Thursday, 25 March 2010

Let a walking guide lead the way

For some people the attraction of walking is the freedom to take off on one's own for a self-led adventure. For others, it's guided walks that hold the greatest appeal.

Guided walking has become a fast-growing activity and for many people it offers the chance to walk on trails or to places that might have previously seemed impossible because of experience or ability. Guided walks allow you to concentrate on the walking, the views and the chat without having to worry so much about navigation and route.

Guided walking also offers a number of other benefits, including the expertise and knowledge of a local guide when it comes to the area's flora, fauna and history. Many walkers, especially singles, also like the social side and meeting like-minded people.

But with so many guided walks to choose from where will you head for your next holiday? A new walk that we're sure will become popular is our specially created six-day East Highland Trek.

The six-day guided walking break starts on the Cateran Trail (in Angus and East Perthshire) and finishing in Aviemore. The trek head over high Scottish mountains, follows old rights of way and drovers roads and takes in some of the most stunning scenery of the Angus Glens and the Cairngorms National Park amid the Eastern Highlands of Scotland.

History lovers will also be delighted by the walk and there is a wealth of geological and wildlife interest, too.

The guided walk is 51 miles in total and is aimed at serious walkers. Accommodation is organised along the route and is in hand-picked three-star hotels and B&Bs or hostels according to your price choice.

Why not discover somewhere new on your next walking holiday?

Friday, 19 March 2010

Go long-distance walking

It started with the West Highland Way some 25 years ago - and now Scotland boasts a wealth of fabulous long-distance, waymarked walking trails. From the Southern Upland Way in the Scottish Borders to the Great Glen Way in the Highlands and from the Kintyre Way across to the Fife Coastal Path, walkers will find a long-distance walking route to suit their destination, as well as their scenic and terrain desires.

Waymarked walks offer walkers of all abilities the chance to safely navigate their way for days at a time through some of Scotland's most atmospheric scenery. (Good map reading skills are still essential in case you miss a waymarker.) It could be that walkers choose to tackle the whole route during one holiday, or they might decide to visit the walk for a day or a weekend at a time.

In the Angus and Perthshire areas there are several great long-distance walking trails, including the Cateran Trail. The circular, waymarked Cateran Trail is 64 miles long and starts/finishes in Blairgowrie, Angus. This trail offers walkers the chance to explore an unspoilt part of the Scottish Highlands and heads though atmospheric glens, farmland, forests and stunning mountainscapes.

The Cateran Trail takes its inspiration from the Caterans, the cattle thieves that roamed the lawless regions of the Highlands between the 15th and 17th centuries. The long-distance walking route makes use of many of the old drove roads and tracks once utilised by the Caterans. Today, signposts, stiles and bridges marked with the Cateran Trail logo, as well as direction arrows, allow for easy route identification for walkers. Glentrek have a five day self-guided walking break on the Cateran Trail.

You could choose to do the walk over less or more days and the type and style of accommodation can be booked to suit your budget or requirements. However you decide to walk this waymarked walk we reckon you'll find yourself hooked and keen to tick off a few more of Scotland's great long-distance walking routes.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Choosing the right waterproof jacket

Gone are the days when outdoor clothing came in only a few sizes, a couple of dull colours and rarely guaranteed to be water and windproof. Today, there is a fantastic range of jackets, trousers, boots and all manner of essential accessories in a huge variety of sizes and splendid colours. Clothes are made to fit men, women and children and even some of the cheapest products offer great protection from the weather.

In the 21st century it's more a case of "too much choice". One of the key items for safe and warm hill walking is a waterproof jacket. And for people who do a reasonable amount of walking in Scotland's hills and mountains it's worth spending a bit of money to ensure you get exactly the right fit and weather protection.

Top of your trying-on list should be:
* Is the jacket long enough to cover the top of your waterproof trousers? Perferrably it should reach your bum.
* Is the jacket roomy enough to allow good movement of arms and shoulders?
* Is there enough space under your jacket for lots of layers?
* Is the jacket made of a good quality material, such as Goretex, and with robust seams so as to keep the rain and wind out?

You should also think about when you will wear the jacket. You may require a lighter weight jacket if you're only a summer walker, while winter walkers should choose a heavier-duty jacket.

A few details that you might not have thought of when buying on a jacket include:
*How will it work while wearing gloves - for example can you pull the cuffs over gloves when it's raining?
* Will your rucksack fit comfortably over the top?
* Will the jacket stow away neatly if you're not wearing it?
* Does the hood offer good visibility yet still protect you from the wind and rain? A wired hood is a great bonus.
* Are pockets big enough to fit your Ordnance Survey map?

And colour is important. This is not about you favourite shade
of pink, but about safety while on mountain. Mountain Rescue team always talk about their preference for walkers to wear brightly coloured jackets. This is so they can more easily spot you if you require to be rescued. So go for bright orange, bright green, red rather than black, navy blue or dark green if possible.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Make tracks for a walking festival

If you thought that walking festivals were only for men with grey beards and rambler types brandishing walking poles then perhaps you should think again. There's nothing wrong with either (poles are great and in certain unkind lighting I can see the beginnings of a grey beard too) it's the image of walking festivals that's wrong..festivals attract a huge range of walkers, of all ages, with all kinds of interests and from an array of backgrounds.

With the number and diversity of walking fests growing every year in Scotland you may well wonder where to head for. Perhaps you'll choose an area that you've never been to before or you might decide to head to a festival in an already much-walked area so that you can join a guided walk that leads you along a route, or to a summit, that you've always fancied hiking.

There are many great reasons for attending a walking festival. First, you'll find an extensive range of guided walks, including historical themed walks, walks with nature, beginner-friendly walks, strenuous expeditions and a whole host more.

Walking festivals also offer a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded folk. These festivals appeal to solo walkers, couples and families, but they also provide the ideal arena for getting to know new walkers. Single walkers WAKE UP - some walking events have led to romance - and even marriage!

Most walking festivals also offer a range of off-hill events, including evening entertainment and associated outdoor activities.

Of course, we're going to be a little biased here in the Angus Glens but we think that our long-standing four-day award-winning Angus Glens Walking Festival is a little bit special. The Angus Glens provide a beautiful landscape and backdrop for a wide range of fabulous walks, and for all abilities. Many walkers return year after year to take in more of the growing range of organised hikes. The evening entertainment is also a real treat.

New at this year's festival, which runs from June 3 to 6, are two history-themed walks that explore the past of JM Barrie, the author of Peter Pan who was born in the Angus town of Kirriemuir. There are another two new walks aimed at experienced walkers that head into Glen Clova and Glen Esk.

The festival is popular so it's worth sourcing your accommodation in advance – and booking on to the walks that take your fancy..All in all it's a great chance to see what beautiful Angus has to offer -see you there! .