The first three days of hike on the Cape Wrath Trail (CWT) has been intense and way way harder than I had imagined. Before I tell too much of the story sorry to Rose for not better researching or believing the guidebooks. I think I just assumed that with the amount of off track walking we’ve done, my tendency to lead all hikes straight up and down hills, and us generally being of okay fitness we’d be fine. We are not. It is hard!!!!
Anyway to the story….
Day 1 – Morvich to Maol-bhuidhe – 26.5km
We started from Morvich because we’d heard bridge over the River Carnach was still out, and with rain forecast we didn’t want to risk it. Marcia dropped us off at the outdoors centre and we started plodding. About 6kms in Rose looked at the map and realise we really hadn’t covered much ground yet, and I realised I had been reading the map wrong – possibly because of the 1:40k scale. Anyway we made it up the Bealach na Sroine eventually and to the Falls of Glomach. At 100m it is the largest falls in the the UK.
We followed the goat track down to the Loch and then high tailed it towards Maol-bhuidhe bothy. This required yet another high pass. It was 8pm by the time we got to the bothy, having walked 26km and climbed 1069m.
Day 2 – Maol-bhuidhe to Pollan-bhuidhe – 25.4km
The day started with a trackless squelch for 2km across to the road. From there it quite a nice walk beside a loch and then down to Bendronaig Lodge Bothy. Over lunch we looked over the maps and guidebook and it became clear just how big and frankly silly this hike is. To make it to Inverlael in the amount of time listed in the guide ( and on the Walk highlands website) we’d have to walk 30+ kilometres plus hills, bogs, river crossings etc. Honestly it was going to be too much for us meer mortals so we changed plans and headed north towards Craig. This alternative route should save us a day and some of the hardest parts of the trail.
Anyway up and over another pass (Bealach Bhearnais), with next to no track we could find/follow ( just a few small sections to frustrate us) and then down the other side to camp in Pollan Buidhe. We were both exhausted and slept solidly – the only people in the valley.
Day 3 – Pollan-bhuidhe to Kinlochewe – 24.7km
We woke feeling pretty refreshed and walked down hill into the valley where we got some reception and Rose called her mum for her birthday. Then we started climbing. We had another big day to do of some seriously big ups, followed by very long slow downs. The first hill seemed to go on for ever but then as we cruised down the other side looking for ruins and wondering about strange lines in the mountains we found the valley floor (two villages, one house each) and hand lunch under a bridge to avoid the intermittent showers.
Up another hill and then down a long slow track again until suddenly it went from path to waist deep ferns and mud, and then to trackless boggy fields. It must have taken 3hrs to walk the last 4km. Just trying to find the way as the guidebook, map and GPS route on my phone all disagreed.
We made our way through eventually – muddy and damp – and checked into the the Kinlochewe Hotel for the night. After three tough days we had definitely earnt it!