The Skye Trail September 2022

Introduction For all Martina and I’s backpacking over the years, we have actually done very little long distance walks in our home country of Scotland. I guess one of the reasons is that we have explored Scotland extensively as part of hillwalking, climbing, kayaking and other trips such that there is less of a sense of discovery for us here. Not to say that Scotland isn’t fantastic with its beautiful mix of hills, sea and islands, ever changing light and accessibility throughout the year. And there is still plenty new for us to see, particularly around the coasts. But Scotland also does have challenges for backpacking over many days, with principle adversaries being wet weather with boggy underfoot conditions and, in summer- the midge!

The Isle of Skye though has a potentially wonderful backpack of about 7 days duration and 80 miles (130km) called the Skye Trail. Brian thought he would give it a go in the autumn of 2022….

Skye Trail Map from Cicerone

What’s it like? The Isle of Skye sits off the north west coast of Scotland. Its both mountainous and has a rugged coastline and the trail goes through both. There are some tremendous landscapes and, maybe I am biased, but the scenery is world class in places. In the south are the Cuillin mountains which are the most rugged in the British Isles. In the north is the Trotternish Ridge where the trail traverses a long undulating ridge with splendid views and other worldly rock formations at either end. The coastal sections are equally good, particularly around Elgol in the south and Flodigarry to Rubha Hunnish in the north. That’s a lot of excitement to pack into 7 days! I have a short description of my hike below as well as some notes on planning further on.

My hike south to north

Day 1 Broadford to Torrin This was a short easy day. I started late from Broadford around 4pm but still made it just short of Torrin to camp at the bay of Camus Malag before joining road. The trails are dry making for relaxed walking over to the coast at Boreraig, with its town ruins evidence of Highland Clearances described in Walkhighlands. There is a lovely coastal path round to Loch Slapin and the views of the mountain Blabheinn (pronounced Blaven) in particular are spectacular. A really enjoyable mellow start.

Day 2 Torrin to Elgol to Camasunary This is another short guidebook day and I hiked on from Elgol for an extra few hours to camp to the north at Camasunary Bay. I started with a road walk through the small settlement of Torrin (the cafe was closed unfortunately!) and round the head of Loch Slapin. Good views to the mountains here and there is roadside camping opportunities next to the sea but you may need to share with campervans. The route leaves the road at the Blaven trailhead following a trail south for about 4km to return to the tarmac.

[Note that you could do a wild alternate here by hiking to the summit of Blaven, then down its south ridge to Camasunary. The panoramic views are great, but its a 3000 feet climb with rough ground on the descent and some scrambling. One for good weather. Maybe on balance I would recommend the Coruisk – Sgurr na Stri alternative below instead].

I had showers and rainbows as I hiked through Kirkibost [a shortcut alternate takes you direct to Camasunary from south of here on a landrover track but its not as good as the normal route]. then a series of again viewful tracks south above the coast to near Spar Cave. I didn’t visit the cave but I think it would be a superb diversion-note you need a low tide to access it.

Another quiet road headed east over to Elgol. More great views out to sea and across to the Isle of Rum here.

I stopped at Elgol for a late lunch before turning north on a excellent trail to Camasunary. This was the best section so far as I headed along the, at times exposed, trail looking to the Cuillin mountains. You could camp at Glen Scaladal, there is some beach plastic ‘flotsom and jetsom’ but its still a good spot. I stopped beyond at Camasunary Bay to camp (there is also a popular bothy here you could stay at). Superb day.

Day 3 Camasunary to Sligachan The normal route here is straightforward following Glen Sligachan north on a good trail. This provides everchanging views to the Cuillin peaks above but stays low in a valley and misses the Cuillin’s themselves which is a pity.

I took a somewhat more interesting route round the coast to Loch Coruisk via the ‘Bad Step’, then along the south of Loch Coruisk, up over the Cuillin ridge at the pass Bealach na Glaic Moire then after some scrabbling scree descents I connected with trails on the west of the mountains to Sligachan. Description and map of the options below

My day started with a crossing of the river west of Camasunary over some stepping stones about 300m inland from the sea. I managed to stay dry which was a bonus as I have been soaked here before as it’s tidal and the river rises a lot during wet spells. Next up was a grand rough trail round the coast to the outlet of Loch Coruisk. This is atmospheric territory and reaches a crescendo at the ‘Bad Step’ – a sloping slab of rock perched above the sea. It is short and requires a Grade 2 (US Class 4 maybe) scramble using a crack line as a hand rail. Once past that I followed a faint trail through a short section of boulders and deep vegetation before exiting out over a shallow pass to Loch Coruisk. This was a fantastic spot with the loch walled in by imposing mountains.

There was a strong wind funneling down the loch and it was tough going along the lochside with lots of bog then a steep haul up to the high pass, Bealach na Glaic Moire, on the Cuillin ridge itself. I stopped for lunch hunched down behind a boulder from the gale force winds but the views were superb. The descent involved some (to be honest unpleasant) steep scree before I picked up a good trail above the crowded ‘Instagram spot’ of the Fairy Pools. I sped on over the pass, Bealach a’ Mhaim, with heavy rain showers preventing me stopping for a brew of tea to relax. There are beautiful waterfalls on the way to Sligachan which are quiet- unlike the Fairy Pools -and would be great for a dip if it was a bit warmer! Another superb day.

I think a better variant between Camasunary and Sligachan that I would recommend to maximise the drama and scenery is via Coruisk – Sgurr na Stri.

Red- normal route

Purple – Coruisk – Sgurr na Stri recommended variant

Purple dashes – My route September 2022

Purple dots-A better alternate to my route following the Druim nan Ramh ridge but with a scramble at the top

Coruisk – Sgurr na Stri From Camasunary cross the river and take the coastal trail to the west past the ‘Bad Step’ (Grade 2 scramble) to Loch Coruisk. Take the trail north over a pass before descending down into Glen Sligachan and the main Skye Trail. Better still is to also cut back south on a trail to the summit of Sgurr na Stri for some brilliant views. Return back to the trail to Glen Sligachan.

