Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

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Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Mon 03 Jul, 2017 11:10 pm

Since my trip to Scotland in 2012 I got interested in doing the Cape Wrath trail and my opportunity came in August 2016. Since it was late in the summer I thought I'd start at the north end and head south as the days would be getting shorter and things starting to close down as summer ended in north-west Scotland.

I flew from Australia to London Heathrow and changed planes for commuter plane up to Glasgow. I overnighted at Glasgow Metro YHA and next day took the bus to Inverness where I overnighted at the Inverness YHA. While in Inverness I did some shopping to cover the first leg of the trip which would be from Durness to Kinlochbervie which would be the first opportunity to resupply.

Then it's a smaller bus from Inverness up to the tiny village of Durness. I stayed overnight at Durness Oasis Sands camping ground (£8) and started my walk south on 25 August.

Equipment wise I was carrying a 1985 vintage Hallmark chrysalis tunnel tent. It has served me well over the years and still in reasonable condition however the tent floor is not that waterproof so I needed a additional groundsheet to provide some protection from the damp ground expected in Scotland. This was a footprint that I bought from Mont for their Moondance 2 tent. This tent weighs some 3 kg so obviously not the lightest by current standards however of the 2 tents that I have it offers good room to sit out what I thought was quite possible in Scotland and that's rain. My sleeping bag was a Mont helium 450 down bag. That weighs less than 1 kg so safe the bit of weight taking that. I used a CCF foam pad which is light so again saving weight to compensate for the heavy tent. My stove was the Caldera cone methylated spirits sized for a Snow peak 700 mL pot. I had everything in a osprey argon 85 L pack. That too weighs 3 kg. Very important to me was to document my journey in a video diary using the Sony 1000 action camera which records 1920 X 1080 HD video. To keep the video camera going only had a GoalZero Nomad 7+ solar panel and a Xaomi 16 AHr lithium battery.

The weather when I arrived at Durness was sunny so as a promising start. The road from the Kyle of Durness to Cape Wrath Lighthouse crosses military land and the notices posted at the Durness information Centre showed that the military were using their firing range the whole week. As I understood it the cease military operations to allow the bus which takes passengers out to the lighthouse from the ferry jetty. So if the range was active then it would not be possible to walk through the range but the bus would provide a another alternative other than waiting for the military to finish their days wargames at 5 PM. As it turned out on 25 August the military were busy somewhere else and the range was open. I walked from Durness down to the ferry jetty at Keoldale. The ferry is really just a large speedboat and can carry about 20 people I think. Otherwise would have to walk around the Kyle of Durness and add several hours to the journey. There were quite a few people queued up at the jetty so the ferry operator had to make several trips to ferry everyone across the water. It turned out that there was one other person, the woman from the Czech Republic who was also going out to Cape Wrath Lighthouse on foot. Everyone else hopped in the bus to travel the 9 km to the lighthouse. It cost £4.50 for the ferry journey and those on the bus paid an additional £7 for the trip to Cape Wrath and return. The 2 of us walked in the sunshine and our destination for the day was Kearvaig bothy. The walk is along a narrow four-wheel-drive dirt track. Kearvaig bothy is off the main track to the lighthouse and is a little stone building with about 3 rooms and an attic. It's was built about 150 years ago. In the sunshine it was a beautiful location. Was not a particularly long walk to get there and we spent the afternoon on the beach enjoying the sun. There is a little lagoon behind the beach and crossing the lagoon was through soft sand/sort of quicksand. It is very erie sinking knee deep in the sand. That evening about 30 schoolkids + teachers arrived. They'd spent 2 weeks hiking through north-west Scotland. This was our last stop before reaching the Kyle of Durness and the ferry.

Air pressure is 1009 mBar and temperature 16°C.
Attachments
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Military range is open
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checkpoint not manned today
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approaching Kearvaig bothy
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bothy
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bothy
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enjoying the marvellous weather at the beach
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Last edited by Canberra Trekker on Tue 04 Jul, 2017 3:49 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Mon 03 Jul, 2017 11:30 pm

26 August 2016

The sunshine of the 25th did not extend into the next day and when we woke up in the morning it had been raining. Had to don the wet weather gear to leave the bothy and head back up to the main road and continue the journey after the lighthouse. The lighthouse has a café which is supposed be operating around-the-clock 24 hours a day 365 days a year. We got there around midday and he café is open but no one there. The owner arrived about 20 minutes later with his 3 dogs. I guess he'd been out walking them. We were the only people at the café as the other customers would be coming by the minibus which arrives later. We had lunch in the café and had a look around outside. From the lighthouse to Sandalwood Bay it's across the moor land. I was anticipating it would be boggy and it actually was. I guess the previous days fine weather was good for drying out the bogs a bit. I would imagine it would be much worse had it been raining. Anyway from the lighthouse to Sandalwood Bay is across untracked country. Enough people have done it so can usually see traces where people have been before you go no definitive track exists. Actually from the lighthouse had to return back to the sentry post nearest the lighthouse and head south from that point. My companion from the Czech Republic is not used to cross-country travelling so it took us a bit longer to cross the moor land then faster people would have taken. We ended up camping just to the north of Sandalwood Bay having arrived there just before sunset.
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Lighthouse
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Kearvaig Bay from the main road
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Lunch at Ozone Café
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Sheep at the Lighthouse
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Heading south towards Sandwood Bay
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Track follows beside some rugged cliffs
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Map of Cape wrath military range
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Very fortunate with the weather
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More cliffs will
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sandwood bay.jpg
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Last edited by Canberra Trekker on Tue 04 Jul, 2017 3:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Mon 03 Jul, 2017 11:44 pm

