Backpacker's Britain: Northern Scotland
30 short backpacking routes north of the Great Glen
By Graham Uney
The guidebook covers 30 multi-day backpacking routes in northern Scotland's highlands and islands. Routes take walkers along rugged coastlines from the Shetland Islands to the Rough Bounds of Knoydart, and across mountain ridges from northern Skye to Glen Affric. Routes of 2, 3 and 5 days.
SeasonsJanuary to March most routes snow-bound. April to June and September to December ideal. July and August bring plagues of midges!
CentresLerwick, Stromness, Stornoway, Ullapool, Gairloch, Torridon, Kyle of Lochalsh, Mallaig, Portree, Fort William
DifficultyWilderness backpacking routes of 2–5 days for the experienced hillwalker/wild camper. Good fitness and navigation skills essential.
Must SeeSleeping in the wilderness and waking to a sunlit dawn of cackling grouse on vast, open expanses of purple moorland.
The Highlands of Scotland are one of Britain's great wilderness areas, particularly in the Far North. Backpackers venturing into these remote lands get a true sense of being away from it, and this book gives a superb starting point for those wanting to explore this wonderful mountain region. A total of 30 multi-day backpacking routes are described, along rugged coastlines from the Shetland Islands to the Rough Bounds of Knoydart, and across mountain ridges from the northern tip of Skye to the great trench of Glen Affric. Most routes take just 2 or 3 days to complete, but for those wanting an even wilder experience a handful of longer routes are also included.
- Covers all the main mountain regions north of the Great Glen, as well as many magnificent coastal walks on the islands of Shetland, Orkney, the Outer Hebrides, Skye and Rum.
- Accommodation information provided, as well as details of good camp sites, bothies and hostels for use during the walk itself.
This is the third volume of Cicerone’s Backpacker’s series, and follows Volume 1: Northern England and Volume 2: Wales, both also by Graham Uney.
How to Use This Guide
Getting Around and Accommodation
Safety in the Hills
Access and the Backpacker
Flora and Fauna
Walk 1 Shetland – Esha Ness
Walk 2 Shetland – Mainland South
Walk 3 Shetland – Yell
Walk 4 Orkney – Western Mainland
Walk 5 Lewis – Western Mountains
Walk 6 North Harris – Mountains and Moorlands
Walk 7 South Uist – the Wild Eastern Coast
Walk 8 Cape Wrath and Sandwood Bay
Walk 9 Ben Hope
Walk 10 Inverpolly
Walk 11 Assynt from Inchnadamph
Walk 12 The Munros of the Inverlael Forest
Walk 13 Fisherfield and Letterewe
Walk 14 The Applecross Peninsula
Walk 15 The Fannichs Traverse
Walk 16 Torridon from Shieldaig
Walk 17 Coulin Forest from Torridon
Walk 18 The Strath Carron Munros from Craig
Walk 19 The Head of Strathconon
Walk 20 The High Traverse of Glen Affric
Walk 21 Beinn Fhada and A’ Ghlas Bheinn
Walk 22 The High Traverse of Glen Shiel
Walk 23 Shiel Bridge to Glenfinnan
Walk 24 The Mountains of Knoydart
Walk 25 Skye – the Black Cuillin Lochs and Bealachs
Walk 26 Skye – the Red Cuillin
Walk 27 Skye – the Trotternish Ridge Traverse
Walk 28 Exploring Raasay
Walk 29 Discovering Rum
Walk 30 Through the Cona Glen
Appendix 1 Useful Contacts
Appendix 2 Bibliography
Appendix 3 Walk Summary Table
Appendix 4 Glossary
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Sandwood Bay (p91)
Thank you to John Cleare for providing us with information about Tom Patey and the first ascent of Am Buachaille. The sea stack was first climbed in July 1967 by Tom Patey and John Cleare but this was not how Tom lost his life. He died descending from the first ascent of The Maiden, a double stack off Whiten Head in May 1970.
'It’s an interesting point to note, but a fairnumber of us Scots are more familiar with European locations than we are with our own country. This may be, in part, due to the number of bargain holiday destinations abroad, but with increasing emphasis on ‘Scottishness’, Gaelic and our heritage, exploring our own country may just be creeping into the minds of many.
And rather than take the easy way out by joining a coach tour of the ‘important’ bits of Scotland, or taking the car and staying at generic hotels and inns, there is always the option of roughing it a bit, and backpacking through the wilds to find out what this country is really like. Since this isn’t quite the easy option that can be comfortably handled by your local travel agent, a guide to how to partake of the great outdoors is a recommended first step. Such a guide has been produced by the experts in the field (if you’ll pardon the pun) at Cicerone Press, who recently published the third volume in their series ‘Backpacker’s Britain’. This volume concerns the Highlands and Islands of Northern Scotland and is comprehensively written by Graham Uney who operates Wild Ridge Adventures, a company specializing in just the very holidays to which I referred above.
The book covers a total of thirty multi-day trips covering the area north of the Great Glen along with Skye, the Outer Hebrides and Orkney and Shetland. Before launching into descriptions of each particular hike, Uney comprehensively covers the dos and don’ts of backpacking, even down to the composition of a daily diet to make sure you’re not stuck in the wilds suffering from hunger knock.
So if Torremolinos, Majorca and Tenerife leave you cold (metaphorically speaking), this may well be the time to kit yourself with the appropriate outdoor gear and go and find out just what a wonderful country Scotland really is.'
(Ileach Newspaper / March 07)
'The author Graham Uney has used his extensive knowledge to provide the reader with a really useful guide giving detail of Tourist Information, transport links, accommodation and supply points. Each day has a detailed description of the route and terrain leaving the reader in doubt what to expect.
The book is aimed at anyone with a love of wild mountain and coastal walking. I liked the layout and overall feel of this backpackers guide and even if you don't contemplate walking the routes it is good enough to inspire you or give as a gift to a friend.
Graham writes for a number of outdoor and wildlike magazine, his knowledge and expertise shows through on each page of this excellent guide.'
(Strider / April 2007)
'In my early days as a mountaineer, the Highlands and islands of Northern Scotland became a regular haunt of mine. For me, the mark of a good guidebook is one that makes you want to get out among the mountains, and Uney's guide has that in spades.
The Highlands of Scotland are one of Britain's great wilderness areas, particularly the far north. Backpackers venturing into this remote area get a true sense of being away from it all, and this book gives a superb starting point for those wanting to explore this wonderful mountain region.
The book is 'back-pack' size and attracively produced. The author writes well with a real love for both the area and the adventure. Browsing through his descriptions of the areas that I know best made me all nostalgic. Now, where's my Trangia.....?'
(Irish Mountain Log / Spring 2007)
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Graham Uney runs his own mountaineering business from his base in Bampton, at the foot of Haweswater in the lovely Lowther Valley. Through his business he offers a wide range of skills courses for walkers and climbers. During the winter months Graham works for the Lake District National Park Authority Weatherline service, climbing Helvellyn every day as Fell Top Assessor to take weather readings and to write a report on snow conditions to help keep walkers, climbers, and skiers safe. He’s also a full member of the Mountain Training Association, the Association of Mountaineering Instructors, and a full team member with the Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team.