Sgurr na Stri summit April 2021
Looking down to the Loch Coruisk outlet from Sgurr na Stri

Day 4 Sligachan to Portree This is the least interesting day of the hike, more of a connector between the Cuillin mountains and the Trotternish ridge north of Portree. On the plus side the views can be good reducing the slightly dull 10.5km of road walking. I set off from Sligachan campsite in dark cloudy weather and followed the pleasant path along the north shore of Loch Sligachan. Views are good (again!) and you see the Raasay ferry setting off on its short voyage. Unfortunately the sky’s opened once I hit the minor road so it was heads down from there into Portree for me!

Back south to Raasay and Scalpay

Day 5 Portree to The Storr trailhead It was raining hard in Portree and checking the forecast showed more rain for the next three days so I reluctantly stopped at this point and intend to return to backpack the remaining 3 days in better weather!

I did do this section in May 2021 though. A good trail leads round Portree harbour and bay- I saw both sea eagles and golden eagles on the climb out onto the ridge to the north. Views back to the Cuillin mountains and over to Raasay are splendid. It gets a bit boggier descending north but there is a short road you meet above Bearreraig Bay. I took the steep path down to the bay past the hydro station to its cool beach and fossils. A short but excellent day with Portree bay and a ridge walk.


Day 6 The Storr to Flodigarry – Trotternish ridge Again I have hiked this ridge in the past and it is a brilliant undulating grassy ridge walk with expansive views. To the east are the hills of the mainland and the isles of Raasay and Rona. To the west are the island chain of the Outer Hebrides. At both ends are the weird rock formations of The Storr in the south and The Quirang in the north. Try and savor all of this on a good weather day.

Looking south down the Trotternish Ridge from the Quirang
The Quirang

Day 7 Flodigarry to Rubha Hunish and Duntulm A mostly cross country coastal walk to Sky’s most northerly point Rubha Hunish which has a wild spacious feel looking out across the sea to Harris.

Coast east of Rubha Hunish
Lookout and bothy above Rubha Hunish

Planning Walkhighlands has an excellent web guide. Cicerone also a has a detailed guidebook available in paper or eBook. I think the Harvey Maps Skye Trail paper map is also very useful. No permits are required, you can wild camp easily outside the towns and access to drinking water isn’t a problem. There are good bus services down the length of the island connecting the start and finish, as well as Portree and Sligachan. Check the guides or use an app such as Google Maps.

Best direction I don’t think it matters too much. However if you are flexible then checking the forecast wind for the week (see links below) and hiking with the wind might prove a good idea.

If you are not wild camping then you have a long, exposed day along the Trotternish ridge between The Storr carpark and Flodigarry in the north. It might be best to do this near the end of the trip and thus hike northwards so you have time to ‘warm up’ before tackling this stage. If you are wild camping it doesn’t matter as you could pitch your tent along the ridge.

Hiking terrain There is a huge mix! From trails, cross country along ridges and coast – and some stretches of tarmac. Expect some bog, especially in wetter periods between Portree and Flodigarry.

I reckon there is about 28km of the 130km total length on tarmac, with the longest stretch being 6.5 miles (10.5km) between Sligachan and Portree in the middle. On the plus side the roads are quiet and the views are mostly extensive, but its a bit more than I would like on a trail.

Best times I will be honest, Skye has a pretty wet climate with the prevailing weather bringing damp air from the Atlantic on south westerly winds. I had a quick look at the web and for example the town of Portree on the Skye Trail has about double the precipitation (1815mm average annual) compared to Tuolumne Meadows in the USA on the Pacific Crest Trail. I suspect Portree is one of the driest parts of the Skye Trail as well! But there are dry spells and mixed cloudy, showery weather can provide clear air and beautiful, atmospheric views.

But when is best? Here are some factors to consider…. April to July is the driest time in Skye. For me from November to February is too dark, wet and boggy. The biting insect called the midge makes itself felt from some time in May to September. Tourists flock to Skye in summer and they won’t impact your hiking but they do make it more difficult and expensive to get accommodation if you need it. So I would say April, May, early June along with late September and early October are the best times to plan in advance – with May perhaps being optimal. That said Skye has very variable weather and can be good or bad any month of the year. Ideally to me it would be best to plan your hike in advance but have some flexibility to look at forecasts before you set off such as: Met office Portree, The Storr, Mountain forecast for North West Scotland

Cumbria Way August 2022

The Cumbria Way is a 70ish mile long route north-south through the Lake District National Park in northern England. Brian hiked this over 4 days and 80 miles in August 2022 with some variations to ‘bag’ and camp on hill summits.

Overall I found it a nice, mellow hiking route with plenty of lush bucolic Lakeland scenery. It provides great opportunities to hike variations as I pleased with an almost unlimited labyrinth of trails criss crossing the lakes which could be connected up.

The trail has two distinct characters; the first and last 15 miles or so are outside the Lakes and are at low level, crossing farmland, often along field edges with views to the distant hills. The central section from Caldbeck in the north down to about Coniston Water goes through the heart of the Lakes and offers classic beautiful scenery.

The going is on trail the whole way, but it isn’t that well waymarked and I found that I needed to keep a map at hand at each of the many trail/road/field intersections. The trail can be hiked in either direction and I hiked south from Carlisle but the guidebooks and most other hikers go from Ulverston north.

Most people do the trail in 5 days and stay in towns along the way; either B&Bs or campsites. It is possible to wild camp – as I did for 2 of the 3 nights – as long as you ‘stealth camp’ responsibly i.e. pitch in the evening and break camp early in the morning and follow leave no trace principles.

I used the Cicerone guide which had pretty good background but would be more useful for a northbound hike as that is how it is written. I love the Cicerone guides in general but this one is quite text based and was tricky to read going in the other direction. In retrospect maybe the Harvey strip map of the route would have been more useful. I also downloaded Ordnance Survey topo maps to my phone (I used the OutdoorActive Android App) which was very handy.

Getting to the start and finish is straightforward as both are well served by railway. Trains run a number of times every day between Carlisle and Ulverston and take between 2 to 3 hours (you can choose to pay £40 for the 2 hour fast route or £18 for the slower 3 hour route- you make your choice!). Here also are a couple of good web sites on the trail:

Rambling Man

Becky The Traveller

Day 1 Carlisle to Caldbeck

I parked my car at a Council site near Carlisle train station (a bargain at £3 per day) and set off south at about 3pm. Camping spots are a bit tricky in this first section leaving Carlisle so I decided to push on to Caldbeck 15.5 miles away which has a great wee friendly site including a ‘hiker biker’ area. This day pretty much follows the Caldbeck River all the way to Caldbeck itself. It starts in the city of Carlisle but soon is out in at least suburban and then semi rural territory on a mix of paved cycle ways, trails, fields and dirt roads. A trail closure (temporary hopefully) north of the town of Dalston was a bit of a surprise and I ended up doing a longer route round finishing with 2 miles along the grass verges of a busy B road. Not great hiking but I got past the closure quickly at least.

