WE JOURNEY SEA TO SEA ACROSS THE WILDEST TERRAIN IN THE BRITISH ISLES, INCLUDING TRAVERSES OF KNOYDART, KINTAIL, GLEN AFFRIC AND LOCH NESS.
A classically Rat-style small group adventure on foot and using packrafts.
29 MAY - 3 JUNE / 2024
36 MILES (58 KM) ON PACKRAFT + 71 MILES (114 KM) ON FOOT
HOTEL AND CAMPING
6 DAYS / 5 NIGHTS
DIFFICULTY RATING: CAN I DO THIS?
You should be a decent hiker with off road experience, you will have to carry a 15-20kg pack for 2 days and be confidently self-sufficient.
5 nights accommodation / hotels and camping.
All meals included as standard, at hotels and in camp, cooked up by our expert catering crew
Packraft and all associated equipment rental include.
GUIDES AND SUPPORT
Professional 4x4 support vehicles, safety staff, water safety, medical and welfare
Flexible transfer policy.
High quality medal, rat rag and premium t-shirt for all participants.
Professional local and UK safety staff, medics, drivers, route safety staff and Rat Race experts on hand throughout. Audited and accredited to BS8848 expedition safety standard.
RAISE £4000 AND GET UP TO £1800 REFUNDED
Take on a true Monster! Our totally unique 4-day packrafting and trekking adventure is a real wilderness undertaking, balancing self-sufficient sections with high levels of support throughout. Our specially designed route takes in the most superlative mountain, forest, loch and river terrain in the British Isles – including the ‘Wild Bounds’ of Knoydart, stunning Kintail and Glen Affric plus the legendary Loch Ness.
It is also a sea to sea journey across Scotland, giving a really tangible objective to this classic format. The trekking is generally on good trails, interspersed and with short and rather stern trail-less sections, some of which feature some exciting yet achievable river crossings. The packrafting is an unprecedented addition to such a journey. It is really quite ground-breaking for these craft to be used in such a format, in Scotland. Our super-portable single-person rafts allow us to access some truly off-grid Highland water and the paddling is often idyllic, sometimes exciting and always a welcome change from the trekking.
Out trip features an extremely high level of support, operated in the ‘small-group-guided’ style. This allows you to enjoy a fully inclusive package including meals, accommodation, classic Rat Race Pit Stop support en route, plus the assistance of expert guides accompanying you both on land and on the water. We have made getting there easy too, featuring a full package of logistics commencing to or from Glasgow for those who wish.
We will meet at 2pm at the Morar Hotel. After a brief intro and welcome from our guides over tea, coffee and perhaps some fresh Highland baking, we will all saddle up in our support vehicles and drive a short distance to a small local beach. There we will perform a packrafting intro and familiarisation, allowing you to inflate your rafts, learn how to deflate them and stow them in your packs; and of course there will be some time for a wee splash about on the water, too. We will then retire back to the Morar Hotel to spend the rest of the evening enjoying a fine local Dinner and sorting kit..
DAY TWO: LOCH MORAR AND INTO KNOYDART
After a hearty breakfast, we will take you back to the small sandy beach on the tidal estuarine waters of the Morar River (the shortest river in Scotland). After ceremonially dipping a toe in the water, our adventure begins with a short trek along quiet roads to the western edge of Loch Morar (the deepest lake in the UK and apparently home to another “Loch Monster” called Morag – although slightly less famous than its cousin, Nessie).
It is here that we will deploy our rafts for the first time, setting forth on the Loch and paddling due east to Swordland for a short trek overland (portaging our rafts as the trek is very short), through Tarbet to the narrows of Loch Nevis. This sea loch is paddled eastwards to Camusrory and into the ‘Wild Bounds’ of Knoydart. The next rather longer and more arduous trek traverses over a high mountain pass through Knoydart and descends to our overnight location at Barisdale Bay.
