A buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) feeding on blackthorn blossom (Prunus spinosa) in the Beddington Farmlands nature reserve in Sutton, London. The blackthorn foams with blossom again. Chiffchaffs have arrived, and creak their seesaw tune from trees that seem to tremble with rising sap. Spring is here – and I notice, with something approaching disappointment (but more likely just dull amazement), that it has been more than a year since I last blogged. It has been an unusual year, though, and I'm in no mood to beat myself up. Since I wrote last March about confinement and illness, I've managed to start finding time for adventure and professional advancement. Looking at the months that have passed since my last post, I find reasons to feel happy about life (if not about my blogging).

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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.)