Category Archives: TGO Challenge

TGO Challenge feature

Alex Roddie has written a feature for the TGO Magazine website on the experiences of six Challengers. I was part of the group asked to share our experiences and you can read the article here:


Not The TGO Challenge Summary Page

Slideshow video:

Days 1&2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7


Not The TGO Challenge Day 7

Day 7 25.9km distance, 235m ascent

Overnight the wind continued to blow and there was even some light rain. I didn’t get much sleep. Fortunately the wind abated somewhat by about 5 o’clock and the rain stopped. The last day of a walk is always a bit strange. Part of you doesn’t want it to end and part of you wants to get home. In contrast to most of the previous week, the sky was cloudy and threatening.

I was packed and away reasonably early. I walked through Glen Feshie last year and enjoyed the experience. This time I was on the opposite bank and I was keen to see some more.

Certainly the first few miles didn’t disappoint, even though most of the time was road walking.

Up to the bridge south of Stronetoper, the walk was lovely. However things deteriorated after crossing the bridge. I stopped for something to eat near the abandoned building at Auchleum. Negotiating the path to Auchlean was a bit of a trial.  Auchlean is being redeveloped and the diversion is not totally clear. Once round the buildings it’s a road walk to Lagganlia.

This was pretty boring after the walking of the last few days. As I passed the landing strip, I paused briefly to watch some people dismantle a glider. At Lagganlia, I took a footpath into the forest of Feshie Moor. Just inside the forest I found a convenient log to sit on for some lunch.

After a short section on a footpath, the next 3km was on dull forest tracks. Then I followed a more interesting footpath through forest and open ground to Loch Gamhna and Loch an Eilien. By now, I just wanted to get to Aviemore.

I stopped at the refreshment hut at the end of Loch an Eilein for a fizzy drink and a biscuit. From there it was a familiar track into Aviemore. I reached Aviemore just before 4 o’clock, so I had made good time, but it gave me a lot of time to twiddle my thumbs before the sleeper arrived. Frustratingly, the waiting room at the station was closed so I went to Costa to waste an hour before returning to the station to have a meal in the restaurant. I wasted as much time as I could there, before reluctantly leaving and spending a couple of hours waiting on the station platform for my train.

It had been a great seven days overall, with superb weather, excellent walking and some good camp sites. It was some compensation for not being able to do the Challenge this year. Hopefully, I will be able to do the full Challenge next year.

Not The TGO Challenge Day 6

Day 6 25.8km distance, 673m ascent

I actually had a reasonable night’s sleep, maybe because my pitch was perfectly flat. It was also relaxing to be able to follow my own schedule. I was really looking forward to today’s walk, having seen many photos of the geometrically sculpted hills around Gaick Lodge.

For the third time, I walked past the sad, dilapidated buildings of Sronphadruig Lodge. I climbed up the bank and negotiated a boggy stretch to Loch an Duin. I was passed by an early morning runner who promptly turned around and went back from whence he came saying he didn’t fancy the bog. As it happens, it was only a short stretch to the path that goes along the western shore of the loch. I took a last look back at the forest surrounding the lodge and forged on.

The path along Loch an Duin was an absolute delight. While it was quite warm, even this early, there was a pleasant breeze blowing, ruffling the surface of the water.

Although the path was well-defined, my progress was a bit slow with twists and ups and downs, but I didn’t mind as I drank in the views. At the end of the loch, there was a vehicle track and a ford. As with my other river crossings, I got across without resorting to waders. The valley opened out into a boggy floor but the track kept above this and I bowled along at a good speed.

Soon Loch Bhrodainn came into view. By now the wind had picked up. Part way along the loch, I found a bit of shelter and decided to have a short rest and a bite to eat. I still couldn’t believe my luck with the weather. Was this really Scotland?

Pressing on, I passed some trees, which gave me a short respite from the freshening wind and then crossed a ford. Again, it was easy to pick a way across, although I’m sure it would be a bit tricky in wet weather.

Gaick Lodge was a complete contrast with Sronphadruig Lodge, well-kept and obviously occupied. There were even some horses in the adjoining field.

