TGO Challenge 2014 update 3: route detail and a waterproof camera

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.

loch monar

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.

DMC-FT5EBThe 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.

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21 thoughts on “TGO Challenge 2014 update 3: route detail and a waterproof camera”

    1. The advantage of these types of cameras is you don’t have a gap in your photographic record if the weather is bad. The alternative is to use my iPhone with its Lifeproof case and take an extra battery extender. The problem with that route is limited memory. If I got a new iPhone, it would be 32gb, not 16gb. I’m sticking with an iPhone, though.

      1. On the Challenge this year I had both a small non-waterproof camera and my phone in a waterproof case. The camera was used during fine weather and to keep a record during less favourable conditions I would put that safely away and just use my phone. This gave me the best of both worlds, maintaining a photographic record, but not putting a massive strain on phone battery or storage. Can’t argue that a waterproof camera is a good choice though, particularly for documenting a long journey with changeable weather.

      2. I should have got a 32gb iPhone. I guess the other issue is not wanting to run the phone battery down too much. I do have an old Olympus Mju waterproof camera as well.

    1. It’s a difficult one. I think the quality has improved although it will never be as good. The advantage of a waterproof camera is being able to take shots in adverse weather, which is attractive. Incidentally you should look at the Lifeproof Fre case for the iPhone.

  1. I’ve looked at the Lumix, and it sounds like a good camera – certainly the non-weatherproof ones we’ve had have been really good quality. Had thought of getting one when I was running The Wall, but never quite got around to it.

  2. Hi , I too have one and it is very good and sturdy . I do have trouble with the videos . I think it’s a computer program issue but I don’t seem to be able to copy the camera files of the Videos to my computer and when I do manage this , I have trouble making these videos into clips on movie maker ?? Any ideas ?

  3. A waterproof camera is potentially a good idea. I have been thinking of getting one since a Black Mountains trip with a lot of rain caused my camera to fail:

    Once the camera dried out it all started working again.

    The thing that does put me off waterproof cameras is that I like a good zoom, as this adds a lot of flexibility to one’s photos.

  4. Research shows that you enjoy an experience more if you ask yourself questions about it before, during and afterwards. When a waiter asks if you enjoyed your meal and you say “yes”, it means afterwards you will remember that and think you enjoyed your meal more than someone who wasn’t asked. Plan and review in the blog and you’ll have a better time – or you’ll think you did!

  5. Personally I’d look at getting a Canon S110 and sticking it in an aloksak or similar. With care you can take snaps in the rain, I think people don’t because, 1. They just want to keep moving. 2. There’s not a lot to see. Video on the move is a different matter. Another alternative is a Go Pro. If they are good enough for the BBC to broadcast… Good quality snaps too.
    A good resource for UK prices is.
    http://www.camerapricebuster.co.uk

    If you don’t mind a grey import, they are all made in the same factory after all although there may be tax issues. Try DigitalRev.com or Pananmoz.com the latter will give a discount if paying by bank transfer.

    1. Thanks. If I don’t go waterproof, I’ll just stick with my Sony WX100. I can take some bad weather shots with my iPhone in its Lifeproof case.

      I’ve been looking at reviews for both the Panasonic FT5 camera and the WA30 video camera. A number are not very complimentary at all. It makes me wonder whether it’s worth the bother, although the Canon TG2 looks interesting.

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