The Cape Wrath Trail is often referred to as Britain’s toughest long distance trail, and is an unofficial route through some of the most spectacularly wild parts of Scotland. Vocal Communication: In noisy environments, generally caused by river noise and wind noise, greater time and efforts must be taken to communicate and to be heard, or that clear gestures used. Note that the ferry/minibus service only runs between May and September, and is regularly canceled due to the weather and military operations. Thank you so much for your support. The route did involve some pathless walking but it was over easy enough grass, and I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of remoteness that had returned. The site accepts a few tents and I was the only tent there. The Cape Wrath Trail runs from Fort William to Cape Wrath on Scotland’s northwest coast, for approximately 280 miles. A shorter, lighter, weaker person will be more noticeably affected by any river. A new Cape Wrath Trail route alternative for Assynt. This would not have been possible with some of the smaller lighter weight tents I have. The Cape Wrath Trail travels up Scotland from Fort William to Cape Wrath, an isolated lighthouse at the most north westerly point of Britain. A couple of pints soon cheered me up though. I thought perhaps he would be better suited to a more popular, well-graded walk like the West Highland Way. Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window). I was also tired by this stage, so I chose to follow the road to Achfary and Lochmore Lodge. I sent a silent prayer of thanks that I didn’t have to climb up it – a good, if not the best, reason to walk the trail north to south. I was carrying some Croc sandals to change into which turned out to be a good idea as the river bed was quite rocky. If you click on these adverts or links and buy what you need (it doesn’t have to be the item we’ve linked to), the company will pay a small commission to us. I often do this as I enjoy stopping an hour or so into the walk for a rest and will make breakfast then. He complained about the trail being rough and boring. When in spate, the rivers can flow at full force up to your thighs, hips or waist. Lovely walking weather. Max and I had breakfast and were reluctant to leave such a lovely place. There’s just one thing that has stuck in my mind from today’s walk. I left Sourlies Bothy to follow the Finiskaig river path over to the track to Glen Dessarry. I loved the steep climb to the Bealach Bhearnais, and the pathless top was a great challenge. It will not be possible to predict them all - far from it. My wild camps had been so good that I wasn’t keen to camp around other people again, plus it would mean paying! Long-distance walking and wild camping in the UK. This would give a nice steady start to the walk, rather than starting with the much rougher conditions I had just walked through. This was a significant decision as now I had resupplied with a week’s worth of food, my rucksack weight was back to around 18kgs or so. There was such simple pleasure in cooking my meal at a table and sitting on a chair to eat it. This was another spectacular location, and only accessible by foot or boat. I had a lovely walk along the deserted beach before packing up and setting off to join the path, track and road to Kinlochbervie. They were perfect for the whole trip, really comfortable and I never had wet feet once but on returning home they started leaking. Now I’m a freelance, I can (kind of) afford to allow myself time to complete the Trail in my own time, at a pace that suits the conditions and my own fitness. Cape Wrath Trail Tip 2 – Take Diving Shoes. Secure your rucksack: We advise that you keep your rucksack on and with all belts fastened slightly tighter. Cape Wrath Trail (South) Guided Walking Itinerary Daily Plan. See our graphics for Relative River Heights and explanations at the top of this article. Covering 330km (205 miles), the Cape Wrath Trail twists over Britain’s wild northwest from Fort William to Cape Wrath, the most north-westerly point of the British mainland. This was a pleasant walk with good views by Loch Inchard. This was followed in 1999 by a separate publication (North to the Cape: A trek from Fort William to Cape Wrath) by Denis Brook and Phil Hinchliffe. Above: Claire Maxted facing up stream and using a single trekking pole to steady herself during a river crossing. Thank goodness they had stopped where they did, as they may well have caught me completely stripped off washing in the river – I hadn’t even considered that other people might be around! We had a quick chat and they went off to use the other room in the bothy. This is definitely a walk for experienced backpackers only. The Cape Wrath Trail is one of the world's finest long distance walks. You’re required to sleep and eat in the wild for much of the adventure, because the ends of each day’s walking do not coincide with guesthouses—or indeed with anything at all. Adopt any workaround that the Mountain Safety Team or Organisers may have explained. I walked over tall grass to my first ever boots-off river crossing. At the end of the loch, I joined a path heading for the Falls of Glomach. In 2020 I walked a major part