Walking Home

reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

Walking to Cape Wrath, Day 24, June 3, 2022

June 3rd, 2022

Walking to Cape Wrath, Day 24, June 3, 2022

Quite possibly the most beautiful walk I’ve ever taken. Woke early as the Munro baggers were itching to get started and my bunk was just above theirs—had coffee with them later, a good lot. I was the only one walking out what for many is the last leg of the Glen Affric Way. I was expecting more bog hiking, but after a few kilometers was surprised by a well-benched track that held through the day, and what a day. I began walking up the watershed of the Allt Beithe Garbh, but so subtly, the flow changed to the west and I spent the rest of the morning descending with the Allt Grannda.

The wind had picked up in the night, coming in with the rain, so the early morning was brisk, cloudy, and damp, but it was clear the skies were going to clear, so I bopped along at a rolling pace. After a few clicks I passed a simple bothy and had a short but pleasant conversation with a couple who were finishing the Glen Affric Way that day. They were lingering over morning coffee before heading out.

Later in the day I encountered mountain bikers heading up the glen, and, closer to Morvich, the walkers were out in force. One part of the path crossed a cattle pasture with some highland cattle (or some hybrids I suspect) which included a glowering bull and many calves. I passed warily, but he seemed unconcerned, as he would be, given the place he gets to live. Later the path joined a land rover track that quickly brought me to the Morvich Campgounds, a short day earned by going long the previous two. Shower, laundry and a long walk to the Kintail Lodge for a huge meal and obligatory pints.

It must have been the combination of a well formed path, the beginnings of sunshine, the narrowness of the glen, the height of the mountains, and the non-stop waterfalls—each more impressive than the last— that turned the day exquisite. It is difficult to mark a tipping point, that move from a painful, difficult walk, to a tiresome trudge, to a lighthearted amble, to something that is close to pure joy—but that line was crossed today.

T. Hugh Crawford