Tag Archives: walking

2016-07-18: Great Glen Way

When Susan planned a trip for her friends to tour Scotland, she convinced me that we could tack on a trip for ourselves, to see the Orkneys and to walk the Great Glen Way. This walk naturally follows after doing the West Highland Way.

We decided to do it in five days, though this required a couple of long days:

  • Fort William to Gairlochy (10 miles)
  • Gairlochy to South Laggan (12 miles)
  • South Laggan to Invermoriston (18.5 miles)
  • Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit (14 miles)
  • Drumnadrochit to Inverness (18 miles)

As usual, the actual mileage is longer than planned, to get to/from the B&Bs. We found the fourth stage very hard, and worried about the last stage. However, it went OK. When we got to Inverness, we missed a turn to the monument at the end of the trail, and had to find it the next day. Annoyingly, there were no souvenir t-shirts in the town!

2015-05-09: AT MD Patch & Certificate

Although this is a “backlog”, not a “blog”, this post is made on the day of the event described.

Today Susan and I hiked with the Howard County group on Appalachian Trail Maryland section #2. This completed the series of seven hikes on the Maryland stretch of the AT, and earned each of us a patch and “a certificate suitable for framing”. The hike leaders like to make a big deal of the fact that only about 135 (or maybe 146, they aren’t the most reliable sources) of these patches have been issued.

According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the distance for the Maryland AT is 40.9 miles. The total of the advertised distance for the Howard County hikes is 46.1 miles. The total of the GPS distances recorded on my iPhone is 53.2 miles. It’s literally true: YMMV.

AT MD Patch_Cert

2013-03-09: Hikes with Howard County Recreation and Parks

The Howard County department of Recreation and Parks provides experienced hike leaders and vans to trailheads in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Most are on the Appalachian Trail, but there are also others. They have been leading hikes since at least 1998. We started with them in March 2013. Their website contains descriptions of the hikes and their schedule.

The Howard County program awards patches and “certificates suitable for framing” for participants who walk all seven sections of the AT in Maryland (about 42 miles) within a three-year period; 100 miles of the AT, including sections in Virginia and Pennsylvania; and all four sections of the Catoctin Trail. Their director, Matt Medicus, is very accommodating for people who are nearing these milestones, and schedules hikes to ensure everyone has an opportunity to achieve them. The hike leaders have said that only about 130 AT MD patches have been issued in over 20 years.

As of 2016-03-19, we’ve gone on (or scheduled) the walks listed below. Pictures of the patches and certificates suitable for framing are below the table.

DateNameNotes & GPS MilesOfficial Miles, Rating
2013-03-09AT MD #16.76, Moderately difficult
2013-04-13AT MD #47.86.5, Moderate
2013-05-11AT MD #67.37, Moderate
2013-06-08Great Fallsno GPS7, Moderate
2013-09-28AT VA #3 Roller Coaster18.36.8, Moderately difficult
2013-10-26Catoctin on the RocksGPS quit after 1.17, Difficult
2013-11-09Billy Goat Trail & C&O Canal6.04, Difficult
2013-11-23Catoctin #37.76, Steep terrain
2013-12-07AT PA #18.49.5, Moderate
2014-03-15AT MD #310.08.4, Moderately difficult
2014-04-12AT MD #67.47, Moderate
2014-04-26Sunset Rocks, PA7.87.8, Moderate
2014-05-10AT MD #76.15.5, Flat
2014-06-14AT VA #4 Roller Coaster28.07.8, Moderate
2014-06-28Dark Hollows7.08, Moderately difficult
2014-09-13Susquehanna Grist Mill5.85.5, Moderate
2014-10-11AT VA #110.310.2, Moderate
2014-11-08Catoctin #28.77, Moderately difficult
2014-11-22AT PA #48.87.7, Moderate
2015-01-10AT MD #4Susan only6.5, Moderate
2015-02-07AT MD #57.26.5, Moderately difficult
2015-03-28AT VA #29.98.4, Moderate
2015-04-25Catoctin #18.58, Moderately difficult
2015-05-09AT MD #28.0 - AT MD patches6.2, Moderate
2015-06-13AT MD #7Susan only5.5, Flat
2015-06-27AT PA #3cancelled - AT 100mi patches9.8, Moderate
2015-09-26AT VA #57.5 - AT 100mi patches6.8, Moderate
2015-10-10Catoctin #2Susan only7, Moderately difficult
2015-10-24AT MD #39.58.4, Moderately difficult
2015-11-07Catoctin #46.6 - Catoctin Trail patches7, Moderately difficult
2015-11-21Gunpowder Falls circuit7.256.5, Strenuous terrain
2015-12-05Sugarloaf Mountain6.55, Moderate
2016-01-09AT MD #56.86.5, Moderately difficult
2016-02-20AT MD #39.58.4, Moderately difficult
2016-03-12AT PA #26.76.3, Moderate
2016-03-19AT MD #47.86.5, Moderate
2016-04-09AT MD #26.86.2, Moderate
2016-04-23AT VA #3 Roller Coaster17.66.8, Moderately difficult
2016-05-14AT MD #75.55.5. Flat
2016-05-21AT MD #1cancelled - rain6.0, Moderately difficult
2016-06-11AT MD #66.97.0, Moderate terrain
2016-06-25AT PA #311.09.8, Moderate
2016-09-24AT VA #66.35.5, Moderately difficult
2016-10-22AT MD #16.26.0, Moderately difficult
2016-11-19AT PA #110.09.5, Moderate
2016-12-03Catoctin on the Rocks7.4 - Susan only7, Difficult
2017-05-13AT PA #5cancelled8.7, Moderate
2017-06-10AT MD #1Susan onlyModerately difficult
2017-09-23Antietam Battlefield8.658.9, Moderate
2017-10-14AT PA #59.38, last hike before moving to Shoreline8.7, Moderate

AT MD Patch_Cert

AT 100 Patch_Cert

CT Patch_Cert

2014-05-00: West Highland Way

When we talked to other walkers during the Hadrian Wall and Coast-to-Coast walks, the West Highland Way was mentioned as a walk they aspired to. As usual, Susan planned the trip.

