Through Knoydart to Kinloch Hourn
The second day of the Cape Wrath Ultra was a step up, in difficulty, remoteness and scenic grandeur.
Through the later part of the day the participants crossed Knoydart, an area known among Scottish hill walkers for its remote and rugged peaks. After passing through Glen Dessary to Sourlies Bothy the race route headed for CP2 at the mouth of the Carnach River, which the participants could access via the beach and foreshore. (A very welcome change from the boggy tracks.)
Staff here had taken a boat into the CP where there was a 16.00 cut-off, so anyone late would have a long journey out by boat with them, and then another long trip by car to rejoin the race. The only participant to take this unwanted trip was Sherif Hampton who was moving too slowly to continue and struggling with the navigation of the route. He was picked up in the boat as the first retirement from the race and the news is he’s very tired, but otherwise fine.
All the other participants continued northward towards Barrisdale Bay, passing between the rocky peaks and navigating a section of trackless route to reach Loch Beag. The trail then swung back Eastwards along the loch shore and although this was a low level path it proved to be one of the hardest parts of the day. The track was narrow, rocky or boggy, and the constant ups and downs were hard at the end of a long day. Descriptions of the final 8km along the shore were “unending”, “relentless” and “exhausting” and as the path wound in and out everyone kept thinking camp was around the next corner ... and the next ... and the next.
While it may have been hard it was an immensely rewarding day in magnificent weather. Marcus Scotney who was the fastest on the day still found time to stop to take a few photos and said, “You have to make the most of days like this in Scotland!” The good news is the forecast is for more of the same tomorrow and Shane Ohly says the scenery just gets better and better as the race moves northward.
Louise Staples described the scenery as, “Beautiful and absolutely stunning,” and Jenny Davies said, “It’s been an unbelievable day. I thought I knew Scotland, but clearly not!”
The finish location at Kinloch Hourn was a fitting end to the day with the camp set up at the end of the loch and surrounded by crags and forested hillsides. It was bathed in low evening sunshine as the runners continued to come in, and most sat outside to eat their food before getting to sleep in the Berghaus Air Haus tents.
Some even struggled with the heat of the day. Alex Reilly said he had to stop at a river and douse his clothes to cool off and Kevin Stephens said. “I realised I was getting a bit dehydrated and even though it was close to the finish thought it best to stop and drink, because there is always tomorrow to think about!”
Tomorrow is on the mind of many this evening as it’s a very long day (68km), described on the map as ‘likely to be the hardest, though it is not the longest”. After a day which has stretched many of the participants they will be eating, resting, stretching and trying to get the best night’s sleep they can in the wonderful setting of Kinloch Hourn, to be as ready as they can for day 3.
Words by Rob Howard @ Sleepmonsters