Scotland 2015 – First solo hike

How would it be to go on a solo-hike? This thought haunted me for months. It was tempting, the idea of doing this on my own, being strong and independent. It felt like a real adventure and a way of proving myself (or others, who knows ;)) that I could do such a thing… but above all, there was this irresistible temptation of being away in the mountains….

Meanwhile, the perfect oppurtunity for a first solo-hike came along. I had to present my work at a scientific congress in Edinburgh, so it was only a matter of staying a bit longer. Lucky me, I’ve always wanted to explore the Cairngorms and it felt like something I could do. I decided to go for a path that has been walked and decribed before, but without the immense popularity as the West Highland Way nowadays has. The challenge I set myself was doing this alone, so I didn’t feel the urge to chose for very difficult terrain.

The plan was set: from Blair Atholl via the River Tilt and the Lairig Gru to Glenmore in approximately 4 days. I bought my maps and could stare to them for hours. Routefinding did not seem difficult, but this was still the part that I scared the most, because I always rely on Arend in this respect. I have no sense of direction and even get lost in my hometown, so don’t you agree that justifies my fears? 😉


I said goodbye to my fantastic hostel in Edinburgh (more about this will follow in a practical update for future hikers of this trail) and headed to Blair Atholl.

It started as a gentle track through woodland and surrounded by hills. Nothing spectacular yet, but fine for the beginning of a hike. I tried to escape as much as forest section as I could and after that, I followed the River Tilt for hours…


The longer I walked, the better the views I got.


I kept on following River Tilt.


For long, I walked on a track where cars could drive as well. I hardly saw anyone, so I didn’t mind at all, but the thought of wildcamping on a foodpath instead of this track made me walk a few extra miles. It felt saver, somehow. Probably ridiculous, but I couldn’t help myself thinking of a car driving near to my tent this night..


So I kept going, untill I finally reached a path that was determined as ‘foodpath’ by my map. Oh yeah, that felt save 😛


Setting up my tent went pretty well, although I’ve no idea if I properly pitched my tent. But who cares? The tent was still alive the next morning and so was I. I even slept well. Although I must admit that I heard some scary noices that turned out to be sheep (I found out the next morning when I saw wool around my tent pegs).

I can’t express how I felt waking up here, showering in the river, having breakfast outside..


So day 2. I can only wish that I would wake up more often like this (so that definitely means that I should do more microadventures). I enjoy this wild-camping-vibe so much that I don’t make any rush to leave, and by the time I do, I meet Richard who has already walked from where I started yesterday, and it’s only 11am.. My pace is clearly much slower than his, and although I enjoy walking together for a while, I can’t keep up with his pace. That’s not surpising, as he is already walking for a month continuously with an average distance of 20 miles (32km) per day…He walkes from Land’s End to John o’ Groats; so for those who are not familiar with this: it basically means that he walks through the entire UK! I must add (sorry folks for bragging) that although I totally sucked in walking miles and that kind of stuff, my map reading skills excelled his gps at some point. I’d never expected that..

photo by Richard

So after saying goodbye, I was back alone, but the good thing about this is that I learned a lot about my own way of hiking: I like to start the day slowly, make a lot of breaks and photos and I just need some time to get in a good walking rithm. But man, if I’m finally done with the ‘warming up’, I can walk for hours…


So after this river crossing, I reached White Brigdge, which has lots of beautiful places to pitch my tent, but I decided to continue walking.




I didn’t find a good spot to pitch my tent for a long while, so I had to walk longer than expected and walked all the way  to Corrour Bothy. A bothy – also called wilderness hut –  is a free, basic shelter in remote mountain areas.


The bothy was located very nearby this impressive mountain: Devil’s Point. When I arrived to the bothy, a few other people were camping and one guy was even sleeping under the stars in a bivvy bag.


Day 3. From Carrour Bothy to Glenmore by the Lairig Ghru.


I walked across the Ben Macdui (1309m), the second highest mountain in the UK.


This day wasn’t particularly longer or heavier that the other days – it was actually a beautiful day – but from the last picture on, it became tough. I took a wrong path for a while, I could see how far I still had to go, and I wasn’t in the mood to take pictures anymore.


I was very relieved when I reached the road, got a lift and reached the campsite. In hindsight, I would say that a bit of feeling miserable is just part of adventure. Most of all, this micro-adventure was insane fun and I would immediately do it again 🙂

Fancy this hike? Read the practical tips here 

5 thoughts on “Scotland 2015 – First solo hike

    • Liz says:

      Thanks David 😀 great to hear you enjoyed reading it. It was a challenge to do it alone, but I enjoyed it very much: the Scotish Cairngorms are amazing and so nearby the Netherlands.

      Liked by 1 person

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