For this week’s blog I decided to do something a little different. I messaged a group of friends, family and others to ask me 3 questions they had about the walk. I then used these questions to compile this blog. I was quite surprised by the range of topics posed by these questions and where questions covered a similar topic I banded them together.
Do you think there will be whole days where you don’t see another person?
There are a few places where I may not see another person for the entire day, though there are not many of these. I believe in England and Wales I am extremely unlikely to have an entire day where I will not see anyone, though there are many spots where i may not see anyone for several hours. There are though several days on the West side of Scotland where I may not see anyone from leaving a campsite or village in the morning till the evening, but there are only 2 planned days that I think it is likely I may not see anyone, or any properties (other than bothies) at all:
Day 188: Kingairloch to Leacraithnaich Bothy
Day 237: Strathchailleach Bothy to Kearvaig Bothy
What will keep you motivated when it’s really tough?
At points when it gets really tough, the thing that will keep me going is the walk itself and the fact that I can’t give up. Also thinking about certain things in the near future such as a specific point on the walk that I am particularly looking forward to or seeing a friend or a warm house, will keep me going.
I also think the previous 4 years’ experience will keep me going, because however tough it gets on the walk I can guarantee it won’t be as bad as where I have been in the last 4 years. I will just have to remember that at least I am outside, doing something beneficial and when (/if) I get to the end will have something to be proud of.
What/how are you planning to eat each day? Especially in the deep, dark depths of Scotland?
What food do you think you will miss the most during your walk?
Given your penchant for cooking and nice food, what is going to be your main source of sustenance along the way, also how many calories do you expect to burn?
What food and drink are you looking to eat/make for yourself on the move?
Lots of question about food, i do not know if this says more about me or more about the people asking. I do not have a specific dietary plan and the below is just what I expect I will do. I will keep breakfasts simple and uncooked so I can get up and be on the go as quick as possible. So things like granola, banana, nuts and of course a cup of tea and plenty of water. Lunch the majority of the time will just be picked up on my way through a town, so things like meal deals, pasties etc. Dinner will often be cooked on my stove and include simple pastas, stews or if I am staying with a friend I will be able to cook more exciting stuff. Of course occasionally if it is raining and I am a bit fed up I am sure I will pop into restaurants, but I’ve got to keep within budget. Throughout the day I will also snack quite a lot and I will try and keep this healthy with nuts and fruit, but can imagine eating quite a lot of chocolate.
Regards the ‘deep, dark depths of Scotland’ or in fact any other remote areas, during planning I found on about 85% of days I will pass or at least come close to a shop. There are though a couple of places (mainly on the West and North of Scotland) where I may not pass a shop for 36 hours (1 ½ days) or at two points 60 hours (2 ½ days). These have been flagged up so I am prepared for having to carry more food at these points. On top of this some of the shops are small village co-operative shops, and in case I am unlucky with any of these shops being shut I will always have at least 24 hours of emergency rations, probably in the form of those military style ration packs as they can be eaten hot or cold.
I hadn’t thought about what foods I would miss. I am not sure I will particularly miss anything at all, as I will be passing towns, villages etc. so occasionally I can have a treat if I fancy something. I think I am more likely to get bored of certain foods, than miss specific things. For example I can imagine getting quite bored of simple pasta’s and stews.
Regards calories I am not going to be counting, I will be eating as much as I can. I will likely put weight on doing this walk rather than losing weight due to my build.
What’s on you playlist?
If you could only take one single song for the walk, what would it be?
Some people may find this strange, but I will not have a playlist. I don’t really listen to music, and I will like listening to the birds, waves and other sounds anyway (barring cars when near roads). Based on an old joke from my university Fives team the song I would take if I did would be Phil Collins ‘Another day in Paradise', which actually has some apt lines in it ‘He walks on, doesn’t look back’.
What kind of weather are you least looking forward to walking in?
I think this is quite an obvious one for me. I do not mind it being cold as long as it is dry. The worst weather for me will definitely be heavy rain teamed with strong winds as it will be hard to keep everything dry. In particular heavy rain as I am pitching the tent will be annoying.
Where are you most looking forward to visiting?
A good question, there are many places I am looking forward to seeing but the West Coast of Scotland is I think the area I am most looking forward to. In particular I am looking forward to visiting some of the remote bothies there, Uags and Kearvaig to name a couple. I am also really looking forward to a particular day on Skye from Camasunary Bothy climbing up from sea level to almost 1000m near Inaccessible Peak and back down to sea level at Culnamean, a tough day but should get some incredible views.
Though maybe not the most beautiful parts I think the cardinal points (most northerly, easterly, southerly, westerly points) will be something I look forward to on my walk as each time I pass one it will be another portion of the walk done.