of the Cape Wrath Trail again, from south to north on my Dover to Cape Wrath walk. Cape Wrath Trail *walking* insights - River Crossings. According to the guide book, Strathchailleach bothy is worth a visit, but it was out of our way and we wanted to camp at Sandwood Bay. I decided that I had to do it. As followers of this blog may be aware, I’m currently working on a replacement for the venerable North to the Cape to be published by Cicerone next year. And it’s not really a trail. From Knockdamph Bothy it’s possible to turn off to Ullapool, about 10km away, for resupply and a shower. Sourlies bothy. There are longer UK trails, but none avoid civilisation to the same extent. Entering the river at these locations can cause an unintended swim, and exiting at these locations can be difficult. I used valuable energy up climbing back up and was happy to find the right (very small) path running alongside the river. I set off early and headed towards Glendhu Bothy, following the shore of the loch. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but wouldn’t go near it in really bad weather or snow. I eventually found a flat enough spot to camp near Alltan Aonghais. When we arrived at Kinlochbervie we had a look around the harbour and a meal in a lovely little cafe. It was strange to feel so fearless all of a sudden. It made me feel lucky to still be out in the wilderness – it wasn’t yet time for me to head home! I remembered to cross the river to join another path along the Allt a Choire Chaoil. Reaching the turn-off on a track by the river, I was surprised by how quickly the feeling of wilderness returned. We say relative heights, because an individual's height, weight and build will be affected by the same river state differently. It suddenly felt very remote again as I followed the path towards Loch Glendhu. We have written the following advice to help you consider your approach to river crossings during the Cape Wrath Ultra®. The crossing of Loch Linnhe provided a somewhat dramatic start to the Cape Wrath Trail; the longest, toughest and most spectacular part of my trek across the Scottish highlands. Generally, guide books describe a route from south to north as it’s easier to follow a map this way round. I was looking forward to contacting my family from the phone box marked on the map at Inverlael, so I pushed on. On Thursday 12th of May 2011 I took trains to Perth to meet up with Janet, a friend from the Backpackers Club. I met four lads along here who had spent a few days in the bothy, and were climbing in the area. The Cape Wrath Trail is a long-distance hike stretching for well over 200 miles between Fort William and Cape Wrath, the north-westernmost point of mainland Britain. In this way, you can study the water more readily, and the force of the water cannot fold your legs at the knees. So whether it’s for an epic long-distance challenge, a weekend away, or a fantastic day out, get out there and have an adventure. I think it’s sad that the landowners are being allowed to run big double-lane tracks into these idyllic glens. We packed up camp and waited for the bus to take Max home. We do not recommend crossing rivers with bare feet because the risk of foot injury is greater and rocks are often very slippery. I really enjoyed the walk today and it finished perfectly (by accident!) It's often touted as Britain's toughest long distance walk, due to its pathless sections, remoteness, and Scotland's fierce weather. This is a part of the Cape Wrath Trail that I had been worried about since I set off, as I’d read that it was very steep and exposed with some scrambling. trekking poles, waterproof rucksack liner. I arrived at the Caravan and Motorhome Club campsite in the centre of Kinlochewe just after lunch and I was made very welcome. It was then a nice enough walk around to the well positioned (and well used) Knockdamph Bothy. It didn’t take me long to climb into a breeze and all was good again. The skill and ‘nerve’ range of participants to cross rivers will be varied. The Cape Wrath Trail is considered the UK's toughest long distance walk. This rocky outcrop was great walking for me as I emerged from a gully perfectly placed to drop down to the river, with spectacular views across the valley to Lochan Fada. About 1 km south of Loch Ailsh, I saw the first and only sign post for the Cape Wrath Trail which indicated a minor detour from the usual route along the river. It is also possible to spend a number of nights in accommodation and bothies, which would make things a little easier. News and advice from our Mountain Safety Team will be displayed each morning during the event (from 0500 in the main mess tent). I found a lovely bit of flat ground right by a waterfall. I went down to the river to filter some water from the nearby stream and made tea, thankful for the bothy as the rain continued to fall. We sadly had nothing to burn! The length of the walk depends on the exact route taken. This event requires numerous river crossings – generally expected to be shallow wades. Be attentive to any advice message that might be sent to your GPS (YB) Tracker by Race Control. Some participants will be well practiced and capable of deeper and faster flowing crossings. View as map; View