A 325km off road adventure from Glasgow to Wester Ross, Scotland
23 – 29/30 Apr 2023
A previous blog outlined the idea behind this big run/ fast hike. I use both terms to describe. In my heart I would love to ‘run’ all 325 km or so. For the organised ultra runs I have participated in previously that has been the priority though often you were reduced to walking. However I know in my head that in the Highlander’s Return running will only be for some of the time. This is not a race and the planned distances each day are self imposed. The fact remains that trying to do this in 7, maybe 8, days means a marathon a day in sometimes gruelling terrain. Whatever you call it it involves endurance. In the end I would like to enjoy the journey and have time to smell the proverbial roses and reflect along the way.
Gear and safety
I am new to the world of ultra light wild camping. Here lighter means more expensive! Otherwise the kit performs well and saving weight means more energy to move. I am starting to like my…
75g gas stove; 220g gas canister; 500g bivvy; 500g sleeping bag; 500g air bed
A key category of gear are safety items. Navigation apps and mobile phone for communication as well as a power bank. For second half of route old fashioned printed/ laminated maps and compass should electronic equipment fail. Something I have use of but hope to never use is a satellite GPS transponder and tracker for emergencies. Other items that will hopefully be redundant include a mountaineering cordellete (for crossing streams) and some first aid items. Above all for me a great reassurance is to have a travelling companion Cammie Kennedy with me in the second half of the route. Joining in the second half also means that he will be stronger and fresh where I will likely be feeling the effects of fatigue.
At the most am hoping not to carry more than a few dehydrated meals with me. Rest of the time the plan is to buy food in stores or eat heartily in the few establishments along the way. Estimated daily calorific requirement about 4,000 cals. For fluids it will be water. Don’t want the weight of energy drink powder but am using isotonic drink tablets as well as tablets to purify water taken from streams. Also some emergency food consisting of gels and energy bars. Hot water for tea / coffee and rehydrating meals courtesy of my minimalist ‘kitchen’ set.
Mainly what I wear throughout the day. Change into dry base layers for end of day and sleeping.
Altogether the plan is to carry no more than 7kg.
Physical and psychological
Have been maintaining my usual running pattern of 3-4 times per week. Find that that frequency works for me. At my age and stage of life I need to prioritise time to recover. A key element over the winter months is that usually I am in the hills twice a week. Living in Glasgow I am blessed with lots of destinations less than an hour away. In Scotland the winter conditions at 700-1,000 metres and mountain tops can be radically different from that at sea level so it is good preparation. My days of getting faster are unlikely but going up and down mountains also help to maintain strength in the legs. I am thankful for running buddy Cammie who pushes me beyond my comfort zone.
The mental side of things is the hardest to control. The other things I can do something about.
Related blog – ‘The Highlander’s Return’ – Vision
As with previous endurance runs I want to fund raise for Starfish Asia. They help disadvantaged and impoverished children from mainly Christian families in Pakistan get an education. A solar panel system for an average school costs about £2,000. It would be great to raise enough for 1 school, but if 2 (£4,000) that would be fantastic. For most of the Starfish schools a lack of power is an increasing problem. Solar panels being installed would provide stable electricity, especially for lighting and fans during the summer. There is a dedicated fund-raising page set up with Starfish for this purpose. If you would like to help you can donate here or scan QR code below.