Heading back to the Highlands

Today was all about preparing to hit the road again and pick up the wild camping trail.

The duties before leaving the Edinburgh Caravan Site were to empty the ‘van waste tanks and to replenish our fresh water supply. The ‘van holds 100 litres of fresh water, which we only use for showers and dishwashing etc. We also carry a 25 litre jerry-can for fresh drinking water plus another 8-10 litres in other plastic bottles. This amount kept us supplied for our six nights wild camping last week. (I only had to top up the 100 litre tank with some sparkling clean mountain stream water – just to keep us going.)

Another chore this morning was to cycle a few miles to Morrison’s for some food provisions. With our panniers attached and rucksacks on our backs we were able to carry a huge amount of shopping.

The final requirement was to fill our LPG autogas system. This system comprises two cylinders (12kg and 7kg) that are linked with an automatic changeover valve. The LPG system provides our hot water, heating and gas for cooking. It can be filled at any garage forecourt selling autogas. The system is supplied by Gaslow and was fitted to the ‘van by my good self.

We then set off northwards and have arrived safely near Crianlarich – where we are “wild camping” ready for an assault on Ben More (1174m) and Stob Binnein (1165m) tomorrow.

We understand that there is snow on the way – which might make the road conditions interesting.

Actually, that brings me to a point that you might be able to help with. We are seriously considering getting snow chains or snow-socks for the ‘van. The idea of getting them isn’t to allow us to travel long distances in deep snow (as you might in the Alps, say), because here in the UK the Police are more likely to simply prevent you from travelling on roads that are “impassable”. No, the idea is more that because we will be predominantly wild camping down small glens or even in areas alongside more major roads we might find ourselves stuck after overnight snow falls and unable to access the main roads. Very much akin to the issues faced when your car is in the driveway when it is a bit lower that the main road. How many times have you heard or said yourself that you simply “can’t get your car off the driveway”!

I’ve been looking into the pros and cons of snow chains and snow-socks and the snow-socks appeal because:

  1. They appear to be considerably lighter in weight – remembering that the ‘van has a maximum payload weight to consider;
  2. They are considerably less expensive: ~£70 compared to >£130 for chains;
  3. They are easy to store;
  4. They are easy to fit.

The question is: do they work as effectively as chains? Would they suffice for our needs in an emergency situation such as being stuck on a side-road / lay-by only yards from the main road or in a glen?

Any thoughts or experiences that you can share with me? Comments gratefully received – thanks.

About Cameron Speirs

Born and brought up in the Scottish Highlands, Cameron, has been interested in outdoor pursuits since he was a wee lad. Over the last few decades he has climbed extensively in the Italian Dolomites as well as summiting the Matterhorn and several other 4000m alpine peaks. Closer to home he has spent many wonderful weekends mountaineering and biking in Snowdonia, Cairngorms, Glen Coe, Skye and Lochaber.
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4 Responses to Heading back to the Highlands

  1. Robin Dickson says:

    Hi Cameron,

    Just catching up on your exploits over the last week or so, and feeling very jealous. I hope you guys are faring well in the weather we see has been hitting the highlands.

    I must say, I have no experience of snow chains, but I am looking into it myself at the moment as we are driving off to the Alps in a couple of months.

    You probably have found this web site already, but there is a sort of pseudo-technical comparison of snow socks and chains here (http://www.roofbox.co.uk/gal/ask/ASHP_06Z.jpg).

    Best of luck with your challenge. Stay safe, and we look forward to seeing you when you retreat south again.


    • Cameron says:

      Hi Robin – great to hear from you. We’ve been out on the hills for the last 3 days and have climbed another 5 Munros. The weather has been glorious – although the Mercury dropped to -5.9 centigrade last night, which starts to play havoc with the ‘van’s water supply. We’ve captured some lovely pictures over the last few days and I’ve written the blogs – but sadly don’t have the bandwidth right now to upload with photos. Keep checking in though as I’ll post the material ASAP. Cheers, Cameron

  2. Chris Robinson says:

    I have some snow socks for the Saab. Not had chance to use them in anger but they are very good by reputation. They are supposed to be a “get you home” solution and will wear out with use though. For getting you to a lay-by then I think they would be fine. Just have a shovel and cat litter (grit) handy too!


  3. Pingback: Shovels to the rescue | Scotland In View

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