Toby Sims is walking from Cape Wrath (on the north-west tip of Scotland) home to Hastings, for the joy of it,
and to bring the spirit of the wilderness home.

STAGE 1: CAPE WRATH TO ULLAPOOL

Majesty. Grandeur. Greatness.

That is the primary and most abiding memory of the first week of my walk. The experience is more than the landscape being beautiful or even spectacular; it’s something that just overcomes you…when you reach the summit of a mountain after a long slog and a vista beyond your wildest expectation opens before you…when you turn into a glen and find cliffs hundreds of feet high looming before you. It’s not just a ‘lovely scene’ but a deeply spiritual experience: you realise your own smallness compared to it all, you are forced to accept there is a greatness beyond your humanity.

Toby leaving a Pebble from the Stade in its new resting place

It all started so cheery at Cape Wrath Lighthouse, with everyone on the bus from the Durness ferry wishing me well. One of them accompanied me the first two miles until I had to turn off the track…

 Or more specifically, peat bog. You don’t actually have to like peat bogs to walk the Cape Wrath Trail, but you do have be to be willing to accept whatever they offer, which is usually two bootfuls of muddy water, the colour of insipid beer, laced with a generous helping of indigenous vegetation, generally sphagnum moss. There has only been one day when my feet were just ‘wet’, as opposed to ‘wringing wet’.

Picking my way through bogs, over boulders, up mountains…I find it so dispiriting when I look at my odometer and find that I am progressing at about one mile per hour.

My idyllic pitch beside the River Traligill

The pain, agony sometimes, of my ridiculously heavy rucksack, as it cuts into my waist and drags my shoulders down and back. But what am I to do? I have to take a week’s supply of food with me because I don’t expect to pass a single shop during the first seven days.

But then there’s the place, having pitched my tent in the evening, by a loch or a river, and I listen to the music of silence. My pitch on the River Traligill, near Inchnadamph, was the most idyllic of all.

I arrived on Day 6 at Oykel Bridge more physically exhausted than I have felt for at least thirty years: during the last four miles I had to stop every few yards to catch my breath. Yet to my surprise, after a day’s rest, I’m ready to continue; home calls me back to Hastings, but will I make it?

Follow me on www.walkhometohastings.net


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