Once we have left the shores of Loch Morar we are fully self-contained with no vehicular support for our journey through Knoydart. We will not see the support vehicles now until tomorrow. A contingency routing can operate to trek a parallel route on Loch Morar, if the water state is not feasible for paddling (e.g. due to high headwinds).
2 miles trek (road), 6 mile paddle on fresh water loch (Loch Morar), 3 mile trek (trail), 4 mile paddle on sea loch (Loch Nevis), 9 mile trek to Barisdale Bay (mainly trail and some trail-less ‘bushwhacking’)
38km (24 miles)
Approx 13 hrs total for the group
ACCOMMODATION: Camping at an un-serviced location. Toilet nearby
MEALS: Breakfast, pit stop support (until Loch Morar), expedition rations provided for camp. Participants should provide their own snacks to augment provision for the trekking sections.
DAY THREE: THROUGH KINLOCH HOURN AND TOWARDS KINTAIL
We will rise early and have a ‘camping-stove’ breakfast, before setting out on a short but stunning trek to the narrows of Loch Hourn. Paddling east from here sees us reach Kinlochhourn (a tiny community at the end of the longest dead-end road in the UK – the road is 35km one-way!). From here, we will stow the rafts once more and proceed on foot for a trek that takes us to the highest point of the whole trip – a mountain pass and rocky traverse at 2,350ft. Descending into the long glen towards Shiel Bridge, the trek eventually reaches a road and we encounter our cosy hotel lodgings for the night.
Vehicular support point is only possible at Kinloch Hourn, at which point packrafting and camping gear will be offloaded from packs and transported in the vehicles. A welcome respite from the extra weight you have been carrying through Knoydart! Our contingency routing permits us to operate to trek to parallel Loch Hourn if the water state was not feasible for paddling (e.g. due to high headwinds).
3 miles trek (trail), 5 miles paddle on sea loch (Loch Hourn), 13 miles trek to Hotel at Invershiel (mainly trail, some road and some trail-less)
34km (21 miles)
Approx 12hrs total for the group
MEALS: ‘Breakfast, pit stop support including lunch stop at Kinloch Hourn, full hearty pub restaurant meal in the evening provided. Participants should provide their own snacks to augment provision for the trekking sections.
DAY FOUR: THROUGH KINTAIL AND GLEN AFFRIC
We rise early again and take our breakfast packs with us on the first portion of the route, making for the great track through the Glen which comprises the Affric Kintail Way. The route gradually ascends, taking in a large waterfall as we make our way to a high pass. After passing the remote Camban bothy and Alltbeithe youth hostel, the route uses the ever-improving tracks of the Affric Kintail Way past Loch Affric to reach the western end of the incredibly picturesque Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhoin, enjoying forested views all around. We will paddle the entirety of this loch (a reservoir), passing serene wooded islands, to reach the dam at its far eastern end. The final stage uses a quiet descending tarmac road, to reach our lovely overnight campsite at Cannich.
We will be largely self-contained until we are through Glen Affric on the trek (34km, 21 miles), followed by vehicle support at either end of the packraft stage on Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhoin. Contingency routings on the Loch would operate to trek a parallel route if the water state was not feasible for paddling (due to high winds). The final descending foot stage (6 miles) can be run if desired, with packs and rafts being carried by the support vehicles and participants permitted to proceed with daypacks only for this final 6 mile ‘homerun.’
