Cape Wrath Trail

Day 9: Inchnadamph - Achfary

I awoke on day 9 to what I mistakenly believed would be an easy day. Having completed 23 the day before and enjoyed every step, I thought a 20 mile trek today would be a ‘stroll’. I soon had those thoughts knocked out of me. The climb from Inchnadamph up Allt Poll an Droighinn is steep in parts, but more tiring due to fact it’s about 3 miles of almost constant climbing up to Bealach na h-Uidhe. This section of the walk has a very strange to feel to it, and the landscape was far different to that I’d seen so far. The best word I can think to describe it is ‘prehistoric’; it looks like a large set for the film ‘The Land Time Forgot’. Had a dinosaur walked by it wouldn’t have looked even slightly out of place! Combined wit the many lochans scattering the landscape, this place had a magic all of its own and is one of the sections of this trek I look back on fondly.

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[Climbing from Inchnadamph ]

There is a track that leads up most of the way; I lost it though just after the river crossings skirting Loch Fleodach Coire. The crossings themselves weren’t problematic, but in spate you’ll definitely get wet! There was a bridge that crossed here, but now one half lies in the river itself and so is of no use. The map from here shows a path, but as mentioned, I couldn’t see it and so made my own way to the Bealach. The landscape changes again here, and really becomes nothing more than a boulder field.

From the Bealach the views are amazing and I took one of my favourite photos of the whole trip here, as I stood and took it all in. From here you descend and wind your way through the many crags, boulders and lochs that prevent a straightforward walk to the next height of Bealach a’ Bhuirich. If anything, this section amplifies further still the prehistoric feeling of the ascent, this place really is rugged and the landscape has a ‘chaotic’ feel to it.

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[Views from the bealach ]

I was glad when I made it to the second Bealach as I was shattered from the morning’s exertions.  This section has a trail that runs the entire way, and it continues down to the road at Faire nan Carn. There a few boggy sections lower down to navigate, but descent on the whole is very easy, certainly not as tough as the ascent!

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[Descent to Fire nan Carn ]

From the road there’s a 5 mile yomp to take a trail just north of Kylesku. I’m no fan of walking the roads, especially when you invariably start to compare them to the many wild routes you cross through on this trek. I had hoped to hitch a lift here and miss the drudgery of walking on tarmac, but none of the few cars that did pass, stopped.

Just before reaching Unapool I came across an old toy museum. More of interest to me though was the accompanying café and cake shop! I stopped here and enjoyed soup and a roll, and then a cheese and ham toastie. All washed down with Iron Bru and coffee. On the way out I also topped up my Mars Bar ration by 4. The café has a selection of books to read too whilst you await your food, and I was delighted to find a copy of North to the Cape. The owner advised it was the fourth copy she’d bought, the rest had gone missing with obviously over enthused guests!

[Finding a copy of North to the Cape ]

Not much further on is Kylesku, and although I passed by on the main road, its obvious there’s very little here barring the hotel; certainly no shops to top up supplies.

After crossing the bridge from Kylesku, it’s a further mile or so before taking a right and climbing the hilltops over to Achfarry. I’d only walked 13 miles or so before getting to said track, but the day had already taken its toll and was very tired and quite low. There was still a further 7 mile or so to do though and I was already craving the days end.

To add further woe the climb from here is a real chore, with plenty of twists, switchbacks and constant ups and downs, my legs and knees in particular, were wrecked. I wished most of this section away, breaking the misery momentarily on a few occasions to look back at Kysleku.

Is this the prettiest village in Scotland? It would certainly take some beating!

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[Views of Kyesku ]

I was glad once at Achfarry forrest and the fabulous views of loch More open up. I decided to get down to the main road there (A838) and look for somewhere to both camp and get water, for which I had none left! With nowhere obvious to camp though I walked into Achfarry, and desperate for a drink I committed the cardinal sin of knocking on a door to politely and apologetically beg water.

[Loch More ]

The people up here are great though, and rather than be annoyed at being disturbed by some idiot with no water, he gladly filled my pouch. We chatted for a bit about where I’d come from and was going to, and when I asked if he knew somewhere I could camp, he took me over the road and moved two horses into one field and gave me the other for the night. He then told me to use his tap at the rear of the house if needed any more to drink. In all the years I’ve walked Scotland, I never cease to be amazed by the generosity of the locals, which is ironic given the typical stereotype of the ‘tight’ Scotsman!

[My own private field!]

Camped for the night in my own private field, I ate and was then glad to fall quickly asleep. A phone call to my wife from the curiously painted black and white phone box earlier had lifted my spirits, and the fact she told me she was proud of what I’d done so far, lifted slightly the guilt I’d increasingly felt at being away from home for so long.