Day 2 Caldbeck – Keswick- Walla Crag

Caldbeck is a lovely village with a campsite, 2 cafes, pub/hotel and friendly village store. From here the route climbs into the ‘fells’ of the Lake District to High Pike with panoramic views south to the hills to come, out east to the Penines and back north to Scotland. There’s a cool small wooden hut on the way – ‘Lingy’ – maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association which would be a good overnight stop.

I deviated off to ‘bag’ Knott, another hill nearby that I hadn’t climbed before. It was well defended though with boggy, tussocky ground so was hard going! Back on the Cumbria Way I passed Skiddaw House then followed a viewful balcony trail around Lonscale Fell into the ‘bustling’ town of Keswick.

Approaching Keswick

I just realised that it was the Friday of a Bank Holiday weekend- and it was mobbed! I had some dinner and shopped for a couple of days food to make it easy to wild camp, then happily left town at about 6pm.

I took an alternate to the main Cumbria way by heading along some hill tops on the east of Derwent Water, rather than the official route which goes down the west side at low level. This also provided a great camp spot near Walla Crag….

Day 3 Walla Crag to Lingmoor Fell

After a very still night with some mist down below, I had some midges around at breakfast but set off south with great views around and to Derwent water below. I soon made it down to Ashness Bridge with a short quiet road walk through forest then steeply down to the Borrowdale Hotel at the south end of Derwent Water. Above was a climbing cliff, Shepherds crag I have been to in the past with some classic routes.

There were good trails round the foot of Derwent Water and I soon rejoined the Cumbria Way again on mellow low level walking into the small cluster of rustic houses at Rossthwaite for a fine snack/ lunch stop at the café.

From there I headed out into more open hill country up Langstrath (the well named long valley). I sped past a couple of waterfalls that were thronging with people, but I did have a quick cooling dip in the river a bit higher up. The going got hot as I went over Stake Pass with it’s glacial drumlins and down to Langdale with more excellent climbing crags above.

The hills again beckoned for tonight’s camp and I traversed Lingmoor Fell to the south of Langdale. Here I experienced a first for camping on hill tops- I needed to put in my ear plugs to dampen the sound of music floating up from a party in the valley below!

Lingmoor Fell

Day 4 Lingmoor Fell to Ulverston

Another still, warm night and I quickly descended to Little Langdale then along lanes and trails to pick up the Cumbria Way again at High Park.

I noticed my first Cumbria Way trail sign here- hoorah! Rolling lower level fields and woodland made for quick walking into the town of Coniston for early lunch. Hiking south of the town alongside Coniston water I took a well needed dip to cool down – superb! From there the Way headed over moorland covered in thick bracken and heather but thankfully with a clear path through the vegetation. I now had the ‘bit between my teeth’ and decided to push on to the end of the trail that day. The air was hot and muggy but the ground was dry and the walking was easy into the pretty town of Ulverston.


Hayduke hiker notes spring 2022

Arches National Park

Route We had plenty of time to spend in Arches NP to align with our permits for the next section so took a longer indirect more scenic route in parts than the Hayduke. We walked from Moab Canyonlands Airport, across H191 to Tower Arch, then NE across Salt Valley to the Devils Garden, back SW across salt Valley following the pipeline to the Hayduke and Courthouse Wash.

Our route in purple and joining up with the red actual Hayduke in places

Willow Springs 03/27/22- Good pools before and small flow around the junction with Willow Springs.

Upper Courthouse Wash 03/27/22- Good flow down to Sevenmile Canyon then dry to near the road. We had a fair bit of bushwhacking after Sevenmile but may not have found the best route.

This year we followed the Hayduke route down Upper Courthouse Wash as opposed to 2014 where we took an another route described by Nic Barth ‘Arches Slickrock Alternate’ (green on the map). This slickrock line was way more enjoyable and scenic in my opinion – but did involve some Class 4 downclimbing down into the canyon.

Lower Courthouse Wash 03/27/22- Pretty mellow hiking but with more beaver activity this time than we saw in 2014.

Moab to Needles

Route We followed the Hayduke but with a few alternates as described.
HT30.2 We did the Amasa Back alternative which was nice and recommended. We started at Kane Creek, where there was a trail from the Trailhead to a bridge over the creek a few hundred meters up from the Colorado River (the Colorado river backs up into Kane Creek making it awkward and muddy to cross). There is a steep scramble down from the high point into Jackson Hole on an old trail, but other than that it is trail or jeep roads with good views.
Stopped at Base Camp and chatted to Tom who kindly let us fill up with water as well as admiring the tortoise!
There were 2 river access points to the Colorado River for water south of Base Camp after HT4.5, see below.

HT6.8 This is Chicken Corner and hard to miss, see pic! We took a direct alt (purple line below) south up a mellow wash with a couple of 2-3m high scrambling steps to short cut the HT (red below) which is an indirect jeep road. Worthwhile- its shorter and more interesting than the jeep road I think.

HT11.3 We left the HT just south of the pass at HT11.3 for a grand alternative down Hermit Canyon based on the Kelsey Canyonlands guidebook. We then followed a lovely limestone bench above the Colorado River narrowing to a meter or so in places.

There likely was access to the Colorado River for water from the bench, both at the bottom of Hermit and at the first canyon south of Hermit, but we didn’t check either out so can’t confirm that.

There is also the cool Tangren old horse camp on the way (please leave everything in place). We couldn’t find the spring to the east of Tangren as described in Kelsey though, …. I have doubts that it still exists.

We continued on the bench along the rim to Lockhart Canyon. Here we thought we could cross Lockhart and continue south to connect with the Hayduke at Rustler Canyon. There was a small cairn at the rim of Lockhart looking like we could drop down into the canyon. However we didn’t fancy it, the top looked too loose and rubbly for us!