27 August 2016
Temperature inside the tent at 6 AM was 14°C and pressure 1016 mBar.

My plan was to spend 2 days at Sandwood Bay. Since we never quite reached Sandwood Bay on the 26, we still had about a kilometre to tick off before we reached the bay. So it was not a very long walk to reach our destination for the day. Sandwood Bay is very big bay so the first task was to decide where to camp. We eventually decided on the sand dunes in the middle of the beach. So the rest of the day was spent at the beach. Behind-the-scenes dunes there is a freshwater loch. The water on the Atlantic ocean side is freezing cold the water draining the loch into the ocean was slightly warmer. It was a public holiday weekends in the United Kingdom so there were other people at Sandwood Bay but the beach is very long so everyone was very dispersed.

Temperature at 8 PM inside the tent was 17°C and air pressure 1016 mBar.
Attachments
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campsite on headland just north of Sandwood Bay
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Campsite in sand dunes at Sandwood Bay
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See stack at the southern end of Beach at Sandwood Bay
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Sunset at Sandwood Bay
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Freshwater loch behind sand dunes
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Some of the electronic gadgets I was carrying
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Last edited by Canberra Trekker on Tue 04 Jul, 2017 10:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 12:15 am

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Roadside layby at Achriesgill
28 August 2016
the good weather of 27 August continued and Sunday 28 was even sunnier. There was Apsley no wind in the morning and there were millions appeared of these midges. Definitely needed the head net when outside the confines of the insect screened tent. With the numbers of midges around, life under a tent fly would be quite miserable. Definitely benefited from having the sealed interior of the chrysalis tent at Sandwood Bay that morning.

However it was now time to move on as my companion from the Czech Republic was running out of food and needed to reach Glasgow to continue her journey back to Prague. My plan was to continue down the Cape Wrath trail. The first goal was to reach Kinlochbervie which is of little fishing port where there is a Spar supermarket however supermarket on the Sunday closes by 2 o'clock in the afternoon I think. So we had definite deadline to reach the supermarket before it closed for the day. The weather was beautiful and sunshine the whole day. We did reach the supermarket with plenty of time and had lunch at the waterfront under the watchful eye of a seal who was popping up out of the water just beside the table where we were seated.

We said farewell and I continued towards Rhiconich. An American who we had met earlier had suggested camping at this roadside layby near Rhiconich and that is what I did. Wonderful view from the layby up to see loch.

Charged the Sony action camera from the Guide 10. Initial charging current into the action camera was 8020 mA. Guide 10 shutdown after 3.1 WHr was delivered. Additional 0.4 WHr taken from the Xaomi battery. So that was a reasonably sunny day north-west Scotland and the solar panel was able to put 3.1 WHr of usable energy into the storage battery.

Air pressure is 1008 mBar and temperature 15°C.
Attachments
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caldera cone
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Spar supermarket at Kinlochbervie
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby ribuck » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 2:11 am

Great photos!

What was your pack weight? All that electronic gear must add up...
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 7:47 am

My check-in weight at Sydney airport was 20 kg but that was including quite a bit of food. I took a couple of kilograms of Aldi trail mix and 200 g chocolate blocks to Scotland.

I guess the PLB was unnecessary but I did find that mobile phone service in Scotland was terrible. For instance at Ullapool which is a decent sized town up in the north-west there is no mobile phone reception apart from on the main street. I walked into Ullapool from the outskirts and could not use my phone until I reached virtually the tourist centre in the centre. The youth hostels on the main street and it's a stone building. Could not even use the phone inside the youth hostel. Internet (mobile phone) is very slow and most of the places or can't even get it. That even includes Fort William where I had to resort to going to McDonald's and using their free Wi-Fi. So anyone who thinks that Internet service in Australia is bad it's light years ahead of what's available in Scotland. I didt use the Yellowbrick satellite Messenger to keep in contact with families in Australia so lack of mobile phone service was not that much of a problem. I really only wanted the mobile phone Internet to get information and weather reports. I did have the solar panel and that gave sufficient energy in the sunshine at Kearvaig and Sandwood Bay to keep the Sony action camera charged however sunshine is not guaranteed in Scotland and on the overcast/wet days then solar energy is just a dream and I had to draw on the Xaomi backup battery to maintain charge for the video and also for the phone (on a more irregular basis). I think the most energy I collected from the sun in the whole trip was about 4 WHr. It takes about 5.5 WHr to charge the Sony action camera from flat. Although in a day with lots of video I was only discharging the camera battery about 75%. I use the audio recorder for soundtrack for the video. I had USB power monitor so I could keep track of the energy I had collected and supplying to charge the phone and video camera. I was using a GoalZero guide 10 is the receiving device for the solar energy. I was using the so-called unregulated output from the GoalZero Nomad 7+ panel into the Guide 10. I found that the charging electronics in the Xaomi battery did not allow very well direct charge from the GoalZero panel. The Guide 10 had nickel metal hydride batteries (4 of them) so not my ideal solution as these were much heavier than equivalent capacity batteries in lithium. However it's the way things worked out.
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 7:53 am

