Cape Wrath Trail North 20-28 July 2021

Cape Wrath Trail
Alex leading the way on Day 1 of the Cape Wrath Trail (North)

On Sunday 28th June we completed our first group trek since September 2019! It felt both great to be back and also wonderfully familiar. We were lucky to be joined by 4 enthusiastic walkers keen to take on the challenges of our North section of the Cape Wrath Trail. With Alex guiding our most challenging week’s trekking we were certainly back with bang!

Instead of our usual evening welcome meal we met for a short walk and thankfully the Ullapool weather was in cooperative mood. I had forgotten how much I love the last town on the road north. We took a stroll along the seafront and chatted about the trek ahead.

Having not walked the southern half we set off directly from Ullapool heading for Oykel bridge. The group soon got into their stride, and the weather perfect for walking. They ate into the miles past East Rhidorroch Lodge and along to Knockdamph bothy to share their lunch spot with a herd of cows. From there the trail winds it’s way down to Oykel Bridge passing another bothy, the old Schoolhouse.

Knockdamph cows
Joined by some bovine friends at Knockdamph bothy
Kinlochbervie coast
A lovely group pic on the north-west coast
Foinaven
Walking under the rocky flank of Foinaven

Day 2 was the beginning of new territory for Thistle Trekking as we hiked into the mountains of Assynt. The morning was spent following the River Oykel upstream before a lunch stop with a stunning backdrop. The secluded glen lead to the first big climb of the trek over the southern shoulder of Conival and down to Inchnadamph.

We carried on our trek straight out the door of the hotel on day 3 and back into the mountains of Assynt. A good trail leads over the high point of the day and down to Eas a Chual Aluinn, the UK’s highest waterfall. The sun came out to make for another stunning lunch spot. From this point there was some rough ground to cover around Loch Glencoul and Loch Glendhu and a wet afternoon’s walking. The group arrived in Kylestrome tired and very wet, but with the 3 toughest days of the trek now behind them.

The fourth day is a short up and over, a welcome 8 miles after the exertions of the previous few days and the group finished in the early afternoon leaving plenty time for chess and scrabble back at the accommodation.

Suitably rejuvenated the group set off for Strath Dionard on what is a geologically spectacular section of the trail. The northern flanks of Foinaven display folds and striations that give away the impermanence of a seemingly immoveable mountain. It was a day of awe and wonder.

Polin bay swim
Time for a swim!
Cape Wrath ferry
Boarding the small ferry to cross the Sound of Durness
Cape Wrath
Successful negotiation of the boggy Cape Wrath deserves a celebratory pose

On day 6 there was some road walking to get through to Kinlochbervie before the antidote of some coastal meandering to Blairmore. The sun came out and the turquoise sea on the white sands of Polin Bay was too much to resist. It was time for a swim!

The final day of the trek is one we walk backwards (southwards). Catching the short ferry service and bus to the lighthouse at Cape Wrath allows us to walk steadily south to Sandwood Bay without the worry of missing the ferry off the Cape. It isn’t easy going but the rivers were low and the group made good time to reach the stretching sands of Sandwood Bay around half past 3. Julian collected a small memento from the beach and we walked out to Blairmore to complete our Cape Wrath Trail (North) trek happy, proud and ready to put our feet up.

Cape Wrath Trail