Cape Wrath Trail 6 day hike Part 1 – COMPLETED!

Day 1 Fort William to Gairlochy

Woke early this morning could not sleep, excitement & nerves creeping in. My foot with the plantar seemed to know it was going to be put through its paces at first light & started to give me jip. So hot shower, fully smidged up, stretches & a brew done, time for breakfast.

So off I went joining the Great Glen Way, destination Gairlochy. The canal was just beautiful, with only a slight breeze the reflections it gave me all the way were stunning. At each bend it  gave me another different picture.

I was also kept company by a different aray of boats, from small sailing boats to a rather classy boat from Jersey. Everyone returned my hearty wave & hello, boating community are as friendly as walkers I have discovered. Met a couple who were walking the Great Glen Way to Inverness who were very sensible & having their bags transported for them!

Day 1 done & still smiling.

Once I got to Gairlochy it was a mile road walk to the campsite which my plantar was not impressed by!

Pitched the tent & had a comfortable hour having food & few brews before the expected rain came in.

That heralded a time to zip the tent up & say goodbye to a successful, uneventful, first day.

Day 2 Gairlochy to Invegarry

Woke up at Gairlochy & it had a misty damp air to the feel of it. Was packed up & on my way by 8am, said goodbye to the three amigos I had got chatting to who all had arrived late at campsite previous night, due to spending to much time in Fort Williams Weatherspoons that morning!!

Only one had done any walking before, the West Highland Way, the other two zero. One of them asked me why I did this, I told them it was all about the experience, taking in each day & drinking in every sight & sound as well as the people you meet on the way. I also  imparted some advice on how to make their journey more comfy, by resting regularly, grazing on food during the day, taking boots off, putting cream on their feet etc. Next morning as I said a cheery goodbye, all three were starting to put cream on their feet & thanked me for my advice. They were walking the Great Glen Way & I do hope they got to the end ok.

Today I was walking to Invegarry about 25km, most of it forest tracks walking down the length of Loch Lochy, original name I know! I have began to realise how long Lochs are, very long! The morning went well, I managed the pain in foot & the glimpsing of the Loch through the variety of the trees kept my mind occupied.

I have a tendency to push on & not feel hungry when walking & that is a bad mistake. Luckily I experienced a Scottish mist with a fine drizzle which forced me to put my waterproofs on, so out came my wraps, tuna toppers & cheese…I sat on a bridge wall munched my lunch until I was forced to move on due to the midges becoming interested in me being their lunch time snack!

Just as I was leaving I saw this plaque, I did not feel sad, I thought if your time has come, as a walker what a fine way to depart this earth.

Anyway onwards & another 10 km or so, after an hour I was starting to suffer with my plantar every time I put my foot down it was like a knife going in, I tried everything to shift how I walked but nothing worked.
Eventually I came in towards Invergarry & I popped out onto the road, that is when my trail angel came & rescued me, name is Kevin & owns the Ardgarry Farm B&B at Invergarry.

I text him & 15 minutes later he appeared, I could have hugged him if it was not for Covid! With ease he put my bag & sticks in his car & drove me to my warm bed for the night.

This place is a gem, I had one of the self contained rooms with a very comfy bed, amazing walk in shower, a fridge full of fruit, juice, yoghurt, as much tea & milk I could drink, pure luxury. He has a variety of self contained units, which you can book for one night, so if you do the TGO, it may be worth giving him a call, he will pick you up locally & drop you back down where your walk starts. Cracking service at a good price!

Anyway I digress, after a hot shower, lots of medication, catching up with family & friends, it was time for a well earned rest.

Day 3 Invergarry to Poulary

So after a very comfortable night, it was time to get going again. My lovely family & Twitter family had given me great advice & encouragement the night before, so I felt quite buoyed up & ready to hit the trail again. Leaving a very heavy waft of ‘Deep Heat’ in the room, my trail angel Kevin dropped me back down onto the start of my walk.

Today I was walking to Poulary about 19km & hoping to find a camp spot on the side of Loch Garry, that was the plan!

So off I went through Greenfield forest, following a variety of trees & forrestation as I went. I love forests, whatever stage they are in, the smells, the colour, the different views they give, are all a delight. I often think how wonderful it would be, if trees could tell a story.

My foot was behaving which was good & my shoulders although sore were also doing good. I was enjoying myself today & felt quite content. Then I met this sign!


I went over the cattle grid & oh yes the beasts were waiting for me straight on the path. Mum, Calf & Dad, they were big, very big!

