Notes from the Island 16.01.2017

West Highland Way

I think I’m going to book the train tickets this week but it kind of depends on the weather. You see, as a self employed gardener, this is my slack time so I have to be careful with every penny until Spring comes around again so if I get a good weeks work in I can probably put the rail fare on a credit card and pay off half in February and half in March. The trains and the ferry to the mainland are the most expensive parts of this trip, its nearly £350 return from Southampton to Glasgow and the train from Fort William back to Glasgow is another £50. I suppose once it’s booked we’re committed.

That’s another thing, committed. I’m really excited about the hike. I know the kids will be fine and we’ve got the best part of two weeks to do something that most average people can do in 6 or 8 days but once those trains are booked there’s no getting out of it. I keep thinking of all the stuff we’ll have to carry and how the camping will work out and what if it’s a late spring and we’re covered in snow and the nights are freezing and the days soaking and …….

Then I bring myself back with a simple thought, 2 weeks just us and the kids with no phone ringing no work stuff and no distractions. I simplify the distance in my head. 8 miles a day for 12 days. The days will be longer so we can set out earlier, hike later, have a long lunch break if we want and if we manage 10 miles a day, then that’s 9 and a half days on the trail and maybe a cheeky run up Ben Nevis to finish the trip. 12 miles a day (6 in the morning, 6 after lunch) and we might get a day hike up another Munro or have a rest day paddling in a loch. I think we’ll play it by ear and if we’re making good progress we’ll make the most of it. And if we struggle, well we’ll get a bus or a train to some other lovely place and have an alternative Highland adventure.

My Cicerone guidebook and Harveys map came today so I’ll start proper planning now. We’ll try to get the kids up to 8 miles on consecutive days and it’s still an idea to walk around the Island in February half term as a practice run where we can be home in half an hour on a bus if it becomes a nightmare.

On the Island

We haven’t decided yet what we’re doing this weekend. We thought we might spend Saturday night out in the woods, a January night on the Isle of Wight may be close to an April night in Scotland, but we don’t know if we’re hiking out or cycling – depends if I get my bicycle fixed before then. We will definitely be getting the slackline set up again and firing up the storm kettle for the first time in 2017, always a good thing.

I’ve been in touch with a guy from the climbing walls at Sandown which I thought had closed down forever but have reopened quietly last year. It already sounds like a much better set up than the wall we’ve been using so we can’t wait. He’s offered a belaying refresher course which I’ll take up because it’s years since I’ve done it and, well, it will be my first born on the other end of the rope.

The main job at the ranch this week is building a new bike store because the shed is cluttered and leaking. I think if the bicycles are more accessible then we’ll use them more often. I’ve got about six pallets from the industrial estate so with those and a half decent tarp (not my camping tarp) I should be able to fashion something sturdy and weatherproof. I think Isaac is keen to help with that job which will be nice.

Oh, two things I nearly forgot.

  1. dsc_1335I found some empty golden syrup tins in the cupboard so I’m going to try and make a little “hobo” stove
  2. One of our Island sports centres is trying to raise some cash for a new climbing wall. It’s run as a charity NOT by the council so if anyone is feeling generous the crowd funding link is here. It would be great to have more climbing opportunities on the island but you know the council won’t pay for anything useful. (sorry, I’m a little cross about local politics today!)




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