A major change of plan

by backpackingbongos

Up until a couple of weeks ago I was going to send off my application for the TGO challenge, something that I really want to do.  Then I started to think, hang on that will be two and a half weeks of my precious annual leave gone in one trip.  Then I thought that I really cannot wait until next May to go to Scotland again.  A plan was hatched.  I have now booked the last week off in October (after they have finished shooting deer with antlers) and I am going to spend it in the Highlands.  I was there at the end of October a couple of years ago and it was magical.  That means that I can then go back at the end of April for another week, maybe to do the Sutherland Trail or another week long coast to coast in the far north.

Excitedly I have just over three weeks and I will be in the Highlands again with the roaring of stags and everything a golden colour.  I just can’t seem to make up my mind where to go.  I have the campervan but I also fancy backpacking, I also really want to be somewhere stupidly remote.  When backpacking late in the year in Scotland I like to have the security of a bothy nearby just in case the weather goes tits up.  You just can’t tell what late Autumn may bring.  Two years ago I spent a day backpacking in a t-shirt and my underpants as it was so warm – I was in a very remote area of the North west Highlands (I will have to do a trip report at some point) so don’t go thinking that I usually walk in my undies.  On the other hand it could be gales and heavy rain, it’s a bit of a lottery.

I came up with a cracking plan of backpacking the Rannoch area from Kinlochleven, stopping off in bothies with a night at the B&B at the remote roadless Corrour stationhouse.  They are fully booked all that week, so out of the window with that plan.  I now have another idea hatching in my head which involves spending the week on Jura and Islay.  I could do a 2 to 3 day backpack on each Island, there are some cracking bothies on some stupidly remote coastline.  To get to Jura you have to cross Islay anyway so makes sense to have a look at both Islands.  Two short backpacks also means a lighter pack as I can go back to the van and restock food, fuel and clean clothes.  Apart from the Paps of Jura there are no real mountains so I can chill and explore the coast instead of feeling the need to get high (in the altitude sense).

I better get the maps out.

Fingers crossed that this current weather holds as another trip to Snowdonia is on the cards this weekend.  Anyone else out there suddenly find themselves trying to overcompensate on trips at this time of year knowing that there are many months of darkness ahead?

12 Responses to “A major change of plan”

  1. I’m trying to squeeze in a trip to Finland and a trip to the Western mountains before the endless Scandinavian winter descends and it starts getting dark at 3pm! Cram it in now while you have the chance!

  2. backpacking in your underpants! Good grief man! You should rename your blog to Backpackingundies 🙂

  3. The two bothies on Islay are just below Islay’s highest hill (not that that is very high), so you might as well get up there as well.

    If you get a clear day the views from it are very nice.

  4. I like your thinking. I have not applied for the Challenge next year. I might but doubt it. End of October I am of backpacking as well. Small world sometimes. Scotland maybe, Wales could be, Lakes hard to pass by. Sound plan you have there.

  5. Joe – Is it you who is visiting Hendrik this Autumn in Finland? If so I hope that you have a great time. I can well imagine that those Scandinavian winters are pretty long and cold – cram in that backpacking whilst you can! Then there is spring to look forward to.

    Dave – now that is a good idea, could well increase the readership. Its not normally something that I do, its just that it was warm and I was wearing Paramo Cascada’s and there was no one else around…………..

  6. Armin – I think that those hills above the bothies will have to be climbed either on the way in or way out. Looks like a great route starting in Claggain bay they walking to An Claddach via coast and coming back over the hills, or vice versa. I will spend time reading your blog looks good – any tips for visiting the Island? Will it be quiet there that time of year?

    Martin – sometimes it is better to spread out time in the hills rather than just have one big trip. I always need something to look forwards to – especially Scotland, cant wait 7 months to go again! I am sure that where ever you chosse to go in October you will have a good trip.

  7. It’s never really busy in that area, but at that time of the year I should think it will be even quieter. The only potential noisy thing will be the geese, but to my knowledge they don’t go into that area.

    The route you’re thinking of sounds about right, in line with what I’d do. One thing you should do weather and tide permitting is walk along the shore below the lighthouse, some impressive caves and rock formations there.

    If you have an evening to spare you should also try to do some geese watching, either at the top of Loch Indaal or at Loch Gruinart. The sight of thousands of geese coming in to roost is quite a sight. I wouldn’t recommend camping anywhere near them though if you want to get some sleep, they are rather noisy.

  8. Thanks for the tips Armin – really looking forward to going now, just need to get the ferry tickets booked for the van!

  9. I’m already itching to get back out again. Short trips still keep things very interesting and are slightly lighter as you say. I want to get at least two more solo wild camps in before Christmas and I’m thinking Lakes this time, perhaps one of John Hee’s remote tarns?

    Thanks for the inspiration for the last trip James, much appreciated.

  10. Marcus I am really looking forward to reading up on your trip report, hope that you had a great time.

    That itch is difficult to get rid of, as soon as you scratch it by going backpacking – it comes back when you return home!

  11. 2-3 weeks out backpacking in one gloop is way beyond me. I would also rather have lots of smaller trips as and when. I hate being tied down to a schedule! 🙂


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