So back at the start of the year Julie had the idea of a family summer holiday walking the Kintyre Way, wild camping along the way. It was one of those ideas that was more of a dream but then she mentioned it to Iain and it became a reality! Iain was super excited and Julie couldn’t admit she hadn’t really been serious 🤣
On the plus side, we wouldn’t need to book any accommodation, which with COVID uncertainty was a big bonus. And if we could pull it off it would be an amazing experience for everyone
The kids would be 14, 11, 10 and 9, all have a good level of fitness and are used to days out in the hills. They weren’t used to walking carrying a bag but Julie was confident they could manage a small bag each. In the end they carried a bag each with spare clothes, waterproofs, a book, travel towel, swimming costume and a water bottle. Angus (9) found this the hardest and Iain and Julie ended up carrying extra bags for varying lengths each day as the youngest three took a break from carrying their loads!
The thing Julie was most unsure about was if she and Iain could carry everything else between them and organise the logistics well enough that we could restock along the way to minimise the amount of food we could carry.
We got the smallest, lightest 6 man Teepee tent we could find on eBay and tested it out wild camping at Loch Callater in June. We already had 4 lightweight sleeping bags so just had 2 more to get (Iain and Julie would need to carry all 6) and we didn’t bother with roll mats, pillows or any other luxuries! We already had a small Coleman stove so just had two medium-sized gas cylinders to get (although turns out we could have managed with one). We took 6 collapsible cups and 4 collapsible bowls, 1 travel saucepan with lid, a small selection of cutlery and a penknife.
Iain and Julie also had to fit in their own clothes, waterproofs, sun cream (we used a lot), medicines and first aid kit, maps and compass, and several water bottles – we ended up carrying about 8 litres between us all in various bottles, including one with a filter built in if we needed to use a stream!
Food was hard to plan and we ended up carrying enough for roughly 2 days. This was a mix of cup-a-soups, “Mug Shots” pasta, gluten free noodles, squeezy UHT yoghurts, a range of cereal bars, apples, dried fruit, UHT milks and tea bags, hot chocolates and sweets.
In the end everything fitted and the bags felt heavy but manageable! Julie didn’t weigh them until we got home as she thought the weight may scare her – we did weight them afterwards and they were roughly 18kg each. In hingsight, the only thing everyone felt we had too much of was spare clothes and full waterproofs, but Julie suspects that is only because we had such amazing weather!
The next big challenge was logistics. The Kintyre Way is broken into 7 sections, which works if you want to be able to access accomodation each night but we ideally wanted to be able to restock food and water each day and then have somewhere suitable for wild camping each night. The 7 sections also vary in length quite a lot whereas Julie thought it would be better to have all the days roughly the same length and also to be ending up camping on the coast each night.
Julie spent a lot of time online looking at where shops, cafes and toilets were and using Google Street View to scout out possible sites to camp at the end of each day. She was aware that unlike when walking with adults the kids wouldn’t be able to do a couple of extra hours walking at the end of the day to find a suitable campsite! As chief navigator, Iain ordered two OS Explorer Maps (Kintyre North and South) covering the whole route – although the digital copies downloaded to the excellent OS Maps app were used in practice. Details of the final distances for each day, camping locations and the facilities we made use of along the way can be found in our Kintyre Way blog post.
The planning was complete! Iain took two weeks off work and we planned to head off during the nicest section on the weather forecast… It turned out to be quite a hot one!