Hiking holiday in Scotland

Saturday to Saturday, 11th to 18th June 2016

One week of medium-difficulty hiking in the remote highlands of Scotland. We'll fly together from Munich to Edinburgh, then drive a minibus up to the north coast. There we'll stay in an 18th-century lodge which is exclusively ours for the week.

Balnakeil House Scotland map

There are 12 places available, open to Munich residents. This is a non-commercial trip and everyone pays equal share of the travel, accommodation, and food costs. Every morning we'll cook a full Scottish breakfast, then we'll head to the mountains for a day of hiking. We'll take packed lunches during the day, and in the evenings we'll cook dinner together at the house. After dinner we can chill at the house, or go to the nearby village pub, or the brave can go swimming on the beach. A good level of fitness is required, along with previous mountain hiking experience.

Accommodation

We will stay all 7 nights in Balnakeil House. This house was built in 1744 by the Mackay Clan and is now a category-A listed building. It is not quite a castle, but it is close. The house is located immediately next to a large sandy beach, and is less than an hour's drive from some of Scotland's most remote mountains and beautiful scenery. Every room has a view of the mountains or the sea.

There are nine bedrooms which can be configured as doubles, singles, or twins. There's also a large shared kitchen, dining room, lounge, five bathrooms, and a laundry room. The house will be exclusively ours for the week.

Room 1 Room 2 Room 3 Room 4 Room 5 Room 6 Room 7 House on the beach House at sunset

Itinerary

The itinerary below is provisional only. Subject to change depending on weather and other unpredictable factors. Sunrise and sunset times will be 04:10 hrs to 22:30 hrs.

Saturday 11th - outbound travel
Meet 13:30 hrs at Edinburgh Airport and load up the minibus. Drive north, stopping half-way for food shopping at Tesco in Inverness. Arrive at Balnakeil House around 21:00 hrs.
Sunday 12th - hike up Ben Hope
Ben Hope is the most northerly of the Munros (Scottish mountains over 3,000 feet). It is extremely isolated and requires a 50-minute drive along an unpaved single-track road. The ascent is short but steep and gives a grand introduction to the vast wilderness of the extreme North. We'll park at Dun Dornaigil broch and hike up from there. Great views from the peak if lucky, possibly seeing as far as the Orkney Islands. Return is along the ridge and round via a large waterfall. Hiking distance 8 km, duration about 5 hours. Further info and photos.
Ben Hope Ben Hope
Monday 13th - visit Handa Island
Drive 45 minutes to Tarbet. Take the small ferry to Handa Island. This is an uninhabited bird sanctuary which is home to puffins and other rare sea birds. We will hike the island circuit. This is an easy day, takes about 3½ hours with only small climbs. Afterwards we go to Loch Duart salmon farm to buy fresh fish for dinner.
Handa Island Handa Island Handa Island Handa Island
Tuesday 14th - hike from Cape Wrath to Sandwood Bay
This will be the week's highlight. Drive 10 minutes, take a small ferry across the kyle, then take the minibus to Cape Wrath lighthouse. Then hike 6 hrs to Sandwood Bay. This route is said to be the most challenging hike in the UK. There is not much climbing, and the distance is only 12 km, but the terrain is very difficult (boggy, heather), and there is no path. From Sandwood we walk the path another 7 km to Blairmore, then take the minibus home. Route description and photos.
Cape Wrath Cape Wrath
Wednesday 15th - hike up Cranstackie
Drive 20 minutes to the starting point. Then hike a 6 hour circuit up the mountain and back. Distance is 12 km and ascent is 1,030 meters. More route info and photos.
Cape Wrath
Thursday 16th - hike up Arkle
Drive 50 minutes to the starting point. Then hike a 6 hour circuit up the mountain and back. Distance is 16 km and ascent is 900 meters. Click for route and photos.
Cape Wrath
Friday 17th - hike up Foinaven
Drive 20 minutes to the starting point. Then hike a 7 hour circuit up the Foinaven mountain and back. Distance is 17.5 km and ascent is 1,005 meters. Click for route and photos.
Foinaven
Saturday 18th - return travel
Leave the house at 07:00 hrs. Drive to Edinburgh stopping half-way at Inverness for lunch. Arrive at Edinburgh Airport around 15:00 hrs.

See the all the hiking route details on Google Maps:

Routes map

Costs

This is a non-commercial trip, there is no fee for organisation, and everyone pays equal share for travel, accommodation, and food costs. Everyone will book and pay for their flight independently.

Everyone should pay €490 each in advance to James for the house and minibus. The breakdown of this cost is as follows:

A KLM.com flight, if booked early, costs about €310 per person. Flights with easyJet.com can be cheaper but the timings are not so convenient. Everyone should book their own flight, deciding on which times and prices they prefer. It is important, however, to arrive at Edinburgh Airport before 13:00 hrs on the first Saturday.

A further €190 will be due one week before the trip. This is to cover food and the house damage deposit. Within a week of returning to Munich we'll do an "Abrechnung" and any remaining deposit is returned. Alcohol is bought individually.

Estimated grand total including all food, travel, and accommodation: €990

Guest list

The group size is limited to 12 people. So far we are 7 definites, plus a few maybes. We are a mix of British, American, German, Russian, Georgian, and Belorussian. Age range around 29 to 44 years. To join, send an email to james.pearn@gmail.com or a message via Facebook. There will be an evening drinks pre-meetup in Munich sometime in October 2015 so that everyone can meet each other. Date and venue to be decided, see the participation vote on Doodle.

Previous trip

See photos from the similar trip in May 2015 »

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