30 June 2015

Cape Wrath to Kylesku - June Solstice 2015

For many years now me and my old friends Philip and Andrew have spent the summer solstice walking in the Scottish Highlands ,generally Munro bagging or more recently on through trips. This year's coincided with the start of Andrew's Cape Wrath to Stranraer walk (the first part of a journey which will eventually take him to Cape Clear in SW Ireland).

Link to photo album here  As usual best viewed as a slide show with captions.

We'd met up at Inverness last night and today caught the (only) direct bus up to near Durness and walked down to the ferry. We were a bit concerned when we read the MOD notice which said that there would be bombing on the Cape Wrath firing range for the next three days and that access would be restricted.The ferryman wasn't too sure of arrangements but agreed to take us across the sound so that we could speak to the sentry at the east end of the exclusion area.
When we got to the sentry post it turned out that we'd only have to wait 15 minutes before being allowed through the range and down to Kearvaig Bothy where we were planning to stay the night.A brilliant MOD man who,as he had to check that the bothy was clear the next day anyway ,agreed to pick us up from there just after 8am and take us up in his 4x4 to the Lighthouse which was the "official" start of the walk!

Kearvaig Bothy

The plan worked and the next morning after being dropped off ,and a coffee at the very remote Ozone Cafe, we headed down the coast towards Sandwood Bay.

Leaving the danger area over a small stile.I'd been expecting a high fence as some Cape Wrath Trail articles seem to rate it as an obstacle

Sandwood Bay
The faint paths above the cliffs were dry and easy to follow but the route inland from Sandwood Bay to Strathan Bothy became indistinct and boggy so it was a blessing to reach our home for the night.Quite a salubrious bothy.
Strathan Bothy

We managed to keep the dry weather for a third day on the tracks towards Kinlochbervie and road walk to Rhiconich (with resupplies at the London Stores at Badcall and beer at the Rhiconich Hotel).
Our good deed for the day was picking up a wallet ,money,bank cards and it's other contents which we found scattered on the main road and then reuniting them with their owner via the helpful locals.
View inland towards Rhiconich and the mountains
It was good to leave the hard tarmac and walk inland along the stalkers path on the bank of the Rhiconich River, but like most of these paths do it eventually petered out into the bog nearing the top of the glen.We found a dry campsite at the end of the loch with some shelter from the strengthening wind.
Rhiconich River
Breaking camp the next morning
The rain started as we pitched our tents so a "cold tea" ensued partly due to a miscalculation on the gas supplies (had turned out that the available screw fitments were different from the ones previously promised by the stores!)

It had been a wet and windy night but the tents stayed up and the weather improved for the start of today's  route.
Philip and Andrew
Towards the end of the day the "lovely" stalkers path from Achfary to Kylestrome that Andrew recalled from his previous trip proved a lot stonier than suggested.
Ever since becoming a fellrunner I've struggled with walking boots.I'd been persevering with ones that I'd bought last year which finally got the better of me on the stony landrover tracks and tarmac so I decided to leave the walk at Kylesku rather than going on a few more days to Braemore Junction as originally intended.
However this section ended on a high note with a slap up meal at the Kylesku Hotel and a pleasant stay at our B&B with great views inland across the sea lochs.
View from our B&B
After seeing the other two on their way I managed to get a lift to Ullapool with a local and headed south to stay at Inverness YH and then catch the train back south the next day.
After a short foot recovery I bought a trusty pair of Lowa Renegade boots ,the only ones I seem to be able to wear comfortably.
They certainly did the trick when I rejoined Andrew for the Clyde Valley/Southern Uplands part of his journey later in July.

(a catch up post written on 7/11/15 ,a wet and windy November day)

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