The Cape Wrath Trail – Day 13. Dam below Loch an Leathaid Bhuain to Kinlochbervie

Clouds envelope Foinaven

You know the day is going to be OK when you wake up in your sleeping bag on top of a dam in the middle of nowhere. This was a worrying start, we had to be careful where we dug the toilet hole on this occasion.

We made really good progress today and apart from some terrifically boggy and rough terrain we made it to Kinlochbervie in time for tea…. well tea in our B and B room, the wind picked up a treat so we decided four walls would be better tonight.

After a brew up by Lochstack Lodge we encountered the bog monster again along Loch a Garbh-Bhaid Mor so we threw in the towel and had a long lunch followed by a little snooze in the sun. Things did pick up after that and the path to the pub at Rhiconich was a delight by the river. The pub wasn’t serving anything liquid or solid so we ploughed on down the road and ate chips at The Schoolhouse and drank Ginger Beer and also sat on a picnic bench which was a little slice of heaven.

We visited the legendary London Stores at Badcall which is an Aladdin’s Cave… Vegans are also catered for and we bought some soya milk… happy days.

After a hunt around for some lodgings and some help from the locals we found a room for the night which did us just fine. Tomorrow is the final day and we have arranged to sleep at the lighthouse

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The Cape Wrath Trail- Day 12. Inchnadamph to Dam below Loch an Leathaid Bhuain

Glencoul Bothy

Another gloriously sunny day on The Cape Wrath Trail. After yesterday’s excitement a quieter walk was in order but this is The Cape Wrath Trail and we had a climb over the pass below Glas Bheinn and Beinn Uidhe to get our teeth into first thing.The guidebook said that we would need to have our wits about us but that this was some of the best mountain country in the world. We rested at Loch Fleodach Coire where the silence was awesome and then made the pass and zigzagged down the other side towards the sea and Loch Beag.

This was the top of the descent….

… this is some old bloke…

As we followed a pretty rough path along the river we were treated to some stunning waterfalls, Eas a Chaul Aluinn is the longest drop in the UK… I think.

We made it to Glencoul Bothy for lunch which is in a superb location.

We then got an amazing view as we climbed out the valley towards the next Bothy at Glendhu.

View of Glendhu Bothy

We reached the Bothy in good time and chatted to the people who were staying the night, Day walkers, Cape Wrath walkers and Dan turned up and asked why he hadn’t seen us on the way down yesterday- we told him about our adventures.

We decided to move on as we were trying to get to Kinlochbervie the next day. So we hydrated our dried food in the trusty old food thermos so we just had to put the tent up and eat later and on we went.

What happened next was a bit of nightmare. We pitched the tent a few miles later and were feeling quite happy with our view and pitch and were just about to eat and get into our sleeping bag when we noticed we were crawling with ticks! After ten to fifteen minutes of picking them off we had to abandon camp and walk-on. Sometimes the simplest of things – you don’t see this in outdoor programmes or Magazines.

We marched on with our skin crawling, tent tucked under my arm, it was like we were leaving a music festival after a heavy weekend. The last thing we wanted to do was put the tent back up so luckily we found a concrete dam to sleep out on, it worked pretty well and we had a good nights sleep. It’s never a dull day on this walk.

The Cape Wrath Trail – Day 11. Oykel Bridge to Inchnadamph

Be more Lodge and Loch Ailsh

This certainly was a day of two halves and just shows how things can go wrong in remote and wild country very quickly.

The day started with a gentle enough stroll along wide 4×4 track by The River Oykel. There were fisherman’s huts dotted along the way and we took the opportunity for a tea break where there was a bench – luxury.We were approaching some big mountains, notably Ben More Assynt where the latter part of the day was a trackless section over the pass below Conival.Our spirits were pretty high, my backpack repair was holding up and we even experimented with a new snack which was pip n nut chocolate and coconut hazelnut butter in between two hob nobs – a real winner.

Things started heading south when my spork snapped in the peanut butter jar – a common problem on through-hikes – damn it!

