Thread: The campfire
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Old 19-02-2016, 02:50 PM   #57
old_stag
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A Haunted Bothy
Part One - Getting There

It was September 2013. I had spent two nights at the utterly magical Sandwood Bay in the far North-West of Scotland and now my wanderlust pulled me northwards to Cape Wrath the most North-Westerly point of the British mainland.
There were no paths as such. This was wild country. Described in early maps simply as "Where wolves dwell". Still I pulled up steeply from Sandwood into the bleak moorland that comprises the Cape Wrath Area.
Looking back from on high. Sandwood, what can I say? , true beauty lies there.


It wasn't a long distance in miles to the Cape, but it was a full day, crossing boglands and being amazed at cliff-top views. A couple of hours after leaving Sandwood I arrived at Strathchailleach Bothy.
This remote cottage was home to a man called James McRory Smith for over thirty years. I won't tell his story here, but I will show you his art. He painted inside the cottage, and this is a picture of the kitchen.

I have been here a few times and had nothing but good vibes from the bothy and general area. In short, go there.
It had been great weather up until now but as the terrain got tougher, the weather got worse. I would end up being soaked and buffeted by high winds for the second part of my journey.
I kept close to the cliff edges...mesmerised. This is incredible country.


From those cliff-top views, a steep descent followed into a boggy area that was fenced off by the Ministry of Defence, as the whole Cape is a bombing area.
I got down and into the bog and up into the next hill range. The wind and rain were really battering me now and I was stumbling along with laces untied, my usual sign of being too over-tired to think straight.
As things worsened I decided not to head for Cape Wrath lightouse but for Kearvaig Bothy, on the north coast about two hours walk east of the lighthouse.
Once or twice I thought I saw the bothy. The first time it was a burnt out army personnel carrier used for target practice, the second a a sentry box. Of course due to my tiredness I saw what I wanted from my map rather than reading it correctly.
Eventually I stumbled out onto the single track road that cuts across the Cape. I have to admit I bent down and kissed it, as I was so glad to get out of the boggy moorlands surrounding it.
I turned right and followed the military road. Eventually or so it seemed I came to the turn down to Kearvaig Bothy.
As I walked down the steep track to the bothy, tired and emotional, I couldn't help but notice that there were a lot of footprints leading down there, but only seemed to be one set leading back up....
Finally utterly exhausted the bothy came in sight..

As I stumbled down the track, a door in the bothy opened, and a wizened older man in full camouflage gear shouted at me in a very strong Eastern European accent, "Tea will be ready in five miuntes!"
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"I know corries in Argyll that whisper silken to the wind with juicy grasses. Corries where the deer love to prance deep in the cool dew and the beasts of far-off woods come in bands at their seasons and together rejoice." from John Splendid by Neil Munro

Last edited by old_stag; 19-02-2016 at 03:09 PM.
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