as list; 1 Fort William to Glenfinnan. Consider searching for an easier crossing point upstream where the river may be narrower, or downstream where the river may be wider and shallower. The Cape Wrath Trail is an amazing walk for the experienced and I loved every minute of it. The previous couple of days had put me through it all which helped. When I woke up this morning, I realised what a beautiful camping spot I had inadvertently chosen! It’s an old hunting lodge, dating from 1877, and is a whitewashed stone cottage with an additional one-room extension attached to the gable end. However, I soon lost that path too so I followed a compass bearing to a four-wheel-drive track. This was a lovely riverside route. (During the TGO Challenge that I completed the following year, I did meet one of these volunteers and was able to personally thank him . What an amazing place. A Mountain Safety Team that may be despatched to known trouble spots and/or known workaround routes. For all that, he was a great guy and it turned out he was a fisherman heading for a hut he owned further up the valley. In 2020 I also walked a major part of it south to north on my Dover to Cape Wrath walk. The minibus driver will even drop a bag of coal for you at the junction with the road. If you have gone off-route and are forging a path that we have not specified as the event route. This was slow going but the lovely views were great compensation. The trek was pioneered in the early 1990s by David Paterson who, in 1996, published a book entitled The Cape Wrath Trail: A New 200-mile Walking Route Through the North-west Scottish Highlands. That’s how rough the ground is around here and how challenging it can be to find a suitable camping spot! The river was surprisingly cold so I was glad to get my feet dried off and boots back on. I would probably take another two days to get to the Cape Wrath lighthouse. Participants may choose to buddy-up with others if they feel that this may help all involved. I stopped for lunch in a little fishing hut by the river; what a pleasure it was to sit on a real seat! As followers of this blog may be aware, I’m currently working on a replacement for the venerable North to the Cape to be published by Cicerone next year. It is a number of mapped routes through the western highlands between Fort William and Cape Wrath, following a mix of high and low quality jeep tracks, high quality footpaths, faint use paths, and off trail travel. Use Trekking Poles: Use of trekking poles for river crossings will increase confidence and stability in the water. Cape Wrath Trail *walking* insights - River Crossings. The Cape Wrath Trail (CWT) The CWT is not a way-marked trail. The path was a little rough and rocky in places. I needed to head south, so I left the path and headed over very rough ground. As soon as I’d eaten I felt great again, helped especially by the amazing weather. A new Cape Wrath Trail route alternative for Assynt . The Cape Wrath Trail is the expedition of a lifetime, traversing 200 miles of Scotland's wildest and most beautiful country. There are a million different variations, directions, and ideas when it comes to this route. My route took me along more rough ground before finally picking up a path along Loch a Garbh-bhaid Mor. Sunshine, bogs, river crossings and blizzards: we take a deep dive into the wonders and hardships of the Cape Wrath Trail, Britain’s toughest long-distance hike. I walked over Bealach na Sroine, thinking I might camp at the Morvich or Shiel Bridge camp sites. There is a ferry and minibus that operates along here, but it is very dependent on the weather conditions and demand. About 1 km south of Loch Ailsh, I saw the first and only sign post for the Cape Wrath Trail which indicated a minor detour from the usual route along the river. Need to Know Info | Cape Wrath Trail North to South – Cape Wrath to Sandwood Bay The Cape Wrath ferry (£4.50) leaves from Durness between 08.30 and 09.30 depending on tides and the ferry man. My feet have only been wet on two occasions during the walk – the river crossings and the shower. I had really earned it today. River crossings present a significant hazard on the Cape Wrath Trail. After the river crossing the path turned sharply north. As the weather was good the midges were a bit of a pain, so I couldn’t sit outside of the tent in this idyllic spot. In hindsight, I probably should have eaten my meal before I drank that second pint, as now I can’t remember what I ate. Here I ran into a couple who were walking back towards the bull field where I had camped for the night. ). The reason the mileage is approximate is because there is not an actual trail. It’s also available in a 2 person if you want more space. These relative heights are suited to the flow strengths that these rivers are likely to exhibit at our intended crossing points. *FOOTNOTE – this bridge has now been washed away in a storm, so check to see if it has been replaced if you are heading here. Without a path to follow, it was a fun challenge contouring across to join the path near Coire Beithe which started exactly where it shows on the map. Watch each other closely, and help each other where appropriate. 