It was a “will we, won’t we?” sort of weekend in Scotland thanks to widely variable and ever-changing weather forecasts. But my old school chum, Ben, and I were keen to get out and do a walk somewhere. Here are a few things I learned about walking in Scotland this weekend. (Or rather, these are the things that were underlined about walking in Scotland for me.)
Never quite trust a variable forecast. Every app and website we looked at told a different story and it changed day by day throughout the week. In the end, we decided to put our trust in the Met Office and take a bit of a chance on Dumfries & Galloway.
There is no need to start a walk at sparrow o’clock. While I do like to be up fairly early and out on the hills, sometimes it’s worth paying attention to the weather. We didn’t start our walk until 1pm because it looked likely to be brighter in the afternoon.
Don’t be put off by torrential rain when you wake up. It was lashing it down in Glasgow on Saturday morning and it didn’t appear to be stopping in the next 24 hours. But Scotland’s weather can change just like that – and it did!
Don’t be put off by strong winds and more rain showers during the drive to a walk. Of course, it’s important not to take silly chances with poor weather and head off for a walk that could be dangerously rainy, windy or cold. However, the weather can change quickly – and for the better sometimes.
Always have a plan B (and C). It is good idea to have different options just in case the weather really is woeful when you arrive at a walk, or you are on the way. You might choose to start a walk with the proviso that you turn back if the weather becomes too ridiculous. Or, you could stick to a lower level route where it is more sheltered.
Enjoy the calm moments on a walk. Our walk of the Corbett, Corserine, which is the highest summit of the Rhinns of Kells in Galloway, started in forestry and that offered wonderful shelter from the wind. Ben and I thoroughly welcomed this gentle and calm start to our 10-mile walk.
Be prepared for inclement conditions. We packed full waterproofs and extra layers for the walk, even though it was still August. And as soon as we came out of the forestry, we were pleased we had done so. We needed he extra layers, hats, gloves and waterproof trousers, as well as our waerproof jackets.
The windy sections do not last forever. The walk was sheltered in places and not at all in other places but overall it was well within our limits of what is acceptable and safe. Having done a lot of walking in the mountains , I now know what I can cope with in terms of wind speed and although the wind did blow strongly, especially along the ridge, it felt bracing rather than bonkers.
Rejoice in the sunny spells. Oh, we did just that! We actually felt very smug because we were sure that the weather forecast and the very rainy start to the day would have put off a lot of people who might have been planning a hill walk. The sun was warm and allowed for fabulous views over the wider Dumfries & Galloway landscape.
A Corbett can be a great option. I have only 27 Munros left to walk in my first round and while I am always happy to walk a great Munro twice, I am also content to listen to a friend’s suggestion for a Corbett walk. The route also took in two Donalds. (A Donald is a Scottish mountain over 2000ft in height and with more than 100ft prominence.) Ben has been bagging Donalds and he was trying to persuade me of the merits of joining him! I think I’ll finish the Munros first, though.
The Galloway hills are a hidden gem. We did not pass another person on our walk and only saw other people at the car park at the start of the walk. Yet the landscape and views are splendid. If you get the chance to walk in southern Scotland, I highly recommend it.
Never underestimate a hill walk. Ten miles of walking on gentler slopes didn’t feel too arduous. But I was left with sore muscles so it must have been more strenuous than I had thought at the time.
There is always something new to discover. The walk is on the Forrest Estate, which is owned by the Fred Olsen group. It is a commercial forest, as well as providing hydro electric power. Unusually in Scotland, the tracks in the forest are named after Olsen family members and various employees who have 25 years of service.
A walk with a good friend, whatever the weather, can be very enjoyable. Even when we were being rained on and the wind was strong, Ben and I had the distraction of good chat, a lot of laughter and a catchup. It was a great outing.
This is he route we followed: Corserine.