21 miles trek (mainly trail, with some road), 6 miles paddle on fresh water loch in Glen Affric (Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhoin), 6 miles trek to camp at Cannich (road)
53km (33 miles)
Approx 12hrs total for the group
ACCOMMODATION: Fully serviced campsite, with showers and flushing loos
MEALS: Breakfast, pit stop support including lunch stop at Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhoin. Meal cooked by our crew will be served at camp in the evening provided. Participants should provide their own snacks to augment provision for the trekking sections
DAY FIVE: LOCH NESS TO THE FINISH
The final day starts with a full cooked breakfast by our crew at the camp. It will be another early start however as it’s another long day, but with the finish looming you will be eager to get underway today. The first stage features undulating roads and good trails to eventually reach a viewpoint over Drumnadrochit and that gives you your first dramatic views over Loch Ness. We will complete this stage with daypacks only, so the pace will be decent and you will be surprised how quickly you eat up the 22km (14 miles). After a quick change for rafting in Drumnadrochit, we will head for the Loch paddling out onto this World-famous stretch of water in the shadow of the dramatic ruins of Castle Urquhart. The paddling will follow the northwest shore all the way to end eastern end of the Loch, where we reach a beach and the entrance to the Caledonian canal and river system. From here (and in appropriate conditions), the outflowing River Ness is taken to Inverness, otherwise the adjacent canal will be used. The River Ness has several low-grade rapids and flumes through decommissioned weirs, and provides an exciting (and swift!) conclusion to the trip, where we will land at a river beach in Bught Park just above the upper tidal point of the River Ness in Inverness City Centre.
From there, a wee transition to dry clothes and a short walk over the ornate white steel footbridge on to Inverness Castle and the nearby Castle Tavern, provides the end point of this most magnificent of Highland adventures.
Vehicular support will be available in Drumnadrochit and we will utilise some vehicular support during the rafting stage on the Loch also. Contingency routings would operate to paddle an adjacent route on the canal, and with some additional trekking to reach the end point, if the water state was not feasible for paddling the River Ness (due to flooding river levels and/or high winds).
14 miles trek (road and trail), 8 miles paddle on Loch Ness, 7 miles paddle on River Ness (or canal), 1 mile trek (pavement)
48km (30 miles)
Approx 11hrs total for the group
MEALS: Breakfast and pit stop support. Dinner (at own expense) in Inverness. First round on us!
DAY SIX: INVERNESS / HEADING HOME
After a final breakfast in our hotel accommodation we will provide transfers to the train station, airport or you may wish to stick around and delve deeper into what the Highlands has to offer. We also have optional transport available for those who wish to return to Glasgow and re-unite with vehicles there.
Distance: 171km (107 miles)
Ascent: 3150m (10,334ft)
Our accommodation comprises a hotel prior to the start, followed by a wild camp spot, another Inn-style hotel and a serviced campsite. Upon arrival in Inverness, we will all stay together for one final night in a cosy city-based hotel.
All accommodation is always offered on a double or twin room basis. Tents will be large communal ‘tunnel’ style tents, with plenty of headroom and each pair will be allocated their own 2 person private pod, permitting a high degree of privacy. There is also space to dry clothes in a drying room at the campsite, plus hot showers and flushing toilets.
If you are taking part on your own, you will be paired with another participant of the same sex on a twin basis. If you have preferences for who you share with, you are able to specify that prior to departure.
All of our accommodation is of a good standard – tried and tested by us on our recce trips. All meals are included throughout the full itinerary including breakfast, mobile snack and lunch support (where accessible from our vehicles) and Dinners. You should bring some snacks and extra provisions for the ‘self-contained’ trail sections where our support vehicle cannot access your locations.
Inclusions: 5 x breakfast, 4 x lunch, 4 x daily Pit Stop support including ‘Pit Stop picnic’ lunches, 4 x hearty evening meals.
Brekky will vary with our location day-to-day. When we are starting early (which comes part and parcel of such an epic journey and, to be fair, is every day!) then we may provide ‘grab n’ go’ materials – pastries, fruit, porridge pots, yogurts and other simple items that you can either eat before the off, or take with you on the initial portion of the route that day.
We will have a full cooked breakfast before we set off and then again at the campsite we will have a big cook-up. Other than that, expect some grab n’ go as outlined above.
