The Cateran Yomp
Muddy boots, damp socks, sweaty brows, trembling knees….and an ear to ear smile. Just some of the typical characteristics of a long-distance walker that has found the necessary inspiration to take on the Scottish Highlands. For lovers of the outdoors, endurance events are about as much fun as it gets and this year I’m working in support of the Cateran Yomp to get folk out for a good cause. Raising funds for soldiers, veterans and their families, the result of this inspired hike is an unmatched camaraderie, the achievement of personal and team milestones….and memories to last a lifetime.
What is The Cateran Yomp
The Cateran Yomp, for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, is an endurance walking event that follows much of the famous Cateran Trail that runs through Perthshire and Angus. Yomp is military-speak for long-distance march and, while many of the nation’s soldiers will have had to endure much less appealing terrain over the centuries, this route is the participants’ way of thanking them for their service and sacrifice. Split into three grades of 22, 36 and 54 miles in length, groups of 3-6 people get themselves laced up and test themselves to the max.
A brilliant idea for individuals with personal goals for the New Year or for organisations looking for a worthwhile team-building activity, sign up fees include everything you’ll need for an unforgettable weekend. Expect lots of motivational chatter along the way, plenty of laughs and some sore limbs on completion. All should be seen as a welcome reward for your efforts.
You can sign up for this year’s Cateran Yomp (happening the 9th and 10th of June 2018) now on their website here. If you do so before February 28th, you can take advantage of their early bird offer of £80pp. With 1,150 boldly signing up for last year’s event, are you up for the challenge?
My Mini Cateran Yomp
In November I was invited to attend a ‘Mini Yomp’, giving me a taster of the route that I can now pass on to you good people. Accompanied by organisers, fellow marketers and the Cateran Yomp’s own Ambassador Les Binns, this was the perfect opportunity to appreciate the significance of the initiative and the practicalities of undertaking the hike. A perfect Ambassador, Les’ Yorkshire humour and unmistakable pride in what he does comes across immediately. This is a guy who’s taken on Everest – saving a life in the process – and seen active combat overseas. Because it’s not a world average folk like myself are ever really exposed to, so much of what the military do – and what they have to go through personally and collectively – is unheralded. The day bridged that gap for me. Dropping me into a personally familiar environment (the Highlands) and gently introducing me to this completely unrelatable lifestyle has forever changed my interpretation of our armed forces. For those that do sign up, the support could quite literally save lives.
A 2-hour, 5-mile snippet was all I needed to know. This is a brilliant idea and if there’s a better initiative of merging the great Scottish outdoors with a great cause, I’d love to know about it. Incidentally, don’t let Les and I’s faces of really quite alarmed map confusion fool you. We’ve got this.
The Angus Glens and the Scenery Involved
In making my travel plans for the year, these beauties in the south east Highlands are high on my hit list. Principally comprising Glens Isla, Prosen, Clova, Lethnot and Esk the vast stretches of wilderness are an eye-opening introduction to the Highlands of Scotland. Generally off the typically beaten track, they are a maze of open, fertile lands, winding roads and rolling hills. Not boasting the big guns of the Cairngorms to the north, these gentler peaks typically involve armchair-like corries, dense forested areas and deep U-shaped valleys. Remnants of the Ice Age, this area’s challenging and diverse geography keeps it sparsely populated and very raw. In other words, ideal for long distance walking.
My first experience of the glens came when exploring Glen Clova, and specifically Corrie Fee, when still in the relatively early days of my blogging Highland exploration. I climbed it in the kilt, which says it all I think. What sort of idiot would take on a snow topped peak in a hefty and cumbersome man-skirt, panting pathetically throughout and taking note to quite urgently rethink my life. That would be me. Fortunately, the views on arrival up top were more than sufficient to negate the need to course-correct my career – any job that involved taking in views like this on a regular basis was one for me.
But it is Glen Isla, the most westerly of the Angus Glens, that is of most interest here as this is where the Cateran Yomp route will take you. Mount Blair is one of my favourite peaks in the Southern Highlands and overlooks much of the eastern limits of the Trail. A distinct mound visible shortly after leaving the cute Perthshire town of Blairgowrie behind, my most recent ascent this month saw the glens wearing their winter coat. A June wander in these parts, contrastingly, will deliver luscious greens, whistling winds and immaculate bodies of eerily tranquil water.
One of the things I like most about this area is the wildlife. Red and roe deer roam throughout and my recent Glen Isla wanders had me scrambling for the binoculars as a massive herd on a neighbouring hill took off on sighting me. There is something jaw-droppingly majestic about dozens of animals moving as one. Like Perthshire next door, the Angus Glens are well-stocked with some of Scotland’s favourite animals – including red squirrels, golden eagles, otters and Highland Cows in abundance.
Your Cateran Yomp
“Marauding cattle rustlers” is said to be the colourful description behind the origin of the word ‘Cateran’. From the Middle Ages to the 17th Century, these glorified thieves used to roam the glens looking for cattle that they could pinch away from the watchful eyes of local farmers. Look out for the bearded faces that adorn some of the wooden way marker posts throughout the route – a lasting tribute to these rogues.
Starting in the berry-picking heartland of Blairgowrie, your circular route goes firstly through Perthshire, up into the southern limits of the Cairngorms at Glenshee, before heading back south through Angus. Camping facilities are provided should you wish to be based super-close to the finish line, or you can head back south for accommodation options. The Yomp team take enormous care to make sure you are well fed and watered throughout and they are very supportive of the wide range of ability and experience within the field of participants.
Be prepared. Expect Scottish weather to do its thing (and maybe be pleasantly surprised) and dress accordingly, especially with respect to footwear. Other than that, it’s about having fun, testing yourself and creating a memory that’ll not be fast forgotten.
I was invited to join the mini yomp and provide this summary write up on a sponsored basis. As you’ll hopefully be aware, I’m very picky about the sponsored projects I sign up to and only provide posts such as this when I’m working in support of a project that I deem to be relevant to my readership. In addition to being a great and inspirational cause, the Cateran Yomp is an outstanding advert for the Cateran Trail walking route – a part of the country that I will always passionately endorse.
Non-branded photos credit to ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.