Cape Wrath Lighthouse

Cape Wrath Trail: Day 10 – Sandwood Bay to Cape Wrath

I had managed to pitch my tent 10.00 kilometres “as the crow flies” from the Cape Wrath lighthouse. This is the sort of thing that pleases me; I am easily entertained. Of course, I wouldn’t be walking in a direct, straight line to the lighthouse, and I wasn’t convinced that crows fly in a straight line either, but it felt certain that I would get to the end of my hike today.

I was up early and climbed north above the bay before embarking on the walk east to Strathchailleach Bothy. There was one final suggestion of a river crossing here, but I was not in the least bit worried about it. In fact, I would find the walk through the heather and the bog harder than the final river crossing, and even then it was never as bad as the bog that I found on the first day out from Glenfinnan.

I got rained on one last time. I enjoyed it, in a strange way it would have felt somehow wrong to have ended the trip on a completely dry day.

Strathchailleach Bothy itself is an interesting place. I chose not to disturb the person sleeping in one of the rooms, but I had breakfast in the other two. It had been someone’s home until 1994. James “Sandy” McRory Smith was a hermit who had lived at the bothy for over 30 years. This place may have been less isolated than Maol-Bhuidhe, but it would still be a hard place to be come winter. The reclusive Sandy had spent his years with a simple, but tough life out here, indeed his story is an interesting one. For my own part, I was envious.

I left a message in the Bothy Book, as i had done in the previous book 4 years, 1 month and 1 day before. With a slight shroud of melancholy I shut the bothy door and walked towards the lighthouse that would mark the end of my own simple journey.

These past ten days had been tough at times, but they had been simple and good. My worries have been about shelter and warmth and water. My frustrations have been about the weather, the midges or my own carelessness. My mistakes have affected no-one but me. I have had the most incredible adventure. I’ve walked through glens and passes that people travel from all over the world to see. I’ve walked far from people and close to the grazing deer. I’ve seen the rain cross the glens and the clouds disappear to reveal mountains and rivers in a way that no photo will do justice. I’ve passed one of the tallest and most remote waterfalls in the country. I’ve crossed over some of the oldest rock and complex geology in Europe. I’ve watched the sun set behind the sea from one of the cleanest and most unspoilt beaches in the United Kingdom. I’ve come from the statue that marked the start of a rebellion to the most north-westerly point in mainland Britain. And soon I would have to trade it all for an easier, but far more complicated life back in Cambridge.

I crossed into the military training area. This felt like the last point where it was possible to fail to reach the lighthouse. The red warning flags were absent, so no exploding today thank you very much. I walked due north towards Dùnan Mòr and beyond it to the lighthouse.

It was a cold, cloudy and windy end to the Cape Wrath Trail. I took some photos of the lighthouse and sat and waited in the lonely little cafe in a nearby building for the first minibus of tourists from Durness to arrive. As they did, the man who lives at the light house, John, opened the opened the shutter and served me a cup of tea from Britain’s most desolate cafe.

I took the minibus back towards Durness, getting the ferry over the river. It was strange to be travelling using something other than my own two feet. I resisted the attempts by the other visitors to take a lift back to Durness. The sun was shining and this would be my last opportunity to walk this wonderful land for quite a while.

I had a nice pub meal and staying at a guesthouse meant a shower and a bed for the night, but by morning I knew I would already miss the wild.

Cape Wrath Lighthouse
The lighthouse at the end of the world.

Today I Learnt: All about Cape Wrath Lighthouse.

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