Instead we followed the rim of Lockhart east easily on the same bench. Continuing along the rim of the north fork back to the Hayduke at HT20.9 and the foot of the Nic Barth Lockhart Cliff descent and a big pour off (black line below). This Hermit alternate taking you above the Colorado River is scenic and varied. Contact me if you want more info.

Overview map showing our Hermit Canyon route in purple along the Colorado river (Hayduke in red)

HT20.9 There was a small clear flow of water coming down a slabby gully within the first half mile south of HT20.9 but I suspect this would be short lived after the rain we had about 4 days before so I wouldn’t rely on it.
HT25.4 Lockhart had a good flow for about 1/3 mile

HT32.3 Rustler dryfall. there was a small pool just above the dryfall but Rustler was dry below. The direct route under the chockstone was fun!

HT35.1 Indian Creek. Pools of water in this stretch but no flow.

HT39.3 ‘We hope so’ wash. About 1/4 mile south of HT39.3 there is a large pothole of water just under a small dryfall (as mentioned by Jamal Green in Across Utah). We took a side route out to the Colorado River neck lookout. Nice view and a short diversion starting from 200-300m before the pothole in ‘We hope so’ wash. Would be a nice camp spot too…

Needles to Hanksville

Route We took a northerly alternate from the Hayduke over the Colorado River at Spanish Bottom, through the Maze, Hans Flat and Happy Canyons to join the Hayduke at Poison Springs. 

In 2014 we took another alternate and what both have in common is that from Needles in Canyonlands National Park, we end up at the Colorado River at a place called Spanish Bottom. From the north bank of the river we climb up again over remote plateau and end up in the well named Happy Canyon and then cross the even more appropriately named Dirty Devil river. Credits for our 2022 route go to Jamal Green who describes it on his excellent Across Utah website.

Needles visitor centre to Colorado River – We saw no water on the trail from Big Springs down Cyclone Canyon then Lower Red Lake. We took water from the Colorado.

Maze – Standard descent from west of Chimney rock to Pictograph canyon – small pothole on scramble descent and small potholes at canyon bottom about where marked by Kelsey as a spring.

Maze- Wash north of the Harvest Scene, on the west side of the canyon junction -small seep flow

Maze – Foot of the Maze Overlook trail – Good water in pools with a small flow.

North Trail Canyon – Small pothole just before steep zig zag exit. We didn’t notice any water between Maze Overlook and here.

Hans Flat Ranger Station- Sells gallon jugs and open between 8 and 4.30.

North French Springs Fork – Medium pothole of water in wash above steep constructed trail descent. Well used by feral donkeys though and we didn’t take.

North French Springs Fork- Constructed trail descends steep section round a nose to the boulder filled wash at bottom and then continues criss crossing wash to easier ground after boulder section. Makes for a relatively easy passage.

North French Springs Fork- Slickrock pothole area down wash mentioned by Jamal Green was dry.

Happy Canyon- Small seep 1 mile below French Springs Fork junction. Good pools and seeps 3 miles below. We also saw these in April 2014. Happy Canyon narrows had some small potholes which may be better than the muddy water in the Dirty Devil…

Poison Spring Canyon- Good flow about 1 mile below and 2 miles above the spring.

Henry Mountains

Route We hiked from H95 past Little Egypt then joined the Hayduke before Crescent Creek. We then took an alternate dirt road south over Copper Ridge to Airplane Spring. Due to Brian’s blisters(!) we then turned about and hiked back to H95 but this time following the Hayduke from Crescent Creek to H95.

Little Egypt – This is an alternative route south of the Hayduke Trail from H95 as described by Nic Barth. The hoodoos and mining cabins were interesting and worthwhile as an alt.

Crescent Creek– Good flowing water as the jeep track nears the creek bed. Nice camping on the west side of the river too.

Airplane Spring on a lower alternate on the south slopes of the Henry Mountains had reasonable water in two wells inside the fenced off area.

Escalante to Kanab

Route The route we took between Escalante town and Highway 89 was really enjoyable and recommended with a particularly great sequence of canyons in the middle in the area of the Paria River. We pretty much joined up 3 alternatives described by Jamal Green along with some information from Michael Kelsey’s guide;

firstly Via Escalante West

then Stone Donkey to Hogeye

then a short hike down the Paria River before going up Kitchen and Starlight Canyons. Jamal Kitchen/Starlight text here and Kelsey’s Paria River Guidebook had useful information on upper Starlight, the cave and Mollies Nipple.

Alvey Wash- 04/25/22 About 5.5 miles south of Escalante town on Smokey Mountain dirt road- there was water running here where the wash narrows.

Mossy Dell- 04/25/22 This is about 19 miles from Escalante town and mentioned as a water source by Jamal but we couldn’t find any water here unfortunately.

Collet Canyon forks- 04/25/22 The jeep road crosses a few forks of upper Collet Canyon but all were dry for us. It looks like they might flow for a bit following rain.

Headquarters Springs- 04/26/22 A number of small flows of water here. We couldn’t find the cabin marked on the map though…

Corral south of Grosvener Arch- 04/26/22 Two good full tanks of water here, see map below.

Round Valley Draw, HT Section 8 mile 2.9- Our second time down these narrows and this is an excellent scramble.

Hackberry Canyon, HT Section 8 mile 11.2- 04/27/22 Water started from about here. Bear in mind its a tough walk down canyon from the narrows of RVD to this point in deep soft sand. Also this area was fouled by cattle making the water a little less inviting!

Hogeye Creek- 04/28/22 Excellent water flow in two shady sections in the middle of Hogeye down to maybe half a mile before the Paria River.

Paria River- 04/28/22 This was flowing quite clear between Hogeye and Kitchen.

Kitchen Canyon- 04/28/22 Very, very muddy flow. The canyon is so rubbly and loose that it looks like it the water flow is full of mud and silt from the side walls sliding into the wash.

Starlight Canyon- 04/29/22 Lovely flow of good water up the length of this canyon to where we exited at the cave.

1/2 mile to north of Kitchen Corral Spring (HT 43.4) – 04/30/22 Good small flow 1/4 mile east of Hayduke Trail dirt road along side canyon on jeep road. Go over barbed wire to small spring that is piped off so the canyon looks dry before you get to the spring.