Blank
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 7:54 am

I should add that the phone I used as Bluetooth terminal to prepare and receive these text messages so that was its major use other than as a camera couple of times and even more infrequently for Internet information.
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 8:16 am

29 August 2016
So I'd camped the night at a roadside layby at Achriesgill. It had started to rain at 5 AM. Temperature was 14°C and air pressure 1014 mBar.

So the first task of the day was to continue walking up to the main road at Rhiconich. Not much in Rhiconich. Think it's famous for its hotel. So from Rhiconich it straight into the so-called wilderness and spent the morning (first part) following the Rhiconich River passed a couple of lochs. There was a path of sorts because a lot of fishermen use the river. But once past the lochs then it was very wet and boggy. It was here that I noticed that my boots which were Merrill and purchased in 2012 were starting to fall apart. I taken them to New Zealand once and some trips to the snow in Australia. So not a great deal of use however the leather around the soul world was disintegrating rapidly. The rate of deterioration was alarming and I'd be lucky to even reach Ullapool. So having dry feet was a dream. Eventually the track joined up with a somewhat wider four-wheel-drive track installed by the estate. The 2 mountains dominating this area were the Arkle and Ben Stack. The Cape wrath trail has no definite route but there are quite a few alternative routes of different standards. Some might be estate roads while others untracked routes through bogs and moor.

The 29th was a overcast day. My route was to go over the Ben Dreavie (summit 510 m) which is the only mountain which go over the summit. In the afternoon it started to drizzle and by 5 PM I decided to call it a day and pitch my tent in the best place I could find in the middle of the bog. I did find a little patch that was reasonably flat and not waterlogged and that's where I put it. Still about 200 m altitude low summit of Ben Dreavie.

So there I was alone in the middle of nowhere contemplating the Scotland experience. Then around 9 PM the wind started to pick up and I had to dash out and pick out the remaining guidelines on the tent. The tent was flapping around and by 11 o'clock I just didn't know what to do other than to get dressed and pack everything away in case the tent collapsed and the last thing I wanted was to get things wet. It was raining at the time as well. So there I was inside the tent all dressed up in my clothes and raingear dosing as best as I could and dreaming of these search party coming up the mountain to get me out of my predicament. The wind was so strong that it was opening the outer door of the tent against the zip. Fortunately it August the temperatures at night are quite reasonable (16°C) so not in much danger of getting hypothermia at that time a year.

The wind and rain continued through until about 3 AM when the wind started to abate a little bit and I knew that the tent was no longer in danger of disintegrating.
Attachments
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Map of where I camped at Ben Dreavie
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Rhiconich hotel
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One of the locks feeding the Rhiconich River
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Lunch
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Loch Stack
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Campsite near Ben Dreavie
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Last edited by Canberra Trekker on Tue 04 Jul, 2017 7:15 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 8:35 am

30 August 2016

Well I'd survived the night although when you're alone in the dark in middle of wilderness in the middle of a tempest, the imagination can go wild with possible scenarios of how things might turn out. In this case they turned out without any drama. The morning was still very windy with passing showers and the Ben Dreavie shrouded in the cloud. Temperature at 5:45 AM was 15.5°C and air pressure 998 mBar.

So I packed up and headed up to Ben Dreavie but in the wind and rain is not the place where you linger very long so it was down the other side where there is an hydro construction road ( at Bealach mam Fiann) running over to Loch Glendhu.

Once onto the estate Hydro Road it was easy travelling downhill to Loch Glendhu where I had lunch in the shelter of the convenient stonewall. Should add that I found a convenient sheep pen (stonewall) soon after I joined the estate Road where I was able to have morning tea with some shelter from the wind.

Then there was another road beside block land to up towards its head where there is an estate buildings including Glendhu bothy. There was this very impressive 2 story house but that's not the bothy but I chose to pitch my tent outside that building. There was a shooting party operating in the area and I took the permission of the shooting guide and he was happy with where I pitched my tent. The 2 story building did not seem to be in use that day. One thing that struck me was that the shooters were paying £2000 per day for their pleasure. There was this man dressed up in his tweeds and cap. He was obviously wealthy man from London but carrying a bit of weight so I could not imagine him running around the tops with his rifle shooting at deer. I guess that's why I met him at sea level near the buildings while he had delegated the actual shooting to some obviously younger members of his party. Around 6 PM there was a rifle shot and the Argo all-terrain vehicle which had been near the bothy went up the mountainside and returned back about our later with the carcass of a stag. Apparently judged on the number of points on its antlers it was quite a prize as there aren't many stags of that age. There were 2 horses at the estate complex. They try to follow tradition and these horses are used to bring out the carcass especially in places where the Argo vehicle cannot reach. However this evening the horses grazed in their paddock while the Argo fetched the stamp carcass.

