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A Circuitry of Ways Old and New

This time last year I wrote for Walkhighlands about the joy of spending early January amidst the scalding, short light on more Northern Islands. But the island this time is Harris.

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Posted in Features, Magazine

Who goes there? Mapping ‘Extreem Wildernes’

On the summit of Ben Hee, with a cloud bank surfing over rock-swell and waves of snow-sharpened ridges and summits heaving up close by, I saw the three coasts of Scotland. Hills revealed themselves to the west; Ben Stack, Quinag, Ben More Assynt, baring unfamiliar sides to me in a complex fresh architecture backed by a blue line of Atlantic. To the north, Ben Loyal and Ben Hope guarded watery ingresses from the Pentland Firth. And to the east the twin cones of Morven and Scaraben rose above low bog near Dunbeath and the North Sea. Climbing Ben Hee, perhaps

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Posted in Features, Magazine

Ullapool Hill and Far Beyond

Modest Ullapool Hill or Meall Mor (270 metres) beckoned on an early August day. I normally just have to open pink OS sheet 15, see the tightly packed contours of deep salmon pink contrasting against the pale spread of broken peninsulas, to be excited towards the pitch of the Coigach and Assynt Hills. Or looking the other way, sheet 20 with its expanse of roadless land, makes me want to pack a rucksack and to twist and turn through that interior that fastens in Beinn Dearg and Seana Bhraigh, and walk right through to the east coast. There is no

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Posted in Features, Magazine

The toughest paper-round in the UK?

I do like a walk with a purpose, so I revelled in planning the delivery of a newspaper-style publication to an MBA bothy. Uags is perched on the far southern tip of the Applecross peninsula, curled around by the waters of Loch Carron, the sweep of sea along Skye’s shores from Broadford to Loch Sligachan and the Inner Sound of Raasay. Since January my friend Charlotte and I had been planning this trip for the cusp of the spring equinox, imagining the awakening of the year, perhaps even some warmth as we overnighted in the spectacular spot we had pointed

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Posted in Features, Magazine

January Blues – the call of the north

I write this on ‘Blue Monday’, the day associated with winter doldrums, when holiday companies prey upon our sense of daylight deprivation, lack of exercise, divorce from life ‘out there’. It’s when I feel most like hibernating, so it was perhaps contrary to choose this time of year to travel 250 miles further north from my home in Perthshire’s heartlands. In Orkney this is the season of upended goalposts when empty frames stand on pavements as their swinging coffee signs are torn away by gales to announce a hiatus in hospitality. Days are defined by their extreme shortness. The sky

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Posted in Features, Magazine

Caterans, Cowboys and Cushion-covers

At the end of our first day on the Cateran Trail in August 2013, a friend and I found our way to a large plastic-wood bar at the Spittal of Glenshee Hotel. A cavernous room was crowded with families, runners, walkers, and middle-aged driving tourists. Propping up the bar, an ageing cowboy jangled his spurs, raised his hat to us, and began telling us the long story of his broken back. ‘Where’s your horse?’ I asked, only half-joking. I imagined riding the route we’d just taken from Kirkmichael, climbing from Enochdu to pass the wooden hut where Queen Victoria had

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Posted in Features, Magazine

Growing in the Open Air

‘Now I see the secret of making the best persons, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.’ Walt Whitman ‘Here’s a question,’ the Geography teacher leading our group said. ‘How many words can we think of for the sound a burn makes?’ We now had something to focus on as 14 teenagers and four adults picked our way silently up a steep section of the burn from the shore of Loch an Daimh (Glen Lyon) towards the corrie where we’d eventually find Lochan na Cat reflecting a bright disc of blue,

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Posted in Features, Magazine

Putting walks into words

Award-winning writer Linda Cracknell gives her tips on sharing your walking experiences through the written word. After a day out in the hills, or even tramping for a couple of weeks on a long-distance footpath, some of us have the urge to commit the experience to writing. It might be scribbled in a journal as a personal record, a walk report or blog post with tips for those considering something similar, or even something crafted to communicate a story to a wider audience. One of the things I love about doing this is that I get to take the journey

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Posted in Features, Magazine

A Community That Takes to the Hills

Mid November and the forecast for our walk was bad enough that I wondered if we would still go. After the previous day of high winds and sleet, it was now to be steady precipitation and no more than 2 or 3 degrees. But as we gathered around the minibus at the Corbenic Community in slight drizzle, no one raised the question. Curtains of cloud hung just below 1000 feet, and were pulled open occasionally to show the surrounding hills marked with the low boundary of new snow. This was my first outing with Corbenic’s hill-walking group, a weekly event

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Posted in Features, Magazine

Street Play in Edinburgh

For over four years in the early 1990s, when I lived near Stirling and travelled to work by train, I walked a short distance through the convulsions of Edinburgh’s Old Town from Waverley Station to a small close off the Canongate. I don’t need to labour the magic of Edinburgh as a city to explore on foot, including as it does a volcano to climb, wheeling gulls and views to the Forth, and a National library housing eight acres of books in storeys climbing between two streets stacked one above the other. In some cities ‘enchantment engineers’ design temporary illusions

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Posted in Features, Magazine


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Walking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk. Information is provided free of charge; it is each walker's responsibility to check it and navigate using a map and compass.