Walking to Fethaland

A sunny day provided the perfect opportunity for walking to Fethaland – the remote northern point of Shetland Mainland.

Fethaland is one of those ends of the earth places.

It’s at the northernmost tip of Mainland in Shetland (Mainland is the name of the main island in the archipelago), miles from anywhere. You drive (there’s no public transport) along narrow single-track roads, winding along the coast until you come to Isbister. Then you walk. Continue reading “Walking to Fethaland”

Preparing to be a Practical Pilgrim

A rather long-winded explanation for why I’m walking the Camino de Santiago this summer.

Some walking trails jump out at me and demand that I walk them. (I’m thinking of you Kungsleden!). Others, not so much.

The Camino de Santiago is one of those not so much ones.

The scenery looks stunning (I’ve driven over the Pyrenees and would love to see them more slowly) and the tales of camaraderie sound like something not to be missed.

So why has it never really appealed? Continue reading “Preparing to be a Practical Pilgrim”

Monsal Head – A Circular Walk

This walk was great for introducing a seven year old to the Peak District.

I had a friend and her seven year old son stay with me for a few days over half term. In the past this friend and I have enjoyed some wonderful walks in the Peak District and now her son is getting a bit older we decided it was time we got out there again and introduced him to the delights of the Peaks. Continue reading “Monsal Head – A Circular Walk”

Friday Flickr – Kungsleden (Ammarnäs to Hemavan)

Photographs from the final section of Sweden’s Kungsleden trail.

This week’s Friday Flickr album has the photos from the final stage of my Kungsleden hike. On this section I stayed in huts for the first time and experienced my best ever sauna. I was also hit with the worst weather I’d experienced on the trail since starting in Abisko two years ago, though from my photos you wouldn’t guess this as there are plenty of blue skies on show.

The total Kungsleden is around 440km (depending on which source you read). This section is 78km long.

Would I recommend it? Definitely. Would I go back and do it again? No. But only because there are so many other places I want to see.

Click on the image below to access the Flickr album.

Kungsleden 2016 - Ammarnas to Hemavan

 

Food to Pack for the Kungsleden

The Kungsleden is a trail that begins in Abisko above the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden and finishes 440km later in Hemavan.

It is divided into five parts with the breaks in the sections falling where there is a road and access to public transport.

Although most people walk one or two sections, there are plenty who walk the whole path in one go. I’ve met people walking the whole way in as a little as two weeks (my mind boggles at this), but most take at least a month.

Even if you’re only walking one section you are going to have to think about what food to take with you. Continue reading “Food to Pack for the Kungsleden”

Friday Flickr – Kungsleden (Jäkkvik to Ammarnäs)

Photographs from the fourth and penultimate section of Sweden’s Kungsleden trail.

This week’s Friday Flickr is an album of photographs I took whilst walking the fourth section of the Kungsleden this summer. I’d walked the first two parts of the trail two years ago and had returned to finish it.

Last week’s Friday Flickr shows the first part of this year’s walk (the third section of the trial) and this week’s is the continuation from Jäkkvik (pop = 90), where I stayed in the village for a couple of nights, to Ammarnäs (pop = either 95 or 250 depending which source you believe).

This section is one of the quieter sections as, apart from the small village of Adolfström with its one shop, there isn’t anywhere to buy food along the way. There are a few STF huts, but as these are not manned, staying in them means arranging to borrow a key before setting off.

I spent about 10 days walking this section camping along the way.

To access the Flickr album click on the image below.

Kungsleden - Jakkvik to Ammarnas


Friday Flickr – Kungsleden (Kvikkjokk to Jakkvik)

Photographs from the Kvikkjokk to Jäkkvik section of Sweden’s Kungsleden trail.

Before I left for Sweden I wanted to set up enough Friday Flickr posts to cover my time away, so I’d at least have something appearing on my blog whilst I was sans-Wifi. Of course that didn’t happen due to some weird Flickr downtime in the UK. Thankfully everything seems to be up and working again now and so here is the first of my latest batch of Friday Flickrs.

Of course, this week’s Friday Flickr has to feature the Kungsleden.

Two years ago I walked the first two sections of this epic trail in the far north of Sweden. I was determined then to get back to  finish it and this summer I got the opportunity.

This week’s Friday Flickr features photographs from the third section (the first section I walked this year) which runs from Kvikkjokk to Jäkkvik. This is one of the least walked parts as it’s on this section hikers need to be completely self-sufficient as there is nowhere to buy food along the way. Also as there are no STF huts on this section it means as well as carrying plenty of food, you also have to carry camping and cooking gear.

Most people walk it in 7 or 8 days. I walk slowly. I had a VERY heavy backpack. I knew that I’ll probably never be back here and I wanted to have time to give it the appreciation it deserves.

I spent 13 days walking just this section.

I forgot about everything that was happening in the world outside and focused on my bit of wilderness. I breathed, I relaxed, I slept, I reflected, I daydreamed, I wrote, I read, I walked. And walked. And walked some more.

I was glad when it was finished and happy to arrive in Jäkkvik, but at the same time I had a feeling of sadness that it was over and didn’t want it to end. As I got close to Jäkkvik, I sat on a rock enjoying the sunshine and gazed at the lake. I felt I’d really achieved something – I’d walked across the line of the Arctic Circle and I’d rowed across a lake for the first time. But most of all I’d proved to myself I could survive in the wilderness supported by only that which I could carry on my back.

I mentally high-fived myself, stood up and walked the last half kilometre into Jakkvik.

To access the Flickr album click on the image below.

Kungsleden 2016 - Kvikkjokk to Jakkvik

 

 

Packing for the Kungsleden

A list and photos of everything I took on my Kungsleden hike this summer.

I had intended to write this post before I left for the Kungsleden, but as usual real life got in the way of my cyber life and I ran out of time. I still wanted to write it though, so once I arrived home I cleaned and sorted my gear and then collected it all together to take photographs before putting it away. Continue reading “Packing for the Kungsleden”

Friday Flickr -The Great Glen Way

This week’s Flickr album sees me reminiscing about my first long distance walk.

It’s quite a while since I had my introduction to long-distance walking and ticked a challenge of my 60 before 60 list by walking the Great Glen Way.

The Great Glen Way meanders it’s way through the (yep, you guessed it) the Great Glen, which stretches from coast to coast across the Scottish Highlands.

A series of lochs, formed along a geological fault line, almost splits the country in half. Just to finish the job, the Caledonian Canal came along in the 1800s and linked the lochs. It is now impossible to travel to the far north of Scotland without crossing water somewhere. (Does that mean the north of Scotland is actually an island?)

The Great Glen Way begins in Fort William and leads onwards and upwards to Inverness on the west coast. Although the official path actually starts and finishes in the middle of these two towns, I walked out to the sea lochs at either end, adding a few more miles and making it a true coast to coast walk.

As an introduction to long distance walking, this is a good one. Plenty of wilderness, but not too difficult to get lost. Few enough people to make it feel like an adventure, but enough people around if you ran into difficulties. Lots of trees and ‘nature’, but also plenty of man-made historical stuff to keep it interesting on a different level.

I wrote about it in a lot more detail at the time, but for an overview of what it looks like, I’ve put a Flickr album together.

Click on the photo below to access the Flickr album.

Great Glen Way

And in case this has whetted your appetite, here are the links to the rest of my posts on the Great Glen Way.

Great Glen Way Day 1

Great Glen Way Day 2

Great Glen Way Day 3

Great Glen Way Day 4

Great Glen Way Day 5

Great Glen Way Day 6

Great Glen Way Day 7

Kungsleden Photographs

Photographs from the Kungsleden; Sweden’s spectacular Arctic wilderness.

In the summer of 2014 I walked about half of Sweden’s Kungsleden (it translates as the King’s Way or the King of Ways, depending on who you choose to believe).

The Kungsleden begins well above the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland and follows a trail through valleys, over mountains and across rivers and lakes. Although there are camping huts spaced roughly a day apart, for the most part this is true wilderness with the nearest road often being several days walk away.

Basic food supplies can be bought at some of the huts, but for the most part you have to carry everything you need. The food in the huts is of the dried, canned and processed variety as it all has to be brought in my snow-mobile in March when the snow is at its deepest. It then has to last till the end of summer.

Water for washing and drinking is taken from the lakes and rivers and is some of the purest I’ve ever drank (and washed in).

I’ve put some photograhs (actually, I’ve put a LOT of photographs) on Flickr, but even the best photography can’t do justice to the beauty of this place. It’s one of those places you just have to see for yourself.

Click on the image below to access the album.

Kungsleden