I’m a city girl, always have been and even though I found nature quite beautiful for vacation, I was always happy to be back in the city. When I was younger going for a walk was boring to me and hiking wasn’t something I linked to the term fun. In the meantime I’ve reached an age where I think going for a walk is great (probably because I don’t live at home anymore and therefore my parents can’t ‘force’ me), but I still wasn’t a fan of hiking. Fast-forward to coming to Scotland for my Erasmus term, I realised that I have been missing out.
So, this week’s blog post will feature the Microventures series again and I’ ll tell you about two little hiking trips and how apps and websites can make them easier.
At the beginning of October a friend and I spent a weekend in Newtonmore. We had booked a one-room apartment on a cattle farm via Airbnb. On the side, the Highland cows are sweet as sugar, we were even allowed to groom them. An absolute recommendation if you are looking for accommodation in the area. As I understood it, all the workers there are volunteers (if you are looking for something like this, the farm is certainly great too).
On Saturday we wanted to go hiking up in the Cairngorms. The route had to be not too long and easy to walk with an old dog. Since both of us are not familiar with the area, we chose a route on Walkhighlands. As the name suggests, you can find hiking routes for the Highlands (and the rest of Scotland) on this website. The trails are sorted by difficulty, length and estimated duration. You get a lot of information about the tour itself (with pictures), as well as information about the accessibility (public transport). You can print out the route or view it online. The latter is very handy, as you can follow your location on the map if you get lost.
We chose the Creag Bheag and Tom Baraidh walk, which starts and ends in Kingussie. It was a very nice walk, with different scenery, that is easy to master as a beginner. I can highly recommend it.
At the end of October my boyfriend visited and we wanted to go hiking on the Isle of Arran. We both don’t know our way around there, so we had to find a suitable route again. This time the condition was that it was easy enough to hike while sick. He already had the App Komoot so we wanted to try a route that is suggested by this app. The app can be used to find routes for hiking, running and cycling. Some routes are suggested, but you can also ‘build’ your own routes and record tours. In contrast to the website Walkhighlands the app can be used worldwide and is not limited to Scotland. As with the website, you get detailed information about the different routes.
We decided for the ‘Bridge to Brodick Beach – Glen Rosa’ round and added a little outlier to the Brodick Castle. This tour was also very nice. We saw red deer and Highland cattle on our way. We also came across many dog owners. So I was very happy. A general tip, if you are on the Isle of Arran: go to Little Rock Cafe and order the carrot cake. At least to me it was life changing.
All in all the Highlands are a good starting point to explore hiking. You get a great view, good trails and generally good infrastructure (e.g. public toilets). I can recommend the app as well as the website. I find the website better to plan a route in advance because you can see more on a desktop screen. But the app is more practical on the go as it is easier to use on a mobile phone. In the end, you have to decide for yourself what suits you best and what you get along with better.