I spent quite a bit of time researching long distance paths and their alternatives as a way to reach Scotland by foot. I had only one criteria by which the trip was to be set-up and that was that I wanted to avoid road walking as much as possible.
With that in mind it became rather easy to set a route as far as the Scottish border and then only marginally awkward to fill in the final sections.
The proposed route:
- Follow London’s Capital Ring path around the outskirts of the city until it meets the Grand Union Canal.
- Walk the Grand Union Canal to the confluence with the Erewash at Nottingham, via the Leicester branch.
- Walk the Erewash to Langley Mill, where my grandparents live and where I can rest for a day or two.
- Short section of road walking I expect, to Edale via Matlock.
- Walk the entire Pennine Way into Scotland.
- Join the Southern Upland Way near Galashiels and follow it to Cocksburnpath on the coast of the North Sea.
- Join the John Muir Way and head into Edinburgh.
- Use the Forth-Clyde Union Canal to connect me to North Glasgow.
- Take the West Highland Way to Fort William, climbing Ben Nevis on the way. This site has some useful information on trails in Scotland.
- Follow the Great Glen Way north-east as far as Invergarry.
- This is where the route becomes slightly hazy for a while as I have a choice between road walking to Cluanie or the much more likely route past Greenfield and Inchlaggan to the Cluanie Lodge area, skirting Beinn Loinne.
- I will then walk the Brothers and The Five Sisters concurrently
- Short road walk to Inverinate before taking a path on the hillside down to Dornie, then there are a few small trails that will take me intermittently off of the A87 into Kyle of Lochalsh.
- A section of dull road walking follows as I head onto the Isle of Skye and up to Broadford, where my Dad has his shop.
- But the route doesn’t end there. I plan to walk to his house so from Broadford I head inland using the Skye Trail, taking in Spar and Prince Charlie’s caves, before trekking North to Sligachan.
- I’ll climb Am Basteir before descending down past the lovely Fairy Pools, into Glen Brittle Forest, on to Eynort, and then calm road walking above Carbost to reach my destination at Carbost Beg!
So, as you can see that is one hell of a walk!
Frankly I’m both daunted and exhilarated by this concept! People ask me whether I want company on this trip or whether I’m doing it alone. Well, the truth is that I’m undecided. The chance to do something like this completely alone is quite appealing for the peace I expect it’ll give me, not to mention the fact that setting your own pace is always preferable. However I do believe that travel is often best carried out with other people to bounce off. Other folk with a good sense of humour to share those ‘What am I doing?’ moments when the elements are battering you and the universe seem to despise you, just before you see a spectacular sunset over a lake and you are compelled to both jump in.
Therefore I expect I will be doing the route with a variety of people taking part in a variety of sections. I reckon the Capital Ring section will be well attended, for obvious reasons, and I may get some company on the Grand Union canal. Perhaps one or two may take the challenge of the Pennine Way as a good reason to join me for a stretch. I believe that the further North I go the fewer companions I will have but I do expect my Dad to join me for at least some of the final sections!