Close this search box.


CWT: Day 8, Strathcarron to Coire Fionnaraich Bothy, 7 miles

The rain continues, but the trail is easy.

I sleep like the dead and waken to mist rising off the loch and mountains beyond. The beeb reports rain straight on for weeks, but right now, anyway, it’s sunny. I’ve come to learn you can’t entirely trust the weather report.

We drive along the loch perfectly reflecting the surrounding mountains on a one-lane road with numerous passing places. No one can afford to be macho here; you simply have to pull aside to let others through. The lay-by is almost full of cars likely because as Sandra told us, this is a beautiful trail.

Definitely not at the start in muck and wet cutting through yellowing bracken. We’re so used to it now, we simply tuck in and climb, heading steeply up away from the River Carron.

It’s hot and humid and I’m soaked through with sweat in the bright sun. This can’t be right, I think.

And it’s not. The map which I hadn’t bothered checking has us on the other side of the river. It’s wild and rushing with no possibility of crossing except back at the car.

We try not to slip heading back and see the obvious public path sign taking us through gnarly, moss-covered oaks and ferns, changing color for the season.

The view from the Old Manse as the weather cleared.
Dew at the car park.
Well-signed footpath.

This is a decidedly easier trail, built up with stepping stones and a very easy grade. We easily talk the entire way, taking us less than an hour to reach a bridge missing many of its slats and finally the large stone Corie Fionnaraich bothy.

It was built in 1913 for the fourth deer stalker of the estate, a Mr. K. Maclennan. A photograph shows a dapper balding gentlemen with a bushy mustache and his strongly built wife wearing a fox he killed just for her around her neck.

For his work maintaining the path and other tasks required of a fourth stalker (or hunter) he received the use of this house, sheep, a sheep dog, a cow or two, and a deer fence to protect their potato garden. It’s a lovely place looking back down the glen and tucked beneath several Munros.

There are two common rooms below with large windows and two above, though no bunks. We claim a room, planning to leave gear and continue up towards a loch. But just as we leave, it begins to rain.

I’ll pause here to remind us all that we have become accustomed to non-stop rain. It’s simply part of the experience. And yet Ted and I make faces at each other, saying why bother.

Oaks and birch covered in moss.
Autumn coming.
A good path and footbridge (missing a few slats)

Again, being here at this bothy in the heart of the Highlands with a rushing stream and Munros in a row, we’re already ‘there.’

We sit at the window and make tea, just as six older people show up one at a time, drenched and happy for their walk, but ready for lunch out of the weather. We tell them what we’ve done so far and they say it was an extraordinary summer with no rain or midges.


I counter this is so different from anywhere I’ve been, I’m happy for the challenge – if I survive. As they leave, they promise to keep an eye out for my survival or demise and we laugh.

When the rain pauses, I waddle out in my flip flops, picking my way carefully down well placed stones to collect water. Two more drop in, young women in tights and strong boots who gave up a Munro 2/3rds the way up since nothing could be seen. They warn us about the stalkers and we realize we really aren’t supposed to stay here during stalking season. To this, the taller of the two tells me the client is quite fancy and likely wouldn’t stay in a cold, empty bothy.

The bothy and our lovely home until midnight anyway.
Safe inside.
A very (very) short garden seating.

Empty of whisky, sadly, but we have dinner and cook it up as the rain stops and mist creeps in, wiping out any trace of scenery. We take the chairs outside for a moment, before drizzle returns and chases us inside. A candelabra warms the dark corners and I fall asleep to the river’s song, hoping tomorrow might bring back the sun.

Two minutes to midnight, the door bangs open and a Scottish couple with the thickest accent walks in with bikes, loud and crashing.

“We’ve walked all the Munros and now we’re walking the Corbetts!”

They tell Ted the rain will be continuing and proceed to build a fire, so he grabs up our clothes out of the way. Friendly enough, but wow! Out biking in this weather at this hour? And so loud. (until 2:30 or so) A different world, this.

Ted tells me the man assures him no one can expect to sleep in a bothy. Not with them, one can’t. Funny, in the four others we had lovely, polite neighbors.


The lovely Munro walkers.
Coire Fionnaraich.

8 Responses

  1. Alison, I love reading about your adventures, and congratulations on getting through the health event. It’s holiday time and I’m sad that Eve is so resentful right now (a week before Christmas?) that she has to double down on the Scotland event by writing on your blog. 😞 I will keep Eve in my thoughts. Something awful must have happened to her along the way. 😞
    How do I deal with bullies? I have run into bullies on the trail who don’t want to share the campsite. Also hikers who blow by really fast, practically mowing me down while wearing a scowl. Again, so sad! Both incidents I’m remembering happened in sublimely beautiful places – Lake Agnes on the Superior Hiking Trail and in the Sierras on the PCT.
    I respond by ignoring. Life is so incredibly short. I keep these folks in my thoughts and hope for better things to come for them. 💕 Cheers to you Alison & keep hiking!

    1. What a beautiful attitude, Steph! I wonder the same thing, what caused her to be so unhappy?! And, yes, I have met hikers who were cranky and then some of the most lovely people ever. You tend to remember those lovely ones – and the stunning spot on trail where you met and chatted or shared some trail mix or offered a hand. Recently I had a pleasant exchange with a local in NH and we hiked together for a day, even though I’m sure I slowed him down! It made the day extra special to experience it together – and also fun talking because he had a super thick Northeastern accent!

  2. Hope with that attitude Karen you never come north to experience Scottish hospitality. Its this energy that explains why England doesn’t have such a generous and wonderful bothy network.

    If you wanted a guaranteed quiet night, should have camped.

    1. So Eve is your name!

      I know it must be hard to read something negative about yourself in a public space, Eve. You’ll be happy to know I enjoyed Scottish hospitality many nights while hiking the Cape Wrath Trail. Sadly, that night shared in the bothy was not one of them

      But don’t worry too much, considerate people as well as entitled assholes exist in all cultures.


  3. I’m very slow catching up . . . .but that WINDOW! SO Andrew Wyeth I can’t believe it.

    Glad you survived the Scottish couple. Are late night, noisy people a sign of cultural disparity . . . . or are they just rude? I don’t know.

  4. Truly fabulous photos, Alison; so enjoy your descriptions of all things wet and wondrous. North Shore has been socked in for a solid week, wishing we’d see some of your lovely rainbows here. Good wishes for amazing trekking in the days ahead. Appreciate the sampling aspect. Thank you for sharing your adventures!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow in blissful footsteps

Sign up for the newsletter,
and don’t miss a single step!

Follow in blissful footsteps

Sign up for the newsletter,
and don’t miss a single step!