Anyone who knows me, knows I do not have a love for cows, this was always going to be hard part of trail walking, meeting cattle. So with little choice, armed with false bravado, I marched confidently but slowly on, Mum & Calf decided to move on to other cattle who were in the trees nearby, but not Dad. He refused to budge one inch, just looking at me, so I had little choice but to walk around him, heart was pounding but I looked steadfastly forward & kept moving slowly onwards.  My body was shaking & hands trembling, but when I was at safe distance I looked back & took this, he was still standing in same spot!

I did feel very pleased with myself though, an achievement for the day.

A little later on I had a good lunch which helped & just further down I met some people who were going to canoe down Loch Garry, camp up for the night & return back. I thought perhaps that is one to try in the future…

I decided at Greenfield not to do the faint boggy track with a river crossing. I was feeling good with my aches & pains & I decided to do the quiet single road track instead. A good decision in my part I think.

So just after Poulary I found some water, pitched my borrowed tent & camped up for the night. Looked at my map for the following day, which involved my first major climb & some faint tracks.

But that was all for another day, as I looked down at Loch Garry, with the wonderful forest laid out before me, I had my dinner & reflected on another successful day.

Day 4 Poulary to Loch Cluaine

Woke up in the morning with the air still, midges in force & the Scottish mist down, so I snuggled back into my sleeping bag, before forcing myself up to have a brew & breakfast.

My route today was Poulary to Cluaine, I was a little nervous today, so far my route had taken me down forest tracks & single track roads, but today involved going up & down two bealachs & route finding. Also the weather was forecasted to be hot with no wind.

I kept checking for the mist to clear & once the sun peeked out I packed up my gear inside the tent, donning my rather fetching midgy gear,  I came out quickly dropped the tent & got on my way.

Thanks to YouTube clips I knew there would be a sign for the start of my walk & there it was. So looking onwards and upwards following a faint path of stones & flattened grass I started off.

It was tough going, for me anyway, with the heat, weight of bag & having to take care underfoot. Halfway up I saw a man coming down with what I thought was a flashing light, turned out to be his compass reflecting in the light!

We enjoyed pleasantries with one another he had been out early for a walk & was on his way down. We said goodbye & off he went, I realised later he was wearing Wellington boots!

I eventually got to the top of Mam na Seliag or rather the col of it. I took my bag off, drank lots of water, sat on a rock & just drank in the views. The expanse of the mountains which lay ahead were breathtaking. I literally felt on top of the world. I just sat there for a while in my own thoughts. I thought how lucky I was to be there, to see this view which only your feet can take you. I thought how lucky we are to live in such a special place & we should never take it for granted.

So time for the descent, which was ok, had to take care underfoot again, lost & gained the faint track down a few times as I made my way to Loch Loyne, my first river crossing.

However, the views on the descent were fantastic as you looked up, the valley beneath you opened up, like opening a tin of beans, as the can opens, you know there are little beauties inside!

So got to Loch Loyne, I did have some water shoes to change into, but the river level was low so I gingerly got across with no mishap & only one wet foot…not sure why only one.

I sat on the side having got more water, as by this time I had run out of water, had my lunch & sat there for a while. Time was running on & I was already thinking that I had another climb to do then a further 7km to Cluaine & I did not think I had enough energy in the tank to get there.

So I wanted to get the final climb up Coire Odhar done, so off I went, in normal times it would be a good walk up but with 3 previous days of walking inside me I was starting to flag. I kept taking photos & getting my breath, always a good excuse!

Once I got to the top Loch Loyne opened up in front of me & so did a very flat pitch with excellent views. It should have had a sign on it, ‘Jenny Pitch Here’, so I did just that.

I had spare food which gave me flexibility in changing my plans, something that is important on treks like this, another bit of good advice from seasoned long distance trekkers.

I had not done great mileage only 10k & 654m of ascent, but it was enough for me. I am no spring chicken or fit like some of my fellow Twitter friends & YouTube makers like Scotland Mountains, Kevin Russell & Robin Wallace, of all but a few I could mention, who all have the ease of climbing up mountains with great speed & fitness, like mountain goats!

But I had enjoyed my day, had drank in the views, had enjoyed my experience & had an adventure & that is what this was all about.

Day 5 Loch Loyne to The Affric Kintail Way

Woke up to beautiful mist sweeping across the hills & Loch Loyne which lay below the summit I was on. The mist swept across the mountain tops giving me glimpses of what lay ahead, It was like theatre curtains opening & closing as the audience claps with joy & enthusiasm.

Today I had some catching up to do as I had 7km to make up just to get to Cluaine. So my plan today was to get to Cluaine, have some real munch food, pick up my cache of food & try to see if I could get to the Bothy or near there on the Affric Kintail Way. But that was a good 20km away so with brew & breakfast done, tent dropped I hit the trail once again.

