Now that my route has been vetted, there’s not a huge amount to do, but I’m going to bore you with the occasional bit of Challenge trivia over the next few months as I slot things together.
Both Geograph and Google Earth are good planning tools to get a general idea of an area. However, Alan Sloman pointed me towards Bing Maps which is a great resource. It seems to me that the aerial photos are a bit more detailed than Google. There’s also the option to switch to OS maps, both 1:50,000 and even better, 1:25,000.
This really helps with route planning. Over the next couple of months, I’m going to go over my route in a lot more detail and make some route notes, with grid references. The other thing I’m going to do is to look at where I plan to camp as well as coming up with a few alternatives to shorten or lengthen days.
Blogs are a great source of information for this. For instance, my first intended camping spot is the western end of Loch Monar. Other than being assured that there are places to camp, it’s difficult to discern from Geograph and the Bing aerial photos exactly where to camp.
Camping near Loch Monar (photo courtesy of Nick Bramhall)
Fortunately, fellow blogger, Nick Bramhall did a trip around the Attadale hills in 2012. Although he did a different route, he camped in the spot where I’m intending to camp. It looks a jolly fine spot, too. Looking at the other photos, there’s probably a bit of choice as well 🙂 .
Another blogger, Nicole did the same route on the 2012 Challenge as I’m intending to do. She decided to walk a bit further on her first day to Caochan Ghilleasbuig. This is not marked on the 1:50,000 map. However, using Bing maps, I can see it on the 1:25,000 map. I can also see that there’s a possibility of camping half way between the end of Loch Monar and Caochan Ghilleasbuig at some ruined sheepfolds.
Perhaps this smacks of over planning, but this is an area that I’ve never been to and is very remote. As I’ve got the time, I’m happy to do a bit of research and find out what to expect. It’s always wise to have some fall back options if the weather is better or worse than expected. What is very clear is that the western end of Loch Monar is quite rough, so the going is likely to be quite slow, but it does look superb. Let’s hope the weather is kind.
On a completely different subject, I’m wondering whether to invest in a waterproof camera. Bob Cartwright has released a two part video of his 2013 Challenge. I enjoyed watching it and it set me thinking as to whether I should get a similar weatherproof camera. He filmed his video on a Panasonic Lumix FT3 camera and it looked pretty reasonable. Panasonic have released a new version, the FT5, which has better specs and looks rather nice. I really like my Sony WX-100, but it’s not weatherproof. Sony do a neat little weatherproof camera, but it doesn’t look robust and uses a touch screen, which I’m not keen on.
The Lumix FT5 is not cheap at around £260, but it will provide photos and videos in all weathers. Obviously the picture quality won’t be as good as an equivalent non-waterproof camera, but the quality is getting so good on digital cameras that I think this is only an issue if you are a serious photographer (which I’m not).
I am quite temped to start using some video footage to augment the blog. I might even do a short daily diary. I will wait until after Christmas before deciding. It’s possible there might be some good deals after the festive season.
That’s all for now, but I’ll do some more ad hoc updates over the next few months.