10 years ago, while studying for a degree at Sheffield Hallam University, I managed to win an award.
I can't remember the reason for winning the award now, but I do recall having it presented to me at the Cutlers Hall in Sheffield. It was all very posh and I stood out like a sore thumb as the only wrinkly amongst a crowd of fresh faced and very bright, young engineering students.
The award was a £500 allowance to travel to Europe to spend a few days at participating Engineering company of my choice, with a £50 book voucher thrown in to help me along with my studies.
Toulouse was very nice and the staff at the Rolls-Royce office there were very accommodating.
When I returned, I trotted off to Waterstones bookshop on the university campus and bought 2 books. "Fatigue and the Applications of Fracture Mechanics" and "A Long Walk on the Isle of Skye" one of which they had in stock, and one of which I had to order.
I never did get around to reading the Fracture Mechanics book but I'm sure it is a very interesting read...maybe one day when I have a bit of spare time?.
I have however, read and marvelled at the stunning photography of "A Long Walk on the Isle of Skye", written by David Paterson, many times over the last decade and always had it in the back of my mind as the inspiration for a long walk on Skye if the opportunity presented itself. (link to book)
Having decided to have a break from the TGO Challenge this year to do something else instead that does not use up most of my annual holiday allowance, I now have perfect opportunity to visit Skye for the first time and follow in Paterson's footsteps.
The book details a route starting at Armadale, which is handy for the Calmac ferry from Mallaig, and heads initially over moorland to the western coast of Sleat, it then follows the coastline through the settlements of Tokavaig, Ord, Heaste and Torrin. There is then an opportunity to bag the Munro, Bla Bheinn (Blaven) before heading for the magnificent setting of Loch Coruisk and onwards to Sligachan.
More coastal walking beside Loch Sligachan and the Narrows of Rassay to Portree for an optional well earned rest day before tackling the Trotternish ridge, and the long final day's push to Rubha Hunish.
In the main, I plan to follow Pattersons route, with the exception of the first day, when I plan on walking or hitching to the Point of Sleat, thereby enabling a "most southerly" to "most northerly" point to point walk on the island.
I will be wild camping all the way, except for a night on the camp site at Sligachan and maybe a b&b in Portree.
Although the walk is less than 100 miles long, I fully expect this to be as tough as any long distance walk that I have ever done. Much of the walk is pathless from what I can gather and the first few days especially, are very committing, with no bail out options of a hotel, b&b or even a bothy if the weather is rough. The going underfoot will be testing to say the least and some river crossings may well be impossible if in spate resulting in lengthy detours.
So that's my big walk planned for this year, I just have the minor details to finalise. The route is sorted and train tickets are booked for April 14th from Doncaster to Mallaig,......now where did I put that other book?