Southernmost - Lizard Point, Cornwall
Westernmost - Neist Point, Isle of Skye
Northernmost - Dunnet Head, Scotland
Easternmost - Lowestoft Ness, Suffolk
What do you anticipate to be the hardest terrain you will have to face?
What is going to be the most difficult stretch of the walk in terms of terrain, time, skill etc.?
Where will be the toughest part of the walk physically?
The hardest terrain ignoring any effects that the weather may have is probably going to be the SW coast path around Cornwall and Devon, where you are constantly going up and down gullies. This period has some significant ascents, and my proposed route for week 9 has a total ascent of about 37,100 feet for the week, which is roughly the height at which planes fly. On a few particular proposed days around the SW coast path the ascent reaches 10,000ft. The flip-side being that the SW coast path is probably the easiest part of the walk to follow, so though physically challenging easy to follow.
Another area where the terrain could be physically hard is the moorlands of West/North Scotland. At certain points I will be going off-piste (not following paths) in these areas and I can imagine it will be quite tiring trudging through the thick heather and the at times swampy ground.
On a skill level the points at which I go off-piste will probably be the hardest. The majority of these are on the western and northern sides of Scotland. For these I will need to make sure I concentrate a lot, to ensure I don’t end up elongating my route by going the wrong route.
Are you cutting your hair or growing a beard?
I had considered going fully feral and letting it grow for the whole year, but decided against it. I will probably shave once a week and cut my hair periodically.
Do you have a foot care routine planned?
I do not have a particular foot care plan. I will just be trying to look after them as I go, mainly by trying to keep them dry, and also by applying treatment (plaster/Compeed) if required at the first sign of any issues.
What animals/birds would you most like to see?
There are lots of animals/birds I am hoping to see, I will mention a few. I have never seen an otter and believe my best chance of seeing these will be amongst the lochs of Scotland. I would love to see a mother seal and pup on the beach which based on my timings I could be very lucky and see at Donna Nook. Regards birds there are many I would love to see, puffins in particular but I’m not sure my route times well with the mainland colonies, though there may be a few early arrivals when I pass South Stack on Anglesey. I would also love to see a sea eagle and even though these are rare I have a chance on the West coast of Scotland. In reality I am looking forward to seeing a wide range of animals and particularly birds as I carry out this walk. To throw one last animal into the mix, the most amazing but also the most unlikely animal I could see is a killer whale as there is one resident pod and further migratory pods, my chance of seeing them is almost zero.
Are there any regional coastal delicacies you’re particularly looking forward to eating?
Interesting, I hadn’t thought about this at all. Maybe it would be fun for people from certain areas to suggest regional delicacies for me to try?
What are you taking to read to keep you entertained?
I will be taking one book with me and swapping this each time I finish a book as I go around the walk. The book I am reading at the moment is ‘Throwing rocks at the google bus’ which is fascinating so will probably start the walk with that but reckon I will generally go for more light-hearted books on the walk. If you have a book you think I may like to read please do suggest.
How much of a ballache is the Kintyre peninsula going to be?
Well someone has done their research. For those who don’t know (presumably most) this is a peninsula in Scotland, on my walk I head down from Tarbert onto this peninsular and in fact walk 122 miles around it to end up only 1 mile from where I started. But to me this part is not a ‘ballache’, as it is genuinely coastal and in fact I am expecting the walking around the Mull of Kintyre to be beautiful. The bits that will be a frustration to me are when the lochs head miles and miles inland and you have to walk around these, essentially the opposite of a peninsula, as these won’t feel coastal and can add significant distance on.
If you could pick someone famous, past or present, to join you on the walk, who would it be and why?
Who would be your ideal and nightmare travel celebrity companions?
A classic question whether at interviews or away days. So the 3 people I would pick to join are David Attenborough, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. David Attenborough because everything would sound great however mundane with him speaking, he would also be so enthusiastic about all the wildlife and fauna around the walk. Ronnie O’Sullivan is someone I have followed for many years, I find both his snooker and his mannerisms fascinating. He would also be interesting to talk to about mental health issues as he has come such a long way in the past 10 years, under the guidance of Dr Steve Peters. Isambard Kingdom Brunel because I am an engineer, and I genuinely do believe he was an absolute genius not only as an engineer but also at persuading people to fund his sometimes wacky ideas. It would be great to speak to him about what he would do regards the current issues around the coast, plastic pollution, coastal erosion etc.
As for the nightmare travel companions, David Davis, Jean Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier because the never ending saga of Brexit is just so tedious and I’d happily never hear the term again. One of the great things about this walk will be that I won’t hear so much about it.
Where will be ‘unmissable’ for friends and family to join you?
Well I won’t directly answer this otherwise people may all want to visit at the same place. I am very keen for visitors, so just let me know what times or where you want to visit!!
Thanks to everyone who asked questions!
And if you have any further questions please do ask below.