Monday, 22 July 2013

Glen Shiel, Scotland

9th October to 12th October 2012
At 10am on 9th October Paul and I left Chester bound for Invershiel and two days of ridge walking in Glen Shiel with “The Five Sisters of Kintail” being our main challenge.  It was to be our final training for our trek to Nepal later in the month.  We were in Crianlarich at 3.30pm, Fort William at 4.30pm and into our hotel –the Kintail Lodge Hotel - at 6pm after a good journey and some 426 miles taking us eight hours.  We were staying in The Trekkers Lodge and cooked our own meal before enjoying some of the real ales in the hotel bar.
Wednesday 10th saw us up at 6.30am and at 8am we started our walk from Morvich.  A very steep climb up grassy long slopes (sometimes 60/65% scrambles) saw us arriving at 10.15am at our first mountain on the ridge – Sgurr na Moraich 876m.   It was a beautiful calm and sunny morning and as the rut was in full swing we could here the roaring stags all around and it was not long before we saw stags and hinds.  At 11am we were on the top of Beinn Bhuidhe 869m with wonderful scenery all around basking in warm sunshine.  The beauty of Kintail is as much in the glens and corries as it is on the peaks and the bealachs that separate them.  This turned out to be a demanding route with an amount of scrambling and great care was needed on the narrower and steeper parts of the ridges.  Down in the valleys below us on both sides of the ridge we could here and see red deer actively participating in the rut.  It was fascinating to watch and we did this on a number of occasions.
At noon we reached Sgurr nan Saighead 929m with mountains all around.  Visibility was wonderful and we could see for miles in all directions.  Some of the vistas we saw can be seen in the slide show on the blog.  At 1pm we reached the highest point of the day and the highest Munro in the Glen Shiel area - Sgurr Fhuaran 1067m (3501ft).   Here the slopes down from the mountain top are possibly the longest in all Scotland.  The blue waters of Loch Duich shown in the sunlight and Skye and the Inner Hebrides looked very close and the south part of the Outer Hebrides could also be seen.  On the mainland the peaks of Assynt could be made out.  To the South we looked across to Knoydart and in the distance the mountains of Glen Coe and Ben Nevis 1344m.
We continued along the ridge and at 2.30pm we were on the top of Sgurr na Carnach 1002m.  We had made an earlier decision that we would end our walk on the ridge at 4.30pm as we had a steep and long decent down to Gleann Lichd and the River Croe, and then a long walk along the valley bottom back to our car.  At 3.30pm we were on Sgurr na Ciste Duibhe 1027m and at 4pm we climbed Sgurr nan Spainteach 990m.   It was then on to the top of Beinn Odhar 878m and at 4.30pm we started our decent.  The sun was still shinning brightly at 6pm but as we made our decent we dropped into the shadows and reached the valley bottom at 5.45pm and in darkness we reached our car at 7.30pm.  We had walked constantly for close on 12 hours.  We had walked 18.1km and undertook a total ascent of 1830m.
We enjoyed a lovely meal and drinks in the hotel – no way were we cooking tonight!
Up at 6.45am we were welcomed to wind and rain and such a different day from the day before.  After cooking breakfast we were away again at 8.30am with our target for the day being The Saddle 1010m going up the Forcan Ridge.  With the high winds at sea level where we were we held little hope of reaching the top.
We were on a good path at 9am heading for Biod an Fhithich 644m our first mountain of the day.  At Bealach na Craoibhe 496m we felt the full blast of the wind and in the valley on the other side of the bealach we looked down once again into Coire Caol and onto the rutting stags and the hinds they were guarding.  We reached the top of Biod an Fhithich at 10.40am and then returned to the bealach and then walked on to Meallan Odhar 617m which we reached at 11.20am.  The wind here was ever so strong so we decided to stop for a brew and made a decision not to risk the much higher and narrow ridges above us.  We went back down to our car and we arrived there for 12.50pm.  After a coffee at the hotel we headed for Skye on a very wet day.  We reached Broadford and then went on to Elgol to look across the bay to The Cuillin Hills but with low cloud their was alas little to see.  We arrived back at our hotel for 4.30pm and spent the evening there.
After settling our account we were away at 9.30am and again a wet morning.  By 2.30pm we were in Carlisle and by 5pm we were back in Chester where Paul dropped me off before he drove on to Capel Curig in Wales.
It was a long way to go but we so much enjoyed The Five Sisters Ridge that we both felt it was well worth it and it was excellent training for the rigours of the trek we were to go on to experience in Nepal.
June 2013  

