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Scottish National Trail - Is there a better walk in the UK ?

Scottish National Trail - Is there a better walk in the UK ?


Postby ahukippax » Sat Oct 16, 2021 1:19 pm

Route description: Scottish National Trail

Date walked: 22/08/2021

Time taken: 30 days

Distance: 870 km

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What a journey, what an adventure. The Scottish National Trail must be up there with the best backpacking routes in the UK if not the world. It has something for everyone. Quaint rural villages, historic landmarks, rolling hillsides, dramatic mountains, lochs , rivers, waterfalls, forest, woodland, wildlife all mixed in with the unpredictable weather in Scotland. As a through hike, it showcases the variety and majesty of this wonderful landscape and country.

I set off in late August. This was with the intention of avoiding the worst of the midges as I approached the North West and also to benefit from the more settled weather of September. As it turned out I could have not planned for better. The weather, although often cloudy, remained dry for the most part. Out of the thirty days walking, only three had prolonged rain. Even the midges were manageable, there were only a few occasions where I had to hunker down in the tent. It is also a great time to visit as I saw the emergence of Autumnal colour as I journeyed north.

My plan was to wild camp where possible and use the occasional campsite and bed and breakfast to shower and do laundry. Of the 29 nights, I used 4 campsites, 2 B&Bs, 1 hostel and wild camped on 22 occasions. This does need some planning and forethought. In the borders, water supplies were not plentiful and a water filter was an essential piece of kit. On the Cape Wrath Trail section, the ground was often very rough or heather clad, so wild camping spots were not always as easy to find as I first thought. However, I did have some amazing sites, saw beautiful sunrises and sunsets, had the quiet sound of a loch lapping against the shore or the roar of vibrant river. Wild camping brought an added dimension to the whole experience.

I had three supply points at Edinburgh, Pitlochry and Ullapool. Here I stocked up with some provisions, usually dehydrated meals, lunches and snacks. I also tried to make sure I ate at villages and towns along the way. There are some fantastic tea rooms, bakeries and pubs to be enjoyed. Eating enough calories proved to be a challenge, particularly as I traveled further north. I lost 6 pounds in weight during the trip.

On the first section from Kirk Yetholm to Edinburgh I was joined by my wife Judith and on the final section from Ullapool to Cape Wrath by my friend Toby. It was great to share those parts of the journey with them. I also appreciated the solitude and peacefulness of solo backpacking. There were a couple of occasions where I saw no-one for 2 days. It was a great anti-dote to the hustle and bustle of normal everyday life. However, I did make a point of trying to talk with everyone I met along the way and shared some great stories with them.

To try and write about each day would mean writing a book. I did keep a vlog as I went along and have included links to the first three below. Hopefully, they will give anyone trying this trail a bit of an idea of what to expect and showcase some of the beautiful and amazing sights along the way.





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ahukippax
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Re: Scottish National Trail - Is there a better walk in the

Postby Stevekerr188 » Thu Feb 17, 2022 9:28 pm

Watched these recently on youtube, well done, great achievement. :clap: :clap:

I started the SNT in April 2017 but unfortunately had to abandon at West Linton 4 days in due to a severe stomach bug. I re planned it for April 2020 but unfortunately covid took over. Your trip has rekindled my interest, 3rd time lucky hopefully!
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Re: Scottish National Trail - Is there a better walk in the

Postby Bonzo » Fri Feb 18, 2022 3:18 pm

Great stuff. However I'd be absolutely gutted if, after walking 550 miles, I'd only lost 6Ibs :D
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Re: Scottish National Trail - Is there a better walk in the

Postby ahukippax » Wed Feb 23, 2022 8:46 pm

Steve, I cannot recommend this trail enough. It is a fantastic and memorable adventure. I'm planning my next 500 mile+ trek and cannot wait.

Bonzo, those 6 lbs lost were after fish and chips, apple pie and custard and a gallon of tea so maybe I lost a bit more !
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Re: Scottish National Trail - Is there a better walk in the

Postby leakster » Sat Jun 11, 2022 7:11 pm

Recently watched your videos on YouTube then found you on here. The trip looked great and you have definitely made me think of putting this route to the top of my to do list. Keep uploading on YouTube with your future trips. :clap: :clap:
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Re: Scottish National Trail - Is there a better walk in the

Postby ahukippax » Tue Sep 06, 2022 3:00 pm

Hi leakster. I've just picked up your message having been in the US doing the Colorado Trail. It is regarded as one of the most scenic trails in the US. As enjoyable and challenging as it was, I enjoyed the Scottish national trail more. It is equally as scenic but more varied in its landscapes as you move from the borders to the Highlands. We do have a real gem in our own country.
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Re: Scottish National Trail - Is there a better walk in the

Postby revalation » Mon Sep 12, 2022 4:29 pm

Definitely on my todo list. Started on St Cuthbert's Way in 2015 and kept completing in sections. Got as far as Morvich in 2020 but hoping to complete the remaining interesting part in next few years.
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Re: Scottish National Trail - Is there a better walk in the

Postby ahukippax » Tue Sep 27, 2022 7:41 pm

You definitely should finish it. You have the most dramatic part still to do. Worth waiting for some good weather if you can. 8)
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Re: Scottish National Trail - Is there a better walk in the

Postby baublebag » Sun Feb 12, 2023 12:15 pm

It's a great walk. I managed for water with a stove rather than a filter, as I like a brew, I did try drinking from a stream that was pretty high up and isolated at one point on a sunny day but almost instantly regretted it, several very urgent stops in trees were required over the next 24 hours ;)
The WHW was a zoo and Fort Augustus is a dreadful tourist trap, otherwise saw so many lovely places. Carried on along the canal into central Glasgow to stay with friends, an interesting and worthwhile diversion, the suburban route round to Milngavie looks boring. Recommend the SNT to anyone, it's long but not actually that arduous. The CWT section was quite a bit easier than the Pennine Way imo. Thanks for the memories.
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Re: Scottish National Trail - Is there a better walk in the

Postby ahukippax » Wed Mar 08, 2023 8:31 pm

Great to here you enjoyed it. Last summer I did the Colorado trail with my wife. Similar distance 492 miles, but more ascent 89000ft. The Colorado trail is regarded as one of the most scenic in the US. There were some spectacular sections. However, overall I preferred the SNT. More variety of scenery, history and wildlife.
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Re: Scottish National Trail - Is there a better walk in the

Postby DYHKR32 » Mon Jun 05, 2023 10:15 pm

Thanks for this account. I'll need to review your videos. I'm considering doing this trail. What is the longest interval between potential resupply points? You mentioned only 3, but looks like there would be more. Just the final stretches that look like longer stints without services...
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Re: Scottish National Trail - Is there a better walk in the

Postby ahukippax » Mon Jun 19, 2023 3:43 pm

Hi. Sorry not checked out here for a while. I used 3 main resupplies. Edinburgh, Pitlochry and Ullapool. However there are many other towns you can use enroute. The longest stretches I would imagine are Pitlochry to Kinguissie, Fort Augustus to Ullapool and Ullapool to Kinlichbervie. Even then there are some possible resupplies in-between these towns. Hope you are planning on doing it. It is a great trail
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