In May of this Year I visited Scotland for the first time on a circular walk around the Southern Cairngorms. I enjoyed myself so much that I decided I would go back as soon as was practically possible.
The Cairngorms are huge. To put things into perspective, Dartmoor has an area of 953 Square Km, the Cairngorms by comparison has an area of 4,528 Square Km! So in terms of scale it’s a totally different ball game.
With such a large area to wander around, I think it will take a lifetime of walks to fully explore all of it!
This walk differs from the first one in that I will be walking from Blair Atholl to Aviemore. I was hoping to do the walk the other way around, but the trains are more frequent in Aviemore which makes that a better end point.
As usual, I start off with the Kit Muster to make sure that everything is present ready to be packed:
The kit load is relatively light at 15.4kg for 4+1 days which by my standards isn’t bad at all. Part of the weight savings come from the water I’m not taking with me.
Usually I carry a spare litre of water over and above what’s in the 800mL Travel Tap. However, on this walk, water will be abundant enough that this won’t be necessary, at least for the first two days.
For the sleeping arrangements I decided to go with the interim sleeping bag – the RAB Neutrino Endurance 400. I’m not expecting the weather to be cold enough to warrant the Winter bag.
In terms of new kit, I have finally got around to replacing the RAB Bergen eVent hard-shell:
The new hard-shell is made of Gore-Tex Pro, which alas, is pretty expensive. But for me, the hard-shell is a critical piece of kit and not one that should be skimped on.
Gore-Tex Pro is apparently very hard wearing, so in theory I’m expecting this hardshell to last for a fair bit of time – at least longer than the two years that the RAB did.
On the scales, the Arcteryx Beta LT hardshell weighs in at 355 g, which amounts to a pretty hefty weight saving of 207 g over the heavier RAB eVent Bergen.
For food I’m pretty much taking my usual load too:
The big difference is that I am not bringing snack food for day 1 or day 5.
The reason for this is that on day 1 I typically eat a lot on the rail journey, so by the time I start the walk, I do not feel like eating. Day 1 will also be a relatively short day in terms of walk duration as I’m not expecting to get into Scotland until around 1530-ish.
As for Day 5 – the spare day, it only has around 7km of distance to cover. I know from previous experience that I never eat snacks on the last day. I suspect it’s because the last day is always very short and I usually eat once I get back to civilisation.
Despite the cuts, there is still spare capacity, as I don’t normally eat all my allocated snacks on each day anyways, so in theory I should still be leaving Scotland with some food left.
I’m now all packed and ready to go. As usual the butterflies are doing their thing in my stomach!
The only thing that remains to be done is to brief my safety number and eat a large Domino’s Pizza – as per my hiking tradition.
So that’s it, I will now be off the grid until Thursday – have a good week everyone!