When staying at a hotel, we will eat there. At the camp spots, we will issue expedition-style meals. On the serviced camping night, our crew will prepare a hearty meal. Tea, coffee and water will typically be available throughout these meals. At all times in restaurants or hotel, Rat Race will provide a minimum of a hearty main course or a set menu; if you wish to augment with other selections in the restaurants, you may do so. You will settle the bar bill for your own soft drinks and alcohol. On the final night in Inverness if you are staying around to celebrate, the first round is most definitely on us! That evening we will select a restaurant in the city and you will pay for your own meal there.
During the challenge you will have access to our famously well-stocked Pit Stops multiple times throughout the journey, where the vehicles are able to interact with us at set locations on the route. On the trek, you will also carry your own snacking supplies and fluids. On the packrafting stages, we will usually dovetail the pit stop service with the ‘transition,’ where you change from trek to raft and vice versa. On Loch Ness, we will also manage an interim shore-based pit-stop at a designated road-accessible spot along the route, too.
Pit stops will typically will have a minimum of the following available:
Water – Ensure you leave with water bottles and bladders filled so you have enough to get you to the next Pit Stop.
Sports Food Bars – flapjack or similar oat-type bars.
Salty snacks – such as crisps and peanuts.
Savoury treats – We will feature sandwiches, local savoury pastries (Scotch pie or haggis pie anyone?) and other goodies at selected pit stops, around lunchtime.
A fruit option – such as oranges or bananas.
Sweets – such as Haribo and Skittles (the latter are GF).
Our Pit Stops are there to help supplement any personal sports nutrition plan you may have. If you have any special dietary requirements then please plan for this and pack your kit accordingly. Rat Race aim to offer Pit Stop snacks that are tasty and functional for as broad a mix of needs as possible. We have options available that are suitable for vegetarian and vegans and availability of this will depend on demand. If peanuts are served these will be in individual portioned bags to reduce the chance of contamination but Rat Race cannot guarantee that the food does not contain contamination from allergens such as nuts or gluten in its preparation or serving.
Please make sure you sanitise your hands prior to eating any food. Please, please, please take care with your trash and help us in our aim of leaving these incredible islands tidier than we find them. This is even more critical in this environment, with any lost trash instantly becoming a choking hazard for the marine life we are here to admire.
The date-range is set and the route is tried and tested. However, our challenges unfold in some of the most spectacular places on Earth. Sometimes we do have to change plans on account of weather or other unforeseen factors. If we do have to do so, you will be informed and usually, these unforeseen changes simply add to the flavour of proceedings and provide for a good story to tell at day’s end! That having been said, our route is likely to remain largely intact, regardless of any on-the-ground changes.
Click ‘Buy Event Voucher’ and go through the sign-up process, you’ll then be issued with an event voucher which will automatically reserve you a place in the event you have chosen.
Rat Race require you to be over 18 on the day of Registration for this adventure. If you wish to participate as a family group or with a responsible adult and you are 16+, we will consider applications on an individual basis. Please contact us if this is the case.
Getting to the start line is important and we are there to help you as best we can. However, if you feel on reflection that it is just not your time yet, we do have a transfer system that you can use to transfer out, receive Rat Race credit and come back again next year or do something else. Credit is typically valid for 12 months and there is a fee to be paid for transferring out in this way. We want to be really clear that this option is there for you if you need it, but it does have a deadline. View our full terms and conditions here.
The latest kit list will be sent to you before the event within the Essential Event Information Document.
Of course. If you run for Children with Cancer UK and raise the target amount for this event per person, we will refund your entry fee up to the amount of £2500. You are of course more than welcome to fundraise for any cause close to your heart.
Yes, you can. We welcome support on almost all of our events and if you do decide you want to come and work with us, we will make sure we look after you. Click here to find out more about volunteering for Rat Race.
