Here’s the blog version of my 2018 winter Newsletter
Journey to Glendubh Bothy
Download the first 2 Chapters of my Best Selling book The Last Hillwalker
Climb Ben Wyvis a mountain in the Scottish Highlands
Check out Keith Foskett’s Thru Hiking Classic The Journey in Between
Gear review Thermarest’s best lightweight sleeping mat
Plus check out a great new magazine, Wild Camping
So, you’d like to visit a wild Highland bothy but don’t know which one to start with. Over the next few months I’m going to write about the bothies I love and give you some tips on which bothies might suit you and some hints on how to get there and what you should take.
I’m starting out with a remote but easy to get to bothy, Glendubh (Pronounced Glendoo). This bothy is in a fantastic setting right on the west coast of Scotland near the village of Kylesku. The scenery is magnificent as it sits nestling on the side of a spectacular sea loch. It’s not unusual to see otters fishing in the loch and there are many sea birds to watch and there’s even a sporting chance you’ll see a Golden Eagle.
This is one of my favourite bothies, it has a great atmosphere and, even though it is relatively accessible, it has that wonderful remote and other worldly feel that I really enjoy. It has four rooms, so there is plenty of space, and most important of all, a great fire. Take about 10kgs of good house coal and you are sure of a cosy night.
Kylesku is about three hours drive from the Highland capital of Inverness. Shops are scarce in this remote area so it’s a good idea to buy your provisions in Inverness or in the fishing village of Ullapool on the way. Ullapool makes a good lunch stop or there is a good hotel at Kylesku who serve great food.
The walk in to Glendubh is pretty easy but remember to allow plenty of time as you’ll be carrying a heavy pack and will probably want to stop along the way to take photos and look at the sights. It’s about a three mile walk to the bothy, the track is very good and follows the northern shore of the sea loch. Only basic navigational skills are required and, if you are reasonably fit, this shouldn’t be a challenging walk. Do remember that the weather here often changes very quickly so you need to be properly equipped with water proofs and warm outdoor clothing.
In common with all bothies Glendubh is a basic open shelter. There is no electricity, or running water and you’ll be sleeping on the floor.
Bothies are special places and it is a great privilege to visit them, please respect them and the people you meet.
Always follow the Bothy Code
This bothy is maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association, who are volunteers. If you enjoy a night at a bothy why not show your appreciation for their work and help them maintain more of these fantastic places by making a small donation.
The Last Hillwalker
My book is selling incredibly well and I’ve had some amazing feedback. Now you can download the first 2 chapters free. Download Chapters
If you want to start hillwalking in the Scottish Highlands but are not sure where to start Ben Wyvis (Pronounced Wivis) is a good introduction to the Scottish hills. This mountain is less than an hour’s drive north from the Highland capital of Inverness. There is a good car park, situated on the A835 Ullapool road, and the path is well marked. You come down the hill the same way you go up so, if you are not that confident of your navigation, it is a good hill to choose. Here are some pictures from my recent ascent
Find out more here Ben Wyvis Walk Highlands
The Journey in Between
Keith Foskett is an outdoor writer I really admire and someone who as taken the art of self-publishing the accounts of his incredible journeys to a new level.
Thousands attempt to hike El Camino in its entirety each year: some succeed, many fail.
Keith Foskett found himself at a crossroads, sensing his life was about to change. But, until a chance meeting with a stranger in a Greek bar, he didn’t know which path to take.
A week later, he found himself at the start of El Camino, and began a journey that would change him. Along the way he made friends with fellow pilgrims from all over the world, all travelling for their own different reasons.
From the pain of blisters and extremes of temperature to encountering kleptomaniacs, fake faith healers and being threatened with arrest in Spain for ‘not sleeping’, his hike was far from normal.
This is the story of one man’s walk, but it speaks to all who see life itself as a journey and are alive to the revelations that an escape to nature can bring. Written with insight, observation and a healthy dose of humour.
As this book shows, it is rarely the start and the finish that count, but the journey in between.
Read the reviews
“A thoroughly entertaining modern take on a well worn Spanish Trail.”
Download the first 2 chapters of Keith’s book here.
For the best part of 40 years I spent every night in the outdoors with my faithful Karrimat the old traditional foam mat. I’d taken it up Mount Kenya, to the Alps and the Canadian Rockies as well as many less glamorous trips to bothies the length and breadth of Scotland. I’ve had my mat for over 30 years and regard it as an old and faithful friend. It had seemed such luxury when I bought it and no longer had to sleep on the cold, hard ground. I’d looked at inflatable mats but had always been put off by their price. One night, in a remote Northern bothy, I met a couple of keen bothy patrons who told me how far superior their inflatable mattresses were.
Still unconvinced, and reluctant to part with the huge amount of cash required, I spoke to my friend, outdoor expert and author Chris Townsend. Chris was unequivocal, ‘Go and get yourself a Thermarest-NeoAir-Xtherm, you can sleep on snow with one of those.’
I shopped around but the cheapest I could get that mat was £135, so I braced myself and ordered one. I’ve had the mat now for almost two years and I can honestly say that the thought of having to go back to my old foam mat now fills me with dread. At fist I found sleeping on the wobbly inflatable mat disconcerting and I feel off it quite a bit in the first few nights. After a couple of nights, I mastered the art of sleeping on the cushion of air and it’s now second nature, even when I am asleep.
The Thermarest is far more comfortable than the old foam mat I used to use. I like to sleep on my side, something that was very uncomfortable on the karrimat, the new mat lets me do that and I get a much better night’s sleep, an important factor on multi-day trips. Another great advantage of the Thermarest is that it packs away in to a 1 litre stuff sack which means I can easily stow it inside my rucksack. This is a major advantage as it means I can now put a rain cover over my sack. In the past the bulky Karrimat had to be strapped to the outside of the rucksack which meant I couldn’t fit a rain cover. I could never find a satisfactory way of strapping the rolled up mat to the outside and it always annoyed me by snagging on tree branches every time I walked through a forest track.
There is always a trade off between weight and warmth with any insulating equipment from sleeping bags to jackets. There are much warmer mats available the Thermarest-NeoAir-Xtherm but they are a lot heavier and I think that the balance between comfort and weight is about right with this mat. Overall I give it 5 stars and I have retired my poor old Karrimat for a well-earned rest.
For more information on selecting your inflatable sleeping mat click here
More information on the different types of mat available HERE
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Coming on the 16th of march 2018, my sequel to The Last Hillwalker
Finally, don’t miss this new magazine Wild Camping it’s free to download and packed with great features.