The views along Loch an t-Seilech were better in retrospect than in prospect, but it was still a pleasant enough walk. The dam at the end reminded me that not all Highland lochs are entirely natural. Part way along the road a pile of logs provided a convenient seat for a spot of lunch.

After lunch I walked down to the bridge. Four dogs came rushing out the house nearby, which was a bit unnerving. Fortunately, one of them wanted to be stroked, which calmed the others down. Beyond the bridge, I tried to find the path along the Allt Bhran but it proved elusive so I followed a deer trail above where the path was supposed to be.  

Above the weir, I picked up the marked path, although it was pretty sketchy in places. Although progress was quite slow, the Allt Bhran was lovely walk. I noted there were some good spots to camp too, perhaps for a future visit. Despite the wind, it was hot work and I had another short rest at a convenient burn to fill my water bottle before taking a short cut up the slope to the woods, rather than taking the marked path.

I reached the woods after a bit of a yomp over heather and picked up the path again. Along some stretches of the border of the woods there were some uprooted trees. At the top of the woods there was a vehicle track. I was grateful to pick up an easy track this late in the day as my thoughts were turning to the day’s end and camping.

Emerging from the trees gave some wonderful views, although, by now the wind was really strong. I made my way down the track and into Glen Feshie.

In the glen there were three white horses grazing, but I figured they must be used to people and unlikely to bother me. I hunted around for a suitable pitch. By far the best was under a couple of trees. I was a bit apprehensive to pitch under trees in such high winds but it didn’t seem like any of the branches were likely to fall.

By this time the wind was quite ferocious but the Tramplite with an A frame is rock solid, so I wasn’t to concerned, even if the inner was a bit flappy. All in all it had been another great day. I hoped the wind would die down so I could get some sleep.

Not The TGO Challenge Day 5

Day 5: 25.2km distance, 587m ascent

For some reason, again, I didn’t sleep well. However, I was up in good time to make our 8 o’clock start and I hadn’t died from ingesting any pathogens from the dead sheep. I couldn’t believe our luck with the weather; it looked like another fine day.

From our camp spot, we followed the Allt Ruighe nan Saorach down to Loch Errochty.  This was an unexpectedly rewarding little walk, following the meanders and hopping over the side streams. There were also some excellent places to camp, much nicer than Saunich.

All too soon we were at Loch Errochty. We took advantage of a side stream to have a short rest and fill our water bottles with fresh water. The track along the loch made for faster progress. At the end of the loch, there was a rusty old vehicle which looked like some kind of old armoured trailer. It had some bullet holes in it. I can’t find any information on it but it looked as though it might have been from WW1.

We made quick progress through the forest until we saw the dam. I thought I’d check for a phone signal. To my delight, I found one and phoned home to let my wife know that I was OK. We made our way down to Trinafour and at the junction with the minor road, sat down for an early lunch.

This was the finish of my walk with Alan, Andy and Phil. They were going to Struan, while I was heading north, eventually to Aviemore. It was a bit sad to leave them as I had really enjoyed walking and joking with them over the previous three and a half days.

The next 5kms were along the military road from Trinafour to the A9. Although it wasn’t particularly busy, it was a cut through for some heavy lorries. About half way, in a layby in the forest, I met a guy on his motorcycle who was scoping the area for some mountain biking trips. He’d done all the Munros (walking) and had decided he was too old to do them again and had switched to mountain biking. I would’ve spoken to him for much longer but I wanted to get on, so I said goodbye and resumed my trudge.

I reached the A9 at about 3 o’clock and managed to get across without being killed. I took the track into Dalnacardoch Wood and a little way inside found some shade to sit down for a rest and something to eat. I still had a fair way to go, so I didn’t take too long.

Not long after leaving the woods, I had a nasty fall. I wasn’t paying attention and slipped on the loose stones on the track. Until I released my pack, I couldn’t get up. Fortunately the only damage was a slightly grazed knee, some small rips in the knee of my trousers and a bruised hand. It could’ve been worse. A little shaken, I dusted myself down and continued along the track with more care. If I hadn’t fallen, I would’ve enjoyed the walk along Edendon Water more.

In the distance I could see An Dun, which was near to my destination, Sronphadruig Lodge. I was a little worried about the ford that I had to cross but the water was quite low. In fact, I was quite surprised on the whole trip how dry it was underfoot and that I didn’t have to make any serious river crossings.

