13.5 miles – cloudy, misty rain, a few spots of sunshine
The Knoydart Peninsula is renowned as being the wildest, most rugged, most beautiful part of the Cape Wrath Trail – and the hardest walking. I had been warned of bad weather to come on the following days, so was anxious to get as much done today as possible.
The wind was getting stronger. On top of an exposed ridge I met a young woman coming the other way: “Are you doing the Cape Wrath Trail?” “I’m doing the end-to-end,” she replied, “Land’s End to Cape Wrath.” “So am I, Cape Wrath to Hastings.” So we compared routes and exchanged stories. I was delighted to find somebody else at it.
It was a steep climb from sea level to 18,000 feet; then a steep descent the other side. Near the bottom, in a patch of forestry, I unexpectedly came across an enormously tall fallen eucalyptus tree (no idea what it was doing there on its own amidst spruce and pine); it was so huge it had fallen across the zig-zagging path in two separate places.
It had taken me eight hours to walk the twelve miles to Kinloch Hourn, but that was the speed I was now beginning to accept. It was six o’clock, but I decided to push on a couple of miles. I’m so glad I did, because the rhododendron-lined path on the south shore of the loch. Loch Hourn, along with Coulin, rate as the two most exquisitely beautiful places on my walk so far.