A Scottish Odyssey

“Life is a Journey
Seize the Day
Look out of every Window
Live your Dreams
Dwell on Possibilities”

Just over two and half years ago (20 April 2008 to be precise) we had the notion to do something special – an adventure perhaps – whilst we were still fit and able to undertake something quite challenging.

Infamous Scottish "midge" - actual size

As we are both keen on outdoor sports such as mountaineering, climbing, skiing and mountain biking, we decided that our adventure should try to include some of these activities … and the idea of climbing all of Scotland’s mountains higher than 3000 feet was conceived. As many of you may already be aware, “The Munros” is the term used to describe a definitive list of all mountains in Scotland that stand 3000ft or higher. We are, therefore, pursuing a “Munro Bagging” odyssey!

Winter sunset on the Scottish West coast

However, we also enjoy the more relaxing things in life: like visiting new places – cities, towns and villages, enjoying the local fare from coffee & cake shops, restaurants, breweries and distilleries, and meeting new and interesting people. Finally, we also want to do some island hopping – hopefully touring many of the Scottish islands on our bikes.

Tioran Castle - Ardgour

As this adventure could not simply be “completed” over a two-week holiday (or several for that matter), a much longer duration was required. And so a year-out seemed like the ideal solution.

Taking a year-out is a major undertaking in itself, and not something that we entered into lightly. It required us to give up good jobs with a company called QinetiQ (and the associated financial security) at a time when the UK and global economy was (and still is) in the midst of a major recession. However, this “risk” to our financial security was easily offset against another less tangible “risk”, that we can’t buy back time and can’t necessarily guarantee an appropriate level of health and fitness into the future in order that we can definitely complete such a physically demanding challenge later in life.

From Sanna Bay to the Isle of Rum

Despite the headline for our year-out being “to climb all 283 Scottish mountain peaks over 3000 feet (or 914.4m)” a more accurate description is actually “to have a fun adventure and to stay safe along the way”. The measure of success for us will be that we are able to look back over our year-out and feel satisfied and proud that we have achieved the absolute maximum that we could have from our Scottish Odyssey.

Bonny Prince Charlie's monument at Glenfinnan

To facilitate the freedom that we are seeking throughout our trip we are relying on our trusty motorhome to act as our travelling “base-camp”. We bought our Autotrail motorcaravan (shortened to the ‘van) in April 2009 and have kitted it out to cater for all our needs over four seasons and to carry all of the paraphernalia associated with our outdoor pursuits.

As well as the physical demands of our outdoor adventures, running our ‘van over a harsh Scottish winter season will present a number of its own challenges: not least that very few sites remain open from November through to Easter; fresh water pipes freeze a bit too easily, snow and ice blocks roads and hides useful spots for wild camping; and long winter nights play havoc by limiting battery life effectiveness. It will be interesting to see how challenging these difficulties become – especially when it’s blowing a gale outside, the snow is threatening to bury us alive in the ‘van, and the temperatures have been sub-zero for days on end! But I guess that we do appreciate that this is supposed to be an adventure after all.

The Commando Memorial by Spean Bridge

Our intention is to capture all of the highs and lows of our year-out on our website (www.scotlandinview.com) and to bring our adventures to life through our photography and text. This website will cover a broad spectrum of topics, from our routes on the hills, geology, geography, environment and social history through to reviews of our gear, cafés and restaurants, and not forgetting some great recipes of the food that we’ll be cooking in the ‘van. We hope that you enjoy it and feel inspired to leave us comments when you can.

Loch Leven, Ballachulish Bridge and the hills of Ardgour

4 Responses to A Scottish Odyssey

  1. Tracey says:

    Really enjoying reading the blogs. What is the weather doing up there? Interested to know how you get on with the snow chains. Courage needed to reverse the van! – you can do it Elaine no problem.

    • Elaine says:

      Hi Tracey,
      Great to hear from you. Yes, the weather and conditions have been a bit on the Arctic side – but it has provided us with some spectacular views as you can see. The snow chains have arrived … but unfortunately they are currently up at Cameron’s parents in Fort William: we left a day before they arrived and won’t be back until Christmas! I’m sure that we will need them as the season progresses – or should I say that Cameron will need them when he is reversing – because I don’t imagine that I’ll be giving reversing a go in these conditions!!!
      All the best,
      Elaine

  2. Gwen Pincott says:

    Hi Cameron & Elaine
    I have just spent the past couple of hours lost in your amazing adventures!! Sounds like you are having an awesome time. Living on a boat seemed like a confined space until I realised how you are living and travelling. It’s amazing how efficient and tidy you can become. I look forward to continuing your “bagging” along side you and am really enjoying the tour of Scotland. Still intend visiting on our eventual circumnavigation – but now I am even more enthused. Cheers for now. Safe adventuring!!

    • Cameron says:

      Hi Gwen – great to hear from you.
      I’m really glad that you’ve managed to stop by the website and leave us your feedback. It is also really great to find out where you’ve got to on your own nautical adventures around the coast of Australia. I’m guessing that right now you’re facing the opposite extremes in temperature from us!
      I’m looking forward to reading your next blogs about your latest adventures. Are you planning on visiting the family in Melbourne over Christmas?
      Lots of love to all the family,
      Cameron and Elaine.

      [Aside: Gwen is my cousin who emigrated with her brother and parents (my Aunt and Uncle) to Australia (Melbourne) around 38 years ago (give or take). A few years ago Gwen, her husband and young son and daughter set sail (literally) on a long-term sailing odyssey around the coast of Australia. Details of their adventures can be found on their website: http://www.windana.talkspot.com/ “Windana” is the name of their catamaran. Why not pop along and see our “family” lust for travel and adventure extending all the way to the southern hemisphere.]

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