Tuesday, July 31

SCOTLAND TRIP: Final Thoughts

1. I only covered 20 or so miles of the Western Highlands, but the impression I was left with was of space, height and emptiness. The hills were high. But the ascents themselves were all the more challenging as most routes seemed to started from near sea level.

A fellow blogger on his first Lakeland visit commented on how close everything seemed to be, which led to a rich variety of views and valleys. Having experienced the highlands I can definitely see the contrast. The distances involved and routes are all on a much bigger scale and it would be easy to underestimate this when trip planning safe at home. But it leads to some amazing ridge walks. On a view north from Pap I could see a 8-10 mile ridge walk just crying out for a visit and wildcamping. Water on the hills is also extremely plentiful.

2. One factor that really struck me, again in comparison with Lakeland route finding, was the scarcity of information on the OS map.

Paths were plentiful enough on the hillside, but not that well marked, if at all, on the map.

I'd not taken the opportunity to look at any route guidebooks, and I suspect a few quid spent on a few of the better references works would be a great help.

3. The quality of light and clear air resulted in some incredible views, when weather permitted. A contrast resulting probably from the general lack of cars/pollution, a fact rarely realised south of the border. And suddenly striking home.

4. The Red Squirrel campsite (northwards along the road from Glen Coe SYHA) not only has flat pitches, with plenty of tree shade, but also is one of the few places I've found that still allows an open fire (A pity that one ejit on Sunday night thought it a good idea to fuel his fire by breaking branches off the roadside trees!)

I'm sure I spotted a Caravan and Camping Club sign, but it doesn't seem to be listed on their website.

5. The SYHA system, from my limited usage reminded me more of the English YHAs of 15+ years ago. The hostels are basic but comfortable. For the walker they provide much of what we expect of any budget self catering accommodation.

But there's an air of decay about the places with noticeable low staffing levels.

However an adult SYHA membership for two years at £14 is still less than just one years membership of it's English counterpart at £15.95. Which of course gives you access to the English hostels as part of the International YHA scheme.

Personally I'll look at taking a membership out when considering a further trip to Scotland purely for the handbook and planning it helps with.

Comparative costs:
SCOTLAND: Total = £175 (Air £120; Train/Coach:£52); Trip time 12+ hours
LAKE DISTRICT: Total = £110 (Train/bus); Trip time 7+ hours

And finally......

The train journey Glasgow to Fort William was undoubtedly the highlight of the trip. A splendid introduction to the wilds of Scotland, and the potential jump off points as a start for future trips. Heartily recommended.

Will I return? Most definitely.

And who knows. With a little more exposure to the heather 'n midges and I can even hear the call of the TGO Challenge in the not too distant future. Once I've had a better acquaintance of the land as a wildcamper. Hmmmm. A tasty world.


Do it John

Grasp that nettle and send in the application form.

You know you should

You know you want to.

Useful & considered shared thoughts... thanks.
Tempted Alan - but probably more like 2009, to celebrate a special anniversary

SW - thanks
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