Our final day of the walk dawned with a mixture of excitement and sadness. Sandwood Bay was twinkling in the morning sunshine as we packed our tent and headed up over the sand dunes, looking round every now and again to etch the view in our memories until next time.
We climbed up over the dunes, hopping over marsh, bog and streams to reach Strathchailleach bothy.
This bothy is famous for previously being inhabited by a ‘hermit’, James McRory-Smith, known as Sandy, until the late 1990s. Much is made of this, and although I think the story is nice, I did think it was overblown somewhat with tributes to him in the bothy book from people who never knew him, gawping at his lifestyle of no gas, electricity or telephone, making only occasional walks into Kinlochbervie seven miles away to collect his pension and stock up on basic necessities. It was interesting though, especially to see his paintings on the walls of the bothy.
We headed on after a break, over the rough and rugged moorland of Cape Wrath and our final stretch towards the lighthouse. It wasn’t as hard going as we had feared – probably because the conditions were fairly dry underfoot. This could be a lot tougher in the wet and rain. We passed many pretty lochans with flowering plants (I don’t know the name of the plant at the time of writing).
We walked right into a bank of fog just as we reached the MOD boundary fence, with it’s rather unfriendly signage 😀
But the fog soon cleared to give uplifting views to the headland:
It was here we suddenly noticed a guy coming towards us at a breakneck walking speed. He stopped to chat – he had been walking the Scottish National Trail in stages and was also on his last day. He sped off, leaving us in his wake. Well, I suppose he didn’t have a full pack! 😀
And then finally, the Cape Wrath lighthouse came into view!
And then, after reaching the road for the last stretch, we were there. Our walk had formally ended!
The sun had come out again and we went inside the Lighthouse cafe, had soup and a sandwich and bought a Cape Wrath trail t shirt – cheesy maybe, but had to be done! We chatted a bit more with the guy who had passed us – he turned out to be only the 16th person to have completed the Scottish National trail. We sat and swapped stories while waiting for the minibus that would take us to the ferry point.
We had planned to stay the night in Kervaig bothy, but having learned from several people that there was quite a gang of folk staying there this weekend, we decided we would save that for another day and head to Durness instead.
We got on the minibus – a journey of 11 miles that took an hour – and caught the ferry across the Kyle of Durness.
We arrived across the Kyle and walked the last few miles along the road into Durness.
We booked in at a bunkhouse there and headed straight out to the pub where we had a great meal and got overexcited by ordering all kinds of celebratory drinks!
It was a fantastic walk that tested our mettle at times but was so utterly rewarding. The north-west of Scotland is a stunning area and you simply cannot experience it properly from the road. The memories will stay forever.