January 2016

The scenic Settle–Carlisle Railway

That’s what the publicity machine tells us, but does it really hold up?And is it as scenic once you are away from the rails?Well, the answer to both questions is a resounding “YES!” The signs at the stations along the line tell of “72 miles of scenic splendour”, but that barely does it justice.The line passes through the Pennine and Cumbrian countryside, full of hills – including the iconic Yorkshire Three Peaks – and valleys, notably the lovely Upper Eden Valley.The trains pass over high viaducts, through tunnels and along riversides rails, wind gently into Carlisle at the northernmost end.Don’t be mistaken; this is no Heritage Line.Yes, there are fairly regular chartered steam trains running along the tracks, and a keen collection of volunteers help to maintain the station buildings in their old ‘Midland Railway’ colours and care for their adjacent gardens.

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December 2015

A fine-looking mountain in Lochaber

And its location halfway along the Lairig Leacach means it has another attribute that every fine mountain needs: a fantastic walk in.Heading out from Spean Bridge station, on the West Highland Line, I trudged along the road by the River Spean, gurgling impressively in nearly full spate.This leads to the hamlet of Insh, about 45 minutes in; all pleasant enough.But once I started heading south along the Allt Leachdach, the real fun began.Cruach Innse and Stob Coire Gaibhre act as the gateposts to one of Scotland’s finest mountain neighbourhoods – beyond these sit the Grey Corries, the Easains and the Mamores.And carving through the middle of them is the Lairig Leacach.The path along this vast glen is an ancient cattle drovers’ road connecting Loch Trieg and Glen Spean.

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September 2015

The wild paradise of Knoydart

These two mountains, which guard the easterly edge of the peninsular, offer a tantalising glimpse of what lies beyond.During the intervening years I have probably added in a few wisps of cloud to the image, and deepened the hue of the colours.But the sensation was clear: I knew I had to return and explore the land beyond those hills.Each New Year was marked by a resolution to head to Knoydart, and each year something else – often a trip elsewhere in Scotland – took place instead.But this year, shortly after learning that I would become a father for the first time, I made good on my promise to myself and booked a ticket to Glenfinnan.As the train chuntered north, however, a small, nagging doubt crept into my mind: what if it wasn’t as good as I expected?

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Submit a walk and win!

For the April to June 2016 prize draw we are giving away £50 credit to spend at e-outdoor.co.uk.Owned and run by White and Bishop Ltd, an independent outdoor shop based in Rugby, e-outdoor.co.uk offers a friendly and personal service with fast mainland UK delivery. more


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