Saturday, 5 June 2010

coast to coast - the short cut

The last few Mays I have been to Scotland, to take part in the TGO Challenge, or have my own outdoors trip in the highlands. This year I joined my pals Rod Ross and Alan Hardy for their start from Glenelg on the west coast, planning to walk with them for four days of their two-week walk towards their destination at the east coast, 200 miles away at Dunnotar Castle. We made a great start, camping on the lawn at the Glenelg Inn, right on the coast opposite Skye, before heading inland past the 2000 year old brochs - round towers built in the iron age.

Navigation was easy enough although we were remote from the nearest road, and the weather was "mixed", but at least it meant we were not bothered by the West Highland Midges. Wild camping went well, with my new gadget "Jetboil" cooker proving a little wonder - backpacking's not all about kit, but good stuff makes for more fun and comfort.

Unfortunately it didn't go so well for Rod, who twisted his knee getting out of his tent the following morning, and he had to limp down off the hill and withdraw from his event. He called a cab from Kinloch Hourn, a hamlet also on the west coast, so at least Rod did a coast-to-coast hike of some sort. Meanwhile Alan and I walked along Britain's longest single-track dead-end road, meeting up with Rod for a drink at Tomdoun Hotel. I completed my 45 mile hike by walking on to the Great Glen at Invergarry. I caught a bus down the Glen to Fort William, on the west coast at Loch Linnhe, so at least I could say I travelled coast to coast, a bit like Alan and Rod.

I hugely enjoyed my train trips up to Inverness and back from Fort William, some of the best scenery that can be seen from Britain's railway lines. And I had to sample local food and drink, and enjoyed some great company. I've made around fifteen visits to Scotland, and there's always so much to see, history to learn, and hospitality to be tested. I hope to be back soon.....

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