Above: Gary Tompsett and Claire Maxted carefully check one of the Knoydart rivers that participants will cross on Day 2 before committing to a crossing. It was quick to put up and could handle high winds. It had been raining heavily all night but stopped just as I quietly left the bothy, as two other people had turned up yesterday evening. 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. That may have been down to facilities, terrain, camping spots, underfoot conditions, river crossings and so on. Once I’d eaten, I set off again, only to spot a bus shelter on the other side of the road where I could have eaten my dinner in the dry. I dived into the tent as soon as I’d pitched it and stayed there. My feet have only been wet on two occasions during the walk – the river crossings and the shower. I used valuable energy up climbing back up and was happy to find the right (very small) path running alongside the river. As we knew we would have to re-trace our steps later, we left our backpacks by the side of the road about mile before the Cape. The Cape Wrath Trail is an epic route that’s considered to be one of the most challenging long distance walks in the UK. Possibly a distant bridge, mapped or otherwise determined. The Cape Trail route up to the Forcan Ridge bealach doesn’t have a path, so navigation became far more demanding. Amazing remote views opened up from here. Take river crossings seriously and have foul-weather alternatives planned for the more serious rivers. And it’s not really a trail. I eventually climbed up near the Allt na Lairigh, which was very boggy. Starting at Fort William and heading inexorably north to the northwestern tip of Scotland, the Cape Wrath Trail is 230 miles long, with around 12,000m of ascent. Intervene and go to intercept when a fellow participant appears to be isolating themselves on a solo endeavour or journey. There are hundreds of river crossings and opportunity for issues. I then turned off onto a track. Not an appealing prospect for a 17-day hike. The Cape Wrath Trail is an unofficial long distance trail and as such it is very remote and rarely walked. Adopt any workaround that the Mountain Safety Team or Organisers may have explained. I left Sourlies Bothy to follow the Finiskaig river path over to the track to Glen Dessarry. On my map, it showed the track ending in the woods and then a path down to Salachy. I took my rucksack with me, as the cafe was in the direction I would be heading anyway. Shortly after setting off, I passed a small tent with two pairs of walking poles outside, camped right on the path. It was then a very enjoyable walk down the valley, passing a tent in a perfect spot by the river and cliffs. Once I had finished lunch and was ready to head on, the rain stopped. A number of times I didn’t think I was going to make it, even though the ground was good with nice grass to walk on. They spent 15 days walking the route, much of which has also formed the Cape Wrath Ultra™ race route. This can usually be determined by studying the flow forms of the water. Above: Relative Height 3 - Thigh Deep. Perfect. Cicerone guide ‘Walking the Cape Wrath Trail’. The first: You have to carry full gear, something that’s not applicable on almost any other UK hike. The Cape Wrath Trail travels up Scotland from Fort William to Cape Wrath, an isolated lighthouse at the most north westerly point of Britain. I hadn’t spoken to anyone since I said goodbye to Max back in Rhiconich. Picking up our packs again, we finally left the road and headed south, roughly following the coast. At this point, the exhaustion hit me. I trusted my GPS and the path began to appear. Coupled with the two Harvey’s maps (Cape Wrath Trail South and Cape Wrath Trail North) this was all I needed to get me through the whole thing. There was a grass verge which made walking safer, but all the vehicles rushing past was a bit of a shock after the solitude of the hills. Instead, look through the water at riverbed features, and occasionally look at the shores to steady your gaze. *FOOTNOTE: the boots were great on the Cape Wrath Trail, but the waterproof lining failed after about 500 miles. The length of the walk depends on the exact route taken. Reaching the Lodge, I left the road and took a forest track which required a stiff climb to Bealach nam Fiann. There was another cool traverse around Sgurr na Sgine to eventually join a path around to cross Allt a Choire Reidh. There will be daily video updates here and our facebook page, plus live tracking here. Read my surprise Gore-Tex refund. They’ll never be the same again, and it makes me thankful to have seen them before they are ruined forever. At this point I was ahead of schedule, so I had a number of dehydrated meals left over. Do not pressurise or draw fellow participants into danger: We all have different thresholds for river crossings. I used the Tarptent Notch Li on that trip. It didn’t take me long to climb into a breeze and all was good again. Unknown measures: Be aware during the day that other solutions may have been devised. Mark and Emma. Some dry wood to light a fire would have been great! My son and I began by walking to Grudie. 