Dienstag, 17. Mai 2011

Oh, bonny Scotland!

A while ago we were talking about were to go during our easter holidays. Rather quick we decided to visit Scotland again. Don't know if it's the landscape, the tasty (and healthy!!!) meals, the hearty people or just because it's where we got engaged (to be exact it was in the north of Skye). We indeed feel at home there!

You're surely surprised that this post is written in english (and not a very good one as it's been a while since I've left school)!
I'm doing this as a tribute both to our english speaking followers and friends we have got to know through this blog and also to the friendly folks that we met during our last trip.

And for all our german followers: Don't panic! The next one will be written in german as usual!
(or should I try kisuaheli instead...)

Ok. Let's start!

After some decent planning (how much time can we spend, how long will we hike, what route to take, what food to eat , what gear to choose, where to reduce even more weight etc. - the usual lightweight backpackers stuff) we were finally on the way to the airport. Our huckePACKs were packed beside our normal gear with some delicious vegetarian food provided by the Outdoorfoodshop and the prototype of the new Laufbursche Lavvu. On Wednesday we arrived at Glasgow airport and after a rather short night we took the train further north to Rannoch Station.
For planning and creating our route (and printing our OS-style maps) we used the superb service of groughroute. Something I can strongly recommend to all who are going to spend their time hiking in the UK.

Day 1

At around 3 o'clock we arrived at the remote train station habited in the Rannoch Moore which has given the station its name.
The weather was surprisingly warm and sunny. A perfect start!

Following a forest track we began hiking along the shores of Loch Laidon.

The simple road that we were following on this first part gave us the opportunity to make last adjustments to our packs before entering "wild land" and switching ourselves to cruising mode. Not long after the forest the road vanished and not a single path was going to lead us. Just aiming at the right direction we headed on through the wide and open landscape of the Rannoch Moor. It was a superb walk and we enjoyed every bit of it.

At the end of the day we started to collect some dead and dry heather along the way to have something to feed our hungry Bushbuddy with. When we passed a beautiful flat spot right next to a small creek we decided that we'd done enough for this first day. The Laufbursche Lavvu was quickly errected and the water on our Bushbuddy started simmering. A delicious meal later we fell asleep in our cozy duoquilt.

Day 2

The next morning the wind made it rather chilly outside of our shelter. So we dressed up with our Montane Featherlight Smocks and spared the breakfast as a later snack.

We were still heading west while passing a superb landscape.

When the sun started to warm the air and we reached a decent track we decided to have a short stop to enjoy a UH brunch mainly consisting of a whole tin of baked beans and a package of potato scones. Yummy!
No time to waste! Not much later and we were back on the trail.
Trail? Well, we approached Kings House Hotel and with it a section of the West Highland Way. So it was more a kind of a rough road than a decent track. But after a short snackstop at KHH we felt strong enough to face this "challenge"! ;-)

Heading south from KHH we hiked against the normal direction of the WHW. (Did you notice that I like abbreviations?)

That gave us the opportunity to have a look at all kinds of WHW hikers. Most of them had just a little daypack or even less with them. A result of the now widely available baggage transport service along this way. The other hikers were more traditionally equipped. Meaning they had a whole lot of stuff dangling around their way too heavy backpacks. Poor little hikers...

After the Forest Lodge we left this WHW section and headed West. Before entering further into Glen Kinglass we took the oportunity of a very scenic place to stay for the night. The nearby river offered the perfect option for a quick bath in its icy water.

We were nearly asleep when there was a strange noise outside of our tent. I opened the door and faced a deer! Quite a big one! With antlers! Big antlers!

It looked surprised as well and when I tried to snatch my camera it had already turned around and vanished on the other side of the river...

Day 3

We awoke due to the bright and friendly sun shining through the Cuben fibre walls of our roomy shelter. I dressed up to fetch some water and to prepare some breakfast. When I opened the door the sky was all grey.
I stopped. Grey?
I went back into the tent and closed the door. And again the light passing the green Cuben walls promised a wonderful warm and sunny day. Great! Something else to prize this shelter for.

Unfortunately it was already time to hike on.

Dressed up in our waterproofs we waded through the quite swampy Glen. Several fords had to be crossed and our feet were far away from staying dry. Not a big problem as long as we kept moving it kept our feet warm, too.

The lanscape changed. The wide and open scenery of the Rannoch Moore shifted to something that seemed to be taken right out of the Lord of the rings! Epic!

The trail followed the river. It was muddy, climbed over stones, went down to cross minor creeks, (the bridges were all broken forcing us to ford quite often) passed a waterfall and finally reached a Landrover track.

Fuelled up with a warm meal and a hot brew provided by our beloved Bushbuddy we headed on. Now able to finally dry our socks while we hiked along this road. The landscape changed again and we felt ourselves shifted to a place taken out of "Stargazer" (we even managed to find the hole in the wall).

