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New looooooong distance route in Scotland

New looooooong distance route in Scotland


Postby At The Border Guy » Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:40 am

Apologies if already posted elsewhere:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-13072554

Scotland's watershed route mapped out for hikers

It may follow a line that's as old as the hills, but Scotland's newest long-distance footpath has been marked out for hikers for the first time.

The 745-mile (1,200km) route follows the watershed, the line dividing river systems that flow west to the Atlantic from those that end up in the North Sea.

"Imagine you are a raindrop", Peter Wright, the route's author, told me.

Frankly, that wasn't difficult.

On the day I met him in the Campsie Fells the cloud was low. The fog was high. And the drizzle was pretty constant.

"When you fall to ground you either have to go west, to the Atlantic Ocean. Or east, and end up in the North Sea."

Despite the weather, the scenery looked beautiful. Peter had brought me there to walk a short stretch of the watershed.

It's the geographical feature that separates Scotland's river systems. And the basis of what Peter hopes will be the country's latest long distance footpath.

"Back in about 2004", he told me, "I was looking for a big walking project.

"I wanted something that was going to be quite a challenge. Quite demanding. Something that hadn't been done before.

"One of the few subjects I was interested in at school was geography, so I reckoned Scotland must have a watershed.

"So I set about plotting the watershed on the map of Scotland, and it all took off from there.

"Once I'd plotted it, and worked out how long it was, I then started planning to walk it."

The route starts at Peel Fell, just across the border in Cumbria, and ends at Duncansby Head, overlooking the Pentland Firth.

It links Scotland's two National Parks - Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and the Cairngorms.

It takes in 24 Corbetts (mountains between 2,500ft and 3,000ft); 44 Munros (mountains over 3,000ft); and eighty-nine protected sites or nature reserves.

As we walked a tiny stretch of the watershed together we came across a mountain stream, fed by the rain running off the tops.

"I can say for absolute certain that the water in this burn is definitely going to flow into the river Kelvin, the Clyde, and eventually the Atlantic Ocean," Peter told me.

And the reason he could be so sure? Because we were just on the western side of the watershed.

But cross the ridge, and all the raindrops falling to the east of the watershed "will have a journey by bog, burn, and river into the North Sea."

I suspect that the term "watershed" is used most often these days by people thinking about what can be shown on television after the kids' bedtime.

But Peter - who was awarded an MBE for his work on the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme - reckons it is an important geographical feature.

"If we went to some other countries, notably north and south America, we would find that their watersheds are very well known, and indeed celebrated.

"But not the Scottish watershed. Because, as I discovered, nobody had actually ever defined it."

Scotland "from the air"

Having worked out the route, Peter told me he realised it was much more than a topographical curiosity.

It forms a strip of largely unspoiled wild land that skirts some of Scotland's biggest towns and cities, and goes through some of the most remote parts of the country.

By definition, it follows the peaks of Scotland's highest mountains.

Walking it would be like seeing Scotland from the air. But with your feet on the ground.

So what happens now?

In an interview for the BBC's "Good Morning Scotland" radio programme, Peter told me he hoped the route would be celebrated and appreciated.

And walked.

"There's an immense amount of opportunity for people to get out there, get their boots on, and have a good walk."

But isn't there a danger, I wondered, that by publicising the route Peter might turn it into another West Highland Way?

With route markers, B&Bs and camp sites, even companies that will ferry your luggage from one overnight stop to the next while you stroll along unencumbered?

"I'm not going to knock the West Highland Way", he responded.

"But I certainly hope that the watershed never suffers from any way-marking, or anything that's going to make it any easier.

"People who take on the whole watershed are going to have to be self-reliant. They're going to have to have good equipment.

"They're going to have to be fairly skilled at looking after themselves in remote country.

"And nothing can change that."
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Re: New looooooong distance route in Scotland

Postby magicdin » Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:47 am

Dave Hewitt did this walk a few years ago
http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/hewwat/index.html
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Re: New looooooong distance route in Scotland

Postby Arte Et Labore » Thu Apr 14, 2011 1:17 pm

I see the two routes are different - Dave Hewitt's ends at Cape Wrath while Peter Wright's ends at Duncansby Head. Evidently there's some disagreement over where the watershed actually is.
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Re: New looooooong distance route in Scotland

