A crack at the Cateran Trail

I chose the Cateran Trail, which is divided between Perthshire & Angus, for my next hike, partly because it looks to be a fine route, but also because this area was the site of the happy honeymoon which was my introduction to central Scotland some years ago. Although the happy memories of this area have lasted longer than the marriage, I was drawn to explore it again.

The Cateran Trail is a 65 mile / 104km circular route which includes Strathardle as well as parts of Glen Shee and Glen Isla. The route is named after the bands of cattle thieves known as Caterans who previously brought terror to these glens.

Cateran Trail

Cateran Trail, Perthshire and Angus

The Strathardle section I completed between Blairgowrie and Kirkmichael contains all the different types of terrain which this area is known for; various types of woodland, untamed heather moorland, rolling farmland pastures, and many burns feeding into the Ericht and Ardle rivers.

Unfortunately for me, a recent event on the trail had left it a bit too churned up and muddy to complete at anything other than a very slow pace. If I had worn my boots and taken my gaiters, it would have improved things, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Anyway here are a few photos of the varied section between Blairgowrie and Kirkmichael, which included a camp at Pitcarmick, to give you an idea of the route.

River Ericht

River Ericht near Blairgowrie

Lornty Burn

Farmland near Lornty Burn

Blackcraig Forest

Views across Strathardle from Blackcraig Forest

Dalnabreck

Near Easter Dalnabreck

Dalnabreck

Near Dalnabreck

Pitcarmick Burn

Pitcarmick Burn

These pictures give some indication of how lovely the trail is, but avoid the mud underfoot. At this point it began to rain heavily, so I pitched the tent quite early to dry out. I continued my hike the following morning down the lovely, verdant country lanes into Kirkmichael for a much needed hot breakfast. There I decided to return to this trail when it has had the chance to recover, and I can focus more on the lovely countryside and less on where I am putting my feet.

Pitcarmick Camp

Dreich view from my tent at Pitcarmick

Drying out

Drying out in the Duomid

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Using Mountain Rescue

On the Speyside Way recently I made a call to rescue services for navigational advice as there was a discrepancy between my map and the signage. It was getting late and I was stuck in a seemingly endless rocky barbed wire corridor which wasn’t wide enough to pitch my tent. My tired reasoning was simply that a call for advice now might prevent a call for help later. Some walkers, who are not really representative of my readership, were critical of this decision so this is just a quick response to them.

In the 20 years since I began hiking, I have once requested a call out from Mountain Rescue and have sought advice two or possibly three times on solo long distance walks. On each of these occasions I made a donation to the relevant team.

Speyside Way

Speyside Way Map

I would just like to quote a DM I received from a professional rescue person regarding my call for advice:

“I think if your call prevented you from getting into danger then it was worthwhile. The Mountain Rescue teams would rather you didn’t get hurt and so would I…I’ve met lots of people who should have done what you did”

As I have a relative who was involved in mountain rescue, I realise how valuable their service is to the outdoor community. My relative sustained a permanent injury whilst carrying out a mountain rescue with his team, so I am fully aware of the risks teams face while providing this service. I am also aware of my personal responsibilities to use their resources sparingly and to provide the best outdoor advice I can on this site.

Pennine Way

Pennine Way route map

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Hiking the Speyside Way 

I have just returned from the 65 mile Speyside Way walk from Aviemore in the Scottish Cairngorms to Buckie on the Moray coast, accompanied by my new tent. My write up can be found in the trails section.

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Tent Talk

As regular visitors will know, I am not in the habit of posting tent pictures for the sake of it, but I couldn’t resist a couple here. For people who like this sort of thing I have started a Camping Gallery as a memento of my trips.

As the sun is shining and I am stuck at home for a bit longer, I have been practising pitching my newly acquired preloved Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid, in a highly visible shade of yellow sinylon, and sealing my old Force Ten tent. For the Duomid, after advice from several people, I used Colin Ibbotson’s method of attaching my two z poles together with cord, and Emma’s suggestion of using velcro to then hold them together to form a support pole. The result seems to be just the job, and will encourage me to use my poles more often.

