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Backpacking and hiking in Wales + Northern Ireland + Scotland

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Mar 15th, 2011, 08:06 PM
  #1
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Backpacking and hiking in Wales + Northern Ireland + Scotland

Hi!

I'm a 24yo male from Montreal, Canada. I'm planning a 3-weeks backpacking trip to Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland from April 9th to 30th. Regardless of the itinerary I take, the first 5 days of my trip will be around Llandudno (northern Wales) since I'm attending a conference being held there.

I was wondering if anybody had suggestions regarding an itinerary. I'm an active person and an outdoor enthusiast. I prefer the small villages to large, busy and crowded cities.

I was thinking of some kind of a clockwise circle starting with a ferry from Holyhead (Wales) to Dublin (Ireland) then Dublin to Belfast, Belfast to the northern coast of Ireland (giant causeway, etc). Then a ferry from Belfast to Stranraer (Scotland). Some time in southern Scotland then head down to England. I'd like to spend a bit of time hiking in the Lake District National Park.

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

thanks,
Emmanuel
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Mar 16th, 2011, 03:05 AM
  #2
 
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I can't tell whether you are planning on a backpacking trip or just traveling with a backpack rather than a suitcase. I will assume the former. If you are thinking of hosteling with a backpack, look at the Lonely Planet forums.

The week after my son graduated from high school, he flew to Glasgow and hiked the West Highland Way to Ft William, along Loch Lomond, over the edge of Rannoch Moor, across the mountains at the head of Glen Coe. It is about 125 miles and one of the great hikes in the world, not least because you can (mostly?) stay at pubs or hostels on the way. He had really good weather in June, but we have had terrible weather in the same areas in August, so it is a tossup.

While in Ft William, you could bag Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK.

The highest mountain in Wales, Mt Snowden, is easy. It is near Llandudno and you can walk up a gentle paved path on one side (or do it the hard way by climbing up steep couloirs on the other).

There is a lot of hiking in North Wales. We rented a farmhouse in the Conwy Valley, and the ridge behind us was laced with walks, to say nothing of Iron Age, Bronze Age, and I think Roman fortifications. There is also a lot of technical climbing in Wales. But you will have to enquire when you get there for details, as I have long since tossed out my guidebooks.

Hiking in the UK is very satisfying because of the low treelines. You can see forever without having to gain a lot of altitude. Don't underestimate the dangers of low elevations, however, because the weather often stinks and hypothermia is a real danger. Sadly, the western areas that you are looking at are the wettest because of winds off the Atlantic.
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Mar 16th, 2011, 09:56 AM
  #3
 
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E cellent advice from Ackislander. Lonely Planet Guides are among the best for the type of travel you want to do. Have a look at their forum as suggested or get copies of their guidebooks for Wales/Ireland/Scotland from local library. They will have all the information you will likely need including bus/train/ferry websites. Your circular plan looks good. Have done a similar type trip by car. I assume you will be using some form of public transportation between places since I doubt even three weeks would allow you enough time to do such a trip solely by walking.

Do plan on a pair of good waterproof hiking shoes. I found mine no match for the bogs.
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Mar 31st, 2011, 10:29 AM
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If you're planning to climb any of the higher hills in Scotland br prepared for full winter conditions anywhere above about 3,000 feet, possibly enough snow and ice to need ice axe and crampons. Ask the locals when you arrive, they'll be able to tell you what the conditions are likely to be.

You're looking to cover a lot of miles in two weeks or so. Do you have a special desire to visit all five countries in the British Isles in one trip? If not, you'd be better to spend less time travelling between places and more timeenjoying them.
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