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We revel within the remoteness: wild tenting and mountaineering within the Scottish Highlands | Highlands holidays



It’s a reduction to put my rucksack down, plunge scorching toes into the cool stream and pause to revel within the fairytale surrounds. Foxgloves stand tall in opposition to a cornflower-blue sky, ferns look nearly luminous, the water glints within the early summer time sunshine. A patch of moss-covered historical forest gives shade, a cuckoo calls within the distance, mountains layer on the horizon.


I’m in Knoydart within the Highlands of western Scotland, one of many final nice wildernesses within the UK, on a mountaineering and wild tenting journey. No roads cross the 22,000-hectare (55,000-acres) peninsula, a rugged place the place a trio of Munros soar skyward, sandwiched between sea lochs Nevis and Hourn (poetically translated as heaven and hell). Over 5 days our group of eight will discover this land on foot, carrying our sustenance and shelter on our backs, led by two guides from The Residing Undertaking, Josh and Emily.

The remainder of the world feels very distant as we linger over lunch earlier than persevering with to Barrisdale Bay farther north. In the present day’s hike is about eight miles over undulating terrain. An outdated drover’s means leads up previous a loch the place Highland cattle drink and we climb a 450-metre cross earlier than descending to the coast as soon as extra. We take our time, stopping typically, generally chatting, generally strolling in silence. The going will get powerful at factors, packs really feel heavy, however a way of freedom, a revelling within the remoteness, trumps any fatigue.

The author on the bridge at Barrisdale, able to hike.

Arrange in 2019 by Josh Bulpin and Cormac Davey (former colleagues at World Problem Expeditions), the Residing Undertaking presents “aware adventures in wild locations,” with journeys starting from women-only weekends in Snowdonia to weeks in Nepal. The emphasis is on connecting to nature, not epic feats of endurance, with yoga, meditation and journal writing woven into our days.

“We mix journey and wellbeing, giving individuals the possibility to problem themselves, however focus very a lot on the journey and transferring slowly by the panorama,” says Josh. “It’s not about racing up summits.”


Our journey started two days earlier in Fort William, the place we’re inspired to ditch any extra baggage. Most tools, from tents to cooking utensils, in addition to meals (recent and dried) is offered. Whilst you don’t want expertise, with packs weighing upwards of 15kg and a number of other hours strolling a day on the itinerary, a good degree of health is suggested. Our group consists of 4 guys celebrating a fortieth birthday, and three ladies and a person, starting from mid-30s to early 60s, travelling solo. For many people, it’s a primary multi-day hike.

Wild tenting beside a loch on Knoydart

Wild tenting is permitted in Scotland and you could possibly, in fact, do that independently. However having every little thing taken care of, and understanding you’re in secure arms, makes it straightforward to give attention to the straightforward challenges of mountaineering and the marvel of the wild surrounds.

To achieve Knoydart we take a practice to Mallaig from Fort William – crosssing Harry Potter-famed Glenfinnan viaduct – then a ferry throughout to Inverie, the one settlement on the peninsula, residence to round 120 individuals. After pitching tents on the shore at Lengthy Seashore, the place mirror-flat water displays the pinks and blues of the sky, we stroll to the Lookout seafood restaurant for dinner.


The subsequent day dawns clear and vibrant for the hike to Barrisdale. After light yoga on the seashore, Emily shares the primary each day query to ponder as we stroll (“Why am I right here?”), and we set off into the wilderness. Quickly we cross a hilltop monument to the infamous former landowner and Nazi sympathiser Lord Brocket; as we speak a lot of Knoydart is community-owned after a buyout in 1999.

Our camp for the night time is subsequent to the bothy at Barrisdale Bay. We wash within the river and put together dinner alfresco, chopping recent veg and halloumi because the setting solar washes every little thing gold.

Making ready dinner on the finish of a day’s hike

Our journey coincides with a heatwave in Scotland – and routes are all the time tailored to swimsuit the climate and group wants. So, given hovering temperatures, we spend the subsequent day exploring regionally, pack-free, as an alternative of transferring on. Maps are pored over and shortly Josh and Emily have a plan – a path neither of them have walked earlier than.

We wind our means up the hillside, rising to open views over Loch Hourn. Additional on we’re delighted to find a collection of waterfalls and plunge swimming pools and spend a magical couple of hours clambering over rocks and dipping into crystal waters – a welcome respite from the warmth. A thunderstorm soaks us on the hike residence, its sudden energy including to the wildness of the day. That night we prepare dinner within the bothy kitchen – an escape from the rain and the midges which plague us at sundown and dawn (it’s June and the climate has made it a bumper midge 12 months).

The subsequent morning we pack up early and head off, slowly climbing once more into the hills. The panorama is staggering – and there’s nobody else round. A small creature stares at me from the valley under as I cease to relaxation – a pine marten maybe? Buzzards journey air thermals within the sky above. Ideas fall away as I give attention to the sensation of the solar on my face and the utter peace of the mountains.

Mountaineering throughout the peninsula in the direction of Barrisdale

Our ultimate wild camp is by a loch and we paddle out by mud and reeds for a swim in silky waters. I pitch my tent just a little means from the others on the sandy shore. Searching throughout the water, I could possibly be the one individual round.

It’s with blended feelings that we arrive again in Inverie after a brief hike the subsequent morning. There’s time for quiet contemplation on the seashore earlier than the boat again to Mallaig and the necessity to re-engage with the remainder of the world. We’re just a little soiled, midge-bitten and sunburnt, however relaxed and completely satisfied as we head again to civilisation and a resort with scorching showers and clear sheets.

A ultimate slap-up supper collectively is full of life and enjoyable. However beneath the chatter and laughter, the stillness and expansive sense of the wild stays. I feel again to Emily’s first query: “Why was I there?” To flee from the world for a bit, to decelerate, to leap into the unknown, immersed in nature. Knoydart has offered all that and extra – a rekindling of marvel and deep feeling of peace; one thing I need to cling on to for a very long time.


The journey was offered by The Residing Undertaking. The subsequent Wild Pilgrim journey to Knoydart (for ladies solely) runs from 2-7 June 2024; or on 8-13 September 2024 (for all) and prices £975, together with all meals whereas tenting, two restaurant meals, one night time in a resort, most tools, ferry crossings and trains to and from Fort William.

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