Mainland Britain’s most north westerly point; it’s an adventure just to get there!
Distance from Mey House: 99 Miles
Google maps link: http://goo.gl/maps/mM11R
The name Cape Wrath is derived from the Old Norse for “Turning Point” and until relatively recently the area was home to a small but thriving community. Today it is a deserted and desolate headland edged by mighty cliffs and host to Europe’s only live aircraft bombing range.
We used to holiday in Durness so making the additional effort to visit Cape Wrath was not a problem for us. We would drive the couple of miles to the slipway at Keodale, take the ‘ferry’ across the Kyle of Durness and then take the ‘bus’ to the tip of the headland to enjoy the views, marvel at the lighthouse and enjoy a cup of tea at the Ozone Café. If the truth be told, the ferry is nothing more than a small crabbing boat piloted by a local waterman, the bus is a rickety old Sherpa van that is most definitely passed its best and the Café is housed in one of the old outbuildings of the lighthouse! Whatsmore, the journey across the Cape is made on a very poorly maintained track way right across a military training ground.
The land of Cape Wrath may look a little desolate to the untrained eye but it is actually a very special environment. Being largely untouched by man, it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Protection Area for birds and areas of the coastline have been designated as a Special Landscape Area. The drive across the Cape (or the Parph to give it the correct nomenclature) is an experience in itself and assuming your back and bottom survive the bumpy journey to the lighthouse you should be prepared to be blown off balance as you step off the bus by the fearsome winds that often blow up there. If it is a windy day you would be well advised not to get too close to the cliff edges as it has been known for the unwary to be lifted clear off the ground (the cliffs are the highest in mainland Britain, towering 900ft over the roaring north Atlantic and they can create quite an updraft)!
The lighthouse that sits at the point of the headland is actually not that tall (it doesn’t need to be) but you have to admire the tenacity and doggedness of the men that built it way back in 1828. It is automated today but it was one of the last manned stations only losing its lighthouse keeper in 1998.
You have to really want to see Cape Wrath to go there, it is most definitely not for the casual visitor! Reflecting upon our own experiences, I would have to say that the trek makes the arrival at the destination more rewarding; take the trip for yourself and see if you agree with me!
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: It can be expensive; we last went in 2009 and if my memory serves me correctly, the trip cost around £20 per person (it’s worth noting that the fee is paid separately to the ferryman and bus driver; cash only). The ferry runs 7 days a week May to September and there are two sailings at 11 AM and 2.00pm (mid-season) with more in high season. There are no advanced bookings so call ahead for sailing info (01971 511246).
GREAT FOR: The adventure of getting there.
RECOMMENDATION: Take plenty of midge spray if the wind is calm.