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The Cape Wrath Trail 2012 Walk Report Chapter 1 & 2

The Cape Wrath Trail 2012 Walk Report Chapter 1 & 2

Postby Billymaca » Fri May 25, 2012 10:21 pm

Route description: Cape Wrath Trail

Date walked: 04/05/2012

Time taken: 2 days

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Well this walk report is meant to inspire you into doing the Cape Wrath Trail, unlike my last year’s attempt which was a washout, once I reached Sourlies Bothy, With last year’s ghosts behind me, I was off and running with dreams of what lay before me, I was not disappointed!.

Last years abortive attempt http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=12516

The route was the same as last year with the exception of the start point, Glenfinnan was chosen because this was the route I took out last year, and very nice route it was too!

CWT cover.jpg

Friday 4th May.

Glenfinnan to Sourlies Bothy

stage 1 sourlies 17.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

I was up at stupid hour in the morning so that I could be dropped off in FortBilly by a friend in time to catch the first train to Glenfinnan, Once on board and on the way I noticed two lads a few rows in front of me talking to each other about the CWT and their chosen route, these were the strangers I was to spend the next couple of weeks getting to know, having a laugh with and sharing the experiences of the Trail along the way. Stevie is from the Glasgow end of Scotland, Shaunthefish from the Orkney end and I’m from the middle.

After a nice leisurely trip to Glenfinnan on the train and introducing myself to Stevie and Shaun at the station, with the customary photographs out of the way, it was time to begin! With a spring in our step, out of the station and down onto the pavement beside the A830, which was full of day trippers walking down to the Bonnie Prince Charlie thingummy bob!, Turning left (or should I say E) passing under the viaduct which looks spectacular in pictures and films and which I had always assumed was built of grey granite only to be disappointed to see that it is actually ugly concrete, but still spectacular in its design!.
By the way I should have mentioned that the weather was good, dry, bright with blue skies and puffy white cotton wool clouds, anyway, onwards and upwards passing and having a look at Corryhully Bothy which to our amazement had electricity in it.


Now came our first challenge to blow off the winter cobwebs and scare our muscles into action, Bealach a’ Chaorainn, track most of the way which tapered out to a footpath and eventually to nothing as you near the crest, flat topped with a gate in the middle flanked by nothing, it’s a must to pass through remembering to close it behind you. Once you reach the end of the flat top you are rewarded with a great view of Gleann a’ Chaorainn streatching out before you as far as the forested Glen Dessarry, no path on the other side but in dry weather it is easy going, we did see from the top what we thought was a quad track on the south side of the burn but this is intermittent so we soon crossed back to opt for the easier side.


On reaching the bottom of the Glen you are confronted with two river crossings, the first you pick the spot, for us it was easy as there wasn’t much water in it, the second is over a wooden estate bridge. Once over the rivers we decided to have our first break at the edge of the forest beside the fire break that we were to go up on a rather muddy track and onto the forest road.
Turning right(or NE), the going was easy with gentle inclines and declines(or is it ascents and descents?) passing the second bothy of the day, A’Chuil. Now you start a steady climb when you leave the burn side,


still in the forest for a short time until you pop out into the open, heather and peat underfoot all the way to Bealach an Lagain Duibh with another intermittent path. Once you reach the top it more or less levels out along the shores of Lochan a’ Mahaim,



now remember to cross the burn at the far end of the loch, as soon as you can (unlike myself last year), a small cairn marks the best spot to cross. Once over the burn at the cairn the path may be hard to spot, it climbs sharply behind the cairn, it doesn’t follow the burn. Winding steeply uphill you soon get a glimpse of Loch Nevis for the first time away bellow you in the distance, now you know it’s all downhill from here on what may have been an embanked winding cart road at one time to Sourlies bothy, almost at the bottom you pass through some trees that follow a burn down the hillside, crossing this burn on a newly refurbished footbridge taking advantage of the old timbers left behind in a pile, firewood for the bothy, Stevie and I took one plank each which was awkward enough to carry, on reaching Sourlies bothy we threw them down, knackered but proud with the effort that we had put in, only to be shamed by Shaun (the smallest of the three of us) who appeared carrying two planks without a care in the world.


