You have a choice of 14 sign-out points from Torridon in the north to the newest start point, Portavadie, in the south. Star registers are mostly held by small family-run hotels or Hostels. They have all been very supportive of the event over the years so, whilst there is no compulsion to do so, please consider them when booking accommodation or choosing somewhere to eat. Several fine start points, Ardrishaig, Acharacle, Glenelg, Kilchoan and Plockton have been lightly used in recent years so regular Challengers are asked to give them a go rather than using the more popular starts such as Shiel Bridge, Dornie, Mallaig and Dornie.
Click on the headings below for details of each start point, from North to South, including how to get there.
A small village on its titular loch under spectacular mountains. It’s a start point that requires a bit of planning to get there. However it is well worth the effort with several wonderful stalkers paths leading through spectacular scenery though the tough terrain makes it better suited to those with previous Scottish experience.
Register: Torridon Youth Hostel, 01445 791284, email@example.com
Getting there: Kyle of Lochalsh train from Inverness to Strathcarron. The afternoon train connects with the DKM motors (01520 722682) bus service to Torridon most days. It may not run on Fridays. This is a 14-seater bus and cannot be pre-booked. Challengers have often got together via the message board to organise taxis from Inverness.
Strathcarron is a straggly village just inland from the sea loch. It is another start that gives you quick access to remote, wild territory and a variety of challenging routes that will involve some pathless trekking whichever way you go.
Register: Strathcarron Hotel, 01520 722 227, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting there: By train from Glasgow or Edinburgh to Inverness then change onto the Kyle of Lochalsh line. The start hotel is next to the station.
Plockton is a very pretty village which actually faces east! Another lightly used start point as routes out are not initially obvious but a bit of invention and a sense of adventure will lead you to some remote and lonely places where very few day walkers venture.
Register: Plockton Hotel, 01599 544 274, email@example.com
Getting there: Most easily accessed from Inverness via the Kyle of Lochalsh rail line. Alternatively, Citylink bus to Kyle and train, taxi or walk to Plockton.
Dornie is a small village between Lochs Alsh and Duich. A beautiful setting with Eilean Donan Castle as a dramatic backdrop for your start photos and you are soon walking in remote country.
Register: The Dornie, 01599 555205, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Dornie Hotel has become The Dornie B&B, but the nearby Clachan provides meals and drinks for a pre-Challenge get together.
Getting there: Citylink bus from Glasgow Buchanan Street station or train/fly to Inverness then train to Kyle of Lochalsh and bus to Dornie.
Shiel Bridge is a small settlement at head of Loch Duich. It is frequently the most popular start point as it gives quick access to remote country on relatively good paths such as the Affric-Kintail Way and a plethora of Munros for those seeking a high route.
Register: Kintail Lodge Hotel, 01599 511275, email@example.com. Bunkhouse accommodation also available.
Getting there: Citylink bus from Glasgow Buchan Street station or plane/train to Inverness then bus to Shiel Bridge.
Glenelg is lovely village facing Skye offering the chance to explore some beautiful remote country. Not as easy to access as some but well worth the effort. It has an excellent community café and the Glenelg Inn is perfect for a pre-Challenge meal.
Register: Held in the porch of Mrs Davidsons house, Taobh na Mara NG 809 190 – 01599 522310 . She also offers B&B to Challengers.
Getting there: You can get to Shiel Bridge by Citylink bus but then you need a little ingenuity! Taxis may be available from Shiel Bridge – Challengers often combine forces via the message board to reduce costs. If you have a spare half day you can walk from Glenelg via the Mam Ratagan or around the coast.
Mallaig is a bustling fishing port and is one of the most popular start points, especially with first timers. Many take the ferry to Knoydart which is a spectacular way to start a crossing, but with a little imagination there are routes you can fashion without crossing the water . . .
Register: West Highland Hotel 01687 462210 firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting there: From Fort William take the Scotrail service or the Jacobite Steam train along the West Highland line.
Morar is a small village with a superb beach and views to Rum. Another start point best used by those with experience of trackless walking in Scotland as it offers challenging but rewarding routes over very rough ground in the Loch Morar area. It has been lightly used so if you’ve a few crossings under your belt why not give it a go.
Register: Morar Hotel, 01687 462346, email@example.com
Getting there: The train station on the Mallaig Line is opposite the hotel.
The Lochailort Hotel sits at head of the sea loch and gives access to some truly wild country. To the south the rough Ardgour Corbetts and to the north many will walk along Loch Beoraid or over to Oban bothy. All routes are hard going, often pathless but rewarding. It’s a great start point for those with previous Challenge experience but not ideal if this will be your first walk in Scotland.
Register: Lochailort Inn. Currently the hotel is closed so Challengers will need to sign out by texting Challenge Control.
Getting there: Lochailort has its own stop on the beautiful Fort William-Mallaig rail line.
A small village at the south end of Loch Shiel. A mile or so from the coast where you can dip your toes in the Atlantic at Castle Tioram or the “Singing Sands”. It gives access to plenty of Corbetts in Ardgour. Loch Linnhe can be crossed by ferry at Corran or Camusnagaul.
Register: Loch Shiel Hotel, 01967 431224, firstname.lastname@example.org The hotel requests you do not camp on the lawn – just ask and they will point you to suitable spots.
Getting there: Bus or train to Fort William to connect with Shiel Buses afternoon service which also doubles as the school bus. The bus does not run on Sundays.
Kilchoan is a small remote community on the western tip of the Ardnamurchan peninsula. It’s one for those who are not in a hurry as it adds a day or so to most routes but it offers a chance to take in the Scottish mainland’s most westerly ground – Ardamurchan Point. Follow the peninsula’s fabulous north coast including Sanna Bay or access Morvern via the east the ferries to Tobermory and from Fishnish to Lochaline.
Register: Kilchoan Hotel, 01972 510200, email@example.com
Getting there: One bus a day from Fort William, Monday to Saturday operated by Shiel Buses. It might not look far on the map, but it takes 3 hours! Alternatively, from Oban take the ferry to Mull then bus to Tobomory and ferry to Kilchoan.
Oban is a major tourist town and ferry port. It is another popular start point giving access to more southerly routes with generally good tracks. Most routes involve a bit of road walking to start with but there are a myriad of possible routes including the option to take a ferry to Mull or Lismore.
Register: Oban Youth Hostel, 01631 562 025, firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting there: Regular services from Glasgow by Scotrail or Citylink buses.
A small town at the east end of the Crinan Canal, on Loch Fyne which actually faces east. Relatively lightly used but offers a great start with a chance to explore a mass of ancient artefacts and some lonely moorlands. Don’t be put off by the forestry – there are ways of avoiding it if you are willing to explore a little!
Register: The Grey Gull Hotel, 01546 606017, email@example.com
Getting there: Citylink service from Glasgow Buchanan Street or if you are feeling adventurous buses and ferries via Gourock, Portavadie and Tarbert.
Portavadie is on the southern tip of the beautiful Cowal Peninsula giving access to the Cowal Way and a host of infrequently visited smaller hills. A great start for first timers and experienced Challengers looking for some new territory to explore.
Register: Portavadie Marina, 01700 811075, firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting there: Bus Glasgow to Gourock, ferry to Dunnoon then bus to Portavadie via Dunoon or Citylink bus via Ardrishaig to connect with Tarbert ferry.