Walk diary

I started the route proper on 6th July 2013 at 11am. I'm adding to this diary as the walk progresses.

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7th July

Camping on top of Stemster Hill; to my south-east, the sea, to my south-west, the first real hills, to my north, where I came from, and to the west, an endless expanse of flow country. 10 in the evening, and it's still light.

Some nice Scottish Wildlife Experience already - deer every day so far, seals before I reached Dunnet Head yesterday, at Ham and at Brough, a mole (I think) today and plenty of birds.

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Me at the official start yesterday, at Dunnet Head.

2013/07/07 00:00 · David Edgar · 0 Comments

8th July

Feeling a bit tired and hungry this morning, and seemed to be going slowly… Things improved in the afternoon, though, and with Ben Alisky as my target for the day I pushed myself on. Finally ready to pitch camp at 9.30. Midges have been on-and-off today, interspersed with these bigger flies, I don't know, horse-flies and the like. Love the wilderness up here though, barely any buildings, nobody around, hills in the distance with huge areas of marsh in front. Picking my way through has sometimes been a challenge, but dry feet today…

2013/07/08 00:00 · David Edgar · 0 Comments

9th July

Today started nicely with sun and a breeze. The wind continued, so there have been no midges all day. Unfortunately it also brought cloud down, and with it drizzle… So not a lot of visibility crossing Knockfin Heights, but I nevertheless managed to negotiate it (it's a peat bog with multiple peaty ponds in, which you can't cross straight…) Crossed a practically unused A-road at Forsinard, and camping on a hillock for the night.

2013/07/09 00:00 · David Edgar · 0 Comments

16th July

Weather took a turn for the worse and gave me strong winds, mist and rain as I entered the mountains. Looking a bit brighter today, but the wind remains. So slower going than I would have liked, hoping to get to Ullapool as soon as possible because I'm hungry! Too much camp food… Mountains beautiful though, nobody much here either… Saw a few hikers at the weekend just before reaching the Crask Inn, no-one else.

2013/07/16 00:00 · David Edgar · 0 Comments

17th July

Today's route took me to my first munro of the route, Conival, and to a Corbett, Breabag. I suspect Conival in particular was a very nice mountain - not that I saw any of it, since I've been immersed in fog, rain and wind the whole day. Really nasty… Now found a not particularly great spot to camp, and everything's kind of damp… Sodden clothes awaiting me tomorrow, and probably the day after too. Would love it to be sunny tomorrow, or at least dry anyway… I can but hope.

2013/07/17 00:00 · 1 Comment

I started the route proper on 6th July 2013 at 11am.

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2013/07/20 13:54

20th July

I'm on my first rest day in Ullapool. It's a rest from walking, but there are a lot of other things to do - buying food, fuel, gear, first aid stuff, and sorting things out while I have the opportunity of an internet connection on a PC.

I tried to fix the problems with the blog on the wiki. I haven't been using it properly… unfortunately there are a few broken links, and all the comments were deleted… but at least it may work better in the future.

2013/07/20 14:15 · David Edgar · 2 Comments

Summary of the first two weeks

After lots of planning, but still many things left unprepared, I set off on the preliminary bonus day from Duncansby Head on the 5th July and then officially from Dunnet Head on the 6th. I initially felt quite intimidated at the scale of what I had committed to that lay ahead of me, but focusing only on the first resupply / rest day helped.

After a few days, it became clear I was setting a good pace, 28km per day or so, and I was quite optimistic. The bogs turned out easier than I had feared, perhaps drier due to good weather.

Then tiredness began to hit, along with pains from my rucksack straps among other things. I realised I had to ease off a little…

As I got into the mountains, the weather deteriorated, but I got into a reasonable rhythm, doing somewhere just over 15km per day. I felt the gradual depletion of energy, however, having weak legs and tiredness in the mornings. I began to feel hungry regularly, and longed to arrive at Ullapool to get some proper food.

Meeting Chris Townsend, doing the Scottish watershed in the other direction, on top of Beinn Leoid, was great, especially given the small number of hikers you generally see here - I think less than 10 on the whole trip so far.

I saw deer practically every day, frogs everywhere, a surprising number of lizards, fewer midges than I'd have expected due to the wind (though the cleggs were nasty…), and a few other interesting natural sights.

How easy is it to follow the watershed exactly, and how much trouble am I going to in order to go the right way? Well, it's not always easy to follow the correct ridges over every knoll and mound. I haven't been as dedicated to total correctness as I could have been - I've certainly tried to get to all the main tops, even minor ones, and to go the right way around lochans and so on, but there's a limit… I've often taking an easier path rather than follow the very top of every ridge, and have avoided small bumps and so on. Given the inherent uncertainty about the exact course, and the deviations which are inevitable due to unsafe terrain, forestry and land use and ao on, I feel this is acceptable. I try not to cut too many corners, to go the extra distance where there's a meander etc. Certainly the actual distance I walk is more than the distance shown on my map - what with bog-hopping, navigating peat hags, finding a route up steep slopes and the like.

Rain makes a mockery of the idea never to cross running water - every stone, every tussock of grass has water running off it. And I, myself, am a watershed, shedding water from every hair, item of clothing and part of my backpack…

A hot and sunny weekend in Ullapool has helped dry things out after the miserable weather on the Conival / Breabag day, and I've managed to do and buy everything I need, I think. Spirits revived and stomach filled…

Still an immense amount of the route ahead, but I think I'm at least ready for the next week on to Kinlochewe.

2013/07/21 07:17 · David Edgar · 1 Comment

23rd July

Top day's hiking yesterday, four munros from Seana Bhraigh through to Beinn Dearg, plus a few subsidiary hills. I camped right on the summit of Beinn Dearg, so this morning I'm starting high… Looks another decent day today, the wind has died completely overnight. One day out of Ullapool is of course when I find that a few things need replacing or mending… But nothing critical, I'll be able to make do.

2013/07/23 09:22 · David Edgar · 0 Comments

26th July

Finally some sort of internet connection… Camping on top of another hill, after resupplying at Kinlochewe this morning.

Thunderstorm as I set off up the road, and a heavy shower later on - the ground everywhere is sodden.

Had a few good days in the Fannichs, though, did the stretch to Kinlochewe faster than I had expected. So I revised my estimates, and hope to get through to the Great Glen without needing to stop at Shiel Bridge. This does mean a heavy bag, though. And bad weather could slow me down.

2013/07/26 22:40 · David Edgar · 0 Comments

Diary archive

June 2018