Sourlies bothy was full so we set up camp outside, making sure not to pitch in the same spot as last year as the ghosts of last year were going to be with me until the morning. The little stream beside the bothy had next to no water in it, we had to climb the hill to where the water was at least running, or should I say trickling, to fill the water bottles, unlike last year where it was a raging torrent flooding the area in front of the bothy.
A nice relaxing end to the first day, having dinner whilst admiring the scenery and the wildlife.
Time for bed!, looking forward to tomorrow. ZZZZZzzzzzzzz!

Chapter 2

Sat 5th May

Sourlies Bothy to Kinloch Hourn

Stage_2 Kinlochhourn W.C 15.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

The second day started early at Sourlies for me, I had breakfast (2 packets of Alpen porridge oats with a heaped spoon of sugar, 2 spoons of dried milk which had been mixed together and vacuum packed, followed by a mug of coffee) and was packed up and on my way by 07:30. The tide was in so I climbed up and over the rocky outcrop of Strone Sourlies, which didn’t take to much effort to take me into the next glen, presumably called Glen Carnoch.


It was again a nice morning, the same as yesterday with a gentle breeze behind me coming off Loch Nevis. I decided not to follow the path that crosses the flat boggy estuary following the river Carnach up the glen but to stick to the side of Coille Ghoirtein where it was drier underfoot until it met up with the river, from meeting the river there was an intermittent path all the way up to the start of Carn Mor, At the end of Carn More where the river turns east, this was the point that I was to turn west, Mmm!, it was steep, with no path!, but somewhere up there was the path that I was to connect with.
It didn’t take me too long to get to the top, Attacking it head on, zigging and zagging all the way up with a minutes rest at every zag, I was puffing and panting, coughing and wheezing all the way, muscles and lungs still not awoken from their winter slumber, that was the hardest part of the day over and done with, from now on the going was to be nice and easy.



The path was simple to find at the top and it wasn’t a footpath like I had expected, but an over grown or little used quad track which was easily followed up, over and into Gleann Unndalain.

With the last views of Glen Carnoch fading away to my left, I kept an eye out for Stevie and Shaun, who could have only been half an hour behind me, but they weren’t to be seen. Unknown to me, they were hidden bellow me, attacking Carn Mor with a frontal assault which was longer but not as steep, rather than my flanking move which was shorter but steeper. Once over the top and into the descending glen Unndalain the wind was cold and strong, the view down into Barridale was magnificent. So despite the cold wind, time was dutifully taken for a break and to admire the breath taking view.


The descent down the glen was simple, on a well established track all the way to Barrisdale bothy where a long midday break was taken. It was now time to break out the honey stove and make a mug of coffee and have a pot of custard with fruit and nuts, Mmmm, that hit the spot!. During this time Stevie and Shaun caught up and we exchanged our experiences of the morning.


My break was over to quickly but I was itching to get going again, leaving the pair of them to finish their break at the bothy I was off again, back onto the track/road passing the scattered houses of Barrisdale, each with their own generator rumbling away in the background.

Rounding the headland of Barrisdale Bay that takes you to kinloch Hourn,


leaving the track/ road at a junction with a narrow foot path on your right, the path from here on in undulates all the way to the scattered village of Kinloch Hourn with various degrees of ascents and descents, but more or less following the shores of the loch all the way with great views, passing the narrows of Chaolais Mhoir and the island of Eilean Mhogh-sgeir which lies off Runival.


On reaching the village of Kinloch Hourn, dwarfed by the three tops and steep sides of Sgurr nan Eugallt, Sgurr a’ Mhaoraich and Buidhe Bheinn, the rumble of the generators becomes apparent once again.
Now then!, just past the car park on the opposite side is a café, this is where my obsession for the elusive fruit scone and jam began, and was to remain with me for the remainder of the walk. The day was done, so in I went for the refreshments of tea and cake, not a single fruit scone to be had, but refreshed anyway it was now time to enquire about pitching the tent. Stevie and Shaun arrived for their refreshments as I was leaving. I was informed that about 100 yards further on down the road turning left over a bridge lies a thin strip of grass sandwiched between the river and the road which leads to the keeper’s cottage, this is the area for camping.


