Strathcarron to Ullapool on the Cape Wrath Trail

Quite why writing up such a wonderful hike is taking so long, I don’t know.  Wainwright used to do his writing in winter but, to be honest, I could have completed the account of the walk long ago if I had put my mind to it.  After all, the walk finished in June!  Here goes…

A trip home from Strathcarron for £15 return (with old fogies railcard) was far cheaper than a day off in Strathcarron would have been so home I went.  This allowed me to sort out my consumables properly and to switch to my Akto for the final stretch.  The downside was the early start needed for getting the train back to the Cape Wrath Trail.

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From the station, a short but scary stretch of busy road took me to the bridge over the River Carron, where I was able to escape from the cars by walking along the river bank.  The guide book’s description of named fishing beats and a well kept bothy at Coire Fionnaraich was accurate.

No sooner had I got my head down than the bothy door rattled and footsteps sounded.  I called hello but received no reply.  I dressed and went down to find a walker making a late return to his car, where he planned on sleeping, had taken a chair outside and was enjoying a snack.  I forget his name but his walking career was remarkable.  He had gone right around Britain’s coast in sections and was now starting the Munros.

His enthusiasm for Sealskinz was so great that I ended up buying some in Ullapool on his advice.  Mine were utter rubbish.

Next day, over Bealach Ban and round behind Beinn Eighe, in dull conditions, was very hard.  The descent from the bealach to the Ling Hut was enlivened by a pair of golden plover whose complaints over my presence were so loud that every predator for miles around will have known where to look for a nest.  They followed me for 600 metres and one of the birds dive bombed me, which I hadn’t seen previously from golden plover.

Coire Mhic Fhearchair was full of cloud with nothing above the lochan in view.  I headed down for the slippery contour around Ruadh-stac Mor.  The guide book advises sticking to the 400 metre contour.  I failed and found myself in a zone of small, south-north ridges of boulders and heather which continued tediously all the way to a three part stream crossing.  Climbing up from the stream gave a brief respite and then the going became tricky once more as I traversed below Ruadh-stac beag.

Stinky peat pools, deep heather and many, many boulders slowed me down again.  Noticing the flat, stony bed of the stream I was walking beside gave me an idea.  I took the New Zealand option – paddling – and that is how I found a lovely pitch for the night.  Sadly, the fixed length 50mm lens on my camera would not include my tent and the mighty cliff towering over it at the same time.

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