Cape Wrath Day 19 Loch Ailsh to Inchnadamph

Today included the most stunning scenery, stinging rain and accidentally getting on a school bus.

We packed up the tents and started walking at 7.30am. The rain soon started as we entered the dark shadowy hills. At times we had to stop and turn our backs, as the wind was painfully lashing the rain into our faces.

During the times when the rain paused, the scenery was absolutely jaw dropping. The photos don’t do it justice, and the scale and detail aren’t picked up.

We climbed and then walked through a mountain pass, which revealed a view of the sea on the other side. The last few miles were spent practically jogging to keep up with Janet who picked up speed over awful terrain in order to make the 2pm bus.

When we arrived at Inchnadamph it wasn’t clear where the bus stop was, and we couldn’t remember what number the bus was, what company the bus was under or which direction the bus went in. Whoops.

A minibus came past which, as it got closer, looked like it might be suitable, but alas, by the time we had mulled it over it had already zoomed past (turns out that was the correct one).

A bus then came along so we waved it down on the off chance it was going to Lochinver. It was! We got on it and found a large group of children staring at us and when we tried to pay the driver he told us that he was a school bus but to stay on anyway.

We arrived at Lochinver and found our bunkhouse. We have a rest day tomorrow before the final leg of our journey starts with a taxi back to Inchnadamph. Exciting!

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Cape Wrath Day 18 Oykel Bridge to Loch Ailsh

Today started with Janet being told off by the manager for asking for hot water to make a cup of tea (not allowed to use our stoves outside and no kettle provided).

Fortunately, a couple of miles into our day, the head Ghillie for the Oykel Bridge hotel stopped his van to give us a cup of coffee and biscuits!

Quite ironic that their lovely ghillie managed to provide coffee and biscuits in the middle of nowhere, where the manager got angry at providing hot water in a hotel. Anyhow, thanks Mr Ghillie!

The walk was nice, following well kept tracks for the most part alongside the River Oykel and Loch Ailsh.

The rain was on and off, a good heavy soaking followed by the suspense of watching the next rainfall coming on the horizon.

We managed to find a good camping spot by the river and boy did the wind prevent the midges from eating us. A bit too windy if you ask my tent.

Cape Wrath Day 17 Knockdamph to Oykel Bridge

A day of highs and lows.

An easy day wandering down a track, not a large raindrop in sight.

The scenery has reduced to rolling boggy hills, with a slight Pennine Way moor feeling to it.

We arrived in Oykel Bridge and found the hotel which has a ‘bunkhouse’ attached.

The actual room is lovely, with a room per person and a nice hot shower.

The downside, the manager had agreed to let us hang our tents in a specific part of the drying room until 5pm (when the hotel guests arrive back from fishing; drying room is not for bunkhouse guests).

I arrived at 4.40pm to see my tent outer and inner dumped on the floor of the courtyard outside the drying room. I asked the manager why the tent was on the floor outside and she said that the hotel guests had arrived back early (no stuff in the drying room though) and so she had moved it. I was quite upset at the carelessness, lack of respect for other’s belongings and the potential damage to my tent, but she replied that the tent was my responsibility and the tent was left at my own risk. Also that I was booked into the budget accommodation (she mentioned this at least three times), and that the abuse they get from walkers is why they are likely to discontinue the bunkhouse after one year since opening. She did not once apologise for throwing my tent outside onto the ground even though I came before 5pm. I’m not sure why she didn’t just put it into a corner if it became a problem.

Anyway, I’m very upset with this, her manner, and a host of other issues which I won’t delve into, and so I will be avoiding the hotel in the future.

Cape Wrath Day 17 Ullapool to Knockdamph Bothy

Rest day yesterday which was just as well due to the pouring rain.

Fully stocked up with food, Janet and I plodded out of Ullapool with heavy bags.

The track meant that it was easy underfoot and the 12 miles passed relatively quickly with regular rests.

I tore my waterproof backpack cover on a barbed wire fence – the only fence for miles – which was quite sad and annoying. I tried to tape it up with duck tape but it didn’t stick in the rain.

On the arrival to the bothy we had a quick wash in the stream before another rain shower arrived, and then made a fire out of the damp firewood we had collected. Surprisingly, it took well even if we could see the water bubbling out the end of the wood.

Melted marshmallows were eaten by all.

Cape Wrath Day 15 Corrie Hallie to Ullapool

We only noticed the beware the bull, cows and calves signs after we woke up today. We do live life on the edge sometimes.

A shorter day in terms of mileage – only 8ish miles.

Unfortunately it included quite a big hill in two sections. Surprisingly, the slightly boggier flat section in between was the most tiring.

One man, another man and a couple also walking the Cape Wrath trail overtook us today. Our first meeting of people walking the trail in one go successfully (so far). Very exciting. The couple were from Europe and trying to do it in two weeks. I asked the couple if they were enjoying it. The man said yes, the woman did not seem as sure. They have been doing 30km days, and the Scottish man has been walking until 10pm at night. Crikey!!

We hitch hiked another 7 miles to Ullapool. It was my first time hitch hiking and I have to say that it’s a very depressing situation when car after car goes by and doesn’t stop. I can’t say that I can blame them, I’ve never picked up a hitch hiker before.

