a bag in the hand is likely to stop you from getting the map and compass out more often. Mobile phones/GPS might have saved you a detour as well. But then, nothing wrong with detours as long as you allow for them.

Enjoy, it's a good project.
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Re: Cape Wrath Fail 2017

Postby crfishwick » Tue Mar 06, 2018 9:43 pm

Well done Andrew. :clap: Not a failure just unfortunate. Plenty of LD Walkers fail including me. :lol:

The amount of Vlogs you've produced tells another story. BTW Still watching 'em again. Hilarious. :lol:
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Re: Cape Wrath Fail 2017

Postby Mal Grey » Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:49 pm

Well done mate. Like others, the word "fail" seems a little harsh when you've spent 5 days walking through such amazing country under your own steam.

Also, very much a learning experience. I don't know what was in the carrier bag, but I'd lose that for sure! Maybe also do more navigation practice, if you genuinely did bag some Munros (Sgurr na Sgine at least) by accident!
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Re: Cape Wrath Fail 2017

Postby Essan » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:19 pm

I do think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking the CWT is a set route to be done in x number of days ..... It's not a route. It's a concept. You meander as you see fit. There's a start point and an end point and where you go in between and how long it takes is entirely up to you. You don't have to follow the route someone else did and put down in a book! And there are loads fo great hills to climb along the way. If it can be done in 2 weeks then aim for at least 3 :)

Mind, it took me 2 months (in winter) ........ but that was also before anyone came up with the idea :D
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Re: Cape Wrath Fail 2017

Postby crfishwick » Thu Mar 08, 2018 5:37 pm

Essan wrote:I do think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking the CWT is a set route to be done in x number of days ..... It's not a route. It's a concept. You meander as you see fit. There's a start point and an end point and where you go in between and how long it takes is entirely up to you. You don't have to follow the route someone else did and put down in a book! And there are loads fo great hills to climb along the way. If it can be done in 2 weeks then aim for at least 3 :)

Mind, it took me 2 months (in winter) ........ but that was also before anyone came up with the idea :D


In Winter? Blimey that's going some. :lol:
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Re: Cape Wrath Fail 2017

Postby china88 » Fri Mar 09, 2018 8:47 am

Hi Andrew

thank you for posting your report which I enjoyed reading and viewing

You mention that your leather boots were sodden through and I have read numerous blogs where that has been the cause of folk giving up. Recently I read another blog where a guy indicated forget using leather boots where if they get wet they will never dry out on cwt he used walking shoes non leather which had large gaps in them allowing the water to pass though the shoe and thus dry out quickly and on other blogs I have heard of folk using running shoes....what do you think if you tackle it again will you still use walking boots?

Stuart
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Re: Cape Wrath Fail 2017

Postby andrewl7642 » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:31 pm

Hi Stuart

The Brashers boots I used last year were half a size too small and kept rubbing against my heel, which was made even worse when they got wet inside. Part of the reason they got so wet inside is because I stumbled into a deep woodland bog on the second day of the trip. The boots probably wouldn't have stayed dry for long anyway. I've got Salomans boots this year worth £125 which were gifted to me so hopefully they will do a better job at keeping my feet dry and I'll try use more bothy fires to dry them out if they get too wet. I take a pair of crocks with me also for river crossings or to wear at night time.
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Re: Cape Wrath Fail 2017

Postby redrook » Thu May 24, 2018 9:20 am

Leather walking boots with a waterproof membrane lining (like gtx), even if the leather itself is saturated, will not leak through to your feet unless they have an actual leak (you will not put 20,000mm of water pressure on your boots), and will resist water well if waxed/proofed properly. It sounds like you let water in over the top of the leather Brashers, or they were not a waterproof lined model. Since Brashers cost £100+ you need to make sure you spend that money on the correct footwear for the anticipated conditions. Don't rely on the fact that the Salomon's you have were £125, that means nothing. What matters is whether they fit and, to a lesser extent depending on if you mind wet feet, whether they are waterproof.

The fact that the Brashers didn't fit your feet properly will have been the killer. I have a pair of Salomon X Ultra mids which I really do not get on with for long distance stuff and destroyed my feet after a couple of long days, simply because they are just not right for my foot shape and bend causing blisters on the top of my feet - a problem I find with boots which are too flexible and don't have much padding. My Meindl Bhutans, full leather, fit brilliantly and I've never had an issue with them (recently took them to Nepal for a month - the leather itself was wet for much of this time, but it didn't matter due to correct fit and a gtx lining). It's all about fit. Getting boots which fit correctly is much more important than what the boots actually are. Running shoes simply don't have the sole that many people want (myself included) for carrying heavy loads. At the very least, adding superfeet is a very good idea.
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