The Lycian Way - Turkey

A Culture Adventure in the south west corner of Turkey
The Lycian Way – 509km (One of the world’s best known long-distance footpaths)
24th Feb to 9th March 2012
We travelled some 1,435kms by bus/walking over 14 enjoyable days across the Teke Peninsula, which is the bump on Turkey’s south coast between the cities of Fethiye and Antalya.  There was a total party of 17 people including our guides (3) and wonderful bus driver and we all had a great time.  The trek was so well organised by Ramblers Worldwide Holidays.
There are not so many places left where magic reigns without interruption – this is one of them, through a wonderful natural and historic treasure house.  We walked on old mule tracks, through cedar forests, gorges, farmland always with unique coastal and mountain scenery.  Lycia is the historical name for the Teke Peninsula, the country of light, on Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast.  Aside from the weather (this part of Turkey reputedly gets 300 days of sunshine each year) the major attraction is the idyllic coastal scenery.  The Lycians’ place in history has been largely forgotten, but this society was democratic and wealthy before being conquered by Rome.
Landing at Antalya having flown 4hrs from Manchester we stayed the first night in the Aspen Hotel in the Old part of this interesting and fast growing city.  It was then next day (Sat 25th) a bus journey across country reaching a high point of 1,600m with snow on the mountain tops and all around us.  At 1pm we reached the lovely blue lagoon at Oludeniz and after a short picnic on the beach we were on our first walk in glorious sunshine across a hillside bound for the abandoned former Greek village of Karmilassos.  Views all around were just wonderful as were the azure waters below.  We had seen one eagle and we heard a cuckoo.  By 5.30pm we finished our walk and sightseeing for the day and we arrived at the Harman Hotel in Fethiye, to be our base for 4 nights.  This was a comfortable hotel with good food and service.
At 10am on Sunday morning (26th Feb) we were at the start point of The Lycian Way (“TLW”) and followed a coastal path reaching some 900m at the highest point.  We completed our walk in the village of Faralya at 4pm and then our bus took us back along a cliff top road looking down to Oludeniz Bay.  Our ascent for the day was 495m.
Monday (27th) was a wet morning after a severe thunder storm during the night so armed with waterproofs we were taken to the village of Yakabag to commence our walk.  Again it was uphill through a forest reaching a ridge where we stopped to look at a tomb.  It was then onto the ancient city of Pinara where we walked round the ruins and Lycian tombs carved in the steep rock face cliffs.
There are four types of tombs:
  • Pillar – placed on a stepped base or directly on rock are the oldest
  • House – are carved directly out of solid rock
  • Free-standing temple – these have a temple façade with two or more columns and a portico from which a door leads to a grave chamber.  The dead were laid on benches in this room
  • Sarophagi – which normally consisted of four parts, a stepped base, a lower grave chamber, a coffin and lid.
We walked back to the village of Minare where we were served a most enjoyable lunch in a local home – a very enjoyable occasion.  That evening at 7pm we ate out at the Saray Restaurant in Fethiye.

