The Cateran Trail 3-day backpack

Approach to An LairigA 3-day solo backpack of the Cateran Trail waymarked circular route through Perthshire and the Angus glens in south-eastern Scotland, a varied low-to-mid level route following old tracks and drove roads used by the notorious Cateran cattle raiders in bygone times.

The original 64-mile (103km) route repeats the initial 7-mile (11km) section from Blairgowrie to Bridge of Cally on the return leg. On this backpack I took the documented alternative route variant from Alyth to Blairgowrie via Den of Alyth and Glendams, sometimes called the Drimmie Woods alternative route and signed as such in Alyth, that returns on a direct line and eliminates that lengthy repetition.

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The Dyfi Ridge 2-day backpack

Cribin Fawr pitchA backpack of the Dyfi group of hills, a little walked ridge traverse from Dinas Mawddwy in the east to the A487 summit pass in the west, returning to Dolgellau over the low hill country north-east of Gau Graig via the old restricted byway.

This route was a good choice for a predicted warm and sunny Easter weekend with hordes of walkers on more popular hills and some disruption on public transport in other areas. A noon start meant that we saw a mere handful of walkers on Maesglase and nobody else at all thereafter.

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Hadrian’s Wall 4-day backpack

Walton CragsA 3½-day solo training backpack of the popular Hadrian’s Wall national trail, or Hadrian’s Way as it is signed at the eastern end near Wallsend Metro station.

A weather forecast for several days of dry conditions with a persistent fresh easterly air stream gave a rare opportunity to hike it east-to-west with the wind at my back the whole way. The first day was grey and murky, no great loss since the easternmost section is largely urban, but the rest were much better than expected and mainly sunny throughout, perfect for this route that has lurked on a back burner for years.

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Northern Mawddach Way 2-day backpack

Dawn sky at tent pitchA continuation trip to our Southern Mawddach Way (MW) backpack of September 2018 to complete the trail.

The weather was far superior to the cautious forecast, clear skies and unbroken sunshine throughout, surpassing even the very warm and highly unusual conditions on our Langdale Fells backpack of February 2008. On this trip it was decidely hot in the middle of the day and we were occasionally praying for a breeze to kick in. Our previous record of 29th. February 2004 for the earliest butterfly was also broken, we saw several peacocks and other unidentified specimens.

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Around Glencoyne 2-day backpack

Pitch on Green SideA 2-day route around the hills bordering Glencoyne, starting at the popular and well maintained Aira Force woodland path. The line ascends along the slopes of Watermillock Common to Hart Side and Green Side reaching the highest point at Stybarrow Dodd, then returns via Sticks Pass to ascend Sheffield Pike and finish along the Greenside Mine track to Glenridding.

On this our first midwinter backpack for years, the weather fell far short of our expectation from the forecast and yielded only brief sunshine in the middle of the first day, the remainder was thickly overcast with a dull, flat light that drained the landscape of colour and struggled to produce good views and images. The oddest aspect though was the total absence of snow on even the highest summits in early January.

Full report & photos