Cape Wrath

The ferry that takes tourists to the Cape Wrath minibus.
Six people crammed into the "ferry" make
a full load.

To get to Cape Wrath, which regularly features in the midnight Shipping Forecast, is quite an adventure. There is a road - built in the 1950s and untouched since - but there is no bridge. The "ferry" is a little motorboat with room for four passengers and the driver. This takes you across to the other side of a sea inlet known as Loch Eriboll, where you are loaded aboard an ancient minibus, which seats 16, so you have to wait while the motorboat makes four trips!

The minibus sets off on a twelve mile trip through the naval firing range to the lighthouse and there is only one stretch of about a furlong where the driver dares to speed up into third gear. The rest of the bone-shaking way is accomplished in second gear - or first gear in the really bad patches.

It was pouring with rain on the way to Cape Wrath and impossible to film, so this is the return journey - an hour compressed into 7 minutes. The people we pick up half-way along had been dropped there on the way up as they wanted to spend time on the beautiful beach seen from a distance a little earlier in the film. The driver's commentary did much to relieve the tedium of the journey!

Cape Wrath is the north-westernmost point on the British mainland and features in the Shipping Forecast.
The lighthouse doesn't need to be very tall - it stands on top of a high cape.

The lighthouse is, well, a lighthouse. It is automatic, but someone has taken up residence in the former keeper's cottage and opens up when the minibus arrives to sell overpriced - but welcome - tea, coffee, biscuits and souvenirs. After half an hour the bus departs, the shop closes and the lighthouse is left to the seagulls until the following day.

When we arrived there was a somewhat damp and disconsolate hiker desperate for a lift back to the ferry. Alas the bus was full up and the driver held out vague hope that the afternoon bus would have room. My advice to hikers would be to book in advance or resign yourself to a long walk!