Tuesday at 10am saw us looking down into Butterfly Valley from the Village of Faralya.  After all the rain the day before it was deemed too dangerous to make the steep descent into the valley so we had to be content with taking photographs of this very scenic valley and the colourful ocean beyond.  It was now through the small village (Faralya) and an uphill walk to the snowline where we were looking up to two large snow covered mountains on our left with massive cliffs.  We stopped for lunch by a stream and then it was a gradual down hill walk passing isolated small holdings and the village of Uzunyurt.  Here we stopped in a small café for drinks.  A very steep descent took us down to the pebble beach at Yuva. 
Over our three days of walking we had seen the foraging activities of wild boar by the paths we had walked on and here on the beach was a dead wild boar washed up by the tide.  They are very shy creatures and mainly come out at night so despite a constant watch out for them it was with great regret that this was the only one we saw.  We did see tortoises of various sizes and one snake but alas no turtles.   
We were back to our bus by 3.15pm and on our way back to the hotel we visited the tombs in Fethiye.
Next morning we had to pack our kit bags as we were moving on to the town of Kas.  On route we stopped at the remote village of Bel and walked through high level farmland and woodland tracks at around 900m.  At this high level it was cold (ice could be seen on the small pools on the tracks we passed over) with a stiff wind but the sun was out all day with good clear visibility.  We passed a couple of herds of sheep and goats being moved up to high pastures from the valleys below.  We stopped for lunch at 1pm and enjoyed this in lovely sunshine.
We were aware that we had to make a steep descent (600m) to the village of Gavuragili and this proved a very demanding affair.  This was a steep traverse through boulders and scree with some scrub and small trees.  For some this proved a very difficult descent but all made it and at 3.30pm we had reached sea level – the ordeal for the day was over!  It was then a drive to Kas and our central located hotel – Otel Kekova at 5pm.
I was out shopping at 7.30am on a sunny morning on Thursday 1st March.  At 10.15am we were on the TLW once again bound for the 1st Century siphonic aqueduct at Delikkemer.  We had initial difficulty in finding the path and we were in dense scrub for half an hour or so until we came across the small track which wound its way around the side of hills looking down onto fertile flat valleys and towering snow covered mountains in the distance.  This section of the TLW could do with being cut back before the path completely closes in.  Along the way we saw many colourful flowers, plants and shrubs.  We saw one bird of prey which I thought was a young eagle but others thought it was a kite!  It was then a short drive at 3.15pm to the ancient city of Patara with its silted harbour and we walked around the ruins before walking on to see the wonderful isolated beach.  Just a wonderful location which we all enjoyed.
We were back at our hotel for 6pm, just in time to have a shower and change before dinner was served in the restaurant at 7.30pm.  It proved a very cold evening and for me I was so glad I took my warm duck down jacket with me – a constant light companion!
Friday 2nd March (Day 8) was a free day and most took the opportunity to discover this lovely small town of Kas.  One couple decided to do another section of the TLW while I walked a short distance to Limani beach and back again before enjoying some beers in a harbour side café.  Here I wrote some 10 postcards and got these posted.  In the evening we all went out to a harbour restaurant for drinks and an enjoyable dinner.  Some went on to have drinks in a bar/snooker club where we found the locals all very friendly.
Saturday 3rd March saw us begin a hard walking day from just below the ancient city of Phellos (which we later passed through) and reaching a height of 1,050m on the ridge.  It was a steep descent (500m) into the Hacioglan Valley.  In the valley we had to cross a fast flowing river which proved to be ever such good fun but absolute terror for some.  Our lead guide Tuna played a pivotal role in helping trekkers get across boulders in the river to the other side.  It was then an uphill walk on a broad but wet forest road to join our bus to take us back to Kas.  We had walked 9.2miles.
After an enjoyable shower it was up to the roof top restaurant where our chef and staff had prepared a BBQ on the large open fire.  Memories are still very vivid of the lovely food we enjoyed on the trip and this was certainly one of them:
·       Lentil soup with slices of lemon to squeeze
·       Chicken, lamb and fresh vegetables
·       A choice of wonderful delicate sweet dishes
·       EPS Premier lager beer or wine if you preferred
·       Coffee or apple tea normally was the final enjoyment.
