Alasdair Meldrum’s success at Cape Wrath

Our very own Alasdair Meldrum, entered and completed the gruelling Cape Wrath Ultra. There was  the strange sight on day four of Alasdair running in his pants. He revealed: “I have bad chafing on my legs and it hurts to wear my shorts. I am alright without my shorts on and so today I am in my pants only.”

Calling it a marathon or even a race does not do it justice. It is an eight day endurance test covering 400 kilometers. Some say it offers a compelling ultra running challenge. 57 hours, 18 minutes and 27 seconds later, Alasdair crossed the finishing line in 6th position, out of a field of 86

Winding through the beautiful lochs, glens and mountains of the Scottish Highlands, the Cape Wrath Ultra is an ultra-running expedition through some of the world’s most inspirational landscapes, including Morar, Knoydart, Kintail, Torridon, and Assynt.

The Cape Wrath Ultra® is based on the Cape Wrath Trail, which is considered to be the toughest long distance backpacking trail in the UK. It crosses rugged landscapes and winds through genuine wilderness spending significant time away from civilisation. Hikers usually take at least 20 days to complete the trail.

Participants have none of the complex logistical worries that hikers traditionally encounter when embarking on the Cape Wrath Trail or other long distance footpaths, such as the Pennine Way. They are welcome to walk large sections of the route, however, the Cape Wrath Ultra® is ultimately an ultra running race; on the longest days runners will not be able to exclusively walk, in order to complete the route within the cut-offs.

It was always going to be a special event after this enforced pause caused by Covid, but because almost all the international participants had been unable to attend, and due to the disruption of the multiple postponements, the entries had dropped from a peak of 330 to 86.

Check out the official website with some great images and video.

Here’s what Alasdair endured.

The Route

Day 1 Fort William to Glenfinnan

Day 1 starts with a short ferry trip across Loch Linnhe sea loch onto the shore opposite Fort William. The running opens with a straight-forward warm up on a lovely road, headed South! But this is the key to accessing the remote western seaboard of Scotland, and on this day-end, the famous sights of Glenfinnan

Distance for day one is 37km

Day 2 – Glenfinnan to Kinloch Hourn

From the very start of Day 2 the route ascends into remote territory, and clips the end of Scotland’s two longest dead-end roads, both at remote sea loch heads. Even when you reach the overnight, you will be far, far away from civilisation.

Distance for day two is 57km

Day 3 – Kinloch Hourn to Achnashellach

This day is likely to be the hardest – though it is not the longest. It departs from the edge of Knoydart, passes through the large mountain and glen groups of Kintail, and reaches the wide straths (flat glens with big rivers) characteristic of Wester Ross. The Falls of Glomach are the most voluminous waterfalls in the Highlands

Distance for day three is 68km.

Day 4 – Achnashellach to Kinlochewe

On this day you will experience the mountains at their loftiest – all around you, with high rocky passes, and rough underfoot in the latter third. It is one of the only days where you will not be close to the sea

Distance for day four is 35km

Day 5 – Kinlochewe to Inverbroom

Despite the previous days of remote territory, climbing up out of Kinlochewe on Day 5 will not prepare you for the qualities of what lies ahead. Fisherfield’s mountains will steadily reveal themselves to you! And then you will work through great isolated mountain glens, eventually overnighting just short of the port of Ullapool.

Distance for day five is 44km

Day 6 – Inverbroom to Inchnadamph

This day escalates into some very remote and rough high ground, but is preceded by significant distances on double-tracks in the glens, and through prime Salmon-fishing country. Day 6 is the longest day, but for all those that have made it this far, this day will unlikely defeat you. (Inchnadamph is the highest overnight camp, at 80m, and one of the few that are noticeably not near sea level)

Distance for day six is 72km

Day 7 – Inchnadamph to Kinlochbervie

One of the longer days, Day 7 gives a great contrast of moor, mountain, and deep inaccessible sea lochs. Eas a’ Chual Aluinn is the highest waterfall in the UK. At the end of this day is a rare section of road for this journey – but you will remember it as a road that is taking you somewhere amazing, due to the achingly beautiful seaward views.

Distance for day seven is 61km

Day 8 – Kinlochbervie TO CAPE WRATH

So, this is the day that takes you along the glorious beach of Sandwood Bay, to The Atlantic Sea proper and on to Cape Wrath and the Lighthouse, the most north-westerly point in the UK: A day to savour. It’s a deliberately shorter day. After finishing here, there will be a gradual minibus and ferry evacuation back to civilisation in the village of Durness, 15 miles away, and a fitting sea loch coastal symmetry with the start, 8 days earlier.

Distance for day eight is 26km