It's not every day you turn 40, so I was aware for many years leading up to it that we needed to travel and do something special. I previously had in mind an Antarctica trip, but I couldn't afford it at the moment and we'd have to leave Barney, our dog, behind which didn't seem right for a a big birthday celebration.
I was drawn to the idea of a multi-day hiking and wild camping trip and considered options of Austria, Switzerland, Pyrenees and Norway. But the travel distance to get there with Barney cooped up in the car, limitations on wild camping in some countries, and lack of knowledge where all the good stuff is steered me in the direction of the Scottish Highlands. All we needed to worry about there was the weather and the midges!
We kept a close eye on the weather leading up to the trip and it looked okay, so we committed to Scotland. The destination for the multi-day hike was the Cairngorms. I'm a big fan of Terry Abraham's (terrybnd) work filming hikes in the Lake District, but more recently he produced a film called 'Cairngorms in Winter with Chris Townsend'. The first part of the video features Chris visiting one of his favourite Highland locations, Glen Feshie. The terrain and desolate wild camping experience seemed exactly what I was looking for. Turns out it was perfect.
We had 5 days to play with and an open agenda. We started in the nearby village of Kincraig after an overnight stay there and hiked into Glen Feshie armed with two Ordnance Survey maps (Explorer 402, 403). The first wild camp was as perfect as we'd hoped. Some midge annoyance, but the occasional gusts of wind cleared them out. After that we took the trip day-by-day, seeing whether we could link the Feshie path with a route that would take us on to the tops to experience different terrain and ideally forming a circuit all the way north again and round to our starting point at Kincraig.
I won't spoil the outcome here. The photos and video tell the rest of the story. We were lucky with the weather and the midges and it turned out to be the exact thing I was looking for in a birthday trip. Amazing views. Perfect wild camping. The best wife and pooch company. Highly recommend it!