Sunday 4th March (Day 10) we were on the move once again to undertake a new section of the TLW.  In the course of our transfer to Adrasan and to the El Dorado Hotel we stopped in the village of Ucagiz at 10am and walked to the village of Simena, both stunning fishing villages.  At Simena we visited an ancient castle with wonderful views across the landlocked harbour.  After seeing round the castle we went on a boat trip to Kerkova Island on a glass bottomed boat and looked down on the Simena sunken ancient city.  Due to the tide level we were unable to land on the island (I did not understand why?) so we had a BBQ on the boat in lovely sunshine.  Views all around us were fantastic.  Landing back in Ucagiz in the early afternoon the harbour was very busy with day trippers taking boat rides out into the bay.  We reached 900m in the bus before once again descending to sea level at our hotel at 6pm with light rapidly fading.
Our hotel had just opened after the closed winter period and had an efficient wood burning stove by the small bar and restaurant.  Service and food was also good but the showers were poor and sometimes the water was not too hot.  Another negative was the constant noise from frogs (all through the night) I think enjoying sex!  I was jealous!
In the morning we saw the lovely beach and Mt Olympos (Tahtali Dag 2,366m) towering in its white covered top and ridges in the background.  What a lovely location.
Normal morning procedure after breakfast was to call at a local supermarket to get food and water for your day’s walk and today Monday 5th March we stopped in the village of Adrasan and had the choice of two small shops to make our purchases.  On average I was paying TL3/5 for my picnic lunch.  Today it was a bus ride to the village of Karaoz on a lovely sunny morning.  At 10.30am we left the village crossing a stream onto a lovely beach and then up a road through a forest where butterflies of all colours floated about in all their beauty, attracted by the abundance of wild flowers at the edges of the tracks we walked over.  We then followed an up hill track bound for the Gelidonia Lighthouse where our walk ended and we had a picnic lunch looking out to sea and to three small islands.
On the way back we took a slight diversion and visited Pirates’ Cove, just a lovely location were we did see shoals of small surface fish.  Pirates were once the blight of the ancient Med and the Lycian coast became known as Pirate Coast.  At 4pm we were back in the village and we stopped at a café to enjoy well earned drinks.  This had been such a beautiful and enjoyable section of the TLW.  A walk of around 16km and ascent/descent of 290m.
It was down for pre dinner beers at 6pm and a good chat as became normal practice.  All trekkers very much looked forward to their evening meal.  Alas the weather took a turn for the worse and it was heavy rain during the night.  I think the chorus of the frogs gained in strength and it certainly did not stop the early morning cockerels trying hard to make the loudest noise.
Looking out next morning it was still raining and low dense cloud was all around.  Alas Mt Olympos could not even be seen; thank goodness we did take photographs the day before.  At 10.30am we were at the start of our walk in the Village of Ulupinar and it was going to be a long walk all the way to Cirali (with a river crossing!!) and then visit the ruins of the ancient city of Olympos.  Just outside Ulupinar we came to our first river crossing and with this being in full spate it was decided by our Leaders not to cross so it was back to the village and a surprise coffee stop.  We went on the bus to Cirali by which time the rain had thankfully stopped and we were on a good stepped path up to the ruined temple of Hephaistos, the Greek god of fire.  Here we were fascinated by the ever burning flames (The Chimaera or Perpetual Flames) coming out of small cracks/holes all along the sloping rock face, about the size of a small football pitch.
We then walked back to Cirali, along by the edge of the long beach and eventually onto the beach itself.  Here we found the river very fast flowing and it was a case of removing ones’ boots and socks, rolling up or taking off trousers and wading across (knee deep) in the cold water.  This proved to be a great laugh and no casualties.  One of our party (who shall remain nameless) decided to “walk on water”, where the river entered the sea and while getting quickly and safely across, alas he got somewhat wet boots, socks and feet!
It was fascinating walking round the well sign posted ruins of the former city of Olympos – lots of lovely photographs were taken.  By 5.30pm we were back at our hotel and tonight we were to eat at a trout farm at the village of Ulupinar with a special recipe for the trout and an ice-cream dish.  Both were just wonderful.  Back in the hotel I had a nightcap but this did not prevent me from hearing the frogs once again! 