Duomid 3

Mountain Laurel Designs Sinylon Duomid and Ali Express innernet first pitch

I haven’t yet worked out how and if to attach the inner, but first impressions are that the Duomid is really palatial after my snug and much loved Force Ten (below). It also takes up a lot of space once all the guy ropes are staked out, but I guess they add to the stability of the shelter. On advice from Daron, I am making a Polycro ground sheet to go under the inner and maybe into the spacious porch as well.

I would welcome any advice from Duomid users, as I hope to be using it over the coming months.

Force Ten

Force Ten Helium Carbon 100 seam sealed

Duomid Pole

Creating a support for the Duomid from 2 x Z poles.

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Exploring the coastline

Since I returned to my blog after some time away, I have been trying to improve my videos. To do this I have planned several clusters of walks using my new car club car. A couple of months ago I did 3 walks on the North Northumbrian coast between Holy Island (Lindisfarne) and Berwick upon Tweed in the Northumberland Coast AONB. To be honest it was a disappointing trip because the weather was a mixed bag for the new videos I wanted to make, and the route recording didn’t work well for the routes I wanted to upload. However I did the walks anyway, made the videos and uploaded the routes and put it down to experience.

I have finally written them up because they remain beautiful walks, and that is the most important thing in spite of my bad luck on the day. So do take a look at my new Coastline Collections page and I hope the sun shines for you if you visit this lovely part of the Northumbrian coast.

Coastline

Coastline Collections: Clockwise from top left – Lindisfarne Castle, Holy Island North Shore, Cocklawburn Beach, Holy Island dune path.

Also in other news I have finally uploaded my first talkie. I have overcome the urge to delete everything with my voice in it and uploaded my first walk video with a commentary. I hope you enjoy the video if not the commentary.

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Happy Easter

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it. Wishing sunshine and happy holidays to all my readers. Rose 🌹

Happy Easter

Happy Easter | Buona Pasqua

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Books and Digital

I have quirky preferences about books. The world of routes in particular, has become more complex than it used to be. I like to have real, paper route and route reference books rather than ebooks for some reason that I can’t entirely explain. I also enjoy paperback long distance walk guides, which I tend to read beforehand to save weight, and then credit them in my trip reports. However, I usually read my fiction, adventure and technical books on my e book reader.

Books

Route books and maps

Regarding navigation and maps, I keep my options open and switch from one method to another. I download and record routes, and dip into both route books and apps to get ideas. I have also been known to take photos of relevant pages, so I can read them on my phone as I walk. At times I rely entirely on digital GPS routes, but personally I am finding that books remain an important resource for me. It is a strange hybrid world that outdoor users live in now, with proponents of different methods hotly debating which is best.

Berwickshire Coastal Path

Berwickshire Coastal Path route

Recent discussion has turned to the unreliability of some downloads by or for inexperienced users. In acknowledgement of the good use I have put my day route books to, even in this digital age, I thought it would be a timely moment to mention a few of the old school route and route reference books I use as well as the downloads:

Reference:

  • Townsend, Chris. ‘World Mountain Ranges – Scotland’ Cicerone. 2010
  • ‘The UK Trailwalker’s Handbook’ Eighth Edition. LDWA. 2009

Northumberland:

  • Bagshaw, Chris et al. ’50 Walks in Durham and Northumbria’ AA. 2010
  • Baker, Edward. ‘Walking the Cheviots’ Sigma. 1996. Out of print.
  • Baker, Edward. ‘Walks in the Secret Kingdom’ Sigma. 1998. Out of Print
  • Brooks & Conduit. ‘Northumberland, The Borders and Hadrian’s Wall’ Pathfinder. 2000
  • Hall, Alan. ‘Walking in Northumberland’ Cicerone. 2010
  • Hallewell, Richard. ‘Short Walks in Northumbria’ The Ramblers. Collins. 2011

Scotland:

  • Hall, Alan. ‘The Border Country – A Walker’s Guide’ Cicerone. 2010
  • Jackson, Peter. ’25 Walks. The Scottish Borders’ Mercat Press. 2009
  • Turnbull, Ronald. ‘Ben Nevis and Glencoe’ Cicerone. 2007
  • Scotways. ‘Scottish Hill Tracks’ Scottish Mountaineering Trust. 2011.

Cumbria:

  • Goodier, Steve. ‘The Low Fells. Top 10 Walks’. Northern Eye. 2012
  • Marshall, Stuart. ‘Walking the Wainwrights’. Sigma. 2013

If you would like to recommend any new or interesting route books, apps or maps, please let me know.