£1 per tent per night, payable at the Keepers cottage, also with an invitation to use the only phone in the village, Toilets are available back at the café 24hrs, but don’t expect hot running water or a mobile phone signal and be prepared for the rumble of the generators all night!
With the spot chosen for the tent, it was now time to begin the evening’s ritual of setting up camp, pitching the tent, unpacking and getting dinner on. There was Plenty of wind blown, dried twigs about at the river side so I decided to conserve the meths and use the Honey stove for the first time as a wood burner to boil the water for my dehydrated chicken casserole and couscous, this worked brilliantly in about the same amount of time as the meths.
Again Stevie and Shaun arrived and again we exchanged the day’s events. I was now getting tiered, before retiring for the night, the last thing to do before bed was to have a leisurely stroll over to the toilet for a wash and brush of the teeth, MY GOD!, I think it was glacial water coming from the tap, I was no longer tiered, wide awake refreshed by the ice water! Eventually the day came to an end when I nodded off at some point to the rumble of the various generators in the distance. ZZZZzzzz!

Chapter 3 & 4
Last edited by Billymaca on Mon May 06, 2019 7:52 pm, edited 18 times in total.
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Re: Cape Wrath Trail 2012 Walk Report chapter 1

Postby mountainstar » Sat May 26, 2012 10:01 am

Great to see another CWT report, will look forward to reading the rest of the installments.
Your day 1 was exactly the same as mine, a fairly hard and long one to start.
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Re: Cape Wrath Trail 2012 Walk Report chapter 1

Postby StevieM » Sat May 26, 2012 12:51 pm

Hi Billy
Well done on reaching the Cape.
I was struck down for a few days with S & D and reluctantly had to come home :( Think it may have been the water I was drinking from the streams. Huge lesson learned.
Going back to the trail on 7th June(complete with water filter) and pick up from Morvich. :D
Congrats again, and I look forward to reading the rest of your installments :clap:
All the best
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Re: Cape Wrath Trail 2012 Walk Report chapter 1

Postby Billymaca » Sat May 26, 2012 6:53 pm

Stevie my man! great to hear from you and sorry that you dropped out with d&v, get yourself a travel tap from backpackinglight.com, I wouldn't be without mine!. thanks for the weather updates as we went along. I'm delighted that you are giving it another crack, but this time it's you that's going to have the ghosts following you to Morvich, I'm sure Shaun would have told you how good the rest was so enjoy it!.
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Re: Cape Wrath Trail 2012 Walk Report chapter 1& 2

Postby andyp » Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:48 pm

Well done on completing this trek Billymaca (especially after the last attempt!) :clap:

I know the weather wasn't brilliant for you, as myself and my brother were only a couple of days behind you - plenty of heavy rain, snow and hail days coupled with some strong northerly winds. However, I think this only added to the epic nature of this trek. I liked your entry in one of the bothy logbooks on route, thankful for the invention of Goretex! I heartily agree with this!

The scale of the landscape, scenery, weather, wildlife, people met (although not many), all make this a special and unforgettable experience. Long may the CWT remain as an unofficial long distance route so that others can share this amazing experience.
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Re: The Cape Wrath Trail 2012 Walk Report Chapter 1 & 2

Postby wheretonoo » Mon Jun 25, 2012 3:20 pm

Congratulations Billy on completing it. I've been following your posts for the CWT with nervous excitement. I've been planning this for a while and I'm due to start from Glenfinnan this Wednesday. I had a look at your previous thread on the aborted trip and it fairly sets the scene - eek! Doesn't bode well in the wettest June in 100 years ha ha.
A big thankyou for your wee pointers of where to cross rivers and to look out for invisible paths, they've been great and I've jotted a few down at the back of the map. I'm only going as far as Achnashellach on this bit 'cause I have my heart set on doing the next bit through Assynt at the beginning of winter - hey ho, we all have our peculiarities. Thanks again for taking the time to write up your report, brilliant stuff.
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