Go west – a spot of Challenge training

by backpackingbongos

This time in six weeks I will be at Euston waiting for the sleeper train up to Fort William.  It’s come as shock that the Challenge is coming around so quickly.  There is the realisation that I am going to drag my carcass from one side of the Highlands to the other.  The truth is that I am proper unfit, I havent even been on a proper backpacking trip this year.

Thankfully the Easter weekend means that I have five whole days off in a row.  However finding some peace and solitude in the hills at this busy time could be difficult.  A couple of weeks ago I came up with a splendid route across the Monadhliath.  I had visions of exploring hidden corners and striding across high rolling moorland.  However after the huge dump of snow up there recently I think this could be a challenge too far without snowshoes or skis.

My eyes wandered west across my map to a wild and rugged land just across the Corran ferry.  Here long low-level glens bite deep into the mountains, a perfect alternative to the arctic plateaus further east.  I have come up with a route that takes in the full length of both Cona Glen and Glen Scaddle.  Linking them together will be a traverse of almost the full length of Loch Shiel.  Nothing too exciting and mostly along tracks, but through remote country.  Seventy kilometres over three days is pretty similar to the first three days of the Challenge, but with less climbing.  I can’t wait to pitch my tent for a few nights in scenic glens.


This will be good for developing a bit of Challenge fitness, however there is a plan B on the back-burner.  I’m going to pop my ice axe and crampons in the boot of the car.  If it’s not wall to wall snow and the snow line is high I may do a bit of bagging instead.  A wild and remote camp and knocking off a few Corbetts unencumbered by a pack is rather enticing.  I’ll make the decision on the ferry……………………


16 Comments to “Go west – a spot of Challenge training”

  1. Have fun! What day are you travelling up?

  2. Been looking at this area myself and had hoped to get some backpacking in last summer but it didn’t happen.
    Will hopefully manage something this year though so will be interested to see how you get on.
    If you want to borrow some snow shoes for the Monadhliath let me know I’m sure I could drop mine off somewhere suitable.
    Have a great easter, I’ll only have three days but hope to finally get out!

    • Cheers for the offer Paul. Decided to give the snow a miss now, only a few weeks and I’ll be visiting the Monadhliath on the Challenge. Enjoy your three days in the hills if you get out.

  3. Sure you’ll have fun. Is Reuben going with you? As Chrissie said: what day are you travelling up?

    • Hey Pete. I’m leaving Reuben at home for this one as I don’t think he will thank me for four sub zero nights in a tent. Setting off tomorrow pre sparrow fart.

  4. Fantastic James. You sound a lot fitter than me. Prolonged illness. has caused me chaos. Looking forward to your write up..

  5. Curiously I was scanning this very region recently for ideas on low-to-mid level routes for us to do, I noticed those marked paths and tracks in the glens. Sounds like a very wise choice for the current conditions, the scenery should be excellent.
    Congrats for the previous post which I’m late for!.

    • Thanks Geoff. Just back and it is a cracking area, I highly recommend a visit. Cona Glen was the highlight.

  6. You’re skirting around some tremendous hills there, James! Lots of great high camping options as well, if there’s not too much snow…

  7. Followed your preparation and route with interest. Weren’t you lucky with the weather? Would be very interested in your kit, mileage, camps etc but no doubt this will be in your trip report. I may pinch this one for later in the year. Well done again, sounds like another great trip!

    • Hi Joyce. I could not believe just how lucky I was with the weather. Please, go ahead and pinch this route as it was a good one. I’ll do a full trip report with maps and mileage very soon. Thanks.

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