Monday, 27 September 2010

Glentrek visits the Glenuig Inn, north-west Scotland

Stunning views from Glenuig

For the first time in a long while I set off for a weekend that didn't include plans of hiking up a mountain. I confess it did feel a little strange to be off on a trip with Husband (a defiant non-walker).

We were lucky enough to have been gifted a stay in the eco-friendly Glenuig Inn at Lochailort, on the beautiful Sound of Arisaig, so off we went with no particular agenda and unaware of the hidden gem we were to discover.

Arriving late and in darkness, Husband and I were treated to the friendly sight of the inn with lights glowing like beacons in the apparent middle of nowhere. It was exciting and I couldn't wait to see our surroundings in daylight.

Despite the 10pm arrival, owner Steve whipped up some delicious food, dotting in and out of the kitchen while telling us enthusiastically about the inn that he has painstakingly upgraded over the last three years. The hard work and dedication has paid off and the result is a unique Scottish inn that while minimal and with unfussy decor offers truly comfortable surroundings and a great atmosphere.

There are numerous opportunities at
Glenuig for coastal walks and sea kayaking

The Glenuig Inn bar offers only Scottish beer and cider on tap, with a great choice of bottled Scottish beer, too. This brave move was tested while I was there by both Husband (a defiant lover of beer in general) and a Royal Navy group who were there on the Saturday night. Everyone enjoyed the choices on offer. I felt vaguely uneasy indulging in my usual Chardonnay (which thankfully was available) as if somehow I wasn't quite doing my bit for the country. Available juices were all natural additive-free varieties and there simply were no fizzy drinks. Bar snacks were in bulk and you helped yourself to a scoopful. How ultra-cool and very environmentally friendly!

The Glenuig Inn accommodation extends to places for 35 people, of which nine are bunkhouse beds and the remaining are various bed combinations in six separate rooms. Prices start at £25 pp B&B

The Gleniug area is ideal for Munro and
Corbett bagging... if that takes your fancy

The Glenuig area: The location is utterly outstanding with mountains galore, including lots of Munros and Corbetts. I did feel an itch to get up high in my walking boots but the lower-level coastline offered a fantastic alternative, and one that Husband and other altitude averse walkers can enjoy too.

You can walk from Glenuig to the ancient village of Smirisary... or try sea kayaking. The shoreline is renowned for excellent kayaking and sailing opportunities. For a taster kayak day try local business Rockhopper Scotland.

I can't wait to go back to Glenuig, stay in the inn and try kayaking. Steve truly deserves success and admiration for sticking to his path of eco friendliness while promoting Scottish food, drink and the great Scottish outdoors and I wish him the best of luck.

Monday, 20 September 2010

A wealth of long-distance walks in Scotland

The gorgeous and historic
long-distance walk, The Cateran Trail

Every year many thousands of walkers set out to walk one of Scotland's famous long-distance routes. From the "original" long-distance walk, The West Highland Way, to some of the "newest" long-distance routes, such as the Kintyre Way and the Cateran Trail, this stable of routes is spread across Scotland and offers a unique opportunity to walk to places you might never have thought to visit.

Many of the long-distance trails are waymarked on routes that may have been in existence for centuries. The Cateran Trail, in Angus, for example, follows many of the old drove roads and tracks once used by the Caterans, the cattle thieves that once roamed the lawless regions of the Highlands between the 15th and 17th centuries.

For walkers who are less experienced at off-the-beaten navigation, the long-distance waymarked trails are the ideal solution for a walk that provides a mix of challenges and the rewards of "ticking off" a hike. Many routes take days to walk and this only adds to the adventure of a walking holiday.

Knowing the approximate distance and the challenge that is laid out for you day after day is comforting for walkers who are not so fit or are less experienced.

Many long-distance walks also boast numerous places to stay overnight and eat/drink en route. Our favourite route, the Cateran Trail, offers numerous hotels, bunk houses and hostels along the way, many located in a convenient place after a day of walking.

Why not take advantage of services such as luggage transfer, as offered by Glentrek, which will make the walking even more pleasurable? There is little point in carrying a heavy rucksack when for a little extra cost you can have it delivered to your next overnight accommodation.

And just because the routes are waymarked it doesn't mean they do not offer a wealth of scenic treats. These routes are laid out to guide walkers through some of Scotland's most stunning landscapes.

Now that winter is coming, many of the waymarked routes across Scotland will be ideal for walkers who are not so keen to go high-level but still want to get out and about in Scotland's great outdoors. Go on, why not choose a long-distance walk in Scotland and take steps to explore this great country?

Friday, 17 September 2010

The benefits of yoga - for walkers

Yoga is an ideal activity for walkers

It's been happening across the UK over the last decade. Little by little a wave of yogis have been spreading the word about the superb benefits of yoga. These days most people will know about yoga and many will have given it a try. Perhaps not everyone is aware of the many different styles of yoga, including Hatha, Ashtanga and Iyengar, but a good number will be familiar with a range of yoga postures such as, downward dog, inversions, twists, backbending etc

The benefits for the general person include strength, flexibility, balance, posture, concentration and relaxation. If you have spent any time doing yoga you will know that all these aspects can be realised within a relatively short time and with practise can become an important part of your life.

