Cape Wrath Trail – Day 10 – Sunday 25th May – Ullapool to Oykel Bridge

Ahh, we had a great breakfast at the B&B and it took a fair while to get going again.  After tanking our whisky supplies in Shenevall bothy the other night, it was imperative that we re-stocked since we would be passing no shops in the next few days.  What a pair of desperate dans we must have looked, going into Tesco first thing in the morning with full packs on, to buy a bottle of the finest Benromach!  We decanted it to our hipflasks and poured the rest into a water bottle to save weight, and finally left at 10am, the main job completed!

Ally, brandishing a bottle of whisky in the streets of Ullapool early on a Sunday morning!

Ally, brandishing a bottle of whisky in the streets of Ullapool first thing on a Sunday morning!

We had 20 miles ahead of us but it was all on straightforward paths.  Sadly the weather turned glum and gloomy again with the fine rain starting up.

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We passed a quarry on a minor tarmac road, walked past Loch Achall with some (thankfully) placid cows and their calves, and then walked alongside Loch an Daimh with Knockdamph bothy at the end where we stopped for lunch.

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There was a group of kids in the bothy with their two teachers doing their Duke of Edinburgh award and we chatted to the teachers for a bit (who were in a separate room!).  We had planned to wild camp this day at Oykel Bridge but as the weather was getting steadily worse and would mean a heavy wet tent, we decided instead to call it a day at the Schoolhouse bothy at Duag Bridge, a further 7km down the glen.

The scenery here was fairly dull (if I can have the cheek to call it that) as the cloud was so low, but at least the path was easy going after the horror we had been through.  The Schoolhouse was a lovely surprise – a tiny former schoolhouse turned bothy, beautifully kept and maintained by the MBA.  There is no fireplace here but the rooms are wood panelled which maintains the heat really effectively.  The MBA had completely restored the place in 2008 and it showed.

The Schoolhouse bothy

The Schoolhouse bothy

After tea we got cosied up in our sleeping bags, falling asleep after a few drams.  We had the place to ourselves, or so we thought until a guy popped his head in the door at about 10pm.  He was doing the crazy sounding Highland Trail 550 race, described in their webpage as

“…a long distance self-supported mountain bike time-trail route through the Scottish Highlands. For 2014 the distance is increased from 430 miles to 560 miles with the addition of a loop further north into Assynt. There is no entry fee, no prize money, and definitely no support.”

A grassroots race I liked the sound of (aye, but maybe not to do!)  We are overrun with massive and overbloated corporate ‘challenge’ races, charging phenomenal entry fees and full of rules, so this is so refreshing.  We expressed awe at this when the guy told us – he seemed, bizarrely, equally in awe of our trip!  He was not stopping though and headed off back out into the lashing rain.  Half an hour later another guy doing the race appeared – this time he was stopping, and since we were already in our beds he went into the wee room.  And then yet another mountain biker turned up at about 11pm, taking the final room!

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