Glen Affric (photo by Tim Haynes)

Yesterday, J. and I got the maps for the 70-kilometre hike we’re planning to do from Loch Ness to the Isle of Skye this summer.

It’s a bit like the journey to Mordor, with brown trout thrown in, which made J.’s eyes light right up. The last 16 kilometres are, shall we say, a wee bit hilly. Not to worry (um, parents): we’ll do it in as many days as it takes.

We chose this trail because it goes through Glen Affric, the heartland of the Chisholm Clan (my mom is a Chisholm).

It also threads right through some of the most remote areas of the Highlands, with nary a road to be seen, and parts of the trail follow the ancient path used to herd cattle to market from the west coast.

I think it will seem strange and beautiful to be walking on ground where my great-great-great-great-great grandparents may have trod (not to mention other ancestors) before they emigrated on the ship The Pearl in 1773 (so I’ve heard).

The hike will fall in the middle of our trip with time in Edinburgh and Inverness beforehand and more hikes on the (hopefully not too tourist-thronged) Isle of Skye to follow.

Yesterday, I also delivered my new manuscript to my agent which will make a cruise on Loch Ness and a couple hours poking around the museums and shops in the monster-famed village of Drumnadrochit absolutely essential (trust me, you’ll see what I mean).

I’ve probably put in a hundred hours or so in the last few weeks finishing this book so I’m coming down off that effort and taking some time on the couch to do trip research, knit, etcetera, before I have to get up and start, uh, training.

Right now, as usual, in the aftermath of a big project, my brain is a bit of a mush-pit so I’ll leave you with something resonant and gorgeous: my distant relative (I assume), the Scottish fiddler and composer Duncan Chisholm talking about his musical project, The Strathglass Trilogy, which explores his Chisholm roots in Glen Affric and the surrounding area. Go to this link: