Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Information for Cape Wrath Trail caperers and some musings on gear

Just to milk this little adventure as much as possible in terms of blogging inches, I thought I'd summarize a few potentially  useful notes for anyone else thinking of setting out on a Cape Wrath Trail caper, as well as add some thoughts on a few bits of kit I took with me for the trip.

The following information relates to how things were in July 2010.  River levels can go up as well as down, bridges can fall into disrepair and become unsafe, etc, etc.  Standard terms and conditions apply.

Useful information (well we would have found it useful)

Mostly this relates to places to stay and to eat.  There are a few notes on route-finding specifics in the individual posts for each day.  I still don't know the correct way to get out of KLH.

There are bothies at

  • Corry Hully (3 miles from Glenfinnan)
  • A Chuil (western end of forestry in Glen Dessary)
  • Sourlies - this is very small but there is enough excellent camping space outside for a small army
  • Barisdale - £3 per person per night.  Camping in the field opposite the bothy at £2 ppn.  See http://www.barisdale.com/.  Camping in the bay is not allowed.

There are no opportunities for wild camping between Kinloch Hourn and Glen Shiel or at least it is all very lumpy and wet.  The shelter on the west side of Buidhe Bheinn (at NGR 940096) - the Garden Shed - should only be considered for emergency use and is very small.

The camping spots noted by Brook and Hinchcliffe along the River Carnach look ok.

There is no camping at Killilan.  There is a bunk house at Camas-Luinie.  There is a good wild camping site in Glen Ling ( at NGR 945327).

There are hotels at Glen Shiel (Kintail Lodge) and Strathcarron.  Be warned that the prices for Kintail Lodge are per person not per room (next time I will be more careful to check such things).

Kintail Lodge also has a bunk house and a drying room.

There are tea rooms at Kinloch Hourn, the Jac-o-Bite at Glen Shiel and at the Pottery a mile south of Stratchcarron.

River crossings

Most river crossings were bridged and the bridges in a safe state.

There is a bridge across the River Carnach, after Sourlies at NM865964, which is in need of repair but appears usable with care (I walked over it and back)

We had river crossing problems at :

NG928107 where the river coming off Buidhe Bheinn meets the Allt Coire Mhalagain (day 5)

NG934163 where the Allt a Chiore Chaoil meets the Allt a coire Uaine (day 5)

NH006265 where the Allt na Laoidhre meets Allt a Ghlomaich (day 6)


I'd bought a few new bits of kit for this walk.  Most of them performed well.

Neoair Regular - This was good once I got the hang of inflating it hard enough.  It takes me more than the dozen man sized puffs stated in the literature.  Maybe that's for the small one.  The first time I used it, it felt like a water bed but I think it was a bit soft.  It requires 20 of my sized puffs. It's quite narrow but I've got used to that.  I think it was probably worth the money.  It would be interesting to try the larger size.

Skin So Soft  - This just didn't work, well not as a midge repellant.  The chap who runs the cafe at Kinloch Hourn said it didn't work for him either

Skin So Soft + Lavendar Oil (as suggested by Alan Rayner) - This didn't work either but it does make sweaty armpits and socks smell a lot nicer!

Garmin Geko 201 GPS - this worked very well, though the stated accuracy was quite low in some areas surrounded by high mountains.  Don't know if that is usual for this sort of device.  It usually found the satellites in under a minute.  Anyway, it did what I wanted, which was to confirm where I was, is very small and light (88g) and is a doddle to use.  My son reckons that the eTrex H finds the satellites a bit quicker than the Geko.  My experience is that the Geko takes up to a minute to find them, unless it is completely lost and you accidentally press the wrong button, when it takes 20 while it seems to scan the entire universe for signs fo life.

Evernew Titanium cooking pot - There are good reviews of these coming out in the press but I was a bit disappointed with mine for a couple of reasons.  The metal is so thin that it doesn't disperse the heat from a pocket rocket very well.  If all you want to do is boil water, it works fine but heating up rice or a non-freeze dried bag meal usually ends up with food burnt on the bottom of the pan, even if you use very low heat.  I've read since, that titanium is a poorer conductor of heat than aluminium, so the heat won't disperse across the pan base as quickly.  It's probably better with a wider diameter burner but that would add weight to the overall setup, which makes you think you'd be better of sticking with a pocket rocket and aluminium pan. 

Also, the lid flips over sometimes if you don't place it on the pan too carefully and then it's a faff getting it the right way up without burning your fingers.  Finally, the plastic sleeves on the handles could do to be a bit longer.  When they get warm the plastic softens and they slip, so it's possible to end up holding the metal bit, which can be hot.

TravelTap - I blogged about this last year but it's worth saying here that I still love it and the convenience of having fresh tasting, pure water instantly from just about any water source.

Osprey Exos 58 rucksack - I love this rucksack.  I love the pockets.  I keep my wet whether gear in the main one on the back (front?), GPS and day snacks in the mesh ones on the hip belt. water bottles in the mesh side pockets and a ton of stuff in the top and side zip pockets.  If I pack it right, I can go the whole day without having to open the top to get into the  main compartment.

MemoryMap and Ortlieb A5 map case - I cribbed this setup from Alan Sloman after the Moffat-Peebles debacle.  Rather than buy expensive waterproof paper to print from Memory Map, print on standard A4 paper, fold it in half and use an Ortlieb A5 map case, which is both a convenient size and totally waterproof.   I kept the maps I wasn't using for the day in a ziplock plastic wallet inside the drysack inside my rucksack.  Previous day's maps can be easily disposed of, e.g.as emergency bog paper or for setting fire to things!

There are two things I need to sort out still.  One is a way of keeping my feet drier and the other is experimenting with some freeze dried food.  Last time I tried this stuff, 15 years ago probably, it was disgusting but it sounds like it may have got better.  My daily food ration currently weighs around 750g, which for 4 days feels too heavy - at least I wouldnt complain if it was lighter, as long as what I was carrying tasted ok and didn't leave me feeling hungry.


The Odyssee said...

That's a good post. Extremely helpful. Thanks for that.

Yes i agree with you about the Skin so Soft with the Lavender in.
At the Duddon Valley fell race last year and this year it worked and we didn't get bit. But on the Rob Roy way it didn't work for us either and we were badly bit.
The Lakeland midge must be wimps in comparison to their brethren across the border.
Well at least we now all agree.
I will be trying Incognito repellant next.

Alan Sloman said...

That's very useful information Tony. Might be a good idea to re-word the title of the post so that Google picks it up - that way more people will find it when searching for help on the CWT.
"Skin So Soft" has never worked for me either!

Pennine Ranger said...

Good idea Alan. Have done.

Maz said...

Very useful post. I have found the NeoAir slightly annoying this year although I applaud the innovation of it. I've got a couple of new mats to test this winter and then I'll see what the spring and summer of 2011 bring in terms of new mats. Either way, it'll have to fit in with my bivvy and tarp set-up next year. Nice blog and thanks.