Home » Hiking » 2014 Scotland Trip » A quick update and change of plans

A quick update and change of plans

Hi all. Just to let you know I’ve had a bit of a change of plans. My first day from Ullapool was good but tough (and long) culminating with a less than ideal midge infested campsite (it was warm and dead calm).
Everything changed that night with the rain and wind picking up during the night. My pitch was less than ideal being a bit sloppy due to no flat ground and millions of midges biting me, and being completely broadside to the wind on the exposed side of a hillock because the wind changed direction during the night.
This led to a very early start (walking by 6:30) since I was too worried about the tent falling over to get back to sleep! That said, the tent and pegs were all fine.
I had already opted for a 8km road walk to bypass Cul Beag (yesterday was hard and this was a hill I was only going over because it was in the way anyway). Driving torrential rain and gale force winds persisted, with cloud cover as low as 200m so I couldn’t even see the hills around me.
I’d pretty much already decided to bail out – once I left this road I had ~30km of untracked course with 2 river crossings before reaching either civilisation or phone reception. Also, with no roads, if something really went wrong it would probably need a helicopter to get me and I wasn’t willing to be that inconvenient. I didn’t know when the weather would let up (looked like it would be there for days) and while I probably could’ve got through . . . I would most likely have been miserable, and this is supposed to be a fun holiday!
However, rather than just bailing and being disappointed in myself, I set a contingency plan. I walked all the way up the road to Stac Pollaidh then followed the track which goes most of the way up and all the way around. If the weather cleared or I had some confidence back by the far side, I’d continue with the walk. Suffice to say the weather was no better and the thought of a warm pub that evening was too inviting!
I got back out to the main road and msg’d my support crew who very kindly dropped what they were doing to come pick me up.
I’m in Durness now and have reassessed the walk to be more manageable (more fun!), now planning a 3 day stage to pick up roughly where I’d left off (Suilven, Breabag and Quinag), a couple of day walks for Arkle, Ben Stack and hopefully Foinaven and then 2 days from Rhiconich up to Cape Wrath as originally planned.
The day trips will be much easier (daypack instead of full camping kit) and breaking the trip up gets rid of some difficult sections and long walk betweens while still letting me see the bits I want and getting some quality hiking/camping time.
I’m a bit disappointed that so much planning essentially fell over on day 2 but:
1. It was partly a safety decision, and
2. This is a holiday, supposed to be fun (not about achieving anything) and I always said if I wasn’t enjoying it I’d ditch the camping and go sit in a B&B somewhere. I haven’t quite gone that far and am definitely still enjoying my holiday so am happy with my compromise!

PS Stac Pollaidh was pretty impressive even with only a few metres visibilty and not being able to get all the way to the top! Would love to see it properly!

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4 Comments

  1. Ann says:

    Good decision I think. It is no good trying to either find your way or admire the scenery in mist and driving rain. Take a photo of Smoo cave this time.

  2. thegomof51 says:

    Yep.. “character building” vs stupidity and knowing the difference!”….. Good decision. (Only a beta male would choose the chopper)

  3. Bridget says:

    Nice job. Way to be flexible!

  4. Jackie says:

    Very wise Helen. Your safety is more important.

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