That evening when I charged the Sony action camera I was able to get 3 WHr from the Guide 10 battery pack before it shut down.
Attachments
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Heading towards the Glendhu estate bothy
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Seemed a nice place to pitch tent with shelter from the wall from the wind
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Glendhu bothy
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The dead stag
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Last edited by Canberra Trekker on Tue 04 Jul, 2017 7:21 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 8:57 am

31 August 2016
This was an overcast day quite dry. Still windy (calm overnight that picked up around dawn) but nowhere near as severe as up on Ben Dreavie.

Temperature 16°C and pressure 1053 mBar.

Had to continue around the head of Glendhu loch and over the head land on the other side into Loch Glencoul. Again nice scenery looking down onto the lochs. Found my first and only tick. This one was observed crawling on my boot. It was a tiny little thing. Got rid of it before it could find what it was after. Bit rough going between Glendhu and Glencoul. There is another estate bothy/complex at Glencoul. Still don't know how you get access to Glencoul other than by water. Had lunch at the Glencoul bothy. While I was at the bothy a RAF jet flew right over the top at very low altitude. Very noisy experience. There were several other times where RAF jets made low level passes although this was the occasion when it was right over the top of my head.

There is the estate road going up into the mountains from Glencoul bothy. I don't think this is access because it only goes for a couple of kilometres before it terminates. It's again into the wilderness. I think the area is called Assynt. Once off the estate road it's very rough going. A lot of peat hags.

Decided to camp beside Gorm Loch Meag. Getting some protection from the wind from the mountains to the west. Just had to find a flattish dry-ish spot that was not too waterlogged.

It was a pretty cloudy day the whole time.

That evening the pressure has fallen to 994 mBar and temperature 14°C. Raining outside. Only 0.3 WHr of energy from the Guide 10 today. Needed to take 3.4 WHr from the Xaomi battery to complete charge of Sony action camera in addition phone required charging and that took a further 3.4 WHr from the battery.

I was starting to realise that I would have to stay at Ullapool youth hostel so I could recharge the Xaomi. Scotland is not the best place to rely on solar energy.
Attachments
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Glencoul estate bothy
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Looking down onto Loch Glencoul
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Campsite at Gorm Loch Mor
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Campsite at Gorm Loch Mor
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Last edited by Canberra Trekker on Tue 04 Jul, 2017 7:26 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 9:06 am

1 September 2016
Temperature inside tent 12.1 Celsius and air pressure 997 mBar.

This was another pretty well overcast day. The first part of the morning was again continuing across country with not much in the way of track to follow. Occasionally could see footprints in the mud where people had preceded me. A lot of climbing in and out of peat hags. That can be quite tiring especially carrying heavy pack as I was. However as the morning wore on the track improved and eventually found my self on another well-made four-wheel-drive track. Probably more hydro works in the area. I was making such a good time on the track that I was not paying attention and overshot where I was supposed to leave the track and found myself 1.7 km off in the wrong direction so had my lunch and then backtracked the 1.7 km to where I should have turned off and then it was back into the bog. It was another couple of hours crossing the bog land before again made out another rough track and followed that to the Oykel river. The Oykel river is salmon fishing territory.

Found a nice spot to camp right beside the junction of 2 rivers one of which being the Oykel. Lots of midges around that evening. He even got inside my tent because had to open the fly netting to get in and took me half hour to get them out. I found with the light-coloured fabric that they like hovering just below the bottom of the inner tent so I found a damp cloth to be very effective at removing them as I just had to wipe it along the under surface of the inner tent and that eventually thinned out their numbers to make life bearable inside the tent.

That evening the temperature in the site the tent was 17 Celsius and air pressure 993 mBar.

Start charging the Sony action camera from the Guide 10 and it shutdown after 0.5 WHr transferred. Again not a productive day for collecting solar energy.

To do list for Ullapool
cigarette lighters is on finding that the ones that I have suffering from dampness so need greater diversity to keep some stored safely in dry places.
Rolled oats, macaroni cheese, fruit and nut mixture, powdered milk, 500 mL of methylated spirits, digestive this gets, cheese, chocolate and soup mix. These are some the things I'm considering getting at Tesco's in Ullapool.

Also considering changing the 2.5 mm guy ropes on the tent to 3.0 mm. I'm finding that the wind is causing the thin guy rope to slip and lose tension.
Attachments
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Assynt wilderness
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Oykel river campsite
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Last edited by Canberra Trekker on Tue 04 Jul, 2017 11:05 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 9:21 am

2 September 2016

Temperature inside the tent while cooking breakfast was 18°C. Air pressure 997 mBar. It was 13°C before starting the stove. Cooking inside the tent because midges are in plague numbers outside.

Today was to be a longish although on paper easy day along tracks. I wanted to reach Schoolhouse bothy. Up until lunch the route followed the Oykel river. Just past Benmore Lodge there was a diversion sign up into a pine forest. Again it was on a nice forestry road for quite a few kilometres. However very suddenly the forest road finished in a clear field patch of former forest. Very rough going through the mess that was left on the ground from the forest operations.

