Sunset Serengeti Africa 2017
Sunset Serengeti Africa 2017
  • Finished. Phew!
    • 14/10/2013
finished
STAT ATTACK #2
DAYS TOTAL: 145
DAYS WALKING: 121
MILES TOTAL: 1,878
MILES AV DAILY: 15.5
NIGHTS WILD CAMPING: 68
NIGHTS TAME CAMPING: 9
NIGHTS HOSTELS: 35
NIGHTS FRIENDS & FAMILY: 22
NIGHTS MOUNTAIN BOTHIES: 11
  • Across the top...
    • 12/10/2013
Only two days left now, after spending the last few days plodding along the roads of the north coast, passing more sandy beaches and seeing the sane surfers driving up and down the coast looking for waves!
Weather has turned clear again but got much more chilly.
Stopped in Thurso tonight which is a proper town (more than one shop), doing some logistical planning.

Also as I climbed up from Loch Eribol I was accosted by a lady named Tina who is promoting the "North Highland Way", trying to get recognised national trail status for a link between Cape Wrath and John o Groats. There's certainly enough good scenery but maybe not enough decent tracks at the moment to make it a popular choice in its own right.
Anyway, here's a rare photo of me:
https://mobile.twitter.com/way_north/status/388555346697932800/photo/1?screen_name=way_north&
  • Capes of Wrath
    • 10/10/2013
Leaving the hostel at Kinlochewe I felt revitalized, and the 600m climb out of the blocks flew by.
Reaching the beleach (pass) was another one of those jaw dropping "wow" moments, at the sudden revelation of a landscape of high ridges, steep valleys and ridiculous waterfalls.
Once again, the photos probably won't do it justice, but it was one of those places where I stood taking hundreds of pictures of the same view just because it deserved it.
Stopped for a cheese sandwich within sight of three different types of equally beautiful waterfall, which would have all been surrounded by tourists if this place was even remotely accessible!
Then onwards on a boggy non path to the head of the loch. Finally a climb over the headland for the downside of the day, a three mile descent splashing along stream beds!
Then a windy night in the bothy at Glendhu.

Next day started on a good 4x4 track and I took the wimpy route alternatives for the rest of the day to give my feet a break from sogginess.
This choice was rewarded by a close sight of two eagles soaring above the valley and landing in s nearby tree.
Ended the day camping by the pub at Riconich.

Day End-1
Rainy start on the roads towards Kinlochbervie, stopping at the famous London Stores, which sells everything but its piled up to the rafters and hanging from the ceiling!
Treated myself to a pub burger lunch and then phoned the M.O.D again, to discover that their bombardment of Cape Wrath had been delayed until Wednesday 7am, so I had 36 hours remaining to get up there and get out again.
I should explain that Cape Wrath and its lighthouse are rendered a virtual island by the firing range and lack of road access, tourists usually visit by taking a ferry across Kyle of Durness and then a minibus up a 12 mile 4x4 track.
But that was not my way in.
First I had to march off through worsening rain and fog to Sandwood Bay, a beautiful mile long beach of golden sand with dramatic cliffs and stacks, backed by dunes and a great big loch.
Again, if this was in Cornwall it would be a tourist honeypot disaster, but being so isolated it is serene and majestic.
It even stopped raining whilst I was there, although my joy was soon cut short when I reached the stream flowing out from the loch to the sea, described in my guidebook as "no problem" but due to the recent rain, now a 20m wide, shin deep torrent at the best, and a dangerous looking rapids in other places.
I manned up and waded out at the shallowest part using both walking poles to help balance.
The flow wasn't as strong as I'd feared, but the bottom was all slippy rounded stones, and it was 20m wide!
Anyway, safely across and then two miles of trackless wet more to the bothy at Strathellighhhxh.
This bothy was inhabited by a recluse nicknamed "Sandy" who made the 20+ mile round trip across the moors once a week to collect his pension and buy supplies.
He painted the inside of the bothy with various landscapes and people, and his existence been romanticised in several publications as the last person in Britain living without electricity and plumbing etc.
However the bloke I spoke to in town described him as a pest who was always drunk on his home distilled alcohol and didn't appreciate the help people gave him.
And the fire place was closed off due to a damaged chimney, gutted - still, drier than outside!

Day 15
Still, no point drying out socks as the final day would start with wading through the stream outside the bothy; fortunately the water level having dropped slightly overnight.
Whilst soaking boots and socks don't sound like an advantage, once you know you can't get any wetter you stop worrying about taking detours around puddles and burns, which considering I had 7 miles of open moorland to cross, meant I got on at a good pace.
It was misty, and I resorted to following the plot on my gps rather than compass bearings, which felt like a bit of a cheat but whatever, I had a deadline.
I arrived at the lighthouse at about noon, and as advertised, the "Ozone" cafe was open - (its open 24/7 365), and the bloke popped out and gave me a hot chocolate.
Feels a bit bizarre to turn up at the most remote corner of the country and have someone waiting there with hot drinks, but very grateful for it!
As I left the cafe I saw to my horror that the red flags were now flying on the range!
Was I trapped? would I be shelled or shot at? No, they were just being put up in readiness for the next day, quite a task actually to drive round all the flagpoles in one is those 8 wheel off-road Argo buggies that all the estates up here use.
So I bossed it down the good track out of the firing range to the ferry landing - obviously no ferries running so another 5 miles over wet boggy moorland giving some symmetry to the day.
A windy chilly night to camp as well, waking up to hailstones bouncing in under the flysheet!
But a massive sense of achievement and satisfaction of having completed the UK's toughest trail, and capturing some of the spirit which I feel the Pennine Way has lost since its paving!
Now to raise some energy again for the final week of mainly road walking across the north coast to JoG..
  • CWT diaries #2
    • 04/10/2013
Where was I up to? ah yes day 6.
BTW being in a cosy hostel with a log fire and rain pattering against the window is not exactly inspiring me to run back into the boggy, buggy hills tomorrow, even though I know its the final push to the north coast (should take four days to Durness)

