I used a Hilliberg Nallo 3 two-man tent weighing 5.5 pounds. The choice of a two-man tent was made because of the amount of time spent in tented accommodation. The extra space made life very much more comfortable and was well worth the small weight penalty. The tent was excellent; wind proof, waterproof and highly stable. I also took a light two-season sleeping bag to keep weight down. This proved to be only barely adequate on some of the colder nights but I decided it was worth putting up with the occasional discomfort for the sake of lightness.
I walked with two poles all the time. The remoteness and roughness of a lot of the terrain led me to consider this an essential safety requirement. A slip or twisted ankle could have proven to be very serious. I also used a Garmin Geko 101 GPS which is small, light and runs on AAA batteries. The GPS gave an additional margin of security when navigating especially in poor weather. It had the additional advantage of providing waypoints which helped to divide the days into manageable chunks.
A collapsible nylon water carrier also proved to be a useful piece of kit. Although the choice of camping spots is virtually unlimited, finding a flat site without stones near water can prove surprisingly difficult. A water carrier at least reduces one of the constraints.
I chose to do the walk solo, principally because I couldn’t find anyone else interested. Clearly if you walk with a companion some of the equipment can be shared and the load lightened. However apart from the tent, cooking gear and some bits and pieces like the GPS, maps and first aid equipment this doesn’t amount to a lot and the weight saving is surprisingly small. On the other hand undertaking the walk solo brings its own pleasures.
This will be a personal choice. I tried many ways to maintain a nourishing and varied diet but ultimately settled for pasta, quick boiled rice and dried potato with very little in the way of additives. (I found my palate quickly tired of the range of pasta sauces and eventually settled for some chilli thrown into the mix.) Before setting off I had tried a variety of dehydrated meals but found these to be disgusting in the main. I took dried milk which made up quite nicely as an accompaniment to cereal or for making custard. Generally I wasn’t able to carry sufficient food and tried to compensate on the weekly replenishment days by stuffing myself. But over the trip I lost quite a bit of weight.
Most days I needed to stop around 4.00 – 5.00pm. This meant long evenings to be spent in the tent. I didn’t carry a book to read but did take a note book so some time could be spent writing up the day’s log. I took a small pocket transistor radio but most of the time I got no reception. On occasion I could receive Radio3 and listened avidly to some very high brow stuff! The other luxury was a mobile phone which again was out of range most of the time and had to be used sparingly to conserve battery life. Very often the only reception to be had was on the top of mountains.
With the warmer climate, ticks are becoming increasingly prevalent throughout the highlands of Scotland and there is a fair chance of picking some up especially while camping. Check regularly for them and carry a small bottle of surgical spirit and tweezers to remove any that are detected.
The dreaded midge can also be troublesome. If the trip is done early in the year they might be avoided but by late May they can be out in force if the weather conditions are right for them. Midge repellent should be carried around this time.