A local guy stopped after 15min (so we didn’t have to wait for long) and we bypassed the European couple also attempting to hitch hike. Fortunately, we saw them walk into the campsite ten minutes after us so they must have also been successful with their hitch hike.

Rest day tomorrow and I’m treating myself to washing my clothes in a actual washing machine. Not sure how I’ll get them dry yet.

Cape Wrath Day 14 Lochan Fada to Nr Corrie Hallie

A lovely evening wild camping last night before the midges came out.

A tough walk today up a hill, across a boggy plateau and down a pathless hill before walking up another hill (albeit on a track).

Hard on the legs but very easy on the eyes.

We set up camp by a waterfall which was lovely until we realised the nearby path was a motorway for walkers coming out to enjoy the coming weekend.

One guy out with his presumed girlfriend was laden. I’ve never seen somebody carrying so much. Sleeping bags hanging off each side and other equipment dangling. The girlfriend wasn’t carrying a single thing. No small rucksack. Nothing. Quite confused and perplexed on why the girlfriend wasn’t pulling her weight, and why the boyfriend agreed to carry it all. Janet seems to think the boyfriend is doing anything to get his girl out camping… She’s probably right. Perhaps her skipping up the hill is disguising an injury.

Cape Wrath Day 13 Kinlochewe to Lochan Fada

A lovely rest day yesterday with a fun evening in the hotel lounge with a couple doing part of the Cape Wrath path and another American couple who unfortunately will be continuing the Cape a Wrath mainly by other transport due to blisters and a too ambitious timetable.

We headed to a cafe for breakfast where the waitress informed us that a father and son who had been sitting at our table just before us had also decided to stop the Cape Wrath trail early and head back home.

I’m quite glad that Janet and I have decided to ensure a sensible timetable and route for this trail.

The path was clear today, starting off on a wide track that eventually narrowed to a path.

We gradually climbed up a valley, stopping half way to don our waterproofs.

We eventually reached the loch where we planned to wild camp, and boy, the view was stunning!

Cape Wrath Day 11 Craig to Kinlochewe

We left the hostel with dire warnings from other hostel users that a very steep mud filled path awaited us first thing.

Fortunately, the ascent didn’t kill me and the mud consisted of relatively small patches of mud and bog that were easily traversed.

The day consisted of very cold wind in sunshine. Such a shame as it meant that I was wrapped up in a hat, gloves and coat instead of getting a lovely tan.

The remainder 10 miles was a gentle descent, passing through stunning scenery with the Torridon mountains on show.

We arrived at Kinlochewe and promptly ate a bowl of spicy lentil and coconut soup which was heaven. I also had a mug of hot chocolate but that made me feel slightly sick due to the sugar so I had to leave the cafe for some fresh air. That didn’t prevent me from eating a slice of cheesecake in the pub later on, thank goodness. A delicious day was had by all.

Rest day tomorrow – or today as posting a day late. 🙂

Cape Wrath Day 10 Bendronaig Bothy to Craig

An excellent sleep last night in the bothy with the ear plugs in.

We slowly got ourselves moving and set off along a wide track.

The turned of the track after a mile or so and started climbing up towards a pass.

My goodness, what hard hard tiring work, mainly due to the terrain not the ascent. Easily the hardest so far.

As we eventually made it to the top of the pass the wind picked up and the rain came down. We sheltered behind a massive boulder and ate a quick lunch of crackers and cheese before starting to make our way down to the next valley. The fingers were icicles but they did eventually thaw as the air grew warmer at the bottom.

We crossed a river with myself donning and removing my waders with a finely honed skill, and perched on a stone while waiting for Janet to continue her persuasion of how her feet, again, felt much better for the cold dipping they had across the river.

We walked down a nice track, avoided getting flattened by loggers, lots of beeping and arm waving, and made it to a quite peculiar hostel. The hostel is run by a man seems not quite sure he actually wants customers, and has many a rule and quirk for how he likes things done. I’d stay again but it’s probably not for everybody.

Cape Wrath Day 9 Camas Luinie to Bendronaig Bothy

The first day on the Cape Wrath trail without a single drop of rain! Hurrah!!

We meandered along a valley after leaving Camas Luinie and amazed somebody’s ability to put telegraph poles in somewhere so remote and boggy.

This admiration distracted us from the map and we accidentally took the high path instead of the low path. After rectifying our mistake by off routing down the hill, we continued around the hill, and collected some dead partially dry firewood ready for the bothy.

My wood packing skills weren’t quite up to it and I ended up carrying my wood by hand for the last 4ish miles.

We spent a lovely evening with a couple walking Cape Wrath in stages, and a Munro bagger. We had a warm stove fire going. The stove was donated by the family of a man who passed away in Feb 2018 after spending his last night in the bothy. With the news of a lady killed by lightning near Fort William a couple of days ago, and hearing about another man who died in the hills from hypothermia after losing his pack in a river crossing a month ago, it reminded us how volatile and dangerous the Scottish hills can be, and to not get complacent about safety.

On a more cheery note, Janet and I had a amazing sunbathe on a wooden bridge after washing in the stream before the other bothy peeps arrived. Who needs to go abroad?