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  • Writer's pictureHiker Heather

Cape Wrath Trail : Introduction & Full Kit / Gear List

Updated: Sep 25, 2022


Hey! It's been a wee while since I posted over here on my blog! I had fully intended to blog about my beautiful (but sometimes brutal, due to the weather) time spent on the Isle of Skye, climbing the Skye Munros/ Cuillin Ridge but admittedly I have become completely immersed in my preparations for the Cape Wrath Trail since my return, and I hope to leave for Fort William, the start of the Cape Wrath Trail tomorrow(!!!!)(btw - not complaining about this at all, if you know anything about me then you will know that I love nothing more than planning for and preparing for an adventure - it is my jam, completely!). This adventure sure took some planning on this logistical side of things, I mean you need to take a tiny passenger boat/ ferry at both the beginning and end of the Trail and let's not forget the small fact that you also need to hike through a military firing range on the last day of the trail, so plans need to be in place to avoid any potential dates that the range might be in use by the Ministry of Defence (!)... I plan to write about the full logistics of the Trail, including my itinerary and so forth, in a future blog post but for now, here is a little introduction about the Trail and a full breakdown of all the gear and kit that I will be carrying with me on this epic journey of a lifetime...


What is the Cape Wrath Trail?

Whilst the Cape Wrath Trail may have become my little obsession over the past few years, you may well be wondering what the heck even is the Cape Wrath Trail?! The Cape Wrath Trail is a long distance hike through some of the most remote areas in Scotland, the trail is around 250 miles long and it takes the average backpacker around 2-3 weeks to complete. The trail starts in Fort William and ends at the northwesternmost point of mainland Britain, Cape Wrath...

The route is completely unmarked and there is no official line, with many variants to chose from when selecting your route. It is considered to be a route for very experienced backpackers only, due to the nature of the terrain and level of navigation required. The route leads you across most of the wild north west coast of Scotland via Morar, Knoydart (dubbed the Rough Bounds), Torridon and Assynt, winding through various stunning glens and over mountain passes. Backpackers hiking the Cape Wrath Trail will be required to be self-sufficient for the majority of the Trail since there is little in terms of civilization throughout the Trail. This Trail is indeed considered the most difficult long distance hike in the UK consisting of notorious chest deep bogs, vicious river crossings that may become impassable if in spate, the Trail often sees you crossing vast expanses of completely trackless terrain, the nature of the Trail will likely mean that you will be hiking alone for days on end, constant wet feet will be a given - some people even complaining of trench foot and various infections as a result, mobile phone signal and charging opportunities will be extremely sporadic at best and cannot be relied upon... sufficiently scared? Me too - but equal parts excited!!!!!!


Okay so, let's get into the gear that I will be carrying for the duration of the Trail...


Kit / Gear/ Clothing List

Honestly, not much has changed in respect of my main gear items since my original gear list post which you can find here but I still thought that a full breakdown detailing the all of the gear that I will be using, specifically for the Cape Wrath Trail, may be helpful for those that are perhaps intending on undertaking the trail at some point in the future. As always, gear is, of course, extremely personal depending on your own preferences and comfort levels but here are the things that I will be carrying with me -


Tent

I am, of course, taking the only tent that I own, my trusty MSR Hubba NX 1 person tent :) I use the standard pegs that came with the tent, I had wanted to upgrade and purchase the MSR Ground Hogs, however, funds just didn't allow on this occasion as I had already spent far more on gear for this trip than I had initially planned...

Sleep System

My usual sleep system -

1 . Sea to Summit Ultralight Sleeping Mat &

2. Thermarest Hyperion Sleeping Bag

I usually carry also a Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow also but this has developed a fault that I have been unable to repair so I have sent it back to Sea to Summit for them to assess. I wasn't therefore planning on carrying a pillow but then at the last moment decided that it was probably silly and that I should probably purchase a replacement to use in the meantime so I decided to go for the Trekology Ultralight Pillow which is a slightly cheaper option to the Aeros...

Cook System

Again, the same trusty old set up here -

1. MSR Pocket Rocket Stove

2. Snow Peak 700 titanium pot

3. Sea to Summit Spork

4. Lifeventure Collapsible Cup (this is a replacement since a mouse ate through my last one during one of my recent trips to Scotland!)

4. Dishcloth

5. Lighter (I will also take a couple of spare lighters)


Water Sytem

For water filtration, I take the Katadyn BeFree Water Filter and I take 2 x 1 litre plastic water bottles for carrying water.