H89 Buckskin to Jacob Lake

Route We followed the Hayduke in this section for the first time(!) with the exception of the enforced fire reroute on the AZT below…

Water- we relied on a single wildlife guzzler source on the AZT about 4 miles south of the Utah-Arizona state border, which seems reliable. That said there was a fair bit of activity at the state border with a few northbound AZT hikers finishing each day in May so there could be a fair chance of picking up water from people here to meet AZT hikers.

AZT diversion- there was a rerouting of the AZT north of Jacob Lake due to burn areas impacting the trail. See sign below…

Whilst on the AZT, the AZT water report provides good hiker updated water reports.

Jacob Lake to Grand Canyon South Rim

Route We mostly followed the Hayduke in this section apart from at the end where we hiked out of the Grand Canyon to the south rim on the Grand View Trail. This shortened the route a bit and we had already hiked the remainder part along the Tonto Trail and up South Kiabab Trail in 2014.

South from Jacob Lake the Hayduke follows the well maintained and relatively popular Arizona Trail (AZT) for about 30 miles. AZT water report

Its dry from leaving the AZT til hitting Nankoweap Canyon about 8 miles down from the North Rim on Nankoweap Trail. This trail is really scenic and makes for a superb hike. Nankoweap Canyon looks like a perennial stream with a gushing spring source just 10 or 20m downstream from where the trail hits the stream.

Once you hit the Colorado River there are a number of places to access the river for water. You can’t do this anywhere though so best keeping an eye on the map. The Nankoweap Granaries are definitely worth the side trip.

The route along the Colorado River between Nankoweap and the north of the Little Colorado can be pretty slow going over boulders with bushwhacking so allow plenty of time and best to start early if its going to be hot. We have managed to get lifts across the river to the Little Colorado outlet pretty easily within a few hours both times we have been there.

Hance Creek had a good, if small, flow of water.

Overall, from Jacob Lake to South Rim is a brilliant hiking expedition. We were there in May and at that time a challenge is the heat down in the bottom of the canyon.

Grand Canyon South Rim to North Rim

Route We followed the Bright Angel and North Kiabab trails. These are popular and make for easy hiking for anyone who has hiked the Hayduke or variants to here. We camped at Cottonwood but I guess could have made it the whole way rim to rim if we weren’t able to get a permit.

The temperature was in the low 40C range at Phantom Ranch and to avoid that we had a really early start from South Rim then spent a while cooling down at Ribbon Falls (a must see anyway).

North Rim to Kanab Creek

Section 13 miles 27.9-37.4 I think the section down Saddle Canyon to Upper Tapeats Campground is one of the toughest sections of the Hayduke, although with some great scrambling and scenery. We were here mid May and it took us about 10 hours but that included about 1-2 hours time wasted scrabbling about at a wrong exit from Saddle Canyon.

The initial descent down Saddle Canyon (28.6-30.2) was cross country with some scrub in the dry bed of the creek but wasn’t too hard at all. Maybe with more people on the Hayduke it is gradually getting easier.

We missed the correct exit from the dry canyon bed at 30.2 to traverse around the dryfall and headed uphill too early. There are a few smaller dryfalls you get to first which have cairns on the left side but you need to go down past these to more cairns before the bigger dryfall. The route from there back into Saddle Canyon involves traversing on the left, west side onto a ridge then descending its west side to a small side wash and back into Saddle Canyon. It was pretty slow going, scratchy bushwhacking but had some cairns and signs of traffic.

Once you are back into Saddle Canyon at mile 31.0 the character changes straight away to scrambling and hiking inside the slickrock canyon. There were a few drop offs where we were happy to have a team to assist each other and lower packs- it would be trickier solo. The cord to lower packs was definitely useful. We didn’t really get too wet in the slickrock potholes, maybe knee deep. A superb canyon.

The scrambling ends at 32.6 with the Stina Canyon junction. From memory there were two small potholes at 33.1, the junction with Crazy Jug Canyon. The next few miles were very hot down a rubbly dry streambed and slow going. The going gets nicer about 1/2 mile before Tapeats Spring though with cottonwoods, shade, pools and running water.

Once we met Tapeats Spring the river changed character to a raging and loud cataract! There is a trail which helps a lot, starting on the south side and crossing the river at reasonable places with some scrambling along the way. We maybe had knee deep water (but very fast flowing) after a dry spell, any more might have made progress difficult. The area is really dramatic and scenic and a stand out of the Hayduke if you have low enough water levels!

Hildale to Zion

Our route deviated from the Hayduke to cross Canaan Mountain from Hildale to Rockville.

This is a marvelous hike has a real Hayduke flavor to it with a mix of trails, cross country, route finding and superb scenery. Its downside is that it misses out the ‘Barracks’ on the Hayduke which is also top class (we were there in 2014).

We did this hike in the opposite direction in Autumn 2018.

The site ‘Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National Park‘ gave us the original idea and the associated book is worthwhile purchasing too.

Water is available in the well named Water Canyon, then there are some big potholes in the slickrock wash at the top of Water Canyon. Sawmill Spring had water about 10 minutes downstream from the spring itself and there was some seeps and pools in the slickrock below that.

Grand Canyon III- feeling hot, hot, hot

The attractively named “Swamp Point” high on the edge of the North Rim (no swamp, just a few mosquitoes) was our departure point back into the Grand Canyon after resting, eating and watching out for the endemic Kiabab Squirrel in the campground near North Rim Lodge.

Just below the rim lies Teddy’s (Roosevelt) Cabin, a cool ‘bothy‘. Apparently the great man stayed here on a cougar hunt – the cabin was built (and named) afterwards. From this piece of civilization our route headed into the wilds, sans trail, bushwhacking and scrambling down Saddle Canyon and then Tapeats Creek.

Firstly we bushwhacked our way down through the scrub in upper Saddle Canyon. This was slow going but not too difficult until we took a route out to avoid a big dryfall. We climbed out the canyon too early and got into some nasty scrubby, loose sand scrambling before we returned back to the canyon and finding a set of cairns for a better route.

After a few hours of that, the walls of the lower part of Saddle Canyon suddenly rise up and form smooth alcoves above and slick chutes and channels under foot and we found ourselves sliding and scrambling down polished half pipes and overhangs into dark pools of water. By that time we were joined by a fourth hiker (Peter) and were able to assist each other, passing packs down the steep drops. Superb and exciting stuff, unfortunately I then stored the camera away in a waterproof bag for safety!

