Newsletter > Newsletter archive > September 2013
Explore the farthest reaches of Britain
The beginning of September saw us on a short trip to the Outer Hebrides, a remote and startlingly beautiful outpost of the British Isles. We travelled from South Uist at the southern end of the chain of islands to Lewis in the north, eventually departing over the sea to the west coast of mainland Scotland. It was a reminder that there are some extraordinary landscapes in our (currently) united kingdom and that the end of summer and early autumn can be an excellent time to visit them.
With regular ferries serving the Scottish islands and some very good deals on ‘island hopping’ trips, it’s possible to organise a visit to the Outer Hebrides more or less at the drop of a hat. It’s tempting to watch out for a good weather window, book the ferry crossings and hop in the car and go. We noticed that there were also a lot of people on bikes, though cycling against the wind looked tough.
On our foray we kept mainly on the western coast, with its rocky headlands, golden beaches and ‘machair’, the fertile coastal plain that is host to so many wild birds, insects and animals. We are adding three more walks to the selection already on Walkingworld, including our favourite from the trip, a circuit of the Balranald RSPB reserve on the western edge of North Uist. There’s more information about visiting the Outer Hebrides in the website summary for the region. All we can say is, do consider going north rather than south for your next walking trip – we thought it was fantastic even when the weather was a touch damp (or dreich, as they say up there).
New adventures, new kit
The weather is beginning to change; the new season means new adventures and quite possibly the need to review one’s kit. We have had a long-time partnership with Cotswold Outdoor, starting from the very year in which Walkingworld was launched. Cotswold Outdoor have teamed up with us again for their latest autumn/winter catalogue, with the offer of five free Walkingworld walks starting near to five of their top stores. The details can be found in the catalogue, which is a substantial publication full of goodies to drool over.
To collect a catalogue just go to any of the 68 nationwide stores. If you are already a Walkingworld subscriber, the free walks won’t be so relevant as you can already access them, but do remember that you can get a 15% discount on most full price items in the store or when ordering online. To get the terms and conditions for the discount scheme, a letter to print out to take to the store and the online voucher code, simply log in on the homepage and look down the left-hand menu for ‘Subscriber benefits’. Note that the link will only appear if you have an up to date Walkingworld subscription.
Or perhaps go somewhere warm for New Year?
How do you usually celebrate New Year? Have you ever thought of doing something a little bit different? Why not tackle some fabulous walks in the warm Mediterranean sunshine, enjoy great hospitality from generous and welcoming hosts, and see in 2014 as the locals do?
You can spend a week discovering the Algarve’s quiet side, and three very distinct landscapes, from Inntravel’s stylish rural quinta near the historic port of Lagos. Here you can wander across sandy beaches on the Atlantic coast; follow magnificent cliff-top paths in the south; or explore the mountains of the Serra de Monchique – all the while looking forward to your gastronomic celebratory dinner on New Year’s Eve.
For a shorter break over New Year, choose from the sleepy village of Alájar in Andalucia, where you can mingle with villagers in the square; the Alpujarran village of Mairena in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada; or Castell de Castells amid the mountains of Alicante, where you can explore picturesque valleys before celebrating in true Spanish style.
For more information, take a look at Inntravel’s website, or speak to their expert team on 01653 617034.
Algarve’s Coast & Hills
- Single centre, self-guided walking holiday
- Prices from £535pp, inc 7 nights’ B&B accommodation, 2 dinners & 3 picnics; detailed walking notes, plus 7 day’s car hire (flights not included)
- Available from now until 31 May 2014 (breaks here at Christmas & New Year include a special celebratory dinner)
Stock of Wainwright calendars going down...
This year’s Wainwright calendar is already selling well so if you want to get one (or more) before the stock runs out it’s a good idea to put in your order now. Every year the calendars sell out – it’s not a question of if but when! At only £10 including postage it’s a splendid deal and all the proceeds go to good causes. This year the profits will first be applied to waymarking Wainwright's Coast to Coast walk, with the balance being divided between the mountain rescue teams along the way. Waymarking in itself is helpful to the rescue teams as it can prevent some less experienced walkers from straying off route!
Meanwhile a new Coast to Coast information board was unveiled at Robin Hood’s Bay by Peter Linney, retired secretary of The Wainwright Society, at the start of September. The board was placed by the sea wall, right at the walk start. It complements a similar board installed at St Bees in May this year.
A long walk on the northern edge of the Scotland
A scheme to develop The North Highland Way along a stretch of the British mainland’s northern-most coast is gathering pace. The project manager, Tina Irving (herself a Walkingworld contributor), has been negotiating with horse riders, cyclists and public services to get support for the idea. Many local businesses have already ‘signed up’ and made contributions to the scheme.
The North Highland Way will take you the 114 miles from John O'Groats to Cape Wrath, passing no more than 10 miles inland through some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland, if not the world. According to Tina the coastal route will not follow an established path for much of the way but be 'a way to go', following sheep tracks and sometimes less. This will be wild walking at its best and certainly not for the faint hearted. One section has only a bothy – or your own tent – for an overnight stop.
Local groups are logging each day’s walk and we hope to have them published on Walkingworld before too long. There are longer term plans to join the route up with other Scottish coastal paths and eventually to create a complete long distance walk around the Scottish coast. There’s a Facebook page for the project if you want to keep up to date on progress.
Keeping an eye out for ash dieback
Conservationists’ worst fears over ash dieback disease during 2013 have not yet been realised but just because it’s been out of the news doesn’t mean it has gone away. Although the outbreak remains centred on East Anglia there have been confirmed infections in the wild as far away as Wales and Scotland. This is still a good time of year to spot the symptoms, before the full onset of autumn, so the Forestry Commission remains keen that walkers are vigilant and report the disease if they see it.
Of course it’s important not to make false reports if at all possible, so do have a look at the Forestry Commission symptoms sheet and video. There's even an app and online game! Photographs are useful to help them decide whether it is the disease or not; if you do make a report the team at the Commission effectively have all winter to assess it, as the spores do not spread in the winter months.