Thursday, 19 February 2009

The Route

I originally planned to pretty much copy the route in Andrew McCloys book as, this being my first solo trip, I though it would be sensible. I found Mark Moxon's website (which is excellent - an absolute MUST for someone needing help planning this trip), and bought the recommended maps plus some extra's as I wanted to have the option of the south west coastal path.

I spent the most part of a wet weekend highlighting the route, and started by changing the first part to include Andrew McCloys "alternative route" which follows the north coast westwards as far as Melvich, and follows a smaller road to Lothbeg - between Helmsdale and Brora.

The reason for this is to try to avoid some of the dreaded A99, and along the way include some spectacular scenery and camping opportunites.

I then planned to follow their route the rest of the way except for spending a couple of nights in Exmoor (because I love it - I have a passion for Exmoor ponies and own 2!) and then follow the coastal path to Lands End.

Having got most of this mapped out, I'm now changing my mind to include the Offa's Dyke Path! Also, Andy Robinson shows a fab looking route across northern Scotland in his book, which looks tempting. I'll wait and see if I get a GPS unit sorted out first maybe!!

As you can tell, the route is far from sorted! I'm going to go through my maps and on sections where I follow a road I'll print maps from Memory map to save weight. But where a bit more navigation is required I'll either take the OS Explorer maps or photocopy sections of them.

I'm finially learning to save weight!


Martin Rye said...

Fail to plan. Plan to fail. Sounds like you'll be fine. Don't forget to plan a training walk or two.

Alan Sloman said...

You must consider the far north west of Scotland - it was the highlight of my walk! Having said that, Offas Dyke was quite splendid too! Take an extra month off. Make it a large one!
Good luck!

Sophie Easterbrook said...

Thanks both!

Martin - they are encouraging words, thanks for that. That's nice to hear. As soon as the weather is good enough for my horses to stay out at night we'll be off for some trial paths - maybe the Pembrokeshire coastal path - although I fancy going further afield and doing the Two Moors Way. Maybe if I'm lucky we'll get to do both!

Alan, I was reading your blog about Offa's Dyke - sounds like you enjoyed it (except for the last bit!). I'm planning on doing at least some of it. I've just been playing with Memory Map and have a much better route plotted for the far north west now! No A99 at all, woopie! The walk is getting longer by the day which is fine by me...

Thanks for the encouragement!

Gayle said...

I can only echo what Alan says (although we didn't go quite as far north west as did Alan!).

The ODP surprised me with its variety - even if it is quite violently undulating in places. And I wouldn't have missed the north west of Scotland (even though it rained almost every day).

We more-or-less followed Andy Robinson's route from just before Craig to Watten, and I considered that it was well worth the extra miles. If you like pathless yomping, wild camping and solitude (as we do), then it's a spectacular route.

Sophie Easterbrook said...

Hi Gayle, that's good to know.

"pathless yomping, wild camping and solitude" are definitely my thing!!

One question - did you find it a wet route in northern in did you have to cross many streams / rivers? Wet feet (even if I have sealskinz) don't appeal to me!!

Jewellery By Shalini said...

Hi Sophie,
You are a brave girl. You will do fine.
Best of luck to you and Patch.
I have really enjoyed reading your blog.

Gayle said...

We didn't once get our feet wet crossing streams or rivers in Scotland. Even with the rain we had, we always found crossing point where either the water was shallow, or more commonly where we could use stones and boulders to get across.

However, we were pretty wet footed for the last two or three weeks thanks to the bogs (combined with the GoreTex in my boots having given out by that point and Mick's boots being faultily leaky).

When it was particularly wet I wore Sealskinz and they did the job nicely.

Of course, as you will be starting up there, your boots should still be waterproof at that point.

Sophie Easterbrook said...

Hi Shalini, what a surprise to see you here! A pleasant one of course! Thanks for that.

Gayle, that's good to know. I've just been re-planning my northern Scotland route and then I read Alan's comment again...I got my East and Wests mixed up when I first read it (that doesn't bode well!!). The outcome is that I'm now thinking how great it would be to investigate the north west...I'm going to need more time off!

Thanks for the Sealskinz tip - they are top of my shopping list (almost). Chris Townsend rates them well in his book also, so they seem like a good plan.