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

Date walked: 22/08/2021

Time taken: 30 days

Distance: 870km

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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User avatar
Location: Leeds
Activity: Munro compleatist
Pub: Moulin Arms
Mountain: Ladhar Bhienn
Place: Lochan Fada
Member: MBA
Camera: GoPro7
Ideal day out: Anything outdoors
Ambition: Long Distance Trails
Munro rounds: 1

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Trips: 1
Distance: 870 km

Joined: Jan 14, 2021
Last visited: Jan 22, 2022
Total posts: 23 | Search posts