Scottish National Trail (part 3): racing against the storms from Glasgow to Pitlochry

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Last Autumn I hiked the length of Scotland on the Scottish National Trail. Read part 1 and part 2.

Day 10 – Cadder -> oak tree between Milngavie & Drymen (16km)

“It was lovely weather before you came!” my Mum tells me again and again as I watch the rain from her window. I can’t imagine Scotland ever having lovely weather.

So it comes as no surprise to me that it’s shitting down when I rejoin the trail in Cadder after a couple of days’ break.

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Scottish National Trail (part 2): canal walking from Edinburgh to Glasgow

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Last Autumn I hiked the length of Scotland on the Scottish National Trail. See part 1 here.

I take a week off of hiking to go and help shut down an opencast coal mine in the north of England.  By the time I’m back in Scotland, my feet are finally no longer sore!

Day 7: Edinburgh -> near Philipstoun (12km)

I take a train out of the centre of Edinburgh and join the trail at Edinburgh Park station. This is because I want to go to Decathlon to pick up some gear. The irony isn’t lost on me, buying cheap petro-chemical gear to go and hike in nature.

Today marks the first of a few long days of canal walking, following the Union canal and then the Forth and Clyde canal. I’m a bit wary about walking along canals for days. “Where will I camp?” is my main concern, followed by, “it’s going to be so boring!”

The Scottish National Trail (part 1): the Lowlands

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I hiked the length of Scotland last Autumn. These Scotland blog posts are dedicated to Old Alan, a Scottish family friend who died after my trip.

“I’m going to hike all of Scotland!” I say suddenly to Chris. “Do you want to come?”

“No…I’ve got lots of work to do…”

“Me too! But I’m going to do it anyway!”

Once I decide to do a hike, there’s no talking me out of it. Chris decides that he will join me “when it gets more exciting in the Highlands”.

Hiking in the Annapurna range, Nepal

All hiking posts, Annapurna Base Camp/Annapurna Sanctuary, Hiking, Khopra Danda, Nepal, Mahare Danda, Nepal, Nepal

I hiked in Nepal’s Annapurna range, combining three routes – Mohare Danda, Khopra Danda, and the Annapurna Base Camp – to make one two-week trek. Below I talk about my experiences & include information about costs and time taken for other hikers to make use of. I include information about whether there is phone signal/electricity so that hikers have peace of mind. I hiked in February/March 2018 (ooops – it took me a long while to publish this!!).

Hiking the Cape to Cape Trail, Australia

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The Cape to Cape is a week-long 135km hike on the south-west coast of Australia.

The trail is really stunning. We hike over cliff tops (take sun cream!) with spectacular views of the turquoise sea. We walk through native forest, up and down sand dunes and along beaches. We pass stunning rock formations and hop over terrifying blowholes. We walk past a memorial for dead surfers, and then watch surfers tackling massive waves.

The Cape to Cape is an exhausting slog. Although not a technically difficult trail in any way, every step is through sand. Even when you’re not walking on the beach, you’re walking on sand. A week of hiking on this terrain is difficult! I think, “this is more exhausting than the Larapinta Trail!” a number of times.

Reflections on hiking the Larapinta Trail

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Having completed the Larapinta Trail, I thought I would write about my opinion of it, and add something about the logistics of organising the hike. Read my day-by-day account of the trail here.

Wow! What a hike! The Larapinta Trail can’t be faulted in any way and is one of my favourite ever hikes. Everything about the trail is well organised, from the website, trail notes and really amazing maps (you buy the maps and trail notes as a package), to the campsites and water tanks. The trail is well waymarked, so it’s very difficult to get lost.

Hiking the Larapinta Trail, Australia

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The Larapinta Trail is an amazing 223km hiking route in the West MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia, which took us 17 days to complete.

The trail takes hikers through remote areas without a soul around, and then emerges into tourist-filled gorges. I actually liked this combination!

Hikers can walk the trail in either direction,  so we opted to start from Redbank gorge (which is the official finish-point of the trail) and walk to Mparntwe (Alice Springs), therefore finishing in the city.

We hiked the Larapinta Trail in the first half of October 2017. It’s taken me a while to type my notes up!

This post is a day-by-day account of the walk, including the amount of water we carried (because I know that this was my main concern before I hiked) and the time it took us (without breaks). We pretty much followed the suggested itinerary and usually camped in the locations that the official trail notes suggested.

A follow-up post covers the logistics – how we did the food-drops etc – as well as reflections of the trail, and tips for others.

Moss & monkeys in Yakushima

Hiking, Japan

The mountainous island of Yakushima is said to be 90% covered with forest. 90%! Because of this, Chris and I board the oldest, rustiest and cheapest ship in Japan’s waters and sail to this fairytale place.

Yakushima has actually been extensively logged and replanted. However, some old-growth forest still remains, and two-thousand year old yakusugi trees live on. They silently watch Japanese walkers who come for a two day holiday: a brief break from their sixty-hour working weeks.

Hiking in grizzly bear country: Daisetsuzan national park, Hokkaido

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 “Remain calm and ready your bear spray,” I read on the Bear Smart website as we go up up up in a cable car.

“BEAR SPRAY? What bear spray?” I moan at Chris. “No-one told us to carry bear spray! Do they sell it in the tourist information shop down there? WE NEED BEAR SPRAY!”

But it’s too late. The cable car is already taking us up through thick clouds, leading us to the trailhead of our hike in Daisetsuzan national park. My phone loses signal as I frantically search online for what to do if you don’t have bear spray.

Hiking the Dewa Sanzan in Honshu, Japan

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Japan is a hiker’s paradise, and the Dewa Sanzan (the three mountains of Dewa) is a  pilgrimage route of the aesthetic Shugendo religion. Shugendo pilgrims and Japanese hikers can walk all three mountains – Haguro San, Gas San and Yudono San – although many non-religious hikers choose to walk just one or two of the mountains. Each mountain has a Shugendo shrine perched on the top.

The first mountain of the pilgrimage, Haguro San, is an easy walk, involving hundreds of beautiful stone steps.

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Walking the hundreds of steps between Japanese cedar trees up Haguro San

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Shrines at the bottom of Haguro San. These shrines weirdly worship the deities of mining, nation-building, fisheries, and national prosperity, to name a few. To me and Chris, this is contradictory to the little we have learned about Shugendo