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. My plan was to camp at the top of the falls, and there were loads of great spots, but the area was still quite busy with tourists, even at 4pm. In this advice we do not consider swimming as an acceptable method of crossing rivers (either deliberately or by accident) and our advice is intended to prevent floating and swimming. The lochs and villages we passed were stunning. I was inadvertently snapped out of this by coming across a young chap at this point, who was walking the Cape Wrath Trail south to north. I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to all the volunteers who keep places like the Schoolhouse Bothy open and look after them so well. Here's how it went, plus a few photos. I’ve gone too far. Should you eat and drink? (Image courtesy of Jan-Philipp Kappner.) It was a long walk on a descending track into Oykel Bridge. Today’s weather was cloudy but dry. Wildwalkinguk is a blog run by myself and my wife in our spare time, and we pay for its running costs ourselves. The usual seasonal window for hiking the Cape Wrath Trail in summer-like conditions (i.e. I am sad to see them go but it is time for a new pair. Alternatively, you can buy us a coffee here. I went inside and made myself a meal, and enjoyed sitting in a proper chair for a while. Someone must have been looking down on me as a heavy rain storm passed over just as I got to the hut. Heaving across them in boots and gaiters will just mean one thing – sodden boots and wet feet. This is a variation of the Cape Wrath Trail which normally starts at Fort William. You can either follow the road, or follow the river up through the woods. River crossings, along with midges, will become the bane of your trip. Unknowingly, I had dropped down a little and went straight through the middle of Creag Ghlas Bheag. Over the course of about 3-4 weeks I massaged a preferred route from all the variations. to seek or to give comfort? After wishing her luck and passing Loch an Nid, the good going disappeared and the path became rougher. I thought perhaps he would be better suited to a more popular, well-graded walk like the West Highland Way. Gary as the larger person is positioned upstream ©Ben Winston. While we really enjoyed the trek and found the beauty and the remoteness of the trek intoxicating, others before me have sufficiently described it, and have a much better way with words. Follow my progress as I attempt to walk the length of the UK, from Dover to Cape Wrath, wild camping every night. I often do this as I enjoy stopping an hour or so into the walk for a rest and will make breakfast then. The Cape Wrath Trail is a long distance walk from Fort William to the northwesternmost … It was here that I saw the first walker I had passed since Rhiconich. The path lasted for about two miles, and then disappeared. If there is heavy rainfall during the event. I came across a farm charging for camping, but it wasn’t a particularly nice spot. Unsupervised participants finding themselves at a Groin Deep river crossing MUST STOP racing and seek an alternative crossing location as a group with other participants. Cape Wrath Trail (South) Guided Walking Itinerary Daily Plan. It’s also available in a 2 person if you want more space. I was very surprised as it was so remote here, but the reason soon became apparent. When in spate, the rivers can flow at full force up to your thighs, hips or waist. As my confidence grew, so did the scale of the coronavirus crisis. Shoes should be kept on. 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. 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. I decided that I had to do it. We would be extremely grateful if you could consider using our links when you next need to buy something from our advertisers. Cape Wrath is 19 km (11 mi) (plus a short boat ride) from the closest public road and is only accessible by foot or via a combination of passenger ferry and minibus from Keoldale. The bothy has got a nice sleeping platform but it felt cold, and the guest book mentioned mice eating through packs to get to your food. (During the TGO Challenge that I completed the following year, I did meet one of these volunteers and was able to personally thank him . If in a group or with other runners in proximity, should you be together, checking upon each other, and are you all okay? The path is not waymarked and has many variations. The itinerary went out of the window, so the mileage is unreliable. They were heading back to their car at Kinloch Hourn and heading home. I always over-equip myself for safety and peace of mind, so I could perhaps have saved some weight, but I always prefer safe to sorry. 