The past three weeks has seen a distinct change in the weather.
Autumn has stuck Scotland with what seems like lightening speed.
This change in conditions has seen me walking through freezing wind, driving rain and light snow as I racked up more miles towards my 4000 mile goal.
This mix of weather caused me to break out some of my more extreme winter equipment to cope with the constantly changing environments I have been exploring.
The main addition to my equipment has been my trusty stove. A hot drink while out on the hills for the day in poor weather really helps keep you going along the trials. Some people recently have asked why I opt for a stove rather than taking an insulated flask in my pack. The simple reason is that I find the stove a lot more flexible in the hills as it allows me to take some food that I can heat up should I need it as well as boiling up water for a cuppa.
Hitting the hills
My walking over the past three weeks has mainly been focussed on the hills as I prepare myself for winter. In week 41, I headed again to the Ochil Hills where I followed the well established Tillicoultry to Blackford trail (sometimes called the Hill Road).
This 15km trail retraces a old drovers route between the two towns. I walked the trail with some fellow Walk Fifers and we each found it really enjoyable and easy going and it is definitely one we would suggest is one that is ideal for small groups of walkers. The only downside to this trail is the bus link between the town takes over 90 minutes and doesn’t seem to run as regularly as their timetable suggests. You can view and download this route by visiting – https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/route/2642702/Tillicoultry-to-Blackford-Trail-Walk-Fife
In week 42 I decided to try a route that a few friends shared with me a few months ago and one they had walked with their Ramblers group. The 14km Frandy Burn Circuit is a circular route which meanders through in the picturesque landscape surrounding Glen Devon.
I have walked part of this well know trail before as part of another route (Glen Shee Circular) but had not yet taken on this scenic circular. The route begins in the Forestry Commission car park and slowly makes it way along the glen and into the hills.
The trail is fairly steep in places but still very enjoyable to stroll along but was very muddy on the day I chose and it did cause some extra strain on my weak ankle so my pace had to be slowed in order prevent another injury. The view from the ridge is stunning and I suggest that you make sure you pack a decent camera to capture some of the scenery. You can view and download this route by visiting – https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/route/2642754/Frandy-Burn-Loop-Walk-Fife
The temperature dropped significantly in week 43 and I had to break out my winter base layers and gloves to keep myself warm as I explored the Pentland Hills while following another route which was shared with me this time by some fellow hillwalkers I had met when taking a break from the rain in a bothy in the Cairngorms during the summer.
The 4 Tops trail is 15km route that takes in the four four hill tops of East and West Kip, Scald Law and South Black Hill. Again the weather on the day I chose to head out was poor and my waterproofs were really given through testing as the rain battered down on top of me. Unfortunately due to the weather i didn’t get to enjoy this rolling route as much I wish I had but I will definitely be heading back there in the warmer months. You can view and download this route by visiting – https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/route/2054087/Trail-magazine-May-18-Scald-Law-the-Kips-Eastern-Scotland
I think these past three weeks have highlighted the importance of having several different kit setup to cope with the differing weather conditions and terrains that I am covering in my challenge. Having the flexibility of having multiple setup will enable me to quickly grab my kit and head out on the trails which is important especially when time is against me due to home and work commitments.
The coming week will be based nearer to home as I work on some workshop programming alongside the rest of the Walk Fife team. The workshop programme for 2019 is really coming together and we are looking forward to sharing more news about them with the community soon.
If you have any questions about this challenge or anything Walk Fife related, then please drop me a email at firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message me through my twitter account @SDMakin.
Catch up with you again next week.