Rose 🌹 April 2017.

Chesters5

Good paths heading north to Ingram

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The Farne Islands revisited

This is the time of year that I start to get restless for a trip offshore to see the seabirds and the grey seals. A quick glance at the weather and the bus timetable, with the added bonus of online booking, and I was off on the incredibly long bus journey up the coast to the fabulous Farnes. At this time of year there is thankfully much to see from the bus with the sun shining, the trees greening up, the daffodils at their best, and the colours gradually returning to the sea and the skies.

IMG_4498

St Cuthbert II, Seahouses Harbour. Billy Shiels Boat Trips

The Farne Islands are a group of islands off the coast of Northumberland. There are between 15 and 20 islands depending on the tide. They are scattered between 1½ – 5 miles (2.5–7.5 km) from the mainland and divided into the Inner and the Outer islands. Among the birds and animals I saw on this trip were Puffins, Grey Seals, Kittiwakes, Guillemots and Shags but it varies at different times of year. The onboard commentary and the NT Ranger’s talk provide plenty of specialised information on what birds are there and the history of the islands.

Farne Islands

The Farne Islands accessible from Seahouses

Seahouses, where the boats depart from, is densely populated with fish and chip shops and so my choice of lunch was straightforward. My ticket included a cruise of the islands from Seahouses with a landing on Inner Farne bird reserve for an hour. As well as raising my spirits after northern winters, I used the  opportunity of another trip to re-record a video of the trip which incorporates the best short walk in north eastern England.

Inner Farne Circular

Inner Farne Circular walk route

Having realised that I needed to improve on my videos, which began life as more of a diary for me, I have been working hard to utilise the tools at my disposal to better effect. I hope you will enjoy the results and consider subscribing to my YouTube Channel Rucksack Rose

With thanks to the crew of the St Cuthbert II from Billy Shiels Boat Trips (Other cruises are available) and the National Trust Rangers on Inner Farne for a great day out and a reminder that there is more to the Farne Islands than puffins.

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My first wild camped trail

I realise that circumstances have meant that it has taken me a while to get round to wild camping my first trail. As I have attempted to explain in my camping section, it has been a gradual journey from bed and breakfasts on Hadrian’s Wall to tea in a tent on the Berwickshire Coastal Path.

I don’t often hear this dramatic trail come up in conversation on social media or blogs, perhaps because people who backpack in Scotland are understandably drawn to the magnetic Munros, the famous national parks or the beautiful highlands and islands, ignoring the beauty of parts of the east coast.

Berwickshire Coastal Path

Berwickshire Coastal Path; My first wild camping trail

When I moved to the borders, I was struck by the beauty of the east coast between Holy Island in Northumberland and St Abb’s Head in Berwickshire, so I am often tempted to return there to walk. On a recent trip to Edinburgh, I was gazing out of the window, as the train runs so close to the coast between Berwick and Burnmouth that it almost knocks walkers into the sea. I noticed a couple of backpackers across the field walking along the coast path, who stopped and waved at us on the train. I got an overwhelming urge to be there waving, instead of on the train on my business errand, and so a week later I was.

Berwickshire has some of the highest, longest and most dramatic cliffs on the British coast, which make walking this path a challenging and dramatic experience which is ideal for wild camping. I’m sure I made some rookie wild camping errors, but I really enjoyed the challenge. I hope you will take a look at my trip report.

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Caves, carvings and crags

As well as the geographical posts which focus on a particular area or valley, I have been gradually creating themed walk collections from my Northumberland routes which I can add to as and when. Sometimes it is interesting to focus on one aspect or feature of an area, which can then be done as a group. So far there are walk collections in the Northumberland section featuring the coast, castles, waterfalls and short walks.

I’ve always had a soft spot for a sacred site or a cave, so my latest collection Rock Routes features some of my personal favourite geological, historical and archaeological places in Northumberland with links to GPS files.

Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 11.10.27

Clockwise: Roughting Linn Rock Art, St Cuthbert’s Cave, McCartney’s Cave, Simonside Hills

As well as videos, I am gradually enriching my blog by adding more maps, data sheets and GPS links to all my posts. I hope you will enjoy these moderate walks which are all lovely in different ways.

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