The hardest part of the Cape Wrath Trail is how challenging and demanding it can be, but second to that is planning for the trip. If you have ever considered tackling the Cape Wrath Trail, you already know that planning is extremely complicated with little information, scattered in many different places.
After two years of endless planning, research and data collection (including on the ground), I have put together a 3 part bundle to get you ready for the CWT in no time. The goal is to offer all the information that is needed to plan a trip on the CWT while allowing enough flexibility without too much information. In the bundle I use my own route as the basis for the information, so if you choose another variation you might need to add some extra information. It is only £6.99 (around US$10) and you get a PDF file with 86 pages, a set of GPX files and a spreadsheet you can update for your own route.
This is the kind of bundle you print part of at home, according to what you need (like the list of all the buses and trains along the way) – I have specifically designed the ebook so that you can print any individual pages or chapters and take them with you. In addition to itineraries and route descriptions, there is extra information and points to consider when planning your trip from timing, to safety, to resupply points and more. Sounds good? Get yours now:
Not sure yet? Read some more:
What is in the bundle?
The bundle includes 3 parts, each of which is important to planning a good trip and mainly aimed at saving you time:
The heart of the bundle is an 86 page ebook (in PDF format) that includes an abundance of information to perfectly execute your Cape Wrath Trail planning . To save the trouble of explaining it all, here is the full table of contents:
As you see, it covers all the information you need and it is fully linked: you can just click on any of the hundreds of links for any accommodation, bothy page, resupply service and other service mentioned. This is the main reason I decided to offer the guide in an electronic version and not printed – you can just keep on researching/booking/emailing straight from the guide.
Also in the guide are 3 1:250,000 road maps based on the OS open maps to help you plan your route easily; and it is all in A4 so you can print them at home to mark any plans you have.
There are also 2 suggested itineraries: one for a fast 10 day trip based on my experience of what is possible on the trail and a second, 18 day trip that is what I would like to do with my wife! You will also find a short glossary with some of the Scottish words and names that are used often (i.e: Bealach=mountain pass).
Last, at the end of the guide you will find some inspiration photos to get you motivated to explore this amazing route.
Spreadsheets are rarely exciting (unless you are a formula/VBA geek!) but they are extremely useful in organizing information conveniently. Many choose to create a pre-trip spreadsheet to calculate distances, make notes about possible resupply points and more, but they rarely measure every single segment and create easy-to-read day segments. The spreadsheet offers (from the guide above):
A step-by-step description of my preferred route. It is in an Excel table format with 7 columns:
- Trail section – The length of a section that is between two distinct changes in the route (trail fork, accommodation point, peak) and has the same underfoot conditions throughout
- Walk section – The length between two potential night stopping points: camping spots, bothies, commercial accommodations etc. The end of a walk section is marked in bold (the whole row) and has the distance marked
- CWT total – the accumulated distance of the route to that point
- Landmark – the marking point to the end of this trail section: trail crossings, forks, gates, roads, bridges etc
- Trail conditions – the underfoot conditions of the trail section: 4×4 packed trail, wet and boggy narrow trail, trackless etc
- OS Grid – Ordnance Survey’s grid reference point to the trail section’s landmark
- Ascent/descent – A general ascent or descent (in vertical metres) with in this section. This is not all the ascent or descent, but the one big slope along the section
- Potential river crossing issues – mentions of the potentially dangerous river crossings in the section as mentioned in the river crossings chapter.
- Accommodation – possible stopping places at the end of the walk section as described in the accommodation chapter.
- Resupply – possible resupply points in the trail section as mentioned in the resupply chapter.
- Escape option – possible public transportation points to be used to leave the trail as mentioned in the escape routes chapter.
- Notes – which turns to take, possible dangers, issues with bridges etc.
This is an open spreadsheet so you can add rows or columns, add more information or notes to every section and change it as you wish. The best way is to add rows for route alternatives that you might choose.
Once you have updated the spreadsheet to your liking you can easily just print it and carry it with you on the trail, giving you all the information you need to decide whether to push forward with another trail segment or just call it a day.
The spreadsheet is the brains of this bundle and will really help in planning for your trip – just make sure to use it right and maximize it for your needs.
Creating GPX files takes a long time and when checking various possible routes for my own trips, I created many versions of them. To save you time, the bundle includes two possible trip itineraries (see the guide description) and added the GPX files for those two trips.
Use the GPX files in a navigation device or use a mapping software to edit the files for your needs or for the final route you choose, saving valuable time in front of the screen.
How to use the bundle
First, decide if you want it in miles or kilometres (just choose in the buy window), so you can be comfortable with the units and don’t waste time with conversions.
Next, use the following steps to make the most of it:
- Print the overview maps
- Read about all the alternatives and mark them on the maps – pick a variation that suits your ability and interest (or add your own, but that requires more work)
- If you picked my variation of the trail, it is the simplest….
- Read about when to walk the trail and deciding whether to walk north bound or south bound, decide when and where to start your trip (don’t forget to call the fire range and check for training in advance)
- Check the route description and try and asses how many days it will take you. Pay close attention to trail conditions and ascent/descent
- Finalize dates and start booking if needed: transportation, accommodation, etc
- Plan resupply points and make boxes (and don’t forget to send them out!) with your name and expected date of arrival
- Read about the safety challenges along the route and be prepared in terms of skills, gear and knowledge
- Train for the conditions, get any missing gear, and make sure your navigation, bad weather camping and physical ability are up to the task
- Pack your bag and enjoy this amazing adventure
- Come back and tell me all about your trip
Still stuck with your Cape Wrath Trail Planning?
If you are either stuck or not sure where to start, go back to how to use the bundle and think about your trip, about your limitations and interest:
- How much time do you have for the trail (no time limits? Only a week?)
- Can you walk the trail in the time you have?
- Do you want to walk the trail in the time you have?
From there it is much easier to pick up the pace. To make it a little easier, you can grab the chapter about “When to walk the CWT” for free so you can at least decide when to go.
You can also head over to my CWT page to read all about my two trips, get the trip reports and pick up on all my planning.
If you get the bundle, read all the guides and are still stuck, I can try and help with a one-on-one consultation, but it may be that the Cape Wrath Trail is too much for you for now.