Since I moved to Inverness in 2003 I have been walking, hillwalking and backpacking in the Scottish Highlands regularly, but apart from taking photos I never kept any records of my trips. One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2011 was to start writing short trip reports, just for myself to start with, but maybe to make them public at some later stage.
My hopes and plans for 2011 include climbing a few more Munros (so far I have done 163, and it would be great to reach the 200 mark this year), some Corbetts – The Rum Cuillin are high on my list, and doing interesting backpacking trips, including visits to bothies I haven’t been to yet.
But what I am most looking forward to is taking part in my first TGO Challenge in May, something I had been considering for several years, but only last year I actually submitted my application and luckily, I got a place in the draw!
Update January 2012:
Looking back to 2011, weather-wise it must have been the worst year since I moved to the Highlands (although 2010 wasn’t that much better!). Still, I managed to get out more than ever before, and for the first time I kept records of all my walks: 1,610 km, 76,569 m of ascent, and 605.5 hours spent outdoors.
One of my goals in 2011 had been to raise my Munro count to 200, and at the end of the year it was 210, which is not bad considering I only started in June. Now I am even thinking of finishing my first Munro round in 2012… But it’s getting a bit more difficult (and more expensive) now that I have done most of the ones north of the Great Glen and in the Cairngorms, and the ones left are mainly down in the Southwest Highlands, too far away for day trips.
The highlight of 2011 was taking part in my first TGO Challenge, and I was very happy to find that I was lucky again in the draw for 2012. I am not going to publish my route in advance, but I will be starting in Strathcarron and finishing in Scurdie Ness – if everything goes well. I am planning to cover 321 km in 14 days, and I have only included 2 Munros and 1 Corbett, so here’s hoping that the weather will be a bit kinder this time and I will be able to follow my route as planned. Although I am not walking the “trade routes” this time, I am hoping to meet a lot of fellow Challengers, new and old!
Regarding this blog, I was a bit tentative at first because it was a very new experience for me, so I blocked search engines from the start. But the feedback I got during the first year has been so positive and friendly that I decided to make it fully public now.
I am wishing everyone a happy and successful year 2012 and I hope you enjoy reading my blog, it would be nice if it could inspire you to “get out there”, like I have been inspired by others 🙂
Update January 2013:
2012 has been another successful year, the summer in the Highlands was the best we had in a long time, and I could do most of my walks in warm and sunny weather. The statistics are as follows: 1,717 km walked, 74,475 m of ascent, and 623 hours and 45 minutes spent outdoors!
I would have liked to complete my first Munro round, and I did manage to climb 72 new Munros in 2012 (plus 10 repeats) which took my tally to 281. Unfortunately I left the hardest one, the Inaccessible Pinnacle, for last – and when I was ready for that last one, in mid-October, I was told by my chosen guide that it was too late in the year now and I would have to wait until next summer (during cold autumn nights there is a possibility of verglas forming on the rocks, making the ascent too dangerous) 😦
Again, one of the highlights of 2012 was completing my second TGO Challenge in May. And I couldn’t believe it when I got a place on this year’s Challenge as well, that’s three years in a row now that I’ve been lucky in the draw 🙂
I’m quite optimistic this time: My route starts in Lochailort and finishes at Dunnottar Castle, it’s 338 km long and I haven’t planned any rest days. Instead I have included more hills than in the previous years – in other words, it will be my hardest Challenge so far! Apart from days 2 and 3 I haven’t booked any accommodation, I will be camping all the way which will provide some flexibility to adapt my route, if necessary.
But the weather will be great anyway, won’t it?? 😆
In 2013 we were treated to another great summer in the Highlands (what’s happening?!), but unfortunately it only started after the TGO Challenge… Due to wild weather and too much snow I couldn’t walk along the Mamores ridge, and had to stay low in Glen Nevis instead. But after that day, things improved and it was another very enjoyable experience, discovering areas I had not visited before, and meeting lots of interesting people along the way.
I’ll be starting this year’s Challenge from Shiel Bridge and finish it in Catterline, my planned route is 332 km long and includes 4 Munros (+ their Tops), 2 Corbetts and 1 Graham.
The second big achievement for me was my (long-awaited) Munro completion on the InPin in August 🙂 At last, I could start my second round during which I want to climb the Munro Tops as well. So far, I’ve managed 30 Munros and 34 Tops, but the “rules” I have set myself are making everything that little bit harder: Trying to use different routes or combinations than I did on previous ascents, and getting views from each and every summit 😆
Oh, and I got myself a shiny new mountain bike in December! Until now, I’ve only been using it for local routes and to build up fitness (I never realised how hilly it is around Inverness!), but I’ve already got some plans for combined bike/hill days where the bike will be useful to access some of the more remote hills. If I can figure out the best way to attach some luggage to the bike I might also use it for multi-day trips in the future.
Regarding the hills, my To-Do-List seems to be getting longer and longer… Some of the “big days” that I did in two portions the first time around, I’d like to do in one long day (e. g. The Fisherfield “Five” – still planning to do all six of them, or the South Glen Shiel Ridge). But of course I’ve also got lots of backpacking trips in mind, because I think that’s probably the best way to experience the hills (if it only wasn’t so difficult to get several half-decent weather days in a row!).
2014 was another good year for hillwalking, we had many spells of really good weather in the Highlands, even during the TGO Challenge, for a change. Throughout the year I did more backpacking trips than day walks because I found that’s what I enjoy most, and altogether I spent 47 days backpacking. I climbed 61 Munros on my second round, and 74 Munro Tops.
Apart from the TGO Challenge the highlights of the year were my own variation of Tranter’s Round, a “backpacking project” I had started in 2013 and finally managed to finish – in several portions, but nonetheless, and a four-day trip from Loch Laggan to Loch Ossian and back in gorgeous weather, collecting Munros and Tops along the way.
Plans for this year include my fifth TGO Challenge from Torridon to Catterline if everything goes well, backpacking along the ridges N and S of Glen Shiel in 7 days (if I’m lucky enough to get an exceptionally long spell of good weather), and I’m hoping to spend some time on Skye in decent weather to repeat some of the great Munros over there 🙂