Monday, 11 May 2009

Sunday - PART II The Cape Wrath Saga

As I left it is was looking very doubtful if I would get to Cape Wrath, with my broken chain, no ferrys running and the RAF bombing the road to Cape Wrath.

So I eventually reached the Kyle of Durness after 5pm, as I cycled down a long-descent I could clearly make out a boat crossing towards my bank, I frantically pedalled out to the jetty and found John (the Ferryman) just finishing his last trip. In a shouted conversation over the noise of his out-board motor it was clear that bombing would start by 11am, so if I wanted to get to Cape Wrath I'd have to go now.

En route across John plied me with a very palatable red wine, if you excuse the salty taste on the glass. It also transpired that halfway to the lighthouse was a bothy- a basic building to shelter in.

I took my chances, and the last drop of wine and agreed to meet John back at the jetty by 11am Monday. All I had to do was find and survive the 'haunted' bothy for one night.

The road was steep (two arrows on the map) and in a terrible state of repair, I barely made 5 mph up the long unrelenting climbs, with only the Red Deer keeping me company. The bothy turn-off lead to a steep and un-cyclable descent to an idylic sheltered beach. The Bothy was an old crofting hut but water-tight and had two camp-beds -some candles and a fire place.

My first job was to scour the beach for driftwood - very Robinson Crusoe- I even hummed the theme tune! Fire lit I decided that with failing light and no saucepans that cooking pasta was too ambitious so set about eating anything I'd brought with me,Chicken chunks, bacon I pre-cooked, peppers, choclate bars, last bit of John's wine which I'd decanted into waterbottle.

Suitable fortified I donned as many clothes layers as possible (at least 4 on all parts, including neoprene over-shoes and a duvet from my towel, and settled down to sleep.
By 12:30 the fire was out, pulled head-scaff into balaclava, 3am my water bottle fell over, was it the ghost? No, I turned on my headtorch to see a large mouse on my pannier(!). 4:30am and it was too cold to sleep, it was also getting light. Gave up notion of sleeping and packed up. Breakfasted on dry museli, energy drink and chocolate.

Track was too steep and rough to push laden bike up so I portaged panniers seperately.

The 4 miles to Cape Wrath crossed open moorland with small herds ot deer running free. By 6:10 I was at the lighthouse and with the last juice in my phone I got the picture of me at Britain's most remote extremity.

The two hours to retrace my steps was not long enough to meet John bringing the sentries over, so I had a 90 minute wait.-Cleaned bike, repacked panniers and watched as numerous Typhoon jets unleashed live bombs on Grunyard Island - loud blasts followed by clouds of smoke. All this and it wasn't even 9am!Rest of Monday on seperate blog.

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