Day 67: 29 May 2014; Kinloch Hourn to Shiel Bridge

Day 67: 29 May 2014; Kinloch Hourn to Shiel Bridge
Walk descriptor LEJOG2014 Day 67
Date Thu 29 May 2014 Start to end time 07h 21m
Start point Kinloch Hourn End point Shiel Bridge
Miles today 11.51 Cu miles 1,239.36
Ft today 3,350 Cu ft 172,681
Route miles left 262.79 Route ft left 31,128
Today’s weather Overcast all day. Dry. Cool in morning, warmer later. 16C in valley. Variable light wind
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Today’s location
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
GPX based track of today’s walk
(click here to access to access downloadable file)

This was the last of the four “big” post-WHW days: it was a relatively short hike from Kinloch Hourn to Shiel Bridge, but it traversed a high mountain pass and the route covered largely featureless moorland with no paths.   Well, at least that’s what my guidebook to the “Cape Wrath Trail” said, and this was indeed the latest long distance path I was following for this section my journey North.

I sometimes wonder if guidebooks make the hikes they describe deliberately sound difficult and dangerous, in order to deter people from doing them (that might not be a bad thing, in fact, in the case of the Ben Nevis hike).   But, although the route today was a bit tricky in parts, it wasn’t too difficult.   Actually, I really enjoyed it – the hills were blissfully quiet compared to the West Highland Way, and I only saw three or four other hikers all day.   I’d had a good night’s sleep in the excellent B&B at Kinloch Hourn so I was refreshed and made good time up to the Bealach at 2300 ft, reaching it in about 3 hours.

The path was rough to start with, then disappeared altogether, so I just made my way across the moorland in a direct line to the top.   I was very fortunate with the weather – cool with a light breeze to dispel the midges – and dry so the ground underfoot wasn’t too boggy.   The route also crossed a couple of rivers and I managed to get across by boulder-hopping and didn’t get my feet wet.   But if they’d been in spate, I think it would have been a different matter altogether.   I could see from the riverbanks how high they could get and I imagine after heavy rain they’d be pretty much impassable.

As I descended into Glen Shiel, hazy sunshine came through the clouds and the views back up to the Forcan Ridge (well known to climbers and hill-walkers) and across the glen to the Five Sisters of Kintail (a mountain range…) were stunning.  It seemed to be a pity to be passing through so quickly – there is so much here to see and explore, like so many places I’ve seen on this journey, it demanded a return trip.

Tomorrow it’s an easy day – a short, level hop round the coast to Ardelve.   So I’m planning on having a bit of a lie-in; maybe even until the breeze has picked up and the midges have blown away.   Well, you can always hope..

Note – full size pictures available now – originally I had to compress them owing to network connectivity limitations

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
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About to set off from Kinloch Hourn this morning Looking back towards Kinloch Hourn – a beautiful, remote, glen
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Vivid green mosses evidently thrive in the damp climate Looking up towards the Forcan Ridge, running down from The Saddle
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The path down from the pass at Bealach Coire Mhalagain This was one of the better stretches of the path – not easy on the feet!
Panorama over the Kintail mountains
The previous day’s blog follows below the blue line
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