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. We have rehearsed some contingencies (listed below) for perceived troublesome river crossings. I had really earned it today. I would probably take another two days to get to the Cape Wrath lighthouse. As there were 60mph winds this day, I suspect the ferry operator and minibus driver had sensibly retreated to the pub! It was!" This is the southern section of our Cape Wrath Trail. Wlld pitch by River Carron . From Laggan Bridge the routes are identical, insofar as they are routes at all. This was a stunning little gorge I can imagine most people don’t see, but then I shouldn’t have been seeing it either. Over the last few weeks, we’ve published a number of features about the Cape Wrath Trail , with an emphasis on planning a winter trip (although we’re moving into the summer season now, winter trips take a lot of planning! Starting at Fort William and heading inexorably north to the northwestern tip of Scotland, the Cape Wrath Trail is 230 miles long, with around 12,000m of ascent. This might occur in the following circumstances: If there has been a prolonged period of rainfall preceding the event. Watch each other closely, and help each other where appropriate. Look back at your crossing. Some participants will be unpractised and fearful of some crossings – even if they are not deep. The Cape Wrath Trail is unusual in that there is no set route – walkers effectively make their own version of the trail, taking a line between Fort William and Cape Wrath. The site had also been storing my resupply parcel and it was great to restock. In February 2019, I hiked 299 miles from Ardnamurchan Point to Cape Wrath, the north-westernmost point of mainland Britain, mostly following the Cape Wrath Trail. 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. The Cape Wrath Trail does not offer hikers the luxury of certainty: flexibility is a critical part of the trailblazer’s mountain kit. The walk took 15 days. Today’s weather was cloudy and cool, but dry. Having fallen asleep so early last night, I was up at first light and set off without breakfast. This crossing was a simple paddle as there had been little rain lately, but I can imagine this could get difficult if the river was in spate. Sleep came very easily. Today’s weather was misty and damp, drying up later in the day. Today’s weather started bright and dry, with some cloud. 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. The remoteness of the walk means you need to be carrying both camping gear and a number of days’ worth of food. Firmly holding the rucksack strap below the underarm is better than holding hands or arms. This river route sounds better, but I had heard that the ground here can be quite rough and overgrown. That’s how rough the ground is around here and how challenging it can be to find a suitable camping spot! I really struggled with this climb and was very slow. It is probably a lovely walk through Cona Glen but I just realised it was time to go home and see my family. Once there, I found a B&B for the night and organised my train journey back home for the next day. Seek an alternative crossing location / solution. This was unexpectedly easy walking, but it felt a long way on the roads and tracks. This was a pleasant walk with good views by Loch Inchard. Cape Wrath Trail video diary - Day 1 *Please note that this video diary is NOT a description of the Cape Wrath Ultra™ race route! But if you put some effort forward, you'll see some pretty spectacular scenery and get a damn good taste of the Scottish highlands. These videos are intended to give potential Cape Wrath Ultra™ competitors and Cape Wrath Trail walkers an insight to the adventure that awaits them. I had arrived at midday, so I got the place to myself. Not long after this, I decided I was hungry. So I am happily following the track to its end, when I realise that I’ve reached a big, uncrossable river. Consider whether crossing a marginal river could then leave you trapped between other rivers, especially if rivers are rising. 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. The draw of the Cape Wrath Trail: in conversation with backpackers taking on Britain's premier long-distance route. However, when river levels rise, there is an increased danger of serious injury and drowning. I waited a few minutes for the cafe to open and had the best cooked breakfast and coffee I’ve ever tasted. 600 km in 7 days, almost eaten alive by the midges, saved by duct tape (twice! It was then a steep descent into Kinloch Hourn, which is a very remore hamlet. However, I soon had to cross a tributary which wasn’t bridged. I placed myself in the middle room (there are three to choose from), which was equipped with a chair, a table and a sleeping platform. As this river crossing may have become dangerous, or even impossible, I chose the easier route through Kinlochewe Forest instead. The water came up to my knees which meant boots off and Crocs on, which was a pain so soon after getting comfortable from the bothy! Your email address will not be published. This saved us half a mile or so and it was a nicer walk. The river was wide and deep due to the rain yesterday. I should have stopped at the hotel here, but it was too late for lunch time and too early to stop for the day, so I pressed on up a track into the woods to the Schoolhouse Bothy at Duag Bridge. Do not cross above a waterfall or gorge, UNLESS the crossing point is clearly at Relative Height 1. As I wanted to stay as remote as possible for as long as possible, I carried a week’s worth of food at a time, relying mainly on dehydrated meals. This would not have been possible with some of the smaller lighter weight tents I have. (But only after a detour upstream). This was a lovely spot, but I did have the noise from a small hydro works all night. They spent 15 days walking the route, much of which formed the Cape Wrath Ultra™ race route. Mountain rivers