We’ve put together a fantastic new instalment plan that allows you to choose how many months you want to spread the cost of this brilliant adventure over. You can pay it off all in one go or spread it over as many months as you like, totally interest free. There is no credit check required to use this facility. When you sign up to the instalment plan Rat Race will then set up a reoccurring payment and your card will be debited on the same date each month. If there is an error with your payment you will receive reminders from Stripe, our payment provider, and also the Rat Race customer service team. After 3 attempts to contact you if the outstanding balance remains unpaid we will assume you wish to cancel your entry and will withdraw you from the event and you will not be eligible to enter our transfer process and no monies will be refunded.
Add Refund Protect to your booking during purchase and receive a full refund of your entry fee if you are unable to attend the event due to a qualifying unforeseen circumstance. PLEASE NOTE this protection is with our 3rd party partner Refund Protect and NOT Rat Race. In the event you make a refund application this is administered by the Refund Protect customer service team, Rat Race are not privy to the application and cannot intervene on your behalf to influence the outcome determined by their team.
To check the full list of qualifying unforeseen circumstances that are protected please click here to view Refund Protect terms and conditions.
To add Refund Protect (administered by a 3rd party) to your Rat Race booking simply select this option when presented during the entry process. Refund Protect cannot be added retrospectively. Rat Race will then send you name and booking details to Refund Protect in order to protect your transaction with them. If you opt to pay in instalments and transfer your entry before the entry cost is full paid you will be liable to ensure the cost of Refund Protect has been fully covered. This total amount will be deducted from any Rat Race credit due through the transfer process or you will be invoiced by Rat Race for the outstanding amount as Rat Race have paid this on your behalf to Refund Protect at point of entry.
Once you’ve signed up, you will receive a confirmation email. After that, you will be kept in the loop closer to the event when we will send out our Essential Event Information approximately 12 weeks ahead of the event, detailing the full itinerary, what you need to bring and other important information relating to the specific event you have signed up for. We will also host webinars which you will be invited to (again, closer to the event), where you will have the opportunity to ask questions and go through your kit. There will be a final email one month ahead of the event, just to check you’ve completed all the important forms and are ready for the event ahead.
If you have chosen to pay in instalments, we will also get in touch with you if any of your payments have been missed.
Rat Race have been audited and accredited to the prestigious BS8848 expedition safety standard. We have firm emergency protocols and response systems in place whilst out on our adventures. Our main priority above all else is to keep you and our staff safe. Before we leave for each trip a comprehensive in-country risk and threat assessment has been conducted by the Head of Expeditions. All protocols are put in place relating to those assessments. We make sure that the staff involved have the highest level of first aid training; a higher level of medical cover is also put in place if needed; all instructors have qualifications and/ or competencies to match the adventure we will undertake. In the event of an emergency, Rat Race staff and appointed contractors have comprehensive knowledge of procedures which will rapidly be put in place. If needed, our staff will provide first aid and then further medical assistance and evacuation if needed in line with a published Medical Procedures Plan. We have medical back-up and Clinical Directorship provided by a specialist events medical company and we have further emergency response support services provided by competent contracted partner. All our cover is available 24/7 while operations are underway. We use our knowledge and emergency procedures to provide the best possible care in our often remote and austere environments. Before leaving on a trip, we will advise on the insurance cover you are required to have in place for the trip; we will ask for a copy of these insurance details before the departure date.
Race entry includes a glorious finishers medal and bespoke event Rat Race tee. We will request your t-shirt size and this will be the size you will be given at Registration.
The short answer is no. The price for this event is for everything outlined on the website and it is very difficult for us to split this out. Our accommodation is based on group rates and is on a shared basis. All of our event logistics, support and organisation has been designed to have all the participants in the same locations to allow transfers, briefings etc to run smoothly and to let you bond with your fellow #ratracers! You are welcome to arrange your own accommodation if you wish but this will not result in a reduction in the event fee from us, you will also then be responsible for ensuring you are at our meeting points at the arranged time and we will not be able to transport you to and from your own accommodation, you will need to be able to do this independently.
