At 13:15 yesterday I walked on to the beach at Stonehaven and completed my third TGO Challenge. Remarkably there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
Overall I seem to have been pretty fortunate with the weather. From Braemar I’ve also had some good company to make the miles go by.
What could have been a trudge from Braemar from Ballater was made easy with company from Dave Wishart and from Ballater to the finish I’ve walked with Dave Hale.
The two days after Ballater were quite tough especially the Fettersso Forest where on Wednesday we didn’t finish until after seven o’clock.
Yet again the Challenge has been a wonderful experience. A huge thank you to Ali Ogden, Sue Oxley and team for making it happen and also to all the people I met along the way who made it special. I’ll do a more detailed write up after I’ve had a rest!
I’m in Braemar now. From Ft Aggie, I went through the Stronelairg wind farm development. What a catastrophe! Absolutely appalling. The only merit was a wonderful camp site at Chalybeate Spring setting me up for the next day. As if to make up for the horror of the previous day, the weather was superb for walking along the ridge on the northern side of the Spey. Even the afternoon showers missed me. To cap it all, I had a superb camping spot below Am Bodach. Resupply at Kingussie a bit limited but the walk along the lower Feshie was lovely, culminating in another great camp spot beneath a tree, giving me protection from the evening rain. Yesterday it rained nearly all day but not too heavily. My umbrella and the beauty of the Feshie was compensation. Today was a shortish walk into Braemar, lunch, then camp at the well appointed camp site. So far all is well. Even my Salomon X Ultras kept my feet dry yesterday. I’m generally using my iPhone for bad weather photos, so there’s not a great selection for live blogging.
Camp at Chalybeate Spring
Big skies over the Monadhliath
Camp in Glen Feshie
Shepherds pie in Braemar
Arrived at Ft Augustus yesterday. So far the weather has been mixed but not as bad as forecast. However, rain, cloud and wind have meant I’ve stayed low. I’ll leave a proper write up until I’ve finished but, so far, things have gone reasonably smoothly. Here’s a few photos.
Camp at Athnamulloch
Well, tomorrow evening I’ll be off on the 2017 TGO Challenge. Preparation has been good, if low key. I’ll do my packing today, and lower the stress levels for tomorrow. I’ve not published my route as I’ve built in a number of variants, but the basic outline is Plockton, Loch Mullardoch, Affric, Ft Augustus, Glen Doe, National Park boundary, Kingussie, Glen Feshie, Cairn Toul, Braemar, Ballater, Glen Tanar, Fetteresso Forest, Stonehaven. The forecast is typical changeable Scottish weather. The only fly in the ointment has been that my wife’s health has not been good, so I’m hoping she’ll be OK while I’m away. I might do some on the trail posts, depending on WiFi etc. Toodle pip!
Last weekend I took part in the famous TGOC Daunder, preparing for the real thing in just over two weeks time. David has written an account on his blog Fellbound. Instead of repeating his account (however fanciful), I’ll just contribute some photos.
Alan finds some “interesting” photos on the internet.
Steep climb from Little Dale
Lunch on the flank of Robinson
Little Dale and Newlands
“View” from Hindscarth
Towards Dale Head
Newlands from Dale Head
Dale Head Tarn
Borrowdale from Rigghead Quarries
Camp above Borrowdale
View from Thornythwaite Fell
View from Thornythwaite Fell
Allen Crags from Glaramara
Tarn between Glaramara and Allen Crags looking towards Langdale
Angle Tarn and Bowfell
Packing up at Stonethwaite camp site
Derwent Water and Blencathra
I didn’t realise until recently that the new style hipbelt for the Gossamer Gear Mariposa is backward compatible with my old style dyneema Mariposa. The new hipbelt has two significant advantages over the old style.
Firstly, the ends of the aluminium stays locate directly into pockets in the hipbelt. This means that the load transfer of the pack to the hipbelt is directly coupled. Additionally, the hipbelt is stiffer and has more padding, both of which should improve both the dynamics and the comfort of the hipbelt.
Secondly, the pockets are larger. In the old hipbelt, the pockets were only big enough for a small compact camera like the Sony WX100. A larger compact like the Sony RX100 was a bit of a squeeze. With larger pockets, it fits with ease. It also means a bit more space for snacks in the other pocket.
The only modification needed in the old Mariposa is to cut a couple of small holes in the channels containing the frame so they can exit the pack body and locate into the hipbelt. It was really easy. One tip is to insert (and then remove!) a pencil into the hipbelt stay pockets as they are quite tight and need to be opened up a bit. I bought my hipbelt from backpackinglight.co.uk . Bob has a useful video on how to fit the hipbelt.
I’ve not given it a full test yet, but my initial impression is that it is a signicant improvement over the old hipbelt. Here’s some pictures.