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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1st August

Slowed down, mainly by poor weather for the past few days since Kinlochewe. Made it through to Glen Shiel yesterday evening. Looks like a *really* wet day today… contemplating a rest day. The north ridge to Sgurr a' Bhealaich Dheirg was quite something though… A sharp ridge. Concealed by the cloud, but still quite a walk / scramble. Cloud lifted as I approached Glen Shiel, so a good view in the evening. It's quite a place, steep sides and dramatic ridges reaching down from the summits.

2013/08/01 01:03 · David Edgar · 2 Comments

8th August

Made it through the Rough Bounds, and “turned the corner” - now heading east towards the Great Glen. Not even crossed a road for 4 days, so a bit of civilisation will be welcome.

Weather's been changeable, but the ground is really sodden, resulting in wet feet every day - neither pleasant nor good for lots of mileage. Am several days behind the estimates I made at Kinlochewe…

Stayed at Kinbreack bothy last night. Two friendly couples were also staying there, from whom I gladly scrounged spare food… (Looking forward to stocking up soon.) They, like most of the other people I've talked to about it, seemed very interested in my watershed walk.

South Glen Shiel ridge very impressive… Decent views to start with before the rain set in. Didn't move from my tent the next day, the weather was so poor.

Hard work walking in the Rough Bounds, but it's an amazing place, as rough as its name suggests in terms of terrain, contours and remoteness.

Camping high on Geal Charn now, just had breakfast and about to pack up and make a move. A few tough hills to come, even though I've now done all the Munros on the watershed north of the Great Glen.

2013/08/08 08:15 · David Edgar · 3 Comments

Summary: Ullapool to the Great Glen

I arrived at the Great Glen on the 8th August. This is a bit of a milestone. While I haven't yet quite done quarter of the distance, I reckon I've exerted at least quarter of the total amount of effort. I've done 3/5 of the Munros, and over half the Corbetts, so from here there should be a bit less climbing. I've gone through the Rough Bounds and had some of the harsh weather of the North-West Highlands. This afternoon I'll set out on the last really long stage without resupply - I hope I'll reach Tyndrum in 10 days, but it could be 12 or more.

Setting out from Ullapool, I had some great weather, and enjoyed some fantastic hiking over Seana Bhraigh and the mountains immediately after. I arrived in Kinlochewe in fewer days than I expected. Sadly the good weather didn't last out, and I subsequently had two weeks where it rained at least a little every day. The ground was waterlogged and so I spent many days walking permanently wet boots and socks.

The going was tough - in places very tough, so I sometimes only managed 12km in a full day. Ridges full of ups and downs to negotiate and some awkward crags; tussocky grass, hard to step through and wet and slippery to descend; moss which sinks under every footstep; and occasional thick heather or bracken.

Nevertheless, these are some great mountains. The Fannichs were lovely, Kintail remote and desolate, the Rough Bounds memorably wild and rocky. They're not very popular - I saw a few hikers on the Fannichs, and some on the south Glen Shiel Ridge, but few elsewhere. Deer, grouse and frogs are the most common creatures around.

I grew ever more hungry. Kinlochewe and the Cluanie Inn made good stopping points, where I ate lots and lots to refuel. I managed to stay reasonably fit and healthy however - with the exception of one toe rubbing against another one, my feet are in good shape. My legs often ache in the mornings, but not excessively, and other complaints are similarly minor.

I feel like I'm putting off leaving today… although it really should be a rest day, it's not yet raining like the forecast said it would. Worrying about the weight of my bag when I finally come to leave. I've still a bunch of food to eat through first, after already eating a self-made fried breakfast and plenty of other stuff.

So - I'm steadily working my way through the high mountains. I have to say I'm looking forward to reaching the end of the area where phone reception is mostly non-existent, accommodation rare and shops even less common. The wilderness is awesome, but the logistics prove quite a struggle. But there are some interesting locations to look forward to over the next couple of weeks first, Stob Poite Coire Ardair, Ben Alder and the Black Mount among the high summits.

2013/08/10 13:01 · David Edgar · 3 Comments

12th August

It's been a satisfying day's walking today, though it isn't over yet. Despite the intermittent showers and on-and-off strong wind, the Stob Poite Coire Ardair ridge has made for good hiking.