Midges / Ticks

The dreaded Scottish midge and ticks.... these items will be my weapon of choice in an attempt to tackle/ deal with the little blighters -

1. Smidge repellent

2. Smidge midge head net &

3. Tweezers to remove any ticks (nice!)

Toiletries/ Hygiene

1. Mini toothpaste

2. Talcum powder to talc feet on an evening as I expect to have wet feet all day, every day so this will help dry them out once I get to camp

3. Bamboo toothbrush

4. Face wipes

5. Small microfibre cloth that I will use as a towel when bathing in streams/ if at a campsite

7. Mini shampoo, hairbrush and hair ties which again, most people probably wouldn't bother with.

10. Deuce Ultralight Trowel, toilet paper, spare bags for packing out used toilet paper and hand sanitiser.

Another little addition that I purchased to arrive the day prior to my departure (!) is this Badger Foot Balm, it is meant to really help on long distance hikes and it also acts as a barrier when you have wet feet all of the time so I am hoping this may help, even just a little bit!!

Navigation/ Safety

I am taking the Harvey Maps Cape Wrath Maps (North & South) which I will use with my basic Silva Compass which also has an SOS whistle attached to it, in case of emergency, in addition, I am also taking the Garmin Etrex 32x which I have preloaded with GPX files for each of the sections, including any of the variants I may wish to take, I also have the OS Maps App on my phone which again, I have preloaded with the same GPX routes, just as a back up (overkill?!? not sure there is such a thing on the Cape Wrath Trail!). A new (very expensive) addition that I felt compelled to purchase for this trip was the Garmin InReach Mini 2 since I expect to be out of mobile phone signal for the majority of the trip, I felt it only wise that I carried an SOS device and I probably should have purchased one by now anyway... Just remember that the InReach devices from Garmin also require an active satellite subscription in order for you to use!


First Aid Kit & Repair Kit

I keep stuff to both repair my kit and myself in this bag, I mean, you can't really call it a 'First Aid Kit', a 'token gesture' would probably be more appropriate but you have to be realistic here, there is very little I can do say if for example, I break my ankle, again, this is personal and everyone takes different items in their 'First Aid Kit', so just take it as a pinch of salt... My token gesture includes -

  1. Antiseptic wipes

  2. A few Hot Hands - in case I need a bit of emergency warmth

  3. Leukotape

  4. Moleskin

  5. Compeed

  6. Vitamin I (Ibuprofen)

  7. Tenacious tape repair patches, animal shaped, obvs... (to repair down jacket, sleeping bag etc)

  8. Repair kit for my sleeping mat

  9. Strips of Gorilla tape (on grease proof paper rather than taking the full roll)

Electronics

In addition to the 2 x Garmin devices above -

  1. Goal Zero Venture 75 Power Bank

  2. Cables for Garmin InReach, my phone and the power bank itself

  3. Petzl Tikkina Headlamp - I've had this headlamp many years now, it is certainly not the most efficient/ bright/ lightweight on the market! If I were to replace my headlamp then I would probably go for the Nitecore headlamp, the Petzl Bindi is also an extremely popular ultralight option so I would probably recommend you researching either of these over the Tikkina.


Clothing/ Shoes/ Accessories

This is the clothing that I will be taking/ wearing -

  1. Base Layer - Sweaty Betty leggings and top (I will take a spare set of leggings and top also)

  2. Mid Layer - Arc'teryx Atom SL Jacket

  3. Down Jacket - Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer

  4. Waterproof Jacket - Arc'teryx Zeta SL Jacket

  5. Waterproof Trousers - Rab Downpour Trousers ****

  6. Patagonia Baseball Cap

  7. Buff

  8. Darn Tough socks plus a couple of extra pairs

Again, another little last minute purchase was these Black Diamond Lightweight Trail gloves, I bought these with the intention that they would protect my hands from both the midges whilst I am trying to cook etc and also protect my hands from the sun and my trekking poles whilst also providing a little bit of warmth when needed. I am also hoping that these will dry quickly should they get wet due to them being so lightweight...

**** 1 day prior to my departure I started to get nervous about my Rab Downpour Waterproof Trousers, I feel that they failed me massively whilst on the Isle of Skye and the weather is looking pretty poor for my first week on the trail so at the very last moment decided to purchase the Berghaus Paclite Goretex Trousers, so these will be the waterproof trousers that I will take instead...-


Food

Here is typical days worth of rations which I will also supplement with any food that I can get on trail - pubs/ shops etc, this includes -

  1. Porridge Mix

  2. 2 x black coffees with sugar

  3. 2 x snack bars

  4. 2 x SIS electrolyte tablets

  5. 1 x Starbucks Mocha or Ginger & Honey Tea

  6. Handful of nuts

  7. 1 x Chocolate Bar

  8. 1 x Dehydrated Meal

I have at the very last moment decided to send myself a resupply box, this will mean that I will carry around 6 days of food at a time.


All of which will be packed into my Gossamer Gear Mariposa Backpack (as seen below) :)

So, I guess all that's left to say is 'see you soon', as I shortly make my way up to Fort William and the start of the Trail! Don't forget to follow my adventure live over on my Instagram stories @hiker_heather :) See you on the other side, mate ;)


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