To be honest I don't know why the estate had signposted Cape Wrath traffic up into the forest because there is a very nice tar sealed road from the estate buildings to Oykel Bridge hotel. So once the forest road terminated I had to drop down through the forest rubbish back down onto the road beside the river. Once on the road it was easy going although still quite a few kilometres to reach Oykel Bridge hotel.

At the hotel I had lunch in the bar. There was some fishermen in the bar complaining about the low water level in the river. I was relishing the relatively dry spell Scotland was having that these fishermen needed the water in the river so they could do their fishing. Number of people fishing on the banks is regulated as to how much water is flowing in the river. I daresay they are paying substantial sums for the privilege of fishing that river so they were not a happy bunch stuck in the pub while the fish swim in the river.

Again it was about another 5 km on road to reach Schoolhouse bothy. Schoolhouse bothy used to be a ruin up until about 2008 when it was done up by the MBA (Mountain bothy Association). I think the original school dates back more than hundred years when they built schools in these remote areas for the crofters working in the hills for sheep. Apparently the MBA had put in quite a bit of money into restoring the bothy. One of the rooms even had double glazed window. It was certainly the warmest of the bothy side stayed in. Although I did not stay in many bothies, usually preferring to pitch the tent outside. However I had Schoolhouse bothy to myself and I availed myself to be double glazed room.

Down in a little ravine there is a nice little stream beside the bothy where for those willing to brave the cold can have a splash.

There was some sunshine today especially in the morning and I was able to get 3.2 WHr of energy from the Guide 10 towards charging the Sony action camera.

At Schoolhouse bothy in the evening it was 17°C and air pressure 999 mBar.
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Benmore Forest
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Schoolhouse bothy
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Some of the old school furniture
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Oykel Bridge hotel
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Lunch
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Nice little stream beside bothy for swim
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Last edited by Canberra Trekker on Tue 04 Jul, 2017 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 9:32 am

3 September

I wanted an early start from Schoolhouse bothy to reach Ullapool by lunch so I could do some shopping (new boots) as well as put some phone calls through to Australia. With time zone differences, lunchtime was a good time to call Australia and any later would mean waking people up in the middle of the night back in Australia. So I left the bothy well before sunrise. The only problem was that couldn't see anything and I had no idea where the so-called track from Schoolhouse bothy towards Ullapool went in the dark. In the end I was crossing these fields by torch light in the dark. Eventually when the sun rose I could see where the road was so that was the end then of stumbling around fields in darkness. Just knocked off the kilometres to reach Knockdamph bothy. Put my head inside to have a look and was not particularly impressed. Looked like a bit of rubbish had accumulated their which ought to be removed. There were these very grotty mattresses. Could not imagine anybody wanting to use them.

The scenery got bit better as I got closer to Ullapool. The road passed by a couple of lochs.

Made Ullapool by midday easily. As per my comment earlier not that easy getting mobiles phone reception in Ullapool other than on the main street. The outdoor outfitters shop was open and I was able to get a pair of Meindl boots. The Merril boots were on their last legs.

Decided I'd be staying at the youth hostel for 2 nights so I could charge my Xaomi battery. Did some shopping at the Tesco to restock my food.
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Leaving the bothy well before sunrise
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Knockdamph bothy
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Loch Achell
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Ullapool
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What was left of the boot
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 9:33 am

4 September 2016
At Ullapool YHA the pressure is now 1025 mBar and temperature 20°C. :D posting.php?mode=edit&f=43&p=328561#

I booked to stay 2 nights that Ullapool YHA. It was a beautiful sunny day on the 4th (Sunday). I decided I would pay the £18 to catch the ferry across to Stornoway. On the Sunday timetable the ferry only has 30 minute turnaround time in Stornoway. Had to make a quick dash around the centre of Stornoway to get back to the ferry terminal before sailing. Had been to Stornoway in 2012 so I had seen it already all before.

It was nice way to spend the day. Weather was glorious. Sitting out on deck in the sunshine.
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Ferry crossing to Stornoway
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Boat marina in Stornoway
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One of the buildings near the waterfront
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Caledonian MacBrayne ferry
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Last edited by Canberra Trekker on Tue 04 Jul, 2017 11:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 10:04 am

5 September

Ullapool is the diversion of the Cape Wrath route. It's the biggest town in the area so there is the shops including outfitter where I got the boots. There's the youth hostel as well as a camping ground near the water's edge of Loch Broom. Very attractive place. I had to good fortune of 2 wonderful days in Ullapool.

The Cape Wrath route is about 10 km to the south of Ullapool and crosses the main A road at a place called Inverlael. I decided I would catch the minibus (same bus that I'd had taken from Inverness up to Durness in August). It is run DE coaches. In the low is not its official stop so you get charged to the first official stop beyond Inverlael (Braemar junction) it is some distance beyond Inverlael and cost £4. However it saved 10 commoners of walking beside busy A road.