We however merrily tramped on after lunch, maybe we were taking it a bit too easy and had one tea break too many, but the weather was belting and the scenery was quite awesome. The path rose steadily as it got progressively smaller and boggier and then as expected it ran out and we contoured at about 320m as not to drop too low to the river in the valley. We rested and drank before the 250m climb (Dan the Scottish American was just in front) to the pass and Fred reminded me to pick up my sunglasses. Up we went and made good progress to the pass – when we got to the high point I realised I had not picked up my sunglasses or they had fallen off the brim of my cap. So…..

…. down the pass I ran… 250m to the river and couldn’t find them and the up 250m to the pass, oh man! I loved those glasses, they have seen me through The Te Araroa and Land End to John O’Groats – it can happen. On we plodded over some pretty sharp looking drops and down the River Traligill to our hotel in Inchnadamph.

The trail was really narrow above the river in places and as I was contemplating my sunglasses and general weariness when I heard a scream from Fred – the path had given way and she fell 10ft down towards the river and on her way down banged her arm on a rock – oh no, poor Fred!

There was lots of blood which was dripping pretty heavily and a deep gash – not good and we were in a pretty steep section of the river. Out came the medical kit (note to myself- don’t send half of it back home because we hadn’t used it up to now) where we managed to get enough bandages and wound dressing along with some trusty duct tape to get down to the hotel with Fred’s arm patched up.

We had a DuoDerm dressing which meant it can protect the wound for the last few days of the walk… this is not an area where you can go and see a Doctor easily.

The Inchnadamph Hotel was great and we had another re-supply parcel waiting for us with some Nanny State Beer and we chilled in the room after a very ‘exciting day’.

The Cape Wrath Trail – Day 10. Ullapool to Oykel Bridge

This was a nice walk to get back on the trail after a lovely rest day watching the rain from the comfort of our room. The gods were looking after us again, it seems and we couldn’t grumble too much as we battled a head wind as we strode along Loch Achall.

This section to Oykel Bridge was the busiest we had seen so far and we chatted to five other Cape Wrath walkers (including Dan the American, who in fact turned out to be Scottish and walking the National trail) and an assorted number of bikers at the two bothies along the way. We had lunch at Knockdamph Bothy where Fred gave away more Bombay mix to Roy and John who had just joined the trail in Ullapool and then it was more 4- wheel drive track to The schoolhouse Bothy at Duag Bridge where one of the rooms was built with beautiful wood panelling.

This was a great place for more tea – if you are carrying that much gas then you have to use it… and tea as everyone knows fuels a long tramp and raises general morale.

We arrived at Oykel Bridge and went to the hotel bar and ate chips and had a couple of bottles of Becks Blue with John and Kenny who we met earlier in the day. This was a good place for walkers and fishermen and the bunkhouse looked pretty decent.However, we decided to walk a couple more miles as there wasn’t anywhere suitable to pitch the tent near the hotel and found a decent space just off the forest track. It was a good long day finished off with the chilli, vegan cheese and Flat Tire. Tomorrow looked a day of two halves – easy start and a tougher finish.

The Cape Wrath Trail – Day 8. Kinlochewe – Nr Shenavall Bothy and Day 9. To Inverlael

An Teallach Ridge

Another great day on The Cape Wrath Trail. We had a great vegan fry up from our B and B hosts and talked a lot about Patagonia – maybe the next adventure beckons in Chile. After a latish start, (as ever it is always hard to get going after an easy previous day) and one final flat white we took to the trail along the path to The Heights of Kinlochewe, it was really easy going and we chatted to a guy who was cycling from Bothy to Bothy. The path continued to climb in an easy(ish) manner and we had lunch just before the next pathless section by Lochan Fada.

The pathless section is well trod in places and there was some handy cairns to lead the way. We picked up a stalkers path to Loch an Nid and followed that all the way down towards Shenavall Bothy with not too much trouble.

We suspected that the Bothy would be busy as it was a Saturday night and with the decent weather and An Teallach being above Shenavall we had an easy decision when we came upon a fantastic group of trees in Strath na Sealga.