After the shady but steep narrows of Saddle Canyon,  we joined Tapeats Creek which was dry and hot at mid day. But after a couple of hours of sizzlingly hot hiking with a few rests in the shade we thankfully reached pools of water, then flowing water and then to a roaring clear river which we had to cross numerous times.

Travelling through this terrain without trails is hot sweaty and challenging and we took 12 hours to cover 11 miles that day, arriving at our intended camping spot near the junction of Tapeats Creek and Thunder River at dusk. We were welcomed by a large pink rattlesnake who slithered away and happily was not seen again during the night!

Next morning at 5 am we climbed up 1,400ft to Thunder Spring, a roaring cascade of spring water gushing straight out of the limestone cliff. We knew the day would be hot, so the early start maximised the comparatively milder morning temperatures (and beautiful morning light).

We rested for a couple of hours at the oasis-like Deer Creek in the welcome shade of cottonwood trees and descended the beautiful Deer Creek narrows before reaching the banks of the Colorado River itself around 11am. We were not alone: Deer Creek is a must-see side trip for river rafters.

Deer Creek narrows

We found ourselves a shady cave under some big boulders and tried to sit out the heat. The forecast at river level had been for 107 F (41.6 °C) that day and the next.

We passed the day reading, venturing out only occasionally to dip in the pool below Deer Creek falls and to talk the boaters arriving at the beach. In the afternoon we (Brian and Martina) decided that it was way too hot to enjoyably continue hiking down the canyon (an off trail route requiring boulder hopping on the steep riverside most of the way for 8 miles or so, we had done this in 2017 but in cooler temperatures).

So we hiked back uphill that evening and, with a 3.30am alarm the next morning and a helpful bright moon we continued upwards when it was cooler, all the way to the North Rim on the scenic Bill Hall trail. About a 4,700ft climb in all. There we got a lift with some friendly hikers from Idaho to the town of Hurricane, Utah.

Heather and Peter have hiked on (hardier than us!). We are hopping forward and with the help of a cooler weather window hope to continue our route into Zion National Park…meantime we are enjoying a decadent town stop!

Hiker Notes

Section 13 miles 27.9-37.4 I think the section down Saddle Canyon to Upper Tapeats Campground is one of the toughest sections of the Hayduke, although with some great scrambling and scenery. We were here mid May and it took us about 10 hours but that included about 1-2 hours time wasted scrabbling about at a wrong exit from Saddle Canyon.

The initial descent down Saddle Canyon (28.6-30.2) was cross country with some scrub in the dry bed of the creek but wasn’t too hard at all. Maybe with more people on the Hayduke it is gradually getting easier.

We missed the correct exit from the dry canyon bed at 30.2 to traverse around the dryfall and headed uphill too early. There are a few smaller dryfalls you get to first which have cairns on the left side but you need to go down past these to more cairns before the bigger dryfall. The route from there back into Saddle Canyon involves traversing on the left west side onto a ridge then descending its west side to a small side wash and back into Saddle Canyon. It was pretty slow going, scratchy bushwhacking but had some cairns and signs of traffic.

Once you are back into Saddle Canyon at mile 31.0 the character changes straight away to scrambling and hiking inside the slickrock canyon. There were a few drop offs where we were happy to have a team to assist each other and lower packs- it would be trickier solo. The cord to lower packs was definitely useful. We didn’t really get too wet in the slickrock potholes, maybe knee deep. A superb canyon.

The scrambling ends at 32.6 with the Stina Canyon junction. From memory there were two small potholes at 33.1, the junction with Crazy Jug Canyon. The next few miles were very hot down a rubbly dry streambed and slow going. The going gets nicer about 1/2 mile before Tapeats Spring though with cottonwoods, shade, pools and running water.

Once we met Tapeats Spring the river changed character to a raging and loud cataract! There is a trail which helps a lot starting on the south side and crossing the river at reasonable places with some scrambling along the way. We maybe had knee deep water after a dry spell, any more might have made progress difficult. The area is really dramatic and scenic and a stand out of the Hayduke if you have low enough water levels!

Grand Canyon II – Crossing to north rim

After a day’s rest in South Rim village, we descended once more into the Grand Canyon and hiked to the North Rim on the popular Bright Angel and North Kiabab trails. The forecast was for temps of a sizzling 97 F down at the river so we decided to set off early….

We set off early again from Cottonwood camp to avoid the heat climbing up to the North Rim. The steady climb was made easier by a good well trodden trail…

Looking back to the South Rim from the patio of North Rim Lodge (on the day before the road into the North Rim opens)

Into Arizona…

During our rest days in the town of Kanab we bought food for the trail ahead; 2 days to carry straight away for the hike down Buckskin Gulch and onto the Arizona Trail, then with the help of a friend, 6 days which we left at a remote diner/hotel called Jacob Lake (on the Northern plateau of the Grand Canyon) and a whopping 8 days of supplies which we mailed to the post office at North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Supplies for the next few weeks

We started putting our thumbs up on Highway 89 out of Kanab at 7am on 4th May and got a lift back to the trail with an 82 year old gentleman who was driving a portable water tanker for supplying firefighting crew in New Mexico. He was driving it there from Montana!

The Hayduke goes through some spectacular sandstone country in and around Buckskin Gulch and then picks up the Arizona Trail (AZT) for approx 65 miles. The AZT itself starts at the Mexican border in the south and finishes after around 800 miles at the Utah state border. We were hiking it southward ‘against Wainwright’, meeting lots of northbound hikers who were nearing their finish line. What this meant for us was that we had well maintained, clear trail to follow for the next few days!

Once on the AZT we climbed very quickly up onto the Kiabab Plateau, a high limestone forested area that forms the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We left behind the slick gold and red sandstone and spent two days in dry pinyon-juniper forest, then ponderosa pines higher up. Our one water source was from a “wildlife guzzler”. Below Martina is straining some “wildlife” out with a handkerchief before treating the water!

To avoid setting the dry forest floor on fire with our stove, we usually cook on a flat rock…but if none are available a cow pat does the trick!

