Scottish National Trail: Hanging out in the hills (days 16, 17, 18, 19)

Today: 124km | Total: 720km

Four more days lie behind us and we are now in touching distance of Cape Wrath having completed more than 700km. The last few days were kind weather wise with lots of sun and only occasional showers while walking. By now we are hanging out in the largest hunting estate on the island owned by the Duke of Westminster (the largest overall estate is owned by a Dane though) and deers have become a normal sight for us.

 

Laura’s comment: Desde nuestra salida de Ullapool el viaje se tornó un poco difícil, llevar comida para 6 días no fue fácil, por lo cual sólo podíamos caminar pocos kilómetros. En el segundo día encontramos un hermoso Bothy para pasar la noche, mi primera vez en este lugar, y fue una experiencia muy agradable, el lugar es muy cálido y lo sientes como un pequeño hogar.
Cada vez el camino se hace un poco más difícil, pero las vistas son increíbles y a medida que avanzamos al norte a nuestro ultimo destino, sé que será aún mejor. 😉

Leaving Ullapool with a heavy load

Having learned the art of hitchhiking on my way into Ullapool, we used that skills to get us the 7m to our trailhead. From there on foot. In our bags we had food for the remaining 6 days given no further resupply options on our route. Man were they heavy! First stop after 1km (seriously). Red wine had to go first 😂.

 

After a healthy lunch the path continued up before eventually a new valley came into sight and we decided to sleep near the river. Walking by now was completely off trail, hard, wet and slow. Anyway, great camping location, but loads of midges! Thousands and thousands! At first no firewood in sight (no forests about), but then we found some. Life saver!

 

Cutting through the hills

The next day started with… Midges. No fire this time. RUN!!! We were looking to reach one of the two bothys on the path for lunch and did so after a tough bit of hiking. No path, up and down, wet… Lunch was great and had the bothy had firewood we might have stayed. Eventually we opted to move on to the next bothy – the schoolhouse.

 

The path by now was more like an off road track and good for hiking. The sun was out too. By the time we reached the bothy it was not too late in the afternoon. A group of mountain bikers were in the house and we briefly chatted before they continued to our lunch bothy.

 

We in turn had time to sort gear and ourselves with a refreshing river wash before retreating to the bothy for a little time in a lot of space after all the nights in our tent. We even had a movie handy. Great.

Hitching on…

The third day started with good weather though late as we enjoyed the comfort of the bothy. We had some 7km to walk to the next village where a pint of lager was waiting. From there we hitched further north.

 

First with an older english couple. Then, after a brief time in proper rain, with a young english/scottish couple. They dropped us off at the only bar/restaurant in Kylesku. Nice views from there while we sat out the rain.

 

But we had to move on and find a camping spot. We did, eventually, somewhere on the estate of the duke of Westminster – the richest english man. Thanks dude. Really great views from our campsite on the hill to which we rescued ourselves amidst ☔.

Exploring the rich man’s lands’

We managed our latest start yet.. At midday! Rain was constant all night. Tent held up. Same in the morning… So we just waited with breakfast and a movie in our campsite with a view. Nice.

 

As we hiked up the hill we met two fellas part of a hunting group. They told us a few things about the duke & his family. You can at times hunt here yourself. £500 a stag. You pay on success only. Not a bad deal i think. Loads of deer about.

 

From there we went off track down the hill, through the forest, across rivers… Amazing time. Thankfully with lighter bags now.

 

Back on the road we hitched to Rhiconich. First with two older anglers (well-connected guys to get permission for that here) and then with two dutch ladies from Eindhoven. A little practice for my Dutch. Dank je wel for the lift!

Now off to the pub! 🍻 🍲

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Scottish National Trail: Tough terrain, great views (day 14/15)

Today: 110km |Total: 596km

Tired. Satisfied. Blistered. Wet. Happy. Some of the words that just came to mind after two truely demanding days covering 57km over from Morvich finished off with a train ride and two hitchhikes to Ullapool. But another 110km closer to Cape Wrath and now close to the 600km mark and ‘only’ some 160km to go to Cape Wrath.

I left my campsite around 9am yesterday and hiked 6km to resume the trail. Unfortunately my phone was dead and solar charging not an option on this grey morning. So i stopped at a hotel half way to get a charge. As usual, very helpful the scottish people.

The first half of the trail leads you up the hills with great views of the valley (fog permitting). Down on the other side you’ll find the falls of glomach. Quite cool. Conditions were wet throughout though.

Just before the fall i met Celia, a french solo hiker. She had already completed the west highland way and was now, at least for a bit, on the cape wrath trail. We continued the hike together.

As usual when you walk with others, time goes past quicker. No difference today and so we made good ground amidst talking about theatre (her chosen field of studies), hiking experiences (iceland etc) and other travel stories such as her time in india and china. It was nice to talk to someone about the latter, as i haven’t met many travellers that have been there.

By 6pm we reached the Maol-Bhuidhe bothy. Sadly no firewood to dry clothes (boots were completely wet… again), but still nice to have a roof over the head instead of a small tent. Dinner, few more stories and it was bedtime early.

The next morning looked surprisingly good and the sun was out. We hit the trail already 8am after a slightlty restless night for me (as so often up here). Views and colours to die for!

Three hours into the hike our trails separated, as I headed alone to Craig. Quick selfie, all the best and goodbye! Alone from here.

I was admittedly pretty tired and my wet feet hurt. I changed socks twice (having one pair drying on the go) and was glad to reach craig by 3.30pm.

From here i had to find a way to Ullapool to meet laura. Hiking would take me two more days and we wouldn’t make it to Cape Wrath. Thankfully i met two walkers and their dog that gave me a lift to a station in Achnasheen and hence made it to Garve by train.

No more public transport from here on Sunday! So hitchhiking. First two cars that stopped went to other destinations and so i walked a bit. Soon though a man from Ullapool had a heart for hikers and gave me a lift to Ullapool. Quite cool conversation. Most interesting was the story about the East German Klondykers. Have a look here.

Once in the hostel to usual routine kicked in… shower, washing, some care for feet, dinner, sleep…

Off to Cape wrath!