Autumn is, without a doubt, my favourite time of the year.
With the nights drawing in, the crisper mornings and — most importantly — the kaleidoscope of colours appearing everywhere, it truly is the most beautiful season (especially in Scotland). Despite not having had much of a summer (where exactly was the sun?!) I can’t help but be wishing the days away until the leaves turn shades of orange and burnt umber and crackle, like gift wrap, underfoot.
This magical season always encourages me, even more than usual, to leave the city behind and head for the hills. If any of you are feeling just the same, I’ve made a little list of things I think are essential for this season in Scotland. Happy exploring!
Books for inspiration
Despite spending a lot of my time on the internet, you may be surprised to know that my first port of call when planning a trip is frequently a book. We’re lucky to have two built-in bookshelves in our flat which house most of my novels, but there’s a few corners for the more historical or travel titles among them.
The Pocket Mountains mini guidebooks are a fantastic resource if you have an idea of the region you want to go, but not much else. I’m constantly using the Edinburgh edition, which details some fantastic walking routes of varied length around the city. I also dip in and out of The Walker’s Year, a brief resource to the wildlife, nature and weather you’re likely to encounter throughout the seasons, as is The Walker’s Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs. Lastly — and I always do this before I head out the door — I consult I Never Knew That About Scotland. It’s a fantastic book full of quirky and historical facts about every corner of this beautiful country which wouldn’t go amiss in any library, large or small!
The correct kit
Whether you’re sticking to the city or heading deep into the Scottish countryside, the right clothing is so important (remember that we can frequently have four seasons in an hour here!). I have a stash of favourite items that I’ve amassed over several years of strolling and harder hill walks, so here are several I’d recommend.
For a base layer, I have a North Face grey zip top (thanks to Simply Hike for letting me try this!). I’ve been wearing it out and about in the summer quite frequently as a top, and thanks to the material it’s breathable enough to wear on its own or underneath other items. For a fleece, I’ve got a trusty Rab grey and blue zipper, mirroring my thicker insulated down jacket that sees me through the occasional snowfall/sledging days here in Scotland! Plus, my leather Scarpa walking boots are the comfiest shoes I own, and are essential with gaiters if I’m doing some proper hillwalking (usually being dragged up a glen by my dad).
An Ordnance Survey map
Last but not least, whether you’re going off-piste or just want to find out more about the landscape you’re exploring in, an Ordnance Survey map is a must. Not only should this be the first thing you pack in your rucksack for proper hikes (read more about mountaineering courses) but it’s also just a really lovely item to have for a weekend adventure. Last year, we spent a lot of autumn Sundays around Dunkeld and so invested in an OS map of the area. This allowed us — so much better than Google Maps can! — to really understand the terrain and features of the area, pinpointing trails that we may never have uncovered or viewpoints that might not be on WalkHighlands (yet!). Plus, printed maps are a thing of absolute beauty, I think!