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‘Walking away from the world in Scotland’: an easier way to plan long Highlands hikes | Highlands holidays

‘Walking away from the world in Scotland’: an easier way to plan long Highlands hikes | Highlands holidays

The last time I went wild camping in Scotland the experience was so tame I haven’t lived it down a decade later. The wrong equipment, paired with a late frost, meant that I packed up at 3am and headed to a drive-through on the fringes of Glasgow to warm up, watching the sun rise over takeaway coffee rather than a secluded loch.

Map of Scotland

More Raynaud’s than Ray Mears, the experience may not have done much for my outdoor credentials, but it makes me the perfect guinea pig for CampWild’s Wild Trails. The initiative is from the wild camping platform CampWild; the idea is to give more people the confidence to enjoy off-grid adventuring in the UK and try self-guided, multi-day hikes.

Inspired by off-country trails in Canada and the US, the hikes are not waymarked but use trail corridors, highlighting zones within which to choose a route rather than pinpointing a precise path. The first hike is in Perthshire, at Invergeldie, outside Comrie. A 4,856-hectare (12,000-acre) former sporting estate bought in a natural capital acquisition by Oxygen Conservation last year, it’s now home to a mix of peatland restoration, tree-planting, hill farming and hydro-power, the latter managed by SSE Renewables.

Not entirely wild, then, but wild enough for the purpose at hand. There are three trails at Invergeldie: all two- or three-day routes designed to be do-able in a weekend or long weekend. The most accessible is the 12-mile (20km) Moors Trail which, being largely on old hunting and SSE tracks, is also suitable for adventure wheelchair users. The most challenging is the 21-mile (35km) Peaks Trail, a higher-level route almost completely off-track. Between the two is the Lochs Trail, a 12-mile part on- part off-track route that my friend Helen and I did a recce of before the trail launched last month.

Loch Lednock. Photograph: Wild Camp

All three trails start at Ben Chonzie car park, four miles north-west of Comrie. Hikers are provided with a customised route map (via the OS app), a trail guide listing wildlife highlights and suggested camping locations, and an “adventure pack” with kit list and code of conduct.

At the car park, Helen and I open the OS app and pick up the start of the Lochs Trail. A little hump-backed bridge takes us into Invergeldie Estate and towards Loch Lednock reservoir along a single-track road. In the afternoon sun, skylarks…

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