After two days we got to Jakob Lake, got a hotel room and picked up our food parcel ready for the next 6 to 7 exciting days headed for the depths of the Grand Canyon……

Vintage transport at Jacob Lake

Hiker Notes

Route For the first time we followed the Hayduke in this section(!) with the exception of the enforced fire reroute on the AZT below…

Water- we relied on a single source about 4 miles south of the Utah-Arizona state border, the wildlife guzzler as pictured above which seems reliable. That said there was a fair bit of activity at the state border with a few northbound AZT hikers finishing each day in May. There could be a fair chance of picking up water here from people there to meet AZT hikers.

AZT diversion- there was a rerouting of the AZT north of Jacob Lake due to burn areas impacting the trail. See sign below…

Hayduke ‘Training’ hikes

We are out walking in the local hills and coast a fair bit most times, especially during the last two years of lockdown. But with the Hayduke in mind we have tried to do a few more miles over flatter ground during the winter. The coastline north of us from Fortrose to Rosemarkie to Cromarty offers pretty perfect terrain; sand, boulders, trail, cross country, minor roads and even some bushwacking – it also happens to be great fun!

Our favourite coastline from Rosemarkie to Cromarty
Rounding the coast from Inverness northwards
Quinaig in the north west of Scotland with cloud inversion
Dog walking counts too!
Rosemarkie beach near home with sun, snow and black sky

US Hayduke 2022

The Hayduke Trail is a 800 approx. mile hike and scramble through the canyons of the Colorado Plateau in southern Utah and northern Arizona USA. The route links six stunning National Parks…. ArchesCanyonlandsCapitol ReefBryce CanyonGrand Canyon and Zion and crosses great places in-between.

And hey, we went back in Spring 2022 to hike in this area again with some cool variations after a previous hike in 2014 and a few other visits to this amazing land of canyons and high desert. We started hiking direct from Moab airport into Arches National Park in the east on 22nd March through to Zion NP. Posts below and highlights YouTube video here


1 Arches National Park

2 Moab to Needles in Canyonlands NP

3 Needles to Hanksville via The Maze

4 Blistering into the Henry Mountains

5 Testing the feet around Escalante

6 Back hiking South West to Hwy 89 and Kanab

7 Into Arizona….

8 Grand Canyon part I

9 Grand Canyon part II – South to North Rim

10 Grand Canyon part III – feeling hot, hot, hot…

11 Grand finale to Zion National Park

12 Post Hayduke explorations….



Hayduke training hikes

Hayduke background (from 2014)

Hiker links

Other useful links

Our intended route in 2022

Some photos from previous hikes in the area to show what its like….

From 2014- ‘Happy Canyon’
Yellow Rock
Quinag NW Scotland


We have spent our lives out in the great outdoors of Scotland, whether that’s climbing, hillwalking, camping, sea kayaking, biking or just hiking and exploring. Here are just a few snapshots from all those years with perhaps more to come….

The Skye Trail (a 7 day backpack)

Wild camps and bothy map

North Coast Backpack 2020

John O’Groats Trail (from Inverness to the north east tip of Scotland. Section hiking the 147 mile route)

Inverness to Aviemore connector route (Hiking and off road biking)

Black Isle hikes and bike trips


Suggested Scottish backpacking trips

Sea kayaking Scotland

Scotland outdoor photos

Coast to Coast Trail across England

A walking route that crosses northern England passing through the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors national parks
The Coast to Coast is about 200 miles long following trails, rough vehicle tracks and minor roads. Devised by Alfred Wainwright in 1972, it has since become the most popular long distance trail in Great Britain. It traverses a great variety of countryside in it’s releatively short length from the uplands of the Lake District to the limestone greenery of the Yorkshire Dales to the wooded valleys of the Eskdale and Littlebeck. The towns are interesting and rich in history too; good examples being Richmond with its Norman castle, Shap Abbey and Grasmere the cute tourist magnet in the Lakes.

We had a fun time on our hike which we split into two week long sections;
-Part I October 2015 we hiked west from Kirkby Stephen to St Bees
-Part II June 2016 we hiked east from Kirkby Stephen to Robin Hood’s Bay

Our walk

2015 westbound

Day 1 12th Oct 2015 Kirkby Stephen -Orton- Shap 22 miles
A gentle start through limestone countryside with dikes and a network of fields. Early drizzle cleared mid morning to give a bright day but with a biting cold westerly wind in our faces! We diverted to the picturesque village of Orton for lunch – which was definately worthwhile. The afternoon’s high moorland made for great hiking but we began to tire for the final few miles over the M6 motorway into Orton. Great day though!
Day 2 13th Oct 2015 Shap – Patterdale 17 miles
An early start on frosty ground with low lying mist at first. Orton Abbey was an atmospheric and splendid stop. From there we headed out over more undulating fields and woodland to reach Haweswater reaching into the eastern Lake District. Soon we climbed steeply up to the high tops of High Street with clear views back east to where we had come and out west into the central Lake District. A long drop past lovely Angle Tarn and then over some rubbly paths and we made it to camp in Patterdale just as the frost set in.
Day 3 14th Oct 2015 Patterdale – Grasmere – Greenup Edge 16 miles
We set out on a bitingly cold but clear morning gently up Grisedale to reach its tarn set in a great spot south of Helvellyn. An easy drop down and we were soon lunching in the tourist town of Grasmere with shops and a great bakery. Up Easdale in the late afternoon and we hit the high ridge of Greenup Edge with more great views. We found a camp spot on the descent to Stonethwaite above Eagle Crag. Another excellent day..
Day 4 15th Oct 2015 Greenup Edge – Ennerdale Bridge 16 miles
More deep frost this morning as we dropped down to Rosthwaite, picking up some food. A wonder through trees and steep climb by the road gave some more good views before we arrived at Honister Pass. this was a good chance to dry the tent from that covering of overnight frost whilst having coffee and cake from the cafe. Next we climbed over our final high Lake District ridge past Grey Knotts to steeply drop into quiet Ennerdale. This is a big valley stretching westwards and made for easy hiking all the way out to Ennerdale Bridge. We caved in and stayed in a hotel here which was well with the money for its good food and warmth.
Day 5 16th Oct 2015 Ennerdale Bridge – St Bees 15 miles
Our final day saw us start out on minor roads before following fine trail along a stream and then up Dent hill with its marvellous views out to the coast. The trail continued along minor roads and trail through some old mining villages before hitting the west coast and a grand finale south above the cliffs to St Bees. An excellent 5 day hike!