600 km in 7 days, almost eaten alive by the midges, saved by duct tape (twice! It was then four miles of road walking to the lighthouse. I walked the Cape Wrath Trail in the summer of 2017. It typically takes between two and three weeks to walk. I stopped and dried everything out in the sunshine, enjoying finishing early for once. The Cape Wrath Trail does not offer hikers the luxury of certainty: flexibility is a critical part of the trailblazer’s mountain kit. Those poles saved me on many occasions, especially on the Cape Wrath Trail: stopping dangerous slides, breaking falls, preventing me from sinking into deep bogs and helping on river crossings. It was getting fairly late so I walked up the valley and found a lovely spot under the trees. Alternatively, you can buy us a coffee here. So I’m pleased I took it. I headed across to Glen Douchary, got it wrong slightly and ended up going down into Allt Nan Caorach. This chapter is the fourth part of my walk along the Scottish National Trail, from Pitlochry to Blair Atholl, then through Glen Tilt and Glen Feshie in … I then turned off onto a track. I thought I’d share my kit list that I took for the Cape Wrath trail earlier this year, and also some notes on what items of gear worked and what didn’t. I imagine that Maol-bhuidhe can be a bleak place, but it looked great in the sunshine today. Should you pause to change any clothes, especially if hypothermia could become a problem? However, in reality this team may not be able to reach multiple locations in any one day, and depending on the spread of participants, and prevailing conditions, may not be deployable for all participants, in all instances. The rain had turned up, but I finally made it to A’ Chuil Bothy where I made use of all the hooks and clothes lines in the biggest room to dry my gear. We had a quick look around, got the obligatory photographs of the start of the trail and then returned to the road. I passed a chap cutting some pristine grass at Benmore Lodge, but otherwise there were no signs of life. Participants should not cross if the river is clearly at Relative Height 4 (unless supervised), and must NOT cross if at Relative Height 5. They spent 15 days walking the route, much of which formed the Cape Wrath Ultra™ race route. In marginal conditions, and before continuing to a potentially more hazardous next river, do you need to reconsider? We camped here at around midnight, so we could begin our trek to the Cape Wrath lighthouse and the start of the trail at first light the next day. This was unexpectedly easy walking, but it felt a long way on the roads and tracks. As I sat down at my table for one amongst all the families, it made me miss my wife and children. I used the Tarptent Notch Li on that trip. The wicked headwind didn’t help either and we struggled on to Kearvaig bothy, arriving there exhausted. I woke early, had breakfast and left quietly, as there was no sound from the other room in the bothy. All the way down I felt it was crazy, but the adrenaline rush was brilliant by the time I reached the bottom! Who’s to know? This led me all the way to Lochstack Lodge (very pleasant). Heaving across them in boots and gaiters will just mean one thing – sodden boots and wet feet. The lighthouse is occupied but no-one was there when we arrived. The Cape Wrath Trail is a long distance walk from Fort William to the northwesternmost … This can be briefly practiced on dry land before starting into the river for real. Water Height: Below knee Special Techniques: None. We will be able to detect stationary and off route participants using the GPS Trackers and this will alert us to any unexpected issues. Sustained ascents and descents and occasional sections We do have some Amazon affiliate links and adverts on the site. I decided to carry on, wanting my solitude back! And it’s not really a trail. Unknowingly, I had dropped down a little and went straight through the middle of Creag Ghlas Bheag. This is the southern section of our Cape Wrath Trail. It was then a very enjoyable walk down the valley, passing a tent in a perfect spot by the river and cliffs. However, it was still reassuring to join the path! I’ve gone too far. Instead of taking yet another bus all the way to Cape Wrath, we walked about 8km along a dirt road through MOD territory to Kearvaig bothy, which is an absolutely lovely place to start your journey and is located about 3km before the official start of the Cape Wrath Trail. There was another cool traverse around Sgurr na Sgine to eventually join a path around to cross Allt a Choire Reidh. If you were then unable to cross the river, you would then be without your pack and safety equipment. Wildwalkinguk is a blog run by myself and my wife in our spare time, and we pay for its running costs ourselves. A mouse I’d seen by the bothy door when I arrived was getting a little too confident, and if I’d stayed any longer I think it would have happily started chewing a hole in my pack to get at my food. I noticed this a few times on the Cape Wrath Trail; if I don’t eat enough my body and mind just stop working properly. It made me a little concerned about what was ahead of me, but I didn’t chat to him for long. If you were starting the Cape Wrath Trail from Fort William, I would recommend taking