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  • Cape Wrath trail, almost there! Kylesku to Kinlochbervie via Achfary and Arkle
  • Premier Icon 13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    …continued from here

    Day 12: Kylesku to Kinlochbervie

    So, having rejected the Kylesku pub in favour of a night in the bothy with an Irish taxi driver, I had a pretty decent night. Steve (I think) was a good laugh, and crucially had walked a lot of my intended route the days previous. He offered some excellent (so I thought at the time) advice on my route around Arkle and offered me his excess food, having picked up a parcel in Kylesku. I had plenty of supplies but unfortunately by this point they consisted largely of the tinned macaroni I'd picked up at Inchnadamph hostel, and it tasted foul.

    Anyway, the morning dawned bright after some hefty rainfall overnight. We stepped out the bothy to some very angry waterfalls.

    and, more disconcertingly, snow on Quinaig (see the last post and compare, no snow the day before!)

    I followed the very good track north to be greeted with some amazing views back the way:

    and to my destination, Bealach Horn, which climbed from Loch Stack to the southern tip of Fionaven.

    First though was the descent to Loch Stack which was perhaps one of the best of the trip, at first it was straight, very straight, but loose with some interesting drainage bumps. Then, once I'd stopped to let the coast to coast horseriders past, it entered the forest for a series of wide, but tight and slightly rooty corners, just greasy enough for a play with the motocross tyres. This deposited me in Achfary, soaked from the rain but pretty elated.

    There was a brief hint of a tearoom in Achfary, but I was left disappointed, so continued to find some shelter for aquick drum up; the clouds, snow and impressive spectacle of Arkle were intimidating me a little, so I felt a pack of supernoodles was in order.

    I followed the track until I found the perfect spot

    This 'gateway' also marked the start of the Bealach Horn climb, which started super-steep but soon mellowed, and progress was steady, if not desperately quick. The good news is that some work was being done further up. While landrover tracks in the hills mighten't always be welcome, this one didn't seem to intrusive, and would result in a pretty epic trail in amongst some obscenely good scenery.

    The view between Arkle and Fionaven in the direction of Kinlochbervie.

    I had a choice of routes from the top of the bealach. I could take my original route which descended to An Dubh Loch, before climbing again and taking a long descent to the south tip of Loch Dionard. However my friend in the bothy had assured me that I could descend all the way to Loch Dionard on a newly built landy track, not yet shown on the map. This would be quicker and offer a continuous descent from higher up, so I was quickly convinced.

    An Dubh Loch, with my chosen descent disappearing off to the left (halfway down).

    The top of the descent was crazy, a surface of broken up white rock, occasionally motorway smooth but then degenerating into white rock loosely held together by bog. Further down a stream had washed large chunks away leaving a random disaster area of loose rubble that could cautiously be picked through.

    Looking back up:

    Then disaster struck, in a very predictable way. The fantastic track had obviously been built top down, and didn't make it all the way to the loch. I don't know what blokey-boy in the bothy was thinking of, but I was now mired in yet another labyrinthe of peat hags. Joy.

    The long walk to the Strath Dionard track was made more tolerable by the possibility of a doss in one of the unlocked (apparently) fishermen's huts further down the glen, and yet more spectacular falls, tumbling from the lost world up amongst Fionaven's crags.

    Eventually I made it to Strath Dionard, but the craving for a pub dinner, and some beer, drove me straight through the glen towards the road. I paused briefly to admire Fionaven as I left it behind me, but the view from the road, once I eventually reached it, was truly stunning

    All that was left was the painfully slow squeek to Kinlochbervie, where I caved in, booked myself a B&B, and spent the night in an empty pub drinking An Teallach ale and watching the geese in the field next to me over a steak with onion rings.

    I was at the final stop before Sandwood Bay and the Cape, and I was beginning to feel real excitement growing, and relief that I hadn't given up when I had wanted to in the days previously.

    Premier Icon Phatman
    Free Member

    Did you have a chat to the horse riders Ian? Went riding at some stables just up the road from Brora in Feb this year that ran coast to coast trips, only ones that do it as far as I know. FYI, they also accomodate mountainbikers so the wife can ride the horsey and the husband rides a proper mode of transport!

    Premier Icon druidh
    Free Member

    The folk at Cougie (near Cannich) also do coast-coast horse trips. Very friendly folk, you should stop in for a chat if you're passing that way.

    Nice photos again Ian. You should have climbed Foinaven though. Out and back from the Bealach Horn would have been a nice wee stroll 🙂

    Premier Icon TandemJeremy
    Free Member

    Right – I am now knackered just from reading this!

    Adventurous or slightly mad? The jury is still out!

    Premier Icon TandemJeremy
    Free Member

    Nice photos indeed.

    Premier Icon Trampus
    Free Member

    Druidh, that's scary! I have only today been regaling my family about the 1967 Grand National win of Foinavon! 🙂

    Premier Icon 13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    I had a good chat with the horseriders (doing my bit for MTB diplomacy!) but they hadn't come from Brora, they said that was the 'other' coast to coast they did. Not sure where these guys started from.

    Druidh, Arkle looked like the more exciting of the two (and a shorter out and back) but I was pushing for time all day, plus there was snow up there!

    Premier Icon stooo
    Free Member

    Superb writing and pics once again.

    Good luck for the final day mate – it'll feel grand when you can see the sea where your journey ends, massive sense of relief I bet.

    Hope all this is preserved in an easy to read blog somewhere with a route map and all the pics.

    Premier Icon 13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    Hope all this is preserved in an easy to read blog somewhere with a route map and all the pics

    I'm toying with the idea of a website, but it would mean coming home from nine hours of CAD and then sitting down to an evening of HTML. Maybe in the winter!

    Premier Icon robgarrioch
    Full Member

    None more epic…!

    Brilliantly strange shot that no. 12 mate, must've been highly surreal to see.

    Premier Icon 13thfloormonk
    Full Member

    Very! A bit gutted I didn't make time to stop and hike up to the top of those falls, but I had the march on by that point.

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