Postby Caberfeidh » Thu Apr 14, 2011 1:20 pm

Looks like Mr Wright is wrong ! As well as claiming to have done something new, simply because he was unaware of anyone else having done it, his route map seems to steer way inland in the west highlands, ignoring the fact that the watershed of most of Rannoch Moor is in fact to the east; it drains into the North Sea via the rivers Rannoch, Tummel and Tay .
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Re: New looooooong distance route in Scotland

Postby malky_c » Thu Apr 14, 2011 1:28 pm

I think he was aware if it (or found out afterwards) so has tried to claim his idea is completely different to sell his book. Dave Hewitt's effort is mentioned in the introduction (which is as much as I've read of it - in Waterstones one lunchtime). Was discussing elsewhere:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=454767
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Re: New looooooong distance route in Scotland

Postby MacCookie » Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:19 pm

Caberfeidh wrote:Looks like Mr Wright is wrong ! As well as claiming to have done something new, simply because he was unaware of anyone else having done it, his route map seems to steer way inland in the west highlands, ignoring the fact that the watershed of most of Rannoch Moor is in fact to the east; it drains into the North Sea via the rivers Rannoch, Tummel and Tay .


Peter Wright's map actually looks ok - it heads inland round about Glen Coe (correct) and heads north-east over Ben Alder to skirt round the east end of Loch Laggan beyond the River Pattick, before heading north and west again, keeping to the south of the Spey.

I think perhaps Dave Hewwit's map is the less accurate, with Ben Alder not looking to be in quite the right place.

But both are heard to compare due to the scales involved!

Ewan
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Re: New looooooong distance route in Scotland

Postby Essan » Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:16 pm

Whereas Dave gave me a copy of his book (I did offer advice on a couple of bits and get a brief mention in the credits somewhere), Peter has not sent me his (though I did hint to him that I'd stick a review in the MBA newsletter if I got hold of a copy :D ), so I've yet to read it.

Anyway, logistically the Watershed is not going to be very practical for most people to walk - and why follow such a strict route when, if you have all that time available, you can just wander where your nose takes you? Fair more fun and rewarding!
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Re: New looooooong distance route in Scotland

Postby Border Reiver » Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:28 pm

Peel Fell is on the Northumberland border, a good distance from Cumbria.
I really don't see why anyone would get excited about this new "route". It's a route that anybody with a lot of determination, time and nous could have done and still can do at any time, only now it's apparently been "marked out", to use BBC speak. The way I read it, the route has been plotted on a map, but not marked out with wee signs all over the place, which is highly unlikely to happen considering the terrain. Anyway, the debate over where the watershed is will be interesting, but surely folk can go for a decent walk without needing to be told every mile or so where to go next.
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Re: New looooooong distance route in Scotland

Postby malky_c » Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:31 pm

Just occurred to me that maybe I have a claim to fame, as I drew it out in Memory Map just after reading Dave's book :wink:
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Re: New looooooong distance route in Scotland

Postby Caberfeidh » Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:43 pm

If loads of people do it, and the path gets badly eroded, the country might unzip down the middle! This is just irresponsible ~ you just haven't thought it through ! :shock:
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Re: New looooooong distance route in Scotland

Postby LeithySuburbs » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:57 pm

Caberfeidh wrote:If loads of people do it, and the path gets badly eroded, the country might unzip down the middle! This is just irresponsible ~ you just haven't thought it through ! :shock:


I would go further... if enough people do it and the path gets badly eroded around particularly vaguely defined sections, we could actually change the route by re-routing infant watercourses to fall in the opposite direction :lol: .
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Re: New looooooong distance route in Scotland

Postby IainG » Fri Apr 15, 2011 6:18 am

I think the most challenging part of this walk is that it passes through Cumbernauld! This is definetely a south to north walk. :D
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Re: New looooooong distance route in Scotland

Postby yokehead » Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:26 pm

Dave Hewitt's book is a great read IMO. :D I was surprised to come across the recent watershed route as 'something new'.
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Re: New looooooong distance route in Scotland

Postby HighlandGoat » Sat Apr 16, 2011 10:20 am

Looks Interesting thanks for posting. Just reading a book by a guy who walks the watershed of Europe. Galicia to Istanbul, took him nearly two years...! :wtf:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Clear-Waters-Rising-Mountain-Across/dp/0140243321
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Re: New looooooong distance route in Scotland

Postby malky_c » Sat Apr 16, 2011 11:45 am

That looks as if it could be interesting - cheers for pointing out :) . Although I thought Nicholas Crane was effectively just one of those talking heads. Still, even the worst Amazon review ('A book by anoraks for anoraks') doesn't entirely put me off :lol:
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