Wed 7th – (Day 13) saw us leave at 9am with a long bus journey ahead of us as we are bound for the NW saddle of Mt Olympos which was to be one of our longest and highest level walks at 1,800m.  Our start point was Yayla Kuzdere.  Going through the gorge with fast snow melt water flowing and up steep inclines our bus developed an unknown problem with a warning light showing red and not having the same amount of power in the engine as normal.  At a village a few miles from Yayla Kuzdere we stopped for a morning break in the sunshine with Mt Olympos towering behind us, sometimes visible and other times hidden by the cloud at high level.  There was a lot of snow up there and we were aware that the road to the village we were in had only recently been cleared of snow.  A decision was taken not to go further and to take the bus back to the town of Kemer to have the bus problem investigated.  We had an hour’s break looking around Kemer which was a nice town and at 2pm we commenced our alternative walk on the TLW.  Luck was not with us today as a few yards along the track we ran into a number of bee keepers who were working with their hives and the bees were buzzing everywhere.  We ended up having to wear protective clothing and were taken 5 at a time through the two long lines of bee hives.  We all saw the funny side of the situation and had a great laugh and of course the occasion became a great photo opportunity with a number of us dancing in these ghostly uniforms.  Honey is an important local crop.
Once past the bee hives we were on a good uphill track in the foothills of Mt Olympos.  We passed two herds of goats which were eating by the roadside and away in the distance we could see the outline of the city of Antalya.  Soon we could see Mt Olympos with its snow clad top.  A cable car from the coast takes you to the top of the mountain and we could clearly see the station mounted on top of the mountain.  On our way back we came through orange groves with lovely smells. 
We were back at our bus at 5pm and back to our hotel at 6.30pm in the darkness.  Sea Bream was our main dish with fresh local vegetables – ever so enjoyable.  By 10.30pm I was tucked up in bed.
Thursday 8th March saw us move on for one night back to our original hotel in Antalya.  We were all packed up and away at 9.30am on a lovely sunny morning and on route we were stopping at the historic city of Phaselis, again on a coastal site with three beaches.  We walked around the site for an hour or so leaving at 12.30pm.  Once again we stopped in Kemer for lunch in some of the town’s cafes.  Malcolm (our English Leader) and I had beers and coffee in a small café and reflected on what had been such an enjoyable trek.  All parties had gelled over the fourteen days – what laughs, sights, river crossings and wonderful food.
By 3pm we were back in the beautiful and interesting city of Antalya and then it was a stroll around the Old Town before dinner in our hotel.  I went to discover a couple of hamams as I could not be in Turkey without having a Turkish bath.  One turned out to be 700 years old, the other 800 years old, so I would make a decision next morning as to which one I was to go to.
We held our final daily get-together/briefing in the hotel at 7.10pm.  It was an opportunity to have a few laughs, say a few speeches and say thank you to our three guides and our wonderful bus driver, Recep, and to hand over thank you cards and the money collections we had organised.  A number of us went out for drinks after dinner to savour the night ambience of this old city.
Roger and I were walking round the old harbour before breakfast and after breakfast I was away for my Turkish bath at 10am; others were going to museums and doing last minute shopping.  Once again it was a lovely sunny and warm morning.
What an enjoyable experience the Turkish bath turned out to be.   There is a famous saying – “If heaven exists, I hope it’s a hamam.”  Here you pay a burly, near-naked stranger to scrape, knead and pummel your quivering flesh (my request for a lady to do this was turned down!) but after nearly two hours, apple tea and fruit, you emerge feeling so clean it borders on the virginal!
We had to vacate our rooms for noon and our final bus journey took us to the airport at 1.30pm.  At the airport we said all our goodbyes; some were bound for London others were going to Manchester.  Our route back took 4.35 hours as prevailing winds were against us.  We were flying at 32/34,000 feet and passed over Istanbul, Vienna, and Brussels and to the Thames Estuary and then up to Manchester.
I would recommend Turkey as an enjoyable holiday destination and having so enjoyed my first interesting visit I am keen to visit the city of Istanbul.  Jill, Elaine and Alptug (who lives there) spoke so highly about the city.  The advice given to me was to stay in the Old Town on the European side by Galata Bridge.
Thank you to the entire Group and many others I met along the way on this enjoyable holiday.  Ramblers Worldwide Holidays gave trekkers a well thought out route with experienced guides, good hotels, food and service all provided at a very competitive price.  So enjoyable.
June 2013
In Country Walking (February 2012) an article – “25 walks of a lifetime” places the LW in 3rd place. 