2016 eastbound

Day 1 28th May 2016 Kirkby Stephen – Nine Standards Rigg camp 6 miles
We dropped our car off at Kirkby Stephen around 5pm and decided to set out in the evening on the trail up the hill of Nine Standards Rigg. After a day of travel this was a good way to stretch our legs and we managed a high camp on the south ridge of the hill with nearby water.
Day 2 29th May 2016 Nine Standards Rigg – Ellers Beck Swaledale 21 miles
A grand long day through the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Dropping down was easy into Swaledale. The countryside here is beautiful with it’s stone built farm buildings and dykes. Ravenseat Farm was our first introduction to the scene, but Keld was also lovely and we had tea and cakes here next to the campsite as a line of vintage tractors started out on a tour of the dales. We met a couple of other C2C hikers hiking down beside the river Swale itself and had a pleasant chat before stopping for lunch at a cafe in Gunnerside. The meadows were green and full of flowers and this was now easy hiking! We pushed on hard though into the evening and both of us were sore by the time we set up camp in the woods.
Day 3 30th May 2016 Ellers Beck – Danby Wiske 23 miles
Lots of variety to start with walking through forest and fields into the large town of Richmond with its old castle. There was a fair and procession underway as we strode down the streets into the crowded centre of town. After a shopping and cafe stop we hiked out past the castle and over the river eastwards onto flatter countryside. This flat hiking began to hurt a bit for both of us but fortunately the weather brightened a little from the damp start to the day. The final few road miles into anby were sore on the feet so we were relieved to get a room and a shandy at the White Swann Inn in town!
Day 4 30th May 2016 Danby Wiske – Osmotherley 10 miles
Drab and a gale force westerly wind today. The walking was still flat and we had a fair bit of shelter from hedgerows and some trees. We made it to the A19 just before Inglebury Cross and dashed into the truckers cafe for shelter and mugs of tea. Looking at the forecast of gales continuing for the next few days in the east where we were heading but sunshine in the Lake District to the west, we decided to spend a couple of days out in the Lakes and return.
Day 5 4th June 2016 Osmotherley – North York Moors camp 18 miles
Refreshed after a wonderful high camp on Pike O Blisco in the Lakes and hill walking round the Langdale peaks, we returned to Osmotherley again in low cloud. But at least the wind had calmed down! We strode onto the high plateau of the North York Moors and into the clouds. The walking was on undulating heather terrain and we could gain distance quite easily on the good trails even though we were wet from the mist. Eventually camped in heather moors somewhere east of Bloworth Crossing near an abandoned railway.
Day 6 5th June 2016 North York Moors camp – Grosmont 20 miles
The sun eventually poked through in the morning- hoorah!- so we were able to get distant views over the moors. Stopped at the Lion Inn for morning tea, a venerable old travellers inn up on the moorland. From here we skirted the northern edges of the North York Moors over Glaisdale Moor before dropping down into leafy Eskdale. We were now walking down the lush and green river valley in the sun and it made a pleasant contrast to the moors. Stayed at a lovely B&B at Grosmont- the Geall Gallery- really recommended.
Day 7 6th June 2016 Grosmont – Robin Hood’s Bay 15.5 miles
Final day to the coast! A steep early climb was followed by a drop into another beautiful forested valley – Littlebeck. Then onto lower moors which to be honest were a bit soggy and tedious! We pushed through and made it to the coast by about lunchtime for a splendid finishing walk south to the village of Robin Hood’s Bay nestled by the sea. Overall an great 2 week hike with lots of variety but some tough flat walking on tarmac in the middle!

Photo gallery here

Some thoughts on the trail

What’s it like It’s mostly great fun with lots of variety hiking over the hills of the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors. Passing through many quaint villages, historical churches provides lots of interesting things to see. There are many places to resupply so, even if wild camping, you don’t really need to ever carry more than two days of supplies. The start and finish on both coasts are great highlights too. This isn’t that wild a trail so expect to see others and lots of cow and sheep fields. There is also a ‘low point’ of maybe 30 miles of flattish walking on field margins and minor roads between Richmond and Ingleby Cross which we found quite sore on the feet and less scenically interesting!
It is mostly good trail underfoot and we had only a few boggy sections (worst was near Robin Hood’s Bay in the moors west of Hawsker) but mostly the trail is excellent. We wore lightweight trail shoes and running shoes.

When to go The trail can be hiked pretty much at any time of the year. We hiked in October and June. Summers (July, August, September) can be busy though which can make accomodation tricky unless you have booked. In October we saw almost no other C2C hikers (but lots of day hikers in the Lake District). In June there were a few groups hiking each day but it didn’t feel busy. September/early October and April/May/June would on balance be our chosen times to visit balancing quiter periods but still potentially decent weather. Winter with the short days and wetter conditions would be for the hardy only.

Where to stay We carried a lightweight tent, mainly because we enjoy (particulary wild) camping but most people stay in B&B’s or hotels each night. The cost can stack up if doing this though. Estimate at about £80-£100 a night for bed and breakfast for two people. We ended up with 4 wild camps, 1 campsite, 5 B&B’s. If wild camping bring along some sort of water purifier such as chlorine dioxide droplets. You will also need to plan ahead as you can’t really camp in the low lying agricultural areas but the Lake District and North York Moors provide plenty of opportunities.

Planning Best to look at the sites below and get a guidebook and off you go. There are companies that can arrange your whole trip for you including accommodation and transport your bags between B&Bs if you like. We carried all our camping gear etc though and didn’t have a problem with that. Our approach also meant we had lots of flexibility in terms of where we stayed each night which suits our approach.

Links to information on the Coast to Coast
Brian and Martina’s photos Our photo gallery from the hike….
Ramblin Man Great info source on the trail
Wainwright’s book From the man himself and an entertaining and informative read!
Trailblazer guide The guidebook we used
Packhorse Provide full support services including transport from each end of the trail
Sherpavan Another support provider
Camino adventures Helpful planning tips here

Other trails near to the Coast to Coast
Penine Way 270 mile long official trail that crosses the C2C at Keld
Cleveland Way North York Moors trail that shares some tread with the eastern part of the C2C
Lyke Wake Walk A 40 mile crossing of the North York Moors based on an old coffin route
Cumbrian Way A 70 mile footpath through the Lake District
Land’s End to John O’Groats The big one..walking the length of Britain