It’s my first hike since coronavirus locked us all down! The weather’s looking torrential in the north-west of Scotland, so I decide to head north-east, where I don’t have to endure days of rain and bog. The Loch Ness 360 is a 130km-long hiking trail, loosely doing a loop around Loch Ness. I say loosely, because there’s some days where you don’t see the loch at all.
The official website describes the trail as “epic”. I think that’s a slight exaggeration. Epic if you’ve only seen Kent, maybe. But it’s definitely a lovely hike, and if you’re an experienced walker, you’ll find it easy. There’s *lots* of forestry track and tarmac, though, so if you’re going to hike this, try to make your bag as light as possible to give your feet a break as they pound the hard ground.
Last Autumn I hiked the length of Scotland on the Scottish National Trail. Read part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.
Day 24: Fort Augustus -> Mandally (18km)
It is, of course, pouring down when we begin the trail again. The SNT joins the Great Glen Way at section 26, following the Caledonian canal, before turning up into pine forestry at Loch Oich.
We find a lovely camping spot on a mossy track in some forestry, right by the tiny hamlet of Mandally. Here, section 27 of the SNT joins the infamous Cape Wrath Trail. We will now be following the CWT all the way to the top of Scotland. There is no indication that we’re now on the UK’s most difficult hike: the CWT is an unmarked trail, and is only for experienced hikers.
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.
We spent our last couple of weeks in Aotearoa (New Zealand) hiking some astoundingly beautiful routes in the regions of Mount Aspiring, Fiordland and Aoraki.
The hiking trails that we did can be linked up (via a bit of road walking or hitching) to make a longer trail. At the bottom of this blog post is a hand-drawn map of the routes showing this.
Here’s a brief review of the trails we hiked.
This blog post covers the following sections of the trail on the south island:
Waiau Pass; Boyle Village to Arthur’s Pass; Arthur’s Pass to the Rakaia river.
You can also read part 1 & part 2 of the hike.
1) Waiau Pass trail in the Nelson Lakes: 115.5km, 8 days:
It’s raining. The river hurls water downstream and the track becomes part of the river. We huddle in hikers’ huts until the weather clears.
The river bursts its banks and the way becomes engulfed by strong water
The trail is here somewhere…
I can’t remember when I last had dry feet…
And then, when the sun comes out and we start to climb away from the valley, the Waiau Pass section becomes spectacular. If you’re choosing just a few sections of the Te Araroa, pick this one! Snow-capped mountains surround us as we climb higher.
This blog post covers the first 230km of the Te Araroa on the south island: the Queen Charlotte Track, the Pelorus river trail and the Richmond Ranges. You can also read part 1 of the trail.
“This is not a trail,” I splutter at Chris breathlessly as I huff and puff my way up, terrified of falling. “It’s a scramble up a cliff face.“
We’re back on the trail! After a two month knee injury (which still hasn’t fully recovered) Chris and I rejoin the Te Araroa at the start of New Zealand’s south island.