So day 6: a slow trudgy start across rough heather, past a stalking lodge and then reaching a ridge I got my first view of the dramatic peaks of Torridon - looking like they were capped with snow but later turned out to be a combination of white rocks and lichen.
Descending into Strathcarron hoping for an ice cream but nothing doing so onwards along a tranquil stretch of river before a brisk 500m ascent to end the day, which my legs were none too excited about!
The thing with this part of the world is that all the climbs start at sea level, so if a peak shows at 500m, that's what you climb, not like in those namby pamby Cairngorms!
Joyous to find a flat piece of grass amidst the rocky terrain of the Beleach Ban, camped under clear skies to be woken at 3am by a ridiculously bright sickle moon and starry sky. nice.
So nice that it was tempting to stay up there for the whole morning, admiring the sunny views, but better to take advantage of the continuing good weather so off we go.

And the scenery managed to get even more stunning as I circled up to the waterfall at Sail Mhor, a bowl of towering ridges behind it and a huge expanse in front as wide glens opened up in three directions. Epic.

Finished the day at Kinlochewe and stopped in the bunkhouse for the day off my muscles were demanding.

Day 8, rejuvanted and easy tracks, but the scenery not so amazing, another sunny day though.

Day 9, a sluggish start requiring a mars bar break in the first half an hour. The clouds gathered and the wind picked up to 30mph.
After crossing two yes two roads, and zig zagging up through the forest from Inverael, I was back in isolated upland valley territory in Glen Douchary, where the river cuts through a beautiful little gorge, not what you'd expect to find up there!
Arrived in the evening at Knockdamph bothy where I met a lovely lady from Ullapool named Sue, who was on a three day coast to coast trip and had a copious bag if walnuts!

Day 10. Lots of ominous dark clouds and it didn't take long for the drizzle to start, so I was looking forward to a rare lunchtime pint at Oykel Bridge. Unfortunately the hotel was closed up like a ghost town so nothing for it but to plod on.

And that brings us up to yesterday evening and that horrible wet night.

So the headlines are - tough underfoot, but plenty of good photos and splendid isolation, inspiring freedom, - but hiking up here isn't a game, you are miles from another person and have to watch your feet!
  • Cape Wrath Travail
    • 04/10/2013
So now ten days in!
Yesterday was the first time it rained! But it rained good and proper and swamped my tent, soaking virtually everything. Fortunately my lilo-esque thermarest mat kept my sleeping bag above the tide line, and a short day today to reach Inchnadamph hostel and many radiators! Pity to have rushed through some nice scenery to get here though.

So a bit more of a recap:
Day one out of Fort William started with a quick ferry ride across the sea loch amidst the early morning mist, leaving me alone on the far shore with a hungry otter and eventually my first views of Ben Nevis.
An easy days walk for 21 miles ending with a night in an old fashioned railway sleeping car at Glenfinnan, a rather unique hostel.

Day two I started late due to watching a steam train cross the majestic viaduct, which led to a rather dicy dusktime descent to Souris bothy, where I battled mice all night, eventually losing a small bag of trail mix.

Day three didn't get easier, mainly trackless, soggy ground with a follow your nose approach to navigation required and some tricky scrambles, although rewarded with great views and solitude.

Day four was Barisdale to Shiel Bridge, starting with a nice walk along to Kinloch Hourn and then a surprisingly enjoyable 700 m ascent.
Wild camped and was kept up half the night by stags barking and grunting. They sound like dying cows.

Day five, a quick stop at the petrol station for biscuits and mars bars and then quick march to Glamoch Falls, with its 100m vertical drop.
"Don't look down" on this part of the path!
At the bottom a postcard perfect loch with highland cattle posed in front, and then another hustle to reach Maol Bhudie bothy, where two lads from Colchester, Rob & Will, had a welcome fire going. They were walking an alternative CWT route as far as Ullapool.

end of part one...


browse by location

Iceland

Slovenia

Hungary

Slovakia

Hungary

Slovakia

Poland

Slovakia

Poland

Czech Republic

Poland

Czech Republic

England

Thaliand

Hong Kong

Thailand

RSA

Zimbabwe

Malawi

Tanzania

Kenya

Tanzania

Rwanda

Uganda

Kenya

Norway

Sweden

Denmark

Germany

The Netherlands

Cuba

Cayman Islands

France

Switzerland

Italy

Switzerland

England

Wales

Scotland

England

France

Holland

England

Germany

England

USA

England

Thailand

Malaysia

Singapore

Fiji

Australia

Samoa

Fiji

Australia

New Zealand

Cook Islands

Mexico

USA

Canada

USA

England