There were a couple of other day walkers on the bus but they disappeared pretty quickly once they got off at Inverlael. None of them were heading in the direction I was heading towards Corey Hallie. Inverlael is at sea level. Just after I left the a road onto a smaller road feeding the settlements around Inverlael I met a farmer. Not sure what he was talking about that he got me all confused. He said that the Cape Wrath route was not very well signposted and the was very kindly telling me of this shortcut to get onto the mountain behind Inverlael. However his directions had me all confused and I seem to be doing circles around Inverlael trying to get around these houses with electric fences et cetera. Eventually I found my way onto the mountain and it was a 400 m climb up the hill. I'd restocked with food at Ullapool so the pack was as heaviest again. It was nice foot trek up the mountain. Then it's down the other side to little hamlet called Corey Hallie where cross the road again.

Then it's up in the hills again heading over to Shanaval bothy.

With the confusion around Inverlael it was a longish day and I did not arrive at Shenaval bothy until 7 PM. There were other people in the bothy and it wasn't until morning that I realised that it was in fact 10 other people inside the bothy. They commented the following morning that I made a wise choice to camp outside as it was really quite cramped inside with that number of people.

Temperature in the evening 19°C and pressure 1013 mBar.
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Corey Hallie
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Crossing the mountains to Shenaval bothy
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Getting closer to Shanaval bothy
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On the way to Shenaval bothy
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Outside Shenaval bothy
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Last edited by Canberra Trekker on Tue 04 Jul, 2017 11:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Avatar » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 10:41 am

Canberra Trekker wrote: The Merril boots were on their last legs.


As soon as I saw the pic of your boots I was reminded of this review
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Lye0FrDA_I

Nice read although you have some odd phrases. Are you using some voice-to-text app?
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 11:11 am

Yes. Makes it easier to put in the text and I will read it once I've finished and fix up the difficult to understand parts.
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 11:27 am

6 September

Another fine day and I wanted to camp at Loch an Nid which was only about 8 km from Shenaval bothy.

Was not feeling the best today. Because of my late arrival at Shenaval bothy last night I was still cooking dinner at 10 PM. I was cooking soup mix means which require long cooking time and I don't think they were properly fully cooked when I gave up cooking them at 10 PM. So was feeling a bit queasy in the stomach in the morning. Just as well did not have that far to walk to reach Loch an Nid.

Arrived at Loch an Nid at lunchtime, pitched the tent and lay down for the rest of the afternoon while I took long time lapse of the clouds flitting across the sky above the mountains. That meant that I was using a lot of energy for my Sony action camera and drawing on the Xaomi battery.

At 6 PM inside the tent temperature was 21 Celsius and air pressure 1004 mBar.

7 September
in morning inside the tent it was 13°C and air pressure 997 mBar. After lighting the stove temperature increase to 17 Celsius. Midges outside so it was more comfortable to stay inside the netted area of the tent.

It was very pleasant walk up Strath na Sealga which is a widish river valley a couple of ruined dwellings along the way. All nice in the sunshine then once that the head of the valley up over a mountain pass and down to Loch an Fada where would pick up a track which would morph into a hydro access track (good-quality) and finally to Kinlochewe. There was a lot of hydro work going on in the Heights of Kinlochewe. Once past Loch an Fada the scenery was rather ordinary.
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Strath na Sealga
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One of the ruined dwellings
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Loch an Nid
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Loch an Fada
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Hydro construction at heights of Kinlochewe
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Shop at Kinlochewe
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Camping at Caravan club camping ground. Electricity available in the drawing room so able to charge Xaomi battery
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 11:48 am

8 September
Raining in the early morning. Stop off that the Whistlestop Café in Kinlochewe. Recommended place to waste an hour eating nice scones.

Then it was up the road beside Ben Eighe. It's about 5 km before turn off onto more hydro construction roads which head towards the Coulin estate.

After Coulin estate the road continues over the Coulin Pass. This is a historical pony access track from many years ago. And then at it's a winding foot track down into the valley to the main road at Craig.

Cross the railway at level crossing at Craig. There is some bunkhouse at Craig although I didn't stop there. Then it's a long gravel road up to Pollan Bhuidhe. Found a very nice camping spot very close to the river. Not recommended place to camp if it's going to rain a lot and river level rise. However I was confident that it was can be dry night so had pleasant night beside the river.

At 7 PM the temperature inside the tent was 13 Celsius and pressure 988 mBar.

I got 0.6 WHr from the Guide 10 before it shut down. Another not very productive day for solar energy. It was windy most of the day with occasional light showers. A further 2.4 WHr was taken from the Xaomi battery to charge the Sony action camera.
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Whistlestop Café
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Ben Eighe
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Coulin estate
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Near Craig
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Coulin pass track sign
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Campsite at Pollan Bhuide
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Last edited by Canberra Trekker on Tue 04 Jul, 2017 3:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 12:01 pm

9 September

Overcast morning. Continue heading up the river valley and eventually have to cross the river. Because of the lack of rain over the past days this was not a big deal but there was some sort of bridge which had sign warning about its use. Actually it seemed to me more wire stretched across the river. Anyway I had no differing getting across the river stepping on the stones. Although if it's raining then it would be different story.

Then after crossing the river it's up over a pass. There was some sort of track going up to the past but on the other side track is not obvious until much lower down on the other side.