Wild Camping

Wild camping gives you the opportunity to extend your walks out on the hills, unrestrained by daylight hours. Nature can be experienced truly first hand, unspoilt by busy routes or climbing hotspots.  Waking up to a stunning landscape and hopefully sunshine is what it’s all about and the sense of freedom you get knowing that you have all your needs in your rucksack – it really is quite liberating!

The good news is that it doesn’t take much planning either, you need shelter, clothing for warmth, food, water and of course a bed for the night.  Once you’ve got to grips with the basics you can go camping anytime.

Although wild camping isn’t strictly legal in England, it is tolerated.  You’re supposed to ask the landowner’s permission before sleeping on their land, but it is usually tolerated provided you remain discreet and follow the basic wild camp etiquette.  In Scotland wild camping (done properly) is still perfectly legal as is the case in Dartmoor.

Never stay at one site for more than two nights as this will leave a mark on the ground.  Pitch late, pack early and best to get high off the beaten path.  Never light fires.  Leave no trace of you being there when you leave.  You should leave the site as you found it.  Be considerate of others and respect the privacy and livelihood of others.  Choose your toilet carefully in a sheltered spot at least 50 metres away from water.  Dig a 6-8-inch deep hole, and replace the earth once you have finished your business.  Carry out your toilet paper with your other rubbish. 

Camp near a clean water source.  Vital equipment includes a head torch, map and compass but I am attaching a full listing that I would take.  As you are carrying a heavier load on your back good boots with ankle support are recommended as opposed to trainers.  Stream/river or loch/lake water will be the main source of hydration which can be filtered, boiled and sterilized to rid it of any nasty bugs.  Travel as light as you can as you have to carry all your equipment and food with you.

It is a good idea to practice getting your tent up so that it becomes second nature. Make sure you are able to find a good pitch (flat, no stones and sheltered) with the thinner end of your lent facing into the wind.  You want if possible to use any slope wisely with your head being at a level slightly higher than your feet.

Remember night fall always brings a chill (even in summer) so always have adequate warm clothes.  Understand layering.  Again you need to have adequate food (also have an emergency supply) for the duration of your camp.  How greatly enhanced even the simplest of food is by the act of eating it outdoors under the starlight or as fingers of light are just beginning to pick at the sky and perhaps a dawn chorus to go with it!  It tastes wonderful.  Once night has fallen there is nothing to do (most times!) but go to bed with your head torch and a good book.

Last but by no means least – have good company!

Fraser Mackay - June 2013


Large rucksack, preferably with zipped area in base of bag to store sleeping bag – say 65lts +
Dry bags for clothing
Tent, poles and pegs
Sleeping mat or thermarest, sleeping bag (kept in dry bag), silk liner and pillow
Head torch + spare batteries + back up torch
Stove – jet boil or equivalent
Gas canister + back up canister + waterproof matches
(Watch – all fuel gives off CO3 so if cooking in confined space be aware of this!  Do not cook in the tent.)
Pan, plate, cup, and spork
Small amount eco friendly washing up liquid (so as not to pollute streams)
Small pan scrub
Water bladder/bottle
Personal toiletries
Wet wipes
Small medical kit
Hand trowel (to dig toilet hole) no paper, use moss or sheep wool!
Gaffer tape, taken off large role and wrapped around small a thin tube
Map, map case and compass
Change of clothing/socks
Hat, gloves etc
Microfibre towel
Sun cream
Sun glasses
Insect repellent
Ear plugs
Pack of playing cards
Mat to sit on
Carrier bags for rubbish/damp clothing
Spare laces
Walking poles (optional)
Clothes/boots in line with duration of hike and time of year.


What food you take with you must be what you enjoy and be wholesome to give you the necessary energy you will need for your daily activities.  Normally you would have two courses for breakfast and 2 courses for your evening meal and have snacks as needed during the course of the day.  Wayfarer pre-prepared meals are an alternative.
I would also have some dried fruit, bananas, nuts, packs of crisps (salt content), cereal bars, chocolate bars, energy chews or gels and Zero Electrolyte hydration tablets to put into my water carrier.  As a spare meal I always carry a tin of sardines.  If taking dried milk (make sure it mixes with cold water) for coffee, tea, or porridge etc.
To avoid fatigue, top up your glycogen store the evening before with a carbohydrate – rich meal of pasta and refuel regularly with carbohydrate – rich snacks such as ripe bananas, dried fruit or cereal bars on the route.
Wine – boxed wine is perfect, taking the silver bag out and discarding box + plastic cups!
Food is personal but needs to be carefully thought out.


Asturian House

Remote Emergancy Care

Henry Garcia Tours Madeira

Henry Garcia Tours Madeira
Henry at your Service

Homestay at Evans Bay New Zealand

Rachid Imerhane

Rachid Imerhane
Guide & Organizer of Treks - Mountain - Coast - Desert & Imperial Cities

Clashview Kinlochbervie

Clashview Kinlochbervie
Clashview Kinlochbervie





Bayhead Self Catering, Isle of Harris

Bayhead Self Catering, Isle of Harris