... a roughly 200 mile-long trail through the Scottish wilderness, which has been on my radar for quite a while. It ranks pretty high on my bucket list, together with the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland. Once the opportunity arises to tackle one of these hikes, I pick the Cape Wrath Trail after careful consideration.
The main reasons: The ridiculously expensive and complicated journey to Greenland as well as the cultural aspect. While I try to give big towns and cities on my hikes a wide berth, visiting a pub or fish'n'chips now and then to mingle with the locals is something I enjoy doing as it ads a bit of a social aspect to my solo-hiking, something I wouldn't have on the Arctic Circle Trail, which is 10 days through absolute wilderness. Whereas the landscape in Greenland might be a bit more impressive (that a matter of argument of course), the CWT offers the better "package" overall.
Being an unmarked trail through rugged and somewhat isolated terrain, partly without a visible path, CWT is demanding a fair bit of navigation skills and self-sufficiency. A welcome new challenge, which after hiking Te Araroa and the Swiss Alps, I hope to be ready to tackle during the months of September and October. After reading through several trip reports, a hiking duration of 14-20 days seems realistic, assumed no severe weather and injuries get in my way.
However, before even booking the flights, I check if the live firing activity at Cape Wrath, which will severely limit accessibility of the Cape. A quick reply from the responsible shooting officer confirms that shooting will take place during most of October at Cape Wrath Range. This means the only option for me is starting at the Cape in September and heading south. Not my first choice but in the end it really doesn't matter that much. The good thing heading south is the easier access to the trail head at the cape in September (with ferry service running only until September, weather conditions permitting), and the quick, predictable journey from Fort William, the end of the trail, back to Edinburgh Airport. So should the need arise, I could even finish the trail the day I fly out of Scotland. This wouldn't be possible if finishing at the Cape as it takes 2 or 3 unpredictable days to get back. For me, the biggest drawbacks of heading south are the Trail Notes, which are optimized for a northbound hike as well as the way more unspectacular finish in Fort William compared to the one at the cape of rage.
Beside the the firing times, even before starting with the detailed planning, I'm well aware that stag hunting can lead to closed trails or detours and the likely atrocious Scottish autumn weather might make for unpleasant nights and impassable rivers ...
But hey, wouldn't it be much less fun if everything was easy peasy lemon squeezy?
With this in mind I'm about to hurl my self into my next adventure, 25 days from End of September to Mid October. Check out my detailed planning for the trip, follow the adventure real time, starting September 25th, on my Follow me! page and stay tuned for a detailed trip report once I will have finished my hike!