and even small streams (in Scotland called ‘burns’) can swell dramatically, and equally, can recede fairly quickly. I was carrying some Croc sandals to change into which turned out to be a good idea as the river bed was quite rocky. This had ended up being a very long day, through some beautiful scenery. The Great North Trail links the Pennine Bridleway with the northern tips of mainland Scotland, through some of Britain’s most stunning upland areas and four National Parks. In spate these rivers may not be deep, but they will be fast-flowing, and our graphic and advice reflect this trait, rather than that of deeper, slower river crossings that will exist off-route. An early tea, an early night, ready for an early start tomorrow. I now had to follow the A890 for a mile or so. It wasn’t too bad once I got on top – fairly short grass on hard ground – and I contoured around Bealach na Craise. Check out our 9 top tips here Map credit: Dave Langworth Follow me on Twitter: @wildwalkingUK. My route was now a well-made forest track which I followed instead of staying by the river, thinking that this might be drier and less overgrown than the river route. Cape Wrath Trail – Practical Notes Introduction The purpose of this report is to write some practical tips that may help others who are about to embark on the great adventure that the CWT is. Cape Wrath Classic is graded 4, with walks /hikes of long distances in remote countryside and rough and often pathless terrain, occasionally requiring river crossings. Sometimes the trail is not visible on the ground because it is so boggy, and even when it is obvious there are a lot of puddles. It was a cool, sunny start but heavy rain soon set in. The farmer had a fire going burning plastic or rubber which stank, so I carried on. Participants should be able to cautiously cross rivers of this height without any special techniques or considerations. It made me feel lucky to still be out in the wilderness – it wasn’t yet time for me to head home! See our graphics for Relative River Heights and explanations at the top of this article. The Cape Wrath Trail is one of the world's finest long distance walks. On Thursday 12th of May 2011 I took trains to Perth to meet up with Janet, a friend from the Backpackers Club. The best thing, however, was a long hot shower – a wonderful feeling to be clean again. If you have gone off-route to achieve this crossing, this is when you should study and plan your new ongoing route to get back on track as fluently as possible. Neither of us wanted to carry them a step further than we had to, especially as they had a week’s food in them at this point! We will spend the entire day guiding you along The Cape Wrath Trail, there is no need for you to worry about being lost. There is a ferry and minibus that operates along here, but it is very dependent on the weather conditions and demand. The route leads you across most of the north west coast of Scotland via Morar, Knoydart, Torridon and Assynt, winding through its most beautiful glens and mountains. Are conditions worsening? Damian Hall and Beth Pascall will start their Cape Wrath trail FKT attempt on the morning of Saturday 8 December. Waiting: It is possible that participants may need to wait before crossing a river. 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. This can be completed with any larger number of participants. Note the under arm, rucksack strap grip and the relative difference of water height between Shane and Gary. 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! 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. This path ended near the end of the valley so I set off steeply up the side to find a path on the ridge. There were lovely views down the valley and it made the hard climb the night before well worth the effort. Ignore the effects of cold water – concentrate on balance and footing. It wasn’t long before I was asleep, and my last thoughts were of how this is a bleak bothy in gloomy weather. There was such simple pleasure in cooking my meal at a table and sitting on a chair to eat it. Sourlies bothy. In 2020 I walked a major part of the Cape Wrath Trail again, from south to north on my Dover to Cape Wrath walk. My midge head net paid for itself in seconds as I had never seen such a large swarm. 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. I walked past as quietly as possible so as not to wake them. 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, I was just really enjoying the space! I found a lovely bit of flat ground right by a waterfall. In Scotland, rivers (large, medium and small - called burns) are well-known for exhibiting remarkable changes in character within just a few hours, during inclement weather. Look upstream and downstream of your position. I took a raging river crossing in my stride and cruised on towards Sgurr Na Forcan. Cape Wrath Trail *walking* insights - River Crossings. It was lovely to fall asleep to the sound of the waterfall, though. I arrived at the next river crossing (Abhainn Poiblidh) and found I was just able to cross. When I finally got there, I was very disappointed to discover that the phone box was completely empty. This was a lovely riverside route. 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