From Ullapool to Glencoul

The two highlights of the Cape Wrath Trail both feature long fingers of sea surrounded by notably rocky peaks.  The first lies between Glenfinnan and Glen Shiel.  With a Loch Morar side trip, it is hard to imagine a better through route anywhere in Britain.  The second highlight lies north of Ben More Assynt, where the boundary between psammite and gneiss creates an amazing landscape.  The area around Glenfinnan may be known as the Rough Bounds but the descent to Glencoul is much rougher.  Exhausting but so very worth it!

A long stretch without resupply started easily with a stroll back up Glen Achall to Loch Daimh and on to Knockdamph bothy.  It’s a nice bothy and I was half tempted to stay but a DofE party could be seen approaching.  Their supervisor had instructed them to use the bothy as low cloud was making their planned route difficult to navigate.  They were a decent bunch of kids but I didn’t think they’d want an old fart hanging around and the day was still young so I headed off to the Schoolhouse Bothy.  After about a mile, I met another DofE group, which meant 15 in Knockdamph!

The Schoolhouse bothy had drawn criticism in the Knockdamph bothy book but it’s an absolute cracker.  One room still has desks.  The bothy also housed Mary, a Canadian librarian, who had almost completed the Scottish National Trail.  Mary reached the Cape and visited Orkney before completing a north coast to southern boundary walk of her own devising.  A good 800 miles before midsummer!

Taking so long to write up my hike means I have forgotten which breed of cattle the estate beside the Oykell specialises in but they were red with white faces and from, I think, Belgium.  Shortly afterwards I was followed for a mile by a spaniel.  The young dog had become bored by its fisherman owner’s lack of attention.  Mary caught up with me and helped to get it to go back.  We walked on together to a delightful camp on the banks of the River Oykell below Breabag.  Being an idiot, I forgot to photograph our tents but this photo shows where we were.


Next morning we traversed the pass below Conival almost to Inchnadamph and turned up the Allt Poll na Droighinn and onward to a rocky shoulder between Glas Bheinn and Beinn Uidhe.  Near the start of the descent on the north side, we met some athletic looking, young Germans who were following a sketchy guide boof description of the ascent of Glas Bheinn.  Soon after, where the path passes between two lochans, Mary turned north on the SNT and I headed down to the base of Britain’s tallest waterfall.

The descent into Glencoul begins with a path you could get a horse down but, where the hillside becomes less steep, the old stalkers’ path gives out.  I took a direct line to the glen floor and began the slog past the foot of Eas a’Chual Aluinn to Loch Beag.  The second pass had tired me and I found this stretch very tough.  Consolation was an otter swimming along beside me as I walked the coast to the Glencoul bothy, which I reached after 11 hours on the go. Not an easy day, but the scenery was never less than superb.  The three visits I’ve made to the country between Ben More Assynt and Ben Stack are not enough because this area is a little bit of heaven on earth.





2 thoughts on “From Ullapool to Glencoul

  1. Your photos make my heart ache for the hills of back home! I’m not from Scotland, but my family regular drove up from Northampton to spend our summers on the west coast. I’d love to go back for an extended walk.

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