We have firm emergency protocols and response systems in place whilst out on our adventures. Our main priority above all else is to keep you and our staff safe. Before we leave for each trip a comprehensive in-country risk and threat assessment has been conducted by the Head of Expeditions. All protocols are put in place relating to those assessments. We make sure that the staff involved have the highest level of first aid training; a higher level of medical cover is also put in place if needed; all instructors have qualifications and/ or competencies to match the adventure we will undertake. In the event of an emergency, Rat Race staff and appointed contractors have comprehensive knowledge of procedures which will rapidly be put in place. If needed, our staff will provide first aid and then further medical assistance and evacuation if needed in line with a published Medical Procedures Plan. We have medical back-up and Clinical Directorship provided by a specialist events medical company and we have further emergency response support services provided by competent contracted partner. All our cover is available 24/7 while operations are underway. We use our knowledge and emergency procedures to provide the best possible care in our often remote and austere environments. Before leaving on a trip, we will advise on the insurance cover you are required to have in place for the trip; we will ask for a copy of these insurance details before the departure date.
We want you to concentrate on the views and the hard work of putting one foot (or paddle!) in front of the other. So we don’t want you to be staring at maps or navigational aids at all. The group will be guided throughout, so there is no requirement for you to navigate whatsoever. We will also provide for you a downloadable route file that you will be able to download onto your smartphone or GPS device. You will not be required to ‘navigate’ on this line, but you may chose to use it to keep tabs on our progress and give you facts and figures about our route for post-trip analysis. You may use your own device or you may choose to rent one from us if you do not have one.
You will be with our guides both on the trek and the rafting stages. They are very knowledgeable of the area, the route and the local Scottish conditions. Plus they will always have comms and medical equipment. Our pit stops and support vehicles will also support you at intervals with our mobile ‘pit stop’ team, (where the route can be vehicle accessed). You are in the very best of hands.
We have designed this challenge as a ‘small group guided adventure.’ This means that, by and large, the group travels at the same pace. If you you need to abandon the route for whatever reason, we are there for you too. Our vehicular support can be used to allow you to ‘sit out’ certain stages if you wish, or should you require to do so through injury or the like. The absolute key is that you enjoy this amazing and very unique journey through some of the most dramatic landscapes in the British Isles; at a sensible and comfortable pace and within your own limits.
Morar is accessed by a stunning road, which drives through dramatic West Coast landscapes (including the famous Glenfinnan Monument and Viaduct – the latter made famous through Harry Potter). Or you can get the train there and there is a small station at Morar, from where we can collect you and your gear.
The event finishes in Inverness, from where direct mainline train connections can take you all over the UK. There is also an airport with flights to London and other European destinations.
We are also operating an optional service for those wishing to commence/ finish their journey at Glasgow. We will collect you from either the train station or the airport and deposit you back there, if you wish to avail of the multitude of national and international connections from there. Or you could simply drive to Glasgow, leave the car there and let us do the rest. The Glasgow transfers are priced at £45 per person in each direction. You can choose one-way in either direction, or both.
We regret we cannot offer a supporter package on this trip, due to the remote nature of some of the stages and there complexities thrown up by such route-planning.
This is of course a big challenge set over 2 varied disciplines and over multiple days. BUT the Rat Race ethos is to set extraordinary challenges for ordinary people. You do not need super-technical skills or to be a seasoned endurance athlete. It is a wonderfully varied route, but it is a toughie. You need a good base fitness. It’s a big undertaking of ocurse, but it is definitely designed to be ‘doable;’ and in no way would this be what we would call a ‘sufferfest.’ You have it in you. We will ensure we support you the very best way we possibly can. Our small group format allows enough time to trek the whole thing and paddle it at an average pace – it really is a team undertaking. Expect the days to be long – we will look to maximise the hours spent trekking and paddling, to ‘get the job done.’ Unless you really are off the pace with the rest of the group, we will not ask you to sit out stages. Even if you are, we can pick you up in the vehicles, ‘boost’ you further up the route a bit and you can rejoin the trip further up the gang.