If you follow me on Instagram you probably noticed that I am out and about alone most of the time. At the beginning, or when I travelled to Scotland for holidays, it was firstly mainly because I just did not have anyone who was interested in the same kind of activities and before not going anywhere at all, I started to do adventures alone.
My first solo trip to Scotland 3 years ago was really exciting for me. I was so nervous but you quickly get used to it. However, you need to be able to be alone with yourself and your thoughts. I’ve come across a few people now that have difficulties with that. Or they get bored just being by themselves. But I also got to know quite a few women actually who do the same and who I find very inspiring for myself.
The problem with being out alone mostly is that you can get pretty used to it 😁. I do like going on trips or hikes etc with other people, but I am definitely more reluctant to it now.
The main reasons are:
- I like to take my time. I want to spend as much time as I like at a place. Taking pictures, wandering around, sitting somewhere and just watch the world go by. It makes me nervous if someone wants to keep going and would need to wait for me.
- I am overweight and not the fittest. Going on a hike in a group would mean a massive move out of my comfort zone. I am way too afraid to keep people waiting, not being able to keep up, being noticeably out of breathe and feeling bad and ashamed about it. I am super self-conscious. And when I am out alone, there is no one who could judge.
- I can go wherever I want. Change plans spontaneously. I can decide where I go to eat, if I like to go and just have a coffee and cake or go to a pub for proper food.
- I don’t need to talk! This is actually a massive thing for me. It does not match at all with my job but I actually hate talking 😂. I think especially now because of my job. I have to talk so much every day to different people. Listening carefully what they are telling me. It can be very exhausting. So I love being alone with peace and quiet around me. I am very introverted too, so not keen on being all chatty ;).
However, solo adventuring is also limiting me in the way that I am too scared – and just not being experienced enough – to do higher munros or more difficult ones. I would also love to wild camp. I want to go up a hill for sunset or proper sunrise but I would not want to do it alone with my current experience.
It was already a big thing for me doing Conic Hill the other day during sunrise. And it is quite a straight forward hill, quite popular and I had done it twice before. So it kind of minimised risk.
My most challenging solo adventures to date were:
- Beinn Ghlas and almost Ben Lawers 1 year ago. But I did not make it to the summit of Ben Lawers because I got scared of the strong winds and clouds covering the summit. Plus my legs were all shaky and I was just hoping to make it back down in one piece.
- Walking from Kinlochleven to Fort William. Honestly kudos to everyone doing the whole West Highland Way. It is not an easy thing to do.
- Doing Bishop Hill on one of the hottest days in July…. I thought I die of a heat stroke. I found it really hard because of the steep ascent and then you think you are at the top but actually still have to keep going for a mile to the actual summit.
- Climbing up to the Lost Valley in Glencoe. I still cannot believe that people take their small children up there and without proper gear. It is steep and rough terrain. When wet, the rocks are super slippy and crossing the river is not easy in high water.
- Ben A’an. I know everyone says it is an easy hike but I disagree. It is unbelievable steep, with a lot of steps that make your legs go all wobbly. When I did it a few weeks back in August it was really warm, too, and I bet a lot of unprepared people were struggling with not having enough water with them.
I’ve obviously been up the the Storr on Skye several times now, which should also not be taken light hearted but the above mentioned hikes were definitely much more challenging for me.
Generally I am really surprised how easy some take on some of the hills. Like I say, I am not the fittest or slimmest but I have seen worse than me getting up those hills. I am sometimes not sure if people really want to challenge themselves or really underestimate the Scottish hills. Loch Lomond MRT had the highest call outs ever this year and that is with 3-4 months of no calls because of lockdown. Says a lot in my opinion.
I have certainly done some risky stuff myself but I always turned around when it felt uncertain or dangerous. The good thing is – the more I am out on even easier hills and hikes the more experienced I get to tackle some more challenging ones. I still want to make it to the summit of Ben Lawers. It bugs me enormously until today, that I cannot say I bagged it. Then there are the obvious munros like Ben Lomond, Ben Nevis, Ben Chonzie, Schiehallion, Mount Keen, the Cobbler, Buachaille Etive Beag and Mór. I love to tick them all of the list but I fear that I have to wait for them in spring time, when hopefully there is no snow anymore. It is just insane in the summer months…
Being brave enough to go anywhere alone though has given me a lot of opportunity and freedom. I would not have seen or done half of the stuff I did so far if I had to wait for someone to come with me. Of course I would love to go adventures with a partner. I would love to experience some awesome hikes with a special person. Waking up in a tent at the beach or the shores of a Loch watching a sunrise. Climbing a hill together for sunset or sunrise. I feel a lot of people take it for granted to have someone they can share those experiences with.
My tips for solo adventures after learning some of the things the hard way 😉:
- Make sure you tell someone where you are going. When you plan to arrive and be back.
- Ideally take a paper map of the route you are going on – if you use your phone, take screenshots of the route because you will likely have no signal in certain areas. Take a portable battery with you for charging.
- Make sure you take clothes for all kind of weather. I always have a rain cape with me in my bag. I also have a head scarf, hat, gloves and extra socks.
- Take hiking poles – not necessarily for the walking but to test the ground and to cross rivers or bog. It massively helps with keeping your balance (I know what I am talking of… ;)).
- Make sure you have enough to drink. I recently bought myself a bottle with a filter straw so I can take water from streams.
- I got myself a small emergency light, that can be used as torch or can blink red in emergencies. Also a whistle and a rope.
- Snacks are always important😁 . I mostly take a sandwich, crisps, nuts, wine gum, a chocolate bar or similar or dried fruit (mango is my favourite)
- You should also have a compass and know how to use it – something I still need to learn properly though. I am booked in for a survival course in 2 weeks where they teach you navigation among other skills. I also plan to do a course with Glenmore Lodge at some point in the future.
- In the car I also now have like an emergency bag with all kind of essentials, water, a blanket and picnic blanket.
Solo adventuring can feel very liberating – try it ;).