Rucksack Readers

Rucksack Readers => Cateran Trail, Perthshire => Topic started by: jmcpaul on December 30, 2007, 04:33:07 pm

Title: Suitable for early January ?
Post by: jmcpaul on December 30, 2007, 04:33:07 pm

I am contemplating doing at least part of the trail in early January with my son (16 yrs old) and I am wondering about its suitability ie if all part of the trail are open and typically passable. I am also wondering if we would be able/allowed to camp on or near the trail ?

Are there any outlets for the trail guide that I can purchase from on the way north to the trail start ? I have tried Waterstones and Amazon and cannot get hold of the guidebook early enough.

Cheers John

Title: Re: Suitable for early January ?
Post by: Jacquetta on December 31, 2007, 02:39:16 pm
Good idea, John, much of the Trail is low-level and relatively sheltered, although the Lairig Gate is at 650 m and the approach to Spittal could be exposed or difficult in bad weather.  However, with very restricted daylight hours, you'll have no real options about whether or when to brave the rain, and without knowing how robust your son's morale is, (or yours:), it's impossible to say what kind of trip you'll have :-X  Drying clothes can be really hard when you're camping and the long hours of darkness could be challenging.  Might be good to keep open the option of B&B for at least a night or two ...

You don't say where you'd be starting from but I'd strongly recommend getting a good 5-day forecast at the last possible minute and then deciding how far to commit yourselves.  I researched most of the book in January and February and the photographs prove that good weather is possible, but I was starting from Dunblane so had accurate predictions before setting out.  Without tempting Providence, I'd say that the trail is typically 100% open and passable to the well-prepared hiker in all months of the year, but obviously extreme weather can affect the Scottish Highlands at any time, so check before setting off. ???

As for the book, Rucksack Readers is open almost 24/7/365 and could organise a copy to be waiting for you anywhere if you phone us on 01786 824696.  I did just try to phone Blairgowrie Tourist Information Centre to check that they are in stock (the walk begins/ends in Blair).  However, their winter opening times are Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 3pm so 31.12 was no good.  In case you want to try, they have (or used to have) a direct line on 01250 872 960 and the email is (all this and more is in the book, naturally!).  Dealing with us direct is usually fastest in practice, especially at this time of year when our main distributor (Booksource) is closed (briefly, for stock-taking), so Waterstones can't get hold of stock if they've run out.  However, are in stock so maybe this is an issue of New Year delivery dates.

Good luck, whatever you decide to do, and be sure to get our FREE upgrade card for the offroad section Dalnaglar to Kirkton of Glenisla!  Do post a short report once you get back please.


Title: Re: Suitable for early January ?
Post by: jmcpaul on December 31, 2007, 03:50:39 pm
Hi Jacquetta,

many thanks for the reply.

I have spent a few hours today scouring WH Smiths, Waterstones and Borders to try and get the book but to no avail. I was really hoping to get the book at least a couple of days before setting off so that I could research possible campsites, B+B's and transport if required.

It's looking more likely that I will be leaving the Cateran trail for another time as I just can't get enough info on it at present and I am hoping to set off on Wednesday or Thursday at the latest for 2 or 3 days. I am probably going to try and organise a night in the bunkhouse at Bridge of Orchy and a night in a wigwam at Bhein Glass so, it is looking like a couple of days on the West Highland Way (again).

My son and I are both very fit but also inexperienced in winter walking hence my reluctance to go and do a trail that I haven't had time to research, I have done the WHW a couple of times but that is not in any way demanding as far as navigation skills go, just demanding on my feet.

I will let you know what we end up doing when we come back.

Cheers John 

Title: Re: Suitable for early January ?
Post by: jmcpaul on February 09, 2008, 06:24:41 pm

Well, we didn't mange to get on to the trail in January due to the extreme weather that weekend but we did manage to go up for a couple of days this past week, Thu and Fri. On Thursday we walked from Spittal of Glenshee to Glenisla. It is down as 14 miles but to was a pretty tough 14 miles due to the soft walking conditions etc ... The scenery is beautiful on that stretch of the walk, especially the first 4 or 5 miles.

We met a walker having a rest near the 5 mile signpost, his name is Bill and funnilly he recognised my son and me due to reading my earlier post -  a surreal start to a conversation. Bill, I hope you made it in OK?  We stayed in the hotel for a drink and had intended staying longer to have a chat with you but our taxi arrived very early.

For anyone else who is wondering whether the trail is suitable for walking at this time of the year, well, yes it is, although I'd recommend wearing gaiters as there are quite a few boggy areas.

I intend doing the complete walk in early March with a friend and will add to this thread when we return.

PS. don't be fooled by the mileages on the signposts as they seemed to me to be well out.

cheers John