Kathi walks the Hebridean Way for MCS

Kathi Kamleitner recently completed the Hebridean Way on her own to raise money for the Marine Conservation Society (MCS). When I saw Kathi’s tweet about her challenge and her support of a fantastic organisation, I got in touch with her to find out more.  She tells us about her motivation for doing the walk and why she likes to promote sustainable travel.

Walking-on-South-Uist---Hebridean-Way-in-12-days,-photo-by-Kathi-Kamleitner-PS
Walking on South-Uist – Hebridean Way in 12 days, photo byKathi Kamleitner

 

I fell in love with long-distance walking / trekking last year on the West Highland Way. I did the northern half of it in 4 days and later in the year joined an all-women hike in Sweden which lasted five days and led through absolute wilderness. We had to carry everything we needed in our backpacks – from tent to food – and I loved the experience from start to finish. I learnt a lot about my physical and mental capabilities and drew a lot of confidence from the achievement. That’s why I decided to incorporate more long-distance walking into my Scotland holidays as well.

A Heb Way marker post on South Uist - Solo walking the Hebridean Way, photo by Kathi Kamleitner

Scotland and me

I’ve lived in Glasgow for almost 5 years now and 2.5 years ago I started my website Watch Me See. It’s a travel blog and I focus almost entirely on Scotland travel – my readers will find tips and itineraries, reviews of activities and accommodation and generally lots of inspiration for their own Scotland trips. I also do private guided tours in Glasgow and offer a travel planning service to help people put their personalised Scotland itineraries together.

A mountain view on Harris -Solo walking the Hebridean Way, photo by Kathi Kamleitner
A mountain view on Harris -Solo walking the Hebridean Way, photo by Kathi Kamleitner

The Hebridean Way

I decided to hike the Hebridean Way over a year before it would become reality. It is the newest long-distance trail in Scotland and only opened for walkers in May 2017. It is 156 miles long and runs across 10 islands – Vatersay, Barra, Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, Grimsay, North Uist, Berneray, Harris and Lewis. My plan was to walk it by myself as a woman and camp along the way – things I got a lot of questions about were:

  • Would it be safe?
  • Wouldn’t I be lonely?
  • How heavy is your backpack?

I hiked the Hebridean Way in 12 days, doing between 9 and 15 miles a day. I camped most of the way, but sometimes stayed in hostels when the weather was really bad. It was my first time in the Western Isles and I know I will be back many times in the future – I fell in love!

Wild camping on South Uist - Hebridean Way accommodation, photo by Kathi Kamleitner
Wild camping on South Uist – Hebridean Way accommodation, photo by Kathi Kamleitner

How does the MCS fit in?

As a travel blogger I am aware that the more I promote a certain destination, the more people will visit – and that can cause many environmental issues. Travel has a huge environmental impact, but I also love doing it, so I’m doing my best to find a balance and promote responsible and sustainable ways to travel to Scotland. I write about off the beaten path destinations, am careful with geo-tagging too specifically on Instagram and encourage my readers to think beyond the typical bucket list places in Scotland.

Since 2017 I have been vegan and with time I have become more interested in the zero-waste lifestyle. I’m by far not there yet, but I like using my platform to advocate for eco-friendly, responsible travel and living anywhere in the world. Together with a few other bloggers I signed up for the MCS’s plastic-free challenge in July and did my best to cut out all single-use plastic from my life.

The end point of the Hebridean Way walking route in Stornoway - Solo walking the Hebridean Way, photo by Kathi Kamleitner

The only problem

It was the month of my walk on the Hebridean Way, and I knew that on the road it would be difficult to keep up my plastic-free life. I would have to buy light-weight, easy-to-make trekking food to carry with me – every gram counts, when you carry such a big backpack; I wouldn’t be able to make my own hummus, but had to buy the stuff from the supermarket, which comes in a plastic tub; things like that – I knew I would use plastic despite the challenge I had signed up for, so I wanted to do something else.

That’s when I decided to start the Just Giving page and raise donations for the MCS instead. They are doing such important work and I wanted to share some of it with my readers and followers.

This is the link to my page if you’d like to support the MCS: justgiving.com/fundraising/watch-me-see-heb-way

I’ve written an article about my reasons for this trip on my website.

More about the Outer Hebrides

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Our #SeaHighlandsIslands series has great ideas to make the most of your holiday to the Scottish Highlands and Islands and also some tips on how you can help caring for the beautiful marine environment around the Scottish coast.

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