Books, Bothies and the Northern Lights

Let me begin this long overdue post with an apology to my readers. I just arrived home after six weeks of hiking around the Scottish Highlands and Norway’s Lofoten Islands. Before departing I had planned to put up a quick note on the website regarding my impending absence, however, last minute work and family commitments saw time get away from me. I’m hoping to make it up to you guys in the coming months with regular posts that will include trip reports, gear reviews, skills articles, and other backcountry musings. 

What follows below is a brief summary of what I’ve been doing in recent times, along with a preview of what’s coming up:

Aurora Borealis on the final night’s campsite in the Lofoten Islands.

“The Hidden Tracks”

The first seven months of 2018 was one of the busiest periods I have had in many a year. Sixty to seventy hour work weeks with nary a day off. Much of this time was spent researching, writing and co-editing a book for Gestalten Publications titled, “The Hidden Tracks: Wanderlust off the Beaten Path.” It’s a sequel to last year’s, “Wanderlust Hiking on Legendary Trails” and it was released in Europe on September 20. It will be available in the US and other places in late November.

I’ll be putting together a detailed post about “The Hidden Tracks” in the coming weeks, but in a literary nutshell it’s a 270 page coffee table book that features 29 incredible hikes from around the world. As the title suggests, many (though not all) of the hikes included are out-of-the-way gems in places such as Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, Siberia’s Olkhon Island on Lake Baikal, and the mighty sand dunes of Khongoryn Els in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert.

Cover for the new book by Gestalten Publications and yours truly.

Crossing the Salar de Uyuni | Bolivia, 2017.

Sunset at Khongoryn Els | Gobi Desert, Mongolia, 2009

Scottish Highlands

The lion’s Highland Cow’s share of my recent journey was spent hiking in Scotland. Specifically the Skye Trail, a loop around Cairngorm National Park, and lastly the Cape Wrath trail, an approximately 230 mile (370 km) route from Fort William to the northwesternmost point of the British mainland. All three treks were great, but it was the 10 days I spent rambling along the final hike of the trio that truly stood out for me. The Cape Wrath Trail passes through some of the wildest and loneliest areas of the Scottish Highlands, and is inarguably one of the finest long distance hikes in the UK. The stark and hauntingly beautiful landscapes, characterful bothies, friendly locals and exacting conditions, all combined to make it one of my all-time favourite trips.

Maol Bhuidhe bothy on the Cape Wrath Trail.

Cape Wrath Lighthouse, the dramatic finishing point of the Cape Wrath Trail.

Campsite below Trotternish Ridge, Skye Trail, Isle of Skye.

A Long Crossing of the Lofoten Islands

After leaving Scotland, I headed northwest to Arctic Norway’s Lofoten Islands. I was joined on this leg of the journey by my old mate, Greg “Malto” Gressel, who I’ve teamed up with in previous years on the Lowest to Highest Route, Wind River High Route and Northville Placid Trail. This time around Malto and I tackled an approximately 124 mile (200 km) route that spanned much of the legendary archipelago. The idea for the trek came about from an excellent website called Rando-Lofoten, the go-to source for all things hiking in the islands. All told this challenging route took us a week to complete (we added on an extra section and some side trips), and we were blessed with a window of uncommonly fine weather for six of the seven days. Throughout it’s vertiginous course the scenery was otherworldly, and by hike’s end both of us were suffering from neck strain issues due to the amount of triple-take vistas.

In the coming weeks I’ll be posting photos, trip reports and gear lists from both the Scottish and Norwegian legs of the journey.

Sunrise from Hermannsdalstinden Peak.

Horseid Beach.

I was joined on the Long Crossing of the Lofoten’s by my old mate, Greg “Malto” Gressel.



Books, Bothies and the Northern Lights — 17 Comments

  1. Nice! Some fantastic scenery you guys got to explore. The surname Gressel sounds faintly Norwegian; wonder if Malto’s inner Viking revealed itself on this trip? 🙂

    • A beautiful part of the world. They also have a very good public transport system, which makes it easy to access different parts of the Highlands without too much hassle.

  2. Would love to hike in Scotland – my husband’s mum was born over there, so would be great for us to get there sometime. Looking forward to reading more.

  3. Great trip. What route did you take to get from Scotland to the Lofoten Islands in Norway? And I understand you did’nt walk!

  4. Swami

    Must say I really look forward to reading your posts and I completely agree with you about the Cape Wrath Trail. Did you do the Knoydart start?

    Really looking forward to seeing more of what you’ve been up to.
    All the best


    • Hey Tricky
      Yep, took the Knoydart route from Fort William. Hoping to have the trip reports for the Scottish hikes up on the site over the next few weeks.

  5. Looking forward to your Scotland reports. Plan to hike the Hebridean Way in the Outer Hebrides south to north ends in 2020. Hiked in Scotland in 1978, loved it, and now retired biting at bits to go back!

    • The beaches in the Outer Hebrides are supposed to be gorgeous. I have some mates who cycled that route. All the best for your trip!



  6. Scotland is somewhere I have visited on many occasions, but I have never ventured further north. Viewing the Northern Lights is a lifelong dream of mine as they always seem such a spectacular sight in photographs and I can only imagine it is even more magical in real life.

  7. Last summer vacation, I & some of my friends were hiking Hermannsdalstinden Peak. This is a beautiful place in the world. This is the highest mountain on the island of Moskenesøya, Norway. Sunrise part is the most exceptional experience for the whole hiking tour. In which It’s always remembered in my life.

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