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As I’m developing my mountain film skills, I’ve had little time to devote to blogging lately. Here, however, is my latest project: a short film about the Lake District, mountaineering and mental health. And to go with it, here’s the story…
Back in April I failed to complete the Cape Wrath Trail. The awful truth is, I barely even started: after a wonderful and exhausting hike across Knoydart, I fell on snow in the shadow of the Forcan Ridge, wrenched my left knee and had to abandon my attempt. Two months later I am still struggling to master my disappointment, and have yet to summon the words to describe my experience. As I slunk back to London I felt I’d left my hopes, confidence and credibility behind me. These difficult emotions could all too easily play into my long-term experiences with mental illness – a problem for which hiking is usually a help, rather than a cause.
As I write I have just finished packing my Cape Wrath Trail kit - a full five days before I hit the track. I find that the last few days before a very long hike always fill me with trepidation - there's nothing worse than the fear I'll be en route before realising I've forgotten something essential.
There are plenty of places to find good Cape Wrath Trail kit lists and I don't plan to replicate full lists - but as other hikers prepare to set off from Fort William I thought I'd share some of my own plans and choices, with a focus on specialist kit. (Please also take a look at these blogs by Alex Roddie and Stuart Grieg (whose excellent Pennine Way guide got me through that trail last year) - packing philosophy differs from hiker to hiker and it's as well to consider all options.)