Endowed with another amazing campsite we prepared our selfes for the night before we continued to Loch Etive the next day.

Day 4

The sun was still hidden behind the clouds when we broke up camp and started to Loch Etive.

Along the shores we were following a simple trail, mostly hidden in the muddy banks of the Loch. Our umbrellas came in handy when a light drizzle of rain and some wind escorted us on our way further north.
It took a while until we reached the northern end of Loch Etive. But our feet were still covered in mud when we passed a small bothy. A bearded man was working outside on something that should become a pipeline for fresh water.

Without having seen anyone else for two days a little chat was quite pleasant. Marc invited us to a cup of tea and we happily agreed. The bothy used to be an open bothy but is now used by Venture Scotland to provide a base for personal and social development programmes. The "little chat" continued for more than an hour and we had a great time with Marc.

Unfortunately we had to hike on to find a decent place for the night at the foot of "Stob na Broige" before it got dark. So we said farewell to Marc and continued our journey.

Well hidden on a clearing and surrounded by trees we found our place for the night.
Lavvu errected.
Water boiling on the Bushbuddy.
Delicious meal and some hot chocolate with marshmallows.
Ready for the night!

Day 5

This day was half "off track" and half "WHW". But before entering Kinlochleven (I really, really love the sound of this name! Kinlochleven! Just makes me smile!) some decent hillwalking was required. I'm not speaking of the WHW-section passing the "devils staircase". I'm talking about the uphill part we were facing right at the beginning of this lovely day!

It was signed out as "public footpath to Glencoe". But the path vanished as soon as it went uphill.

The walk was quite steep and the warm and wet air quite oppressive.

It took us longer than expected to reach the top where we agreed on a short snack and nap stop.

Fuelled up with new energy we nearly floated downhill making this part of the hike a pure joy. Down in the Glen we reached the WHW again. Time for lunch with our Bushbuddy! (We really appreciate those little breaks!)

And then we were ready to proceed!

Nearly unstoppable we overtook the heavy loaded WHW hikers up the Devil's Staircase and hiked on, down to (I'm sure you can imagine the smile on my face by writing this name...) Kinlochleven!
Before even looking for a place to stay we took part in an old hikers custom: Laying siege on the local supermarket!
In Kinlochleven (no comment...) we took the opportunity of the luxury of a room with a hot shower as well as the meals provided by the local pub. Mhhh...

Day 6

With freshly washed clothes and fuelled by a superb breakfast we started the sixed day of our hike under a nearly cloud free sky. That's how life should be!

Hiking uphill we soon reached the Blackwater Reservoir. The water seemed to be indeed black! From there on we took a small path heading further north.

The gorgeous weather made it a joy of a walk. When a nice and well renovated bothy came in sight we took the opportunity to make a stop.

Well protected from the wind rushing down from the hills we enjoyed a sunbathe behind the bothy mumbling some GORP and sandwiches we brought from... (you know what's coming!)
... Kinlochleven!

No time to waste as we planned to spend the night on the shores of Loch Treig.
We shouldered our beloved huckePACKs again and continued our walk. It got more and more chilling due to the upcoming clouds and the increasing wind.

When we finally reached Loch Treig we immediately errected the Laufbursche Lavvu to give us some more protection.

The temperature had already dropped by a few degrees. But still way too hot for the heavy loaded backpackers that passed our camp. ;-)

Day 7

The night was quite chilling. We'd dressed up in all our clothes and when I opened the door frost was trickling on the floor.
I prepared the last sachet of hot chocolate for breakfast to give us some more warmth.
 "Oh, my mithtreth. The drink ith prepared!"

Slowly the sun rose and lit our shelter. The air began to warm and we could peel off more and more of our clothes. (not all of them!)

We packed our equipment and prepared ourselves for our last day hiking in this beautiful landscape.
We headed on passing Corrour station, known of the movie "Trainspotting" and enjoyed a quick meal during a reststop at the most remote hostel of Scotland, Loch Ossian Youthhostel.

The sun kept shining down on us as we headed back to where we started six days ago.

We took a scenic path above the Rannoch Moor which provided a beautiful overview of the country. In the far distance we could already see Rannoch station. The same trainstation we started our hike and where we would soon finish it. But we still had to hike along Carn Deag until we met a road which would lead us to the railway.
Slightly sunburned we completed this last day and with it a perfect hike through the beauties of a gorgeous land.

The End?

Well, as we've reached Rannoch station way ahead of our schedule we had two more days to spend before we had to go back to Glasgow. Time enough to go to Fort William and climb Ben Nevis! But that's another story to be told... ;-)

To provide you with some more information about our trip here's a map of our route. If you're eager to follow our steps by hiking the same route please contact me via eMail and I'll provide you with a very precise .gpx file.

Scotland 2011 view it on a larger map

p.s. for all who can't get enough here's a slideshow with a "few" more pics:
BEWARE it's nearly 340MB large