Once on the track it steadily improves into another hydro access track and there is more hydro work occurring in this valley as well. The track passes by Bendronaig Lodge, another estate bothy although I did not go across and investigate.

I was wanting to get to Maol Bhuidhe bothy and at Bendronaig Lodge had 2 choices. I chose to head west around Loch Calavie and approach Maol Bhuidhe from the North.

Once past Loch Calavie the track disappeared and it was back across country. The river near Maol Bhuidhe was the deepest I'd encountered so far and had to wade knee deep through the river and the pull of the current was quite strong. Would not want to cross this if it were raining.
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One of the so-called crossings of the river
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Heading up to the pass
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Bendronaig Lodge
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More hydro work
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Loch Calavie
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Maol Bhuidhe bothy
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 12:09 pm

10 September

From Maol Bhuidhe it's uphill over another pass on nice track. Then it's down the other side and follow the valley will some time. It's an attractive valley and eventually turn off to head up to the Falls of Glomash. This is a steep winding track up the hillside. There were some nice patches of sunshine during the middle of the day but became cloudy in the afternoon.

I decided to pitched the tent and camp about 5 km short of Morvich.
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Falls of Glomash
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Ubiquitous rainbow
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Campsite about 5 km short of Morvich
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 5:15 pm

After I broke camp in the morning I continued onto Morvich. The café side the main road was closed. Didn't open until 11 AM. I was outside the at 9 AM so I continued onto to Shiel Bridge. . Bought some more provisions from Shiel Bridge service station although there was not a very wide range of stuff- mostly junk food. I stayed near the service station until after midday to put through some phone calls to Australia. Time had escaped me and I thought I'd better get moving up the hill out of Shiel Bridge. The dirt road out of Shiel Bridge was very muddy . Then there were 2 rivers to cross before the long climb up onto the ridge (600 m at the highest point).

It was very windy up on the ridge and one particular gust caught me by surprise and I was blown sideways almost a metre and almost over a 1 m drop. Fortunately I was able to stabilise myself before going over the ledge. It got me thinking as to whether I should continue. It was already 3 PM and I had to this narrow ridge to traverse along for several kilometres in the strong wind before dropping down on the Kinloch Hourne side. I was thinking at the time that I might run out of time to get along the ridge and also have time to drop-down on the Kinloch Hourne side sufficient altitude to get shelter from the wind before sunset.

So what I did I'd was to drop-down about 70 m below the leeward side of the ridgeline on the Shiel Bridge side (hoping to get some protection from the worst of the wind). I managed to pitch the tent in the strong wind, however I was getting concerned about the strength of the wind and the tent was in danger of being blown over.

There was a loud crack and one of the lower poles in the middle hoop had snapped about 30 cm above the ground. The broken edge of the pole had ripped a tear about 6 cm long in the fabric of the tent. So I made the immediate decision to pack up the tent and head back down to Shiel Bridge .

I descended straight down the side of the mountain and on the steep slippery slope my feet slipped out from under me, leaving me sitting on my backside on the slope. As I fell, 1 of the walking poles which had been planted in the mud at the time of the fall received a sudden jolt which snapped the bottom pole section into 2 pieces .

So in the space of 45 minutes I now had a broken tent pole and a broken walking pole. To make things worse-it had started to rain.

Back at Shiel Bridge about 7 PM and went to Kintail Lodge to see if they had any accommodation but it was also fully booked. So I wandered around the main road looking for somewhere where I could get mobile Internet connection. Found a spot and was able to get the phone number for Rattagan YHA which was 2 1/2 miles off the main road. Phoned the YHA and they said they had plenty of space. Arrived at the YHA at 9 PM (after dark). Put all my wet clothes through the washing machine and dryer, had a nice warm shower and put my tent in the drying-room. In the morning the tent had dried and I used my tenacious tape to repair the rip in the fabric and I sewed the edges of the tape just to make sure that would not peel off .

Then I decided I would catch the bus back to Fort William but only after a one day rest at Rattagan. I was very exhausted when I got to Rattagan YHA after the traumatic experience up on the mountainside.
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Kintail Lodge
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Shiel Bridge service station
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Mountain tops above Shiel Bridge
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The path along the top of the ridge
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Nice view from up on the ridge
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Rattigan YHA
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Broken walking pole (Black Diamond)
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Broken tent pole
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Torn tent fabric
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 5:18 pm

12 September

Rattagan YHA has a sole warden and he has from 10 AM through to 5 PM as his time off and the youth hostel is closed during that period. There's not even any shelter outside the YHA to wait out of the rain. It was raining that morning so I walked back to the main road at Shiel Bridge and went to the Kintail Lodge where I spent the rest of the day before returning back to the YHA in the evening. At the bar I bought some food to eat and had some drinks, effectively wasting away the hours while the YHA was shut. Took the opportunity YHA to charge the Xaomi battery.

13th September

I caught the bus from Shiel Bridge back to Fort William.