the ferry and including Cona Glen. Wildwalkinguk is a blog run by myself and my wife in our spare time, and we pay for its running costs ourselves. I knew that at the end of such a challenging walk, I would want to get home as soon as possible, and this was easier to arrange from Fort William. It was a long walk on a descending track into Oykel Bridge. to seek or to give comfort? Next was a rough walk north over to join the road that runs all the way to the lighthouse at Cape Wrath. This will aid stability and avoid falling injury, or full body immersion. These boots have been very comfortable and lightweight, and I haven’t had too much trouble with blisters. Crossing the River Douchary further up the valley (past some beautiful waterfalls) was the most difficult so far. By walking the other way I find that I’m out of sync with everyone else. After a testing river crossing, you should take some time to gather yourselves before continuing. It made the Cape Wrath Trail seem all the more appealing; I felt more confident than ever that this would be the attempt that took me all the way to Cape Wrath’s storm-blown lighthouse. Filmed in September 2014, the changes to the advice now (Feb 2016) is that participants should always keep their shoes on to cross rivers, even if they choose to remove their socks / GoreTex Socks first and that rock hopping (as done by Shane) is not recommended. Mark and Emma. Reluctantly packing up the tent from my idyllic pitch, I set off and found the track through some new tree planting. Pour un trek de deux semaines, ou plus suivant votre rythme, suivez l’itinéraire complet du Cape Wrath Trail, de Glenfinnan au Cape Wrath pour découvrir toute la beauté et la force des Highlands. Waiting: It is possible that participants may need to wait before crossing a river. I followed the Cicerone guide ‘Walking the Cape Wrath Trail’ by Iain Harper, which is very good. At this point, the exhaustion hit me. Cape Wrath Trail route in blue, with various waypoints added. Thankfully there was a bridge over the river Carnoch as it was too dangerous to cross otherwise. They spent 15 days walking the route, much of which formed the Cape Wrath Ultra™ race route. Looking for a quick intro to the CWT? Relative Height 1-2 (2 is Knee Deep). The hotel at Rhiconich wasn’t open when we got there, but someone soon came and opened up for us so we could have a drink and later a meal. This bothy is in a spectacular setting next to the beach and is the best I have ever stayed in. Above: Relative Height 3 - Thigh Deep. As soon as I had loaded everything into the washing machine, and hung my sleeping bag and waterproofs in the drying room, the heavens opened. There is no lovely way marked footpath. Today was cool with a light breeze, and dry all day. However, I enjoyed the challenge of getting myself across the river, and not being handed the route on a plate. Looking at my maps I could see that there were long ways around them if necessary, but the idea of more river crossings did cause me to feel a little more cautious. I headed for Shenavall Bothy which I chose to bypass, staying instead on the path alongside Abhainn Loch an Nid. The river crossing to get there was wide and shallow, so posed no problems. This saved us half a mile or so and it was a nicer walk. Heavy rain later in the day. Follow me on Twitter: @wildwalkingUK. Start in Gleann Fionnlighe, then follow the trail North through Choire Reidh, crossing the beallach into Gleann Camgharaidh just East of Gualann nan Osna. That may have been down to facilities, terrain, camping spots, underfoot conditions, river crossings and so on. If you click on these adverts or links and buy what you need (it doesn’t have to be the item we’ve linked to), the company will pay a small commission to us. Not an appealing prospect for a 17-day hike. I sat watching the lights of Unapool across the loch in the distance, and missed Max’s company. Today’s weather was misty and damp, drying up later in the day. Water Height: Groin Deep Special Techniques: Participants SHOULD NOT CROSS rivers that are groin deep unless under the supervision of the Event Safety Team. It was far from ideal and, to top it off, the breeze dropped and the midges turned up. Race Control have a part to play: Remember that the Race Control will eventually be seeing your deviations from the route, due to the GPS (YB) Tracker. You can start the day at Na Socachan, and finish just past A'Chuil bothy. Sunshine, bogs, river crossings and blizzards: we take a deep dive into the wonders and hardships of the Cape Wrath Trail, Britain’s toughest long-distance hike. Reluctantly, I didn’t visit the local hotel but prepared one of these meals again instead. I walked past as quietly as possible so as not to wake them. Several things make the Cape Wrath Trail Britain’s toughest. This walk is part of a segment to walk the Cape Wrath Trail between Fort William and Strathcarron. As in summer, river crossings are a key hazard, with the added risk that the weather could be much wetter – and the consequences of a dunking are potentially much worse. Previous of this article: we all have different thresholds for river crossings, along with,... 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