There were already four other Cape Wrath walkers pitched and a chap called Alan from Oxford who had been there for a few days. We had a great evening around a roaring fire with Paul, Wayne and Toby from Somerset who had been walking with Lulu(?) after they bumped into her early in their trip. We swapped stories about trails we had all walked, tents (always love a conversation that starts with “is that tent a z-packs) and general kit and I managed to donate more Bombay mix. They were a fantastic bunch and we really enjoyed our time with them, not one phone in sight and no talk about jobs, money etc. That’s a rare thing.

The next day we had an 11 mile walk over a couple of climbs to Inverlael where we had arranged a taxi to take us to Ullapool for a rest day or ‘a zero’ in hiker speak.

Descending to Inverlael

On the way we met two guys doing The Highland 550 Mountain Bike Trail, I was reminiscing about when I mountain bikes across Scotland from West to East 17 years ago with my Brother but was quickly put off when I saw the 450 metre ascent that they came up pushing their heavily laden bikes that we descended to the road. Hats off to those guys. I still think mountain bike touring in Scotland is the hardest thing I have ever done.

We are in Ullapool now, staying at The Celidh Place Bunkhouse and it has been brilliant here, decent price and loads of room to spread out all of our kit, we have been to the launderette and even done some yoga and it has rained for 24 hours non stop! The weather from tomorrow looks great until we finish in 6 or so days time.

Fred living the high-life on Becks Blue.

The Cape Wrath Trail – Day 7. Easan Dorcha – Kinlochewe

I think Fred got a bit tired of the scenery and forgot to take photos. This was a short walk as we missed out the back of Ruadh-stac Mor section and walked via Coulin Lodge to Kinlochewe.

We passed a film crew checking out some locations along the way and then climbed through the forest and dropped down for a few KM on the road. It was OK but we wouldn’t recommend this way as the forest has been cut and the road is wide and ugly up there.

Kinlochewe was the biggest place we have been to so far and we had a great lunch in The Whistle Stop and then lazed about all afternoon in our B and B.

My backpack is suffering so I taped up the gaping hole again and tended to my ticks – Fred has reached the stage of the walk where her feet are becoming an issue (just the general aroma), so all in all a nice half day to do some housekeeping.

The Cape Wrath Trail – Day 6. Maol-bhuidhe Bothy to Easan Dorcha Bothy

The sun (nearly) always shines in Scotland. Here I am making progress from our overnight Bothy stay towards Loch Calavie. The morning was a mixture of pathless rough ground and good paths all the way to Bendronaig Lodge where we took a slight detour to have a look at the remote Bothy with a flushing (bucket of water) toilet. We drank more tea thanks to the copious amount of gas we seemed (ok – I seemed) to have packed in the re-supply boxes. No one wants to run out of gas though eh – I think I am a bit paranoid. This picture shows some intensive trail research with the toilet in the background – brilliant. Thanks to our photographer Fred.

We then walked on to Bearnais Bothy (above) for lunch which was really cute inside and well cared for although the notice pinned to the door saying ‘Dead Dear in stream 30 metres above’ was a bit disturbing, glad we didn’t fill up below in the river.

We have not been treating water, just filling water bottles and drinking as the water is so plentiful and flowing pretty well but the amount of dead dear we have seen sometimes makes you think twice.

Meditation is beginning to be a part of our lives along with Yoga and not drinking alcohol and being vegan – I can hardly believe I am typing this – what happened – so we did the obligatory crow (Fred) as mine needs some work and I had a little meditate on top of Carn Mor in perfect conditions.

The route we took is only briefly mentioned in The Cicerone Guide but is a direct one straight over to Lair. The river is fast and wide at the bottom but we had hardly any rain so we took this option and splashed onto the A890.We then ascended pretty late in the day from Achnashellach Station into Drochaid Coire Lair and descended down the idyllic Easan Dorcha river to The Tea House Bothy where there was enough room for two people – luckily we were alone. After feeling pretty knackered we were grateful for this fantastic space and ate lots of our supplies and went straight to bed.