In Fort William, I visited all outdoor shops hoping to find a splint to shore up the broken pole section. Cotswolds Outdoor had it listed on their website but it not available in Fort William. Nowhere in Fort William could I get a splint for the tent pole. Then I thought I'd go out to the industrial section outside Fort William and went to a welding shop. He directed me to another welder who had some steel tube of the right diameter to make a good splint. The inside diameter of the tube was not sufficient to compensate for the curve in the broken pole section so he cut a slot along the length of the split to allow me to thread the pole section through the splint so I could position the splint over the broken section. Took him about 20 minutes to make all this and I asked him how much it would cost when he said he would charge nothing. I gave him a few pounds so he could get himself a beer at the end of the day.

Then went back to Glen Nevis camping ground.

I decided now that I was in Fort William which was my destination in the Cape Wrath trail journey, I would continue and fill in as much of the route that I missed after aborting at Shiel Bridge and recommence heading north from Glenfinnan and finish on the coast at Inverie.
Attachments
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Splint which allowed me to pitched the tent with the broken pole section
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Fort William
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Tent pitched at Glen Nevis camping ground after repair
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 5:27 pm

14 September

I caught the bus from Fort William to Glenfinnan in time to see the Jacobite steam train return from Mallaig crossing the famous Glenfinnan viaduct. Then headed up to to Corey Hully bothy. This bothy is operated directly by the estate and even has electricity. A good opportunity to top up charge of the Xaomi battery. I thought I had to place to myself but around 9 PM (after dark) the door opened and 3 people arrived. There was a couple from Belgium and a local Scotsman from Glasgow. The couple from Belgium had a rough experience on the West Highland Way. The young woman had entrusted per pack to baggage handling company who dutifully left it at the Drymen campsite luggage shed. In the interim before the Belgians arrived, a van had pulled up and someone got out and just stole her backpack with all her camping equipment and passport. The luggage company then offered to take them to Edinburgh to get a replacement passport and then to Glasgow to get camping gear. The staff at the camping shops in Glasgow suggested that they avoid the West Highland Way (too crowded) and do the walk through Knoydart from Glenfinnan to Inverie. So that's how we met at Corey Hulley bothy.
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Jacobite train crossing the viaduct
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Glen Finney and monument to Bonnie Prince Charlie
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Corey Hulley bothy
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Electricity supply at bothy
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 6:21 pm

15 September

After I left the bothy, I continued up over the pass between Streep and Sgurr Thuilm and down the other side (Gleann a Chaorainn) to the River Pean. .Had lunch at the bridge over the river. After lunch there was a confusing sign which directed Cape Wrath traffic through the swamp beside the river rather than into the forest as shown on the map. The sign said there were forest operations in progress although no evidence was seen of any operation at all. The route through the swamp was certainly very wet. At Strathan got out of the swamp and went straight straight into the forest to find the road which goes through the forest to A'Chuil bothy. Arrived at the bothy along with several other parties of people. The bothy is up on the hillside and there are good views over Glen Dessary.
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Heading towards the River Pean.
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A'Chuil bothy
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Glen Dessary
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Last edited by Canberra Trekker on Tue 04 Jul, 2017 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 6:36 pm

16 September

We (myself plus sign the 2 Belgians) continued along the track over some more passes (Mam na Cloich Airde) before following the Finiskaig River down to Sourlies bothy which is beside a seawater Loch.

Again there were people at Sourlies including a Frenchman who was was doing the Cape Wrath (south to north) in a very fast time.

Sourlies was good location with a good sunsets as well as a spectacular rainbow.

The deer came down eating the grass around the tents.
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Lochan a Mhaim
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Finiskaig River estuary
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Sourlies bothy
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Campsite outside Sourlies bothy
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One of the deer grazing around the tents in the evening
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Rainbow at end of the valley
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Sunset
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Tue 04 Jul, 2017 7:02 pm

17 September

Again I left the bothy in the company of the 2 Belgians and we crossed around the head land to cross the estuary of the Carnach River. This estuary is very swampy. Can't imagine how swampy would be if it were wet.

From the Carnach River it's uphill over Mam Meadail . And down the other side following Inverie river down to Inverie which is beside the coast.
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Bridge over the Carnach River
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Some of the ruins near the bridge at Carnach
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Inverie Campground
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The Forge Pub in Inverie
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Sunrise
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Final boat trip from Inverie back to Mallaig
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby bigkev » Wed 05 Jul, 2017 7:43 pm

Thanks for the great report. This walk has been on my radar since I walked the WHW a few years ago, I loved the WHW but am keen to try something a bit more remote.

Did you use the Cicerone guide book or just the topo maps?
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Re: Trip report cape Wrath trail starting August 25 2016

Postby Canberra Trekker » Wed 05 Jul, 2017 10:58 pm

Thanks Big Kev

Cape Wrath trail certainly is remote. Can walk whole day and scarcely see a single person. I did West Highland way at end of my time in Scotland. I did it from Fort William back to Glasgow. Certainly no comparison between the two.

I did use the 2 Harvey maps covering cape wrath trail. They cover sufficient of the different variants of trail as a sort of strip map. So go off the strip and your off the map. They are printed on waterproof material. I bought them mail order over internet but I did see them in the outdoor stores in Fort William. Vast majority of people walk from Fort William to cape Wrath.
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