The walk began in Milngavie (pronounced MILL-guy), a small town just north of Glasgow. We took a bus there after spending a couple of acclimating days in Glasgow, and stayed in a B&B before the first day of walking. Our stages along the way (with nominal distance ?) were:

  • Milngavie to Drymen
  • Drymen to Rowardennan
  • Rowardennan to Inverarnan
  • Inverarnan to Tyndrum
  • Tyndrum to Inveroran
  • Inveroran to Kingshouse
  • Kingshouse to Kinlochleven
  • Kinlochleven to Fort William

The end of the Way has been changed in recent years. Instead of ending at the edge of Fort William, they’ve added a mile or more of city sidewalk to the downtown shops district, presumably to increase business in the town. This was the least pleasant part of the walk.

Walkers we met along the way mentioned the Great Glen Way as an easier walk, continuing from Fort William to Inverness.

An amazing coincidence occurred on the walk. When we walked the Coast-to-Coast, for a few days we were near two men, Gordon and Brian, who were walking more-or-less together (not planned, just compatible starting and pace). Brian is from Australia, and we learned that he was doing the walk as a celebration of a “significant” birthday (50, I think). His family did not accompany him to England. One day (Susan remembers where) we encountered Brian walking the other way! Susan recognized him, and he recognized us, and we had a rather funny reunion on the path. This time he had brought his wife, and he was just doing parts of the WHW, while she stayed in their caravan. It was just luck that he was going south while we went north on that stretch. We exchanged email addresses to send pictures of the reunion, but we never heard back from him. Here’s one of those pictures:



2011-06-00: Wainwright’s Coast-to-Coast Walk

In September 2003, the Smithsonian magazine had an article titled “A Walk Across England“, about the pathways linked into a coast-to-coast walk from St Bees in the west to Robin Hood Bay in the east. This inspired us to start considering such things, and led more or less directly to our Hadrian’s Wall Walk, as a less challenging walk.

By 2011, we were ready to try the big one, 200 miles. (They say 190 miles, but there are alternative paths in places, and sometimes extra mileage to the B&Bs; besides, all guidebooks lie.)

We began with Carl and Renee, with a trip to Stonehenge (sleet in June) and Wales, to see some areas that might have been connected to Renee’s ancestors, and general sightseeing. We rode horses, and took the train to the top of Mt. Snowden. In Dolgellau, we met a fish-and-chips shop owner who was planning to take his steamboat to Egypt, and have his trip up the Nile filmed for a TV show. Carl then returned home, and the rest of us took the train to St Bees.

We used Sherpa(?) to handle reservations and move our bags, and planned on 13 days of walking. The walk passes through the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, and North York Moors National Parks. We had driven through the Lake District on an earlier visit, but it’s even better from the mountaintops. The banner picture on this backlog is from the walk. I think the ponies can smell an apple in my backpack.

This was the first trip we used our cell phone as a phone (not just for wi-fi access to email, etc.). Renee was able to talk to Carl, and update him on our progress.

Walks like these put you in contact with other people who start around the same time and have a similar itinerary, at least for a few days at a time. For several days starting about midway, our path overlapped with Gordon (from England), Brian (from Australia), and Daniel (from West Los Angeles). After a few days, Renee got Brian to admit he was celebrating his 50th birthday, having left his family at home.

After we returned home, we contacted Daniel when we went to Los Angeles, and had dinner with him. To hear more about Brian, see our walk of the West Highland Way.

The C2C is challenging, and walking for so many days takes a toll on your feet. Our preparation was generally good enough, and we all survived without serious problems. I think 13 days was too much, though, and don’t expect to do such a long walk again.




2005-06-00: Hadrian’s Wall Walk

I don’t recall quite how we became aware of it, but at some point Susan proposed that we walk the Hadrian’s Wall Path. In England, they refer to this as a National Trail; it was formally established in 2003. The trail runs along the ancient (122 AD) Hadrian’s Wall, which is a World Heritage site. The trail runs from coast to coast, and is most often walked from the east end at Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne to Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast, a short distance south of the border between England and Scotland. The distance is officially 84 miles, but our walk was closer to 100 miles.

We had visited some of the sites and museums along Hadrian’s Wall in a previous visit (year?), but this would be a chance to see the entire route and all of the remaining fragments of the wall. When we asked them, our friends Carl, Renee, and Chad agreed to walk with us.

We spent a few months walking increasing distances at home, and on successive days, to prepare our feet. We made arrangements with Sherpa (?) to reserve rooms at Bed and Breakfast establishments along the way, and to move our bags from place to place. We only planned to carry lunch and raincoats while walking. We planned on eight days of walking, with a rest day near the middle.

The walk was very successful, except for Carl. He stepped in a rabbit hole coming over a stile, and sprained his ankle. Fortunately, there is a bus route that runs parallel to the trail, along the old Roman military road. (The bus route is called Route 122, named after the year the wall was built.) Carl was able to meet us at the B&B’s and sometimes for lunch.

The B&Bs were all very good experiences, but some days required walking a few miles away from the trail, adding to the official distance.

When we got to Carlisle, we rented two cars, and continued our trip to the Western Isles.

2005-06-00: Walking

Believe it or not, I’ve been walking most of my life, mostly aimlessly. But in 2005, Susan organized a more ambitious approach, and we walked the Hadrian’s Wall path in England. This marked the beginning of a series of long walks, described in their own posts: