Monday, June 06, 2011
Cape Wrath Trail, Day 7 to 9
Loch an Fada to Shenevall
With a short day ahead, I slept in to 7:30am, and was off just over an hour later. It was cool and breezy as I headed over pathless slopes towards Bealach na Croise, but once over the other side the sun began to cut through the haze and it warmed up. I met a pair of walkers who had camped at Loch an Nid, and were on their way to bag some Munroes. After that, a very pleasant stroll along the shores of the lochan, down past waterfalls and pools (too steep sided to get down into, sad to say), and then onto the broad plain leading towards Fisherfield and Shenevall Bothy, which I reached at 1:30pm.
Once again, I was the only one there, but it being Good Friday, I expected company later. The bothy is excellent, clean and well maintained, with a good supply of wood. However I decided that the bedroom could get stuffy later, with lots of people in and the weather so warm, so I put the tent up just outside. I spent the afternoon drinking tea, washing clothes, having a (short) dip in the river and sunbathing. Several groups arrived, but all were making the most of the good weather to press on and camp further into Fisherfield. Then in the early evening, 4 folk arrived from Aberdeen, one of whom, Claire, I knew from Glenmore Lodge. Claire was as pleasantly surprised to see me as I was her, especially when she declared they had plenty of wine and whisky to spare. She also arranged an Easter egg hunt around the bothy (2 Creme Eggs and a Caramel for me, thanks).
We had a great evening, scoffing, drinking, and watching the gorgeous sunset. There was also a stand-off between two groups of stags, over a set of hinds right outside the bothy. As it got dark we got a good fire going indoors, sat drinking whisky and 'rusty nails' and finished off a terrific relaxing day in there.
Distance: 13.2 Km
Time: 5 hrs
Shenevall to Ullapool
Up & off by 7:30am. The weather had turned overnight, with a couple of showers and low cloud shrouding An Teallach, which spoiled Claire & Co's plans a bit. I set off for Corrie Hallie, and for a change, met quite a few people coming the other way, heading for An Teallach. It wasn't the best day for it, unfortunately.
There was no actual rain in the morning, though the cloud kept it cold and driech. Not too bad for walking though, and I soon reached Corrie Hallie and had a second breakfast (a mars bar Claire kindly gave me!) There was a group of French guys there, who'd been backpacking around for the past week or so. It was their final day, and they were heading to Inverbroom to get the bus to Inverness.
It was an uneventful walk over the tops towards Loch Broom, though I met two guys who had done the Cape Wrath Trail a couple of years before, and they were full of encouragement and useful advice. On the descent, I started to get sore heels again, so I was glad that I'd planned Sunday off in Ullapool. Getting close to the road, above a small plantation, I saw a cairn marking a path leading off by the edge of the wood. DO NOT follow this path! It was blocked by fallen trees, thorn bushes and brambles, a real struggle. By the time I reached the road, I was pretty hacked off and just wanted to get to Ullapool. I stuck out my thumb and before long got a lift all the way.
At Broomfield Campsite (surely the most consistently windy site in Scotland?) I had a very welcome (for me and anyone around me...) shower, got changed and hit the town. I had lunch at the excellent 'Tea Store', a small but perfectly formed establishment which supplied a huge pot of tea, delicious soup, a fresh tuna salad roll and flapjack for just £6. I bought more food, browsed some shops, and left a bag of surplus gear (mostly warm clothes) with the outdoor shop, who kindly agreed to look after it until next weekend.
Saturday evening started at the Seaforth Fisheries, voted best chippy in Scotland, and living up to its reputation. I'd say it's as good as fish & chips can get when cooked in vegetable oil; but as any Yorkshireman will tell you, proper fish n chips are done in beef dripping. The clouds cleared just before sunset, and I got some good pictures from the campsite, looking down Loch Broom. Then on to The Ceilidh Place, a sort of cafe/bar/bookshop, which is a great way to while away an hour or so. Quite a long day, so after a hot chocolate I turned in early.
Distance: 16 Km
Time: 7 hrs
A Sunday morning lie-in, with rain and wind rattling the tent. The front was forecast to pass over by afternoon though, and then a return to dry sunny weather for the next week. I spent some time repairing my feet - I had blisters on one heel, big toe and smaller toe, not too bad but I was careful to keep them clean and covered. My knee and Achilles tendon felt fine though.
I had an excellent full Scottish breakfast at The Tea Store, and spent the morning drinking tea, reading the Sunday papers and writing postcards. Another wander around Ullapool when the rain stopped (think I've seen it all now) and then a snooze back at the tent. Cooked myself some dinner (beans and scotch pies, I sure know how to live...) and went for a pint, finished my book and had another early night.