Midges attacking my tent!

Cape Wrath Trail: Day 2 – Sourlies Bothy to Kinloch Hourn

I’d slept well, waking only to listen to a thunderstorm passing overhead. By morning the skies were grey and the wind had dried my tent. A good start to a boggy day.

I knew that the next stretch over the River Carnach and towards Barrisdale would wet. I squelched along through the bog until it started raining on me, and then I squelched along some more.

It wasn’t particularly hard going to begin with, it was just rather damp and I soon found myself wanting someone along with me. It was interesting to discover who I would want with me on a day like this. In some ways it makes you realise who is important to you, but at the same time if you care about someone, you probably don’t want them stuck in a bog in the rain in Scotland. Either way, the point came where I just needed a cwtch.

The approach to Barrisdale is, I think, one of the hardest sections of the trail. I mislaid the path, or perhaps there just isn’t one, on the sharp left turn up Gleann Unndalain. The rain made this section brutal; my waterproofs had no hope of keeping me dry. I felt that I was struggling to move forward to a reasonable pace, I could no longer keep myself warm, and even the mountain streams were difficult to cross – the stepping stones across them were all submerged under what seemed to be rather angry water. At times it felt the water was in a rush and was rather keen that I go along with it. I was not so keen on doing that. Cold, wet and tired of wading through, I decided that I might try and stop at a bothy or a bunkhouse somewhere near Kinloch Hourn and dry out.

The rain stopped at Barrisdale and I continued with a second burst of energy. It was lunchtime and only 11 km to Kinloch Hourn. It would turn out to be a rather long 11 km. Where the path wasn’t bog, it was clean, rocky, stream. It took me almost four hours to cover that distance, but with no rain I felt so much better about things.

I knew I was going to fall well short of my target of Shiel Bridge some 16 km further along, but I’d be dammed if I wasn’t going to cut at least a few more kilometres out of the deficit. Another short burst of energy saw me halfway up a hill and with absolutely nowhere suitable to camp. I carried on until found a spot next to a river. I’d have to cross it tomorrow but there didn’t look to be a decent spot to camp on the other side, and it looked like an easy enough crossing. It was still early but I was tired and unwilling to risk not finding a better spot. I was still another 4 km ahead of where I could have bailed.

At least being near the river gave me the opportunity to wash my shoes and socks. They were in a disgraceful state and almost destroyed already. The downside of being next to a river was that I almost got midged to death.

Midges attacking my tent!
I never dared to brave going back out for the evening after the midges turned up 🙁

Today I learnt: My tent is almost, but not entirely, midgeproof. There were tens of thousands outside my tent, but I still have to share my tent with another 50-100 of the blighters. I am currently stuck in my tent. Bugger.

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