Sunday, 14 May 2017

Remembering the Cape Wrath Trail 2000

Loch Hourn from the path to Kinloch Hourn 

In just over a week, I will be back in Strathcarron ready to start my next leg of the Cape Wrath Trail, a route that has hovered on the fringes of my consciousness since the spring of 2000. Back then, I had some experience of long distance hiking and wild camping having walked Wainwright's Coast to Coast walk alone in 1998 and the Southern Upland Way in 1999, which I had walked with my friend Ian. On this fairly remote and often testing walk, we had enjoyed a great trip using tents, bothies and B&B's and upon our return, looked around for something similarly challenging.

Allt a' Chaorainn

Looking back to Fort William from Loch Eil

We were both members and walks leaders of our local Ramblers group and went along to a talk given by one of the group's members about his recent Kilimanjaro climb. At this talk, there were copies of the speaker's latest book on sale. The book in question was 'North to the Cape' and the person giving the talk was author Phil Hinchliffe. After the Kilimanjaro talk and slideshow, we stayed behind and chatted with Phil and both bought copies of his new book written with his fellow author and walking companion, Denis Brook. Our next challenge was decided!

Looking back to Kinloch Hourn

My friend Ian, above Kinloch Hourn

Me, below the Forcan Ridge 

We duly set off from Fort William in May 2000 on the tiny ferry to Camusnagaul and for the next four days experienced some of the most spectacular and challenging terrain either of us had walked in as we crossed the Knoydart peninsular to Shiel Bridge.

Ian below the Forcan Ridge

Unfortunately, things didn't go to plan for me and I spent the first three days of the trip feeling unwell and took the decision as we set-up camp at Kinloch Hourn to pull out of the walk the following day at Shiel Bridge. Ian however, decided to continue on alone and after spending the night in the Kintail Lodge hotel, we parted company the following morning as I caught the bus and headed for Glasgow.

Ladhar Bheinn

Loch Hourn from the path to Shiel Bridge

I was very disappointed to have to retire early from the walk but knew that it was the correct decision. Since then, I have always harboured an ambition to complete the trail and having walked from the end of the Pennine Way last year to Strathcarron, having completed the Pennine Way the previous year, and assuming all goes well, I hope soon to finally be standing by the lighthouse in Cape Wrath. The photos in this post were taken on the trip in 2000.

View from Meallan Odhar

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