But yoga is also of great benefit to walkers, too. In particular the core strengthening advantages of yoga, especially when practising the more dynamic Ashtanga-style of yoga, can help to combat aching back problems that often hit people who hike mountains.

Other benefits of yoga for walkers include:
* Improved energy levels
* Muscle strength in the legs
* Cardiovascular fitness
* Focus
* Stamina

For many people yoga is also a great way to ward off potential injuries. The repetitive motion of walking, especially if you suffer with poor posture or bad limb/body alignment, can lead to a host of leg, hip and back injuries. Yoga helps to realign body alignment and can therefore prevent potential walking aches and pains.

Why not sign up for a beginner yoga group in your area?

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Seven great reasons for a walking holiday

One of the great attractions of hill walking
is the fabulous views. From the summit of the
Munro Slioch this walker can see
the fabulous expanse of Loch Maree

For some people the reasons for walking in Scotland's great outdoors are obvious. While for others the discovery of this great activity can come out of the blue. Have a read of a guest blogging spot on my friend's website, FionaOutdoors, to find out how one woman has found hill walking to be her mental and physical salvation

According to a number of reports, hill walking is on the increase. So many more people are finding that the combination of scenery, fitness and relatively low outlays for kit add up to the ideal activity.

If you still need a little convincing, we thought we'd bring you a list of reasons why walking is such a great thing to do.

Price is right: You only really need a pair of walking boots, a waterproof jacket and a backpack. And once you have bought these items they tend to last for many years. After this you can add to your hill walking gear to make your outings more enjoyable. It does make sense to buy reasonably good quality kit at the outset because it will not need to be replaced so often but for less than £200 you should be able to buy the essentials.

Great for your mind and body: Walking outdoors for just half an hour each day has been shown to combat depression. Walking is also a great cardiovascular exercise and is ideal for burning calories and toning muscles. The further and faster you walk, or the more hills you climb, the greater the health benefits will be.

Sociable: Walking, especially on guided walking holidays, is the ideal place for meeting like-minded people. Some walking events, such as walking festivals and walking challenges, have even resulted in love matches - and the occasional marriage! Walking holidays are also ideal for groups of friends or for couples.

Exploration: Walking is bound to take you to new, beautiful and remote places. In Scotland once you start walking you'll become hooked on the desire to see many more places. Some people take up pursuits such as Munro bagging, which then leads them to discover a host of new destinations.

Fabulous views: Walking so often reaps great scenic rewards. It doesn't really matter where you walk, from urban to rural destinations, you are almost always likely to chance on a fantastic view or vista.

Be your own leader: Learning how to guide and navigate yourself on walking trips can be a huge confidence booster. Once you've mastered the fine art of map and compass reading you can become your own master of your walking destiny.

It's green: Walking and walking holidays are environmentally friendly. If you also arrive on public transport or via bike then you will further reduce your impact on the environment.

What are you waiting for?

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Five great Scottish walks for autumn

We’re lucky to be basking in some late summer sun – and just as the leaves on the trees were threatening to change colour! Still, autumn is just around the corner and we think it’s a season that offers some of the most picturesque walking opportunities in Scotland, in particular in
Angus and Perthshire. Here we bring you our five top walks for autumn:

River walk, Airlie Estates, Angus.

Heading from Cortachy Bridge to the Sawmill Bridge, this walk was originally laid out in the 1870s to celebrate a forthcoming visit by Queen Victoria. Unfortunately Her Royal Highness never did arrive, but the trail has been carefully maintained ever since. The magnificent conifer trees were planted at this time and include Wellingtonias, Douglas, Silver Firs and Sitca Spruce. Stunning rhododendrons were planted by successive generations of the Airlie family. There is also a footbridge of note, "The American Bridge ", on the walk, which was formally opened by the American Ambassador of the day, Charles Price. This is a lovely walk in all seasons but in autumn it is particularly gorgeous.
For further directions and information about the River Walk, Airlie

A range of walks on the Airlie Estates, Angus

Monument walk, Airlie Estates, Angus
Another stunning walk on the Airlie Estate, the 8km circuit takes in a memorial tower and wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. On a clear autumnal day the vistas are hard to beat.
See Monument Walk

Rocks of Solitude River Walk, Edzell
An impressive gorge in all seasons, the 10.5km circuit via woodland paths and across Gannochy Bridge is simply wonderful. You’ll love kicking through the piles of colourful, crunchy leaves.
See Rocks of Solitude River Walk

Cateran Trail, Perthshire
Know as Big Tree Country, Perthshire offers a wealth of fabulous walks in autumn. A five-day walk along the historic and atmospheric Cateran Trail (see Glentrek's 5-day Cateran Trail break) begins in Big Tree Country. This first day heads through gorgeous woods with lots of colour, which is ideal for soaking up the atmosphere of autumn.

Glen Doll, Angus
Head to the ranger base and choose from a range of wonderful short walks around the glen and forest here. From here you can take a longer walk into the awesome Corrie Fee National Nature Reserve and to several Munros (Scottish mountains more than 3000 feet), such as Mayar and Dreish.