|Me at the start of the hike|
My trip started turbulent enough. I was supposed to fly on a Tuesday morning and already a week earlier German air traffic controllers had been threatening to go on strike early next week - and that could be my Tuesday. And sure enough: Monday morning I read on the internet that a strike was scheduled for Tuesday 6 am to noon. Great! That was not only threatening my flight but all my onward travel connections, too. I started biting nails and watched the internet as the employer side went to court in an attempt to prevent the strike. When I went to bed Monday night I still did not know whether I would actually be flying the next morning. But when I got up Tuesday morning things had improved: The strike had been adverted in the very last minute due to mediation and my Ryanair flight was even early!
|Cliffs near John O'Groats|
And then on August 11th I started my hike with bright sunshine at John O'Groats. Little did I know that this was to be the last sunshine for a very long time... But to already sum it up: My hike through Northern Scotland has been the worst hiking I have done in a very long time. I guess some of it is due to mistakes I made myself with planning:
|Thousands of midges on my tent|
In hindsight another big problem was that I did not bring any overview maps. I just brought the Cicerone guide book sketch maps and the GPS. Unfortunately the GPS maps for Scotland were really bad and hardly showed any trails or tracks. Sometimes even roads were lacking. And therefore I could not make up alternative routes in order to avoid the dreaded cross country sections. In the end I was just counting days: Only 4 more days in this shit, only 3 more days and so on.
|Scotland can be nice...|
But things would get worse before they got better and that brings me to the last problem: the weather. The weather has not been very good (3 days of sun in 15 days) but not very bad either. It is drizzling most of the days but there are not too many torrential downpours. But it is much colder than I expected. One morning I woke up and found ice on my tent. And this was August 25th and the altitude only 300 meters....
But things are going to improve now: I have made it to Fort William and this means the start of the West Highland Way with hundreds of fellow hikers, decent trails and a shop around every corner. And soon I will be out of Scotland and on the Pennine Way which I have hiked before and really enjoyed. Things will only improve from now on...