2021: A Quick Review

This summer we were delighted to be trekking again with our groups, after over 20 months since our final trek of 2019. We enjoyed visiting some of our favourite places as well as taking on 2 new treks.

Cape Wrath Trail
Alex leading the way on Day 1 of our first trek in nearly 2 years!

Since the end of June we have walked the Cape Wrath Trail South and North (x2), the Skye Trail (x3), the West Highland Way (x2), a Coast to Coast, the East Highland Way, Ben Nevis (x2) and climbed the mountains of the Cuillin and of Torridon. As well as these favourites we completed the Arran Coastal Way and St Cuthbert’s Way for the very first time. That’s well over 2000km of trekking and a bunch of serious Scottish mountains climbed!

I have been sorting through the hundreds and hundreds of photos taken by our guides and sent in by our customers. There are so many spectacular views that it is quite difficult to choose just a few to post on our social media channels (and to add to this blog). I hope they give you some idea of the varied scenery and walking of our treks.

Torridon mountain views
Incredible views on our Torridon Giants trio
Our group on the Skye Trail heading along the spectacular coast north of Portree
Popping the cork to celebrate the end of our East Highland Way trek and the end of the season

For the most part we were treated to excellent weather with the odd “Scottish” day thrown in for good measure. We were welcomed back to some of our favourite little B&Bs and received lots of positive feedback from our walkers. We always value our customers’ feedback as it really helps us refine our treks. With that in mind here’s a closer look at the 2 new treks and how they went.

St Cuthbert’s Way

We added this trek to our calendar to provide something different from the Highlands of Scotland. As a shorter trek we also hoped to add something at the gentle end of our trekking spectrum. The rolling hills of the Borders/Northumberland, the coastal finish, plus the added historical interest meant the St Cuthbert’s Way ticked all the boxes.

We split this trek into 5 days which progressively got easier as the trek went on. The final day was a short walk to the mudflats which are split by a line of wooden posts marking the “Pilgrim’s Way”. This is a unique end to a trek which we followed up with a walk around the coast of Holy Island, before finishing at the remains of the priory.

In discussion with the group and Ed (our guide) we decided that in order to make this truly a 2.5/5 on our difficulty scale we would need to either spread the mileage more evenly or complete the walk over 6 days instead of 5. There were some tired legs and feet by the end of this one. Ideally, we want a short final day to allow us the chance to use a low tide to cross the sands. So, the conclusion was reached that the best option is to split the first 2 days into 3 shorter days. This is what we intend to do in 2022.

The waymarked St Cuthbert’s Way
In the foothills of the Cheviot enjoying the views towards the Northumberland coast
Our group completing the bare-foot walk across the Pilgrims Way to Holy Island

The Isle of Arran Coastal Way

Travelling to Arran was another first for Thistle Trekking this summer. This route follows the coast of Arran in its entirety except for an optional climb over Goat Fell.

The group were challenged by uneven terrain and the tides, but were rewarded with stunning weather and views. This is very much a coastal “way” rather than a coastal “path”. Ed and Ian worked together throughout the week to make sure any tricky sections were managed safely, and Ed made lots of helpful notes on his map.

Unfortunately, the weather changed for the final day and the group didn’t get to summit Goat Fell. A lower level alternative was walked and the group still completed the circuit of the island. We are looking forward to going back next year (on an already sold out trek) and hopefully we will get to the top of Goat Fell this time.

The Blue skies and good going on the Arran Coastal Way
Care and attention to the tides needed on the rocky coastline
A little higher ground and another perspective is gained of this beautiful island

If you came on any of our treks this summer, thank you for helping making them such a success. Also many thanks for all your feedback; it is both appreciated and really helpful.