Currently taking a short break on the sheltered side of the ridge, overlooking Kinloch Laggan.

Left the Great Glen two days ago in the evening, camping not far above the forest.

Yesterday it rained for hours and hours, but I still managed most of the distance I intended.

Profuse bilberries on the lower slopes have been very tasty over the last few days. I've also found a few very sporadic cloudberries, which are extremely yummy!

2013/08/12 17:12 · David Edgar · 0 Comments

A setback

Progress was good over a few days, and now suddenly I've hit a problem. I've hurt, maybe sprained a muscle in, my left knee. At first it ached a little on the back inside, then within a day, started stinging at the front whenever I bent it. There's no way I can continue until it's recovered. So after a day's rest camped near Ben Alder Lodge I made my way down to Dalwhinnie for some further rest days.

2013/08/15 16:20 · David Edgar · 1 Comment

Update - 22nd August

My knee is getting better, but very slowly. Having visited the doctor at Laggan Bridge (himself a walker who knew something about the watershed of Scotland), I am now resting for a further few days to see whether progress is sufficient to allow me to continue. If it's not possible to hike by next week, I'll be looking at curtailing the walk and continuing at some date in the future… But I'm still hoping that won't be the case. Now staying in Newtonmore.

2013/08/22 12:40 · David Edgar · 1 Comment

A long-overdue status post

I realise I should have written this much earlier; the disappointment of having to stop walking prompted me to procrastinate and avoid making this unfortunate announcement.

After several weeks in Dalwhinnie and then Newtonmore seeing only very slow improvements, I decided to prematurely end the walk where I got to, close to Ben Alder Lodge. Returning home, I a series of sessions of physiotherapy over four weeks, which seemed to identify the actual injury, if not the exact cause, and go a long way to healing it. It eventually took until early November for my knee to stop hurting, practically three months after it first happened. So I am at least confident I made the right decision: walking on further would have only made it worse, and I don't think there's any chance I'd have been able to complete another three months.

However, the watershed route still remains to be walked. Realistically, I don't plan to attempt the entire route again, and have to repeat what I've done already; instead I intend to continue walking the remaining distance in a number of stages over coming years.

In the meantime, I have been and will be travelling (and hiking) elsewhere in the world. If all goes to plan, I'll be returning to carry on up Ben Alder and initially on at least as far as Tyndrum sometime in 2015. I'll keep this page alive and update it with further plans.

If you're interested in hearing about it next time I update, then you can either follow the RSS/Atom feed (see the link above) or email me any time (david.r.edgar@gmail.com) and I'll keep you informed as and when I've something more to say.

2013/12/14 23:25 · David Edgar · 0 Comments

12th May 2016

I started part 2 of my watershed walk 2 days ago, with another week to go. The sun has been shining, the ground mostly dry, with just a bit of wind. Good progress so far, across Ben Alder and on to the loop round Rannoch Moor. The only mishap was slipping on some squelchy ground below a melting patch of snow and landing on one of my trekking poles and bending it… Now heading towards Glencoe.

2016/05/12 11:46 · David Edgar · 0 Comments

14th May 2016

The cloud descended yesterday, so it was a misty start to the horseshoe of Black Mount Munros. In the afternoon it lifted, however, so the last two provided amazing views in all directions.

I crossed the West Highland Way for the first time on Thursday, and then crossed it for a second time 24 hours later, only a few miles south…

Dropped back down to Rannoch Moor and now set for most of today crossing back east, before higher summits tomorrow. Today's looking fine, though cold.

2016/05/14 09:16 · David Edgar · 1 Comment

16th May 2016

I'm in sight of Tyndrum now, just resting on a very steep downhill from Beinn Odhar towards the noisy road, the WHW and the railway line. Today's progress has been slow but steady, with a lot of ascent and descent. The ground's dry, however.

I've been very lucky with the weather so far; mostly it's been fine, if breezy and a bit cold. Tomorrow's looking like the first rainy day, so I'm not expecting to see much from Ben Lui et al.

Managed to bag three bonus Munros yesterday, since I had time to spare.

Due to travel back home on Thursday, so it shouldn't be too difficult to get to Crianlarich by then. 10km as the crow flies, or 30km as the watershed wiggles…

2016/05/16 18:13 · David Edgar · 1 Comment

Diary archive

March 2018