As I descended the faint path down, what I thought was the path I would take, was not, just shows how sometimes your bearings can go a little array. So after checking my GPS, I came across a much stronger easier track which opened up to the wide expanse of Loch Cluaine.

The cloud formations were giving me a full performance today, sweeping over the mountain tops like fluffy cotton wool or super large cobwebs stretching their web across from one peak to another.

As I turned a corner a wonderous sight behold me, Cluaine Inn, this meant food, real food, the kind that has some real bite to it! So with renewed energy it was not long before I was at the Inn.

I soon demolished a Philly steak cheese sandwich, with paprika fries & mango sorbet, gosh it was good!

I picked up my food bag from them & packed up my bag.
The manager looked at me with some amazement & asked me how heavy it was, I said around 15kg, he just shook his head & asked where I was going, when I told him he just shook his head again & wished me safe journey.

Getting going again was tough, not helped by the uphill that followed when I turned off the road, but I still had a long way to go.

As I was forging ahead I saw a apparition or what I thought was an apparition, then I realised I did not have a fever or was hallucinating, but what I saw was a 4×4 truck with camper box on top coming slowly towards me. I was not on a path as such, I was following a very grassy stony sheep trail track, muddy & indistinct at times & this truck was on it. I was flabbergasted, I could not acknowledge them as they went very slowly past. To say I was disgusted by their total disregard to their surroundings & more important the environment & the damage they were causing was understatement.

Anyway, with a shake of my weary head I went on my way, following the glen which undulated & at every corner gave me another slice of valley to revel in.

I decided not to follow my predestined route as that was another 2km on & then I would have to come back on myself. So I decided rightly or wrongly to go off piste & heather bash my way down to a gate I had spotted. I knew I would have to cross the river but this was my only river crossing of the day & therefore it did not matter if I got wet feet.

I carefully made it across & eventually got a rather soft pitch & was soon snuggled into my tent once again.

Day 6 Final day to Shiel Bridge

Woke this morning to a heavy heart as it was my last day on this trek, another 19km or so. I had been advised by friends that after 3 days, I would soon get used to the rhythm & routine of walking & camping with my bag & they were right. My plantar had seemed to disappear on Day 3, my aching shoulders did not groan so much as I put my bag on at Day 4 & I even enjoyed  the rhythmic click of my sticks as I walked.

Anyway it was also Midge fest & I mean Midge fest, so packed up inside tent, donned my best anti Midge gear, dropped tent & quickly got onto the path.

I had not bothered with breakfast or tea that morning as I was keen to get away from being eaten alive, but I knew there was the Cambian Bothy further up & was hoping I could take some respite from the midges & have a brew & breakfast there.

Sure enough I saw the red roof of the Bothy, hoping & praying in equal measures it was open. I got to the door & with a satisfying click the door opened. It was a little piece of haven within a stunning location.

After brew & breakfast it was time to get on my way. It was what I call a Scottish mist type of day, where there was rain in the air but in return you got the beautiful inversions of low cloud, which gave a fantastic show on the mountain tops as you walked.

Underfoot it was going well, the stones were slippy & when I approached the waterfall on the left side, I knew for me anyway, great care would need to be taken as one slip could cause a problem. It is fair to say, there was two places when ‘bum scrambling’ came into play. Always the safer option in my humble opinion if you are not comfortable coming down smooth granite rocks with a big pack on!

Eventually the bridge came into welcome view with another Bothy in site, I got a little emotional as I came down off the tops & back into the valley, as I knew at the end of the Glen, was the end of my walk.

I reached the Bothy but it was locked so just a bit further on sat & eat my wraps & tuna toppers, with chocolate bars & took my surroundings in, savouring my last lunch out on this trek.

I continued to walk down the Glen, thankful the cattle who reside in this Glen were happily munching grass on the other side of the river.

So as I walked down the last few km I reflected on my walk & what I had learnt about myself, but that is for a separate blog, the ‘Epilogue’.

For now as I reached the gate & sign for Affric Trail, I cried with emotion & achievement that what I had set out to do, I had done it.

The lady who started walking on the Chiltern Hills all those years ago was back packing the first part of CWT.

I had done it…

4 thoughts on “Cape Wrath Trail 6 day hike Part 1 – COMPLETED!

  1. Well done! That’s a big weight to carry – I work on a 7-8kg base weight but food etc adds a huge amount extra. No wonder you needed such a massive meal at the Cluanie Inn. Have you booked yourself a date for the next stage?

    Like

    1. No date yet as I have to take 3 weeks off, so in the planning stage at the moment, then I will know what I am looking at in terms of timescales. So pleased you enjoyed reading it Lizi, yes the 15kg was with 3 days food & at least 1 litre of water! I got used to it in the end though…

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s