After reaching Cape Wrath in 2014, my cross-Scotland walk was complete. But I needed, I decided to keep my annual Scottish fix, so I walked the Southern Upland Way in the springs of 2015 and 2016. But then 2017 came round, and what to do …

The SUW is of course a coast-to-coast walk, well south of Scotland’s busy and built-up central belt. There seemed to be a certain symmetry in walking coast-to-coast again, this time well to the north.

However there’s no dedicated trail across this remote country, so it was back to the maps again, to find myself a line that would both test my capabilities and yet be within them – much like the latter stages of south-to-north had done, and indeed the SUW.

Glen Geldie

The empty spaces of Glen Geldie

sleeper train

The Caledonian Sleeper leaving Newtonmore

In terms of time, you need about two weeks. In the middle is the great south-to-north transport artery formed by the rivers Tay and Spey, which facilitates getting there; specifically, the Caledonian Sleeper stops at the main Spey valley settlements. Hence one year I could walk to the Spey valley, and the other away from it.

Rather perversely, I decided to do the latter first, in 2017. After all, it was all but new country to me – my south-to-north walk had not touched it, and I can barely remember one solitary walking-and-motorcycling holiday back in the 1970s (though there might be some black-and-white photographs still to be dug out of the attic).

Back a year later, I stepped off the morning train at Strathcarron on a beautiful sunny day. Would the weather gods shine again? Yes they would! Not that there weren’t challenges along the way, but I left with my confidence boosted and a firm intention of using these two years’ experience to good use on The Great Outdoors Challenge of 2019.

I’ve split the walk into four pages.

Strathcarron to Fort Augustus
Fort Augustus to Newtonmore
Newtonmore to Braemar
Braemar to Edzell