I arrived at Sronphadruig at just before 5 o’clock. I didn’t know whether the lodge was in use or not. I had a look at the south end of the woods for a pitch and found a decent place. I decided to walk past the lodge to see if there was anything better further on.

It turned out the lodge and the outbuildings were pretty run down and a fence and locked gate enclosed them. There weren’t any decent pitches, so I returned to my original choice having added another 2km to my day.

There’s actually very little flat ground (i.e. without tussocks) around the lodge, although my pitch was perfect with room for two to three tents. Despite the fall, it had been another good day, but I was looking forward to the next day even more.

Not The TGO Challenge Day 4

Day 4: 17.2km distance, 634m ascent

For some reason on this trip I didn’t sleep very well and I was awake quite early. Lynsey, Paul and Craig had long days pencilled in so they were away by 7 o’clock, while we kept to our original scheduled departure at 8 o’clock.

It was another glorious day and we set off up the road to Corrievarkie Lodge. The views west were again wonderful.

Andy’s foot seemed to have improved with a change of footbeds. My left foot had some  twinges, but I’ve had this before and it’s not developed into anything significant in the past, so I just carried on. After a pleasant stroll, it was time to leave the track (actually a road) and head up the Allt an Luib Bhain.

Yet again we were surprised by a delightful little walk along the burn. There were numerous small waterfalls and a couple of good places to camp too. We climbed to spot height 683, where we stopped to admire the views.

You just can’t get enough of this scenery! Our next objective was Beinn Bhoidheach.  After a bit of heather bashing we reached the top and drank in yet more glorious views. Here’s a panorama:

The slope down to the bealach with Beinn Mholach was rougher than the map indicated. We followed a rocky ridge down. On the way we came across a large feather, which we assumed must have been from an eagle.

Eventually we reached a little rocky outcrop and decided to have a spot of lunch. It was proving to be a hot day and we didn’t have an enormous distance to do, so it seemed churlish to rush through such a wonderful landscape.

It was a lovely lunch spot. However, we had a walk to do and we had to tear ourselves way from the sunbathing. The climb up Beinn Mholach (possibly my first Corbett) was steep but easy. As usual Andy skipped up leaving the rest of us floundering in his wake. I know I keep saying it, but the views! Photos can never do justice.

After a few minutes we spotted some other walkers. It was none other than John and Sue who we had seen in Chiarain bothy. After a suitable rest we picked our way down Creag nan Gabhar to the bothy at Duinish.

The bothy was a bit of a disappointment. It was rather dark and dank. However, it had some tables and chairs so we stopped for a brew and something to eat. John and Sue found us but decided they would rather have some refreshments down by the river.

Time was getting on, so we packed up and left. We saw John and Sue again by the bridge preparing their evening meal. We pushed on to Saunich, following a track at first and then cutting cross-country. Saunich promised a bit more than it delivered. There were the fetid carcasses of several dead sheep before and around the ruined building.

We decided it was better to camp below the ruins, although finding some suitable flat spots wasn’t easy. I was careful to purify the water in case the dead sheep had infected the water supply. Even thought the day was relatively short in distance, it had taken us a long time, but the weather ensured that we were treated to some wonderful vistas.

Not The TGO Challenge Day 3

Day 3: 16.1km distance, 318m ascent

I woke to a glorious day of blue skies and stupendous views. Again, the photos don’t do justice. I think this is probably one of the best places I’ve ever camped. Simply stunning.

Before we’d parted on the previous day, I’d been told that my companions wouldn’t be with me until 10 o’clock, so I felt able to laze around and soak in the sunshine and views. I had just started to pack when the others arrived nearly half an hour early. They had a bad time in the hostel which had been packed and not very welcoming. I was hugely glad that I had chosen to camp. They were all a bit hacked off and told me not to hurry, so while I had a leisurely pack, they lay around looking at the panorama in front of them. Alan availed himself of a particularly appropriate Snickers bar.

We didn’t get away until nearly 10:30 but it didn’t matter too much because today was scheduled to be a low mileage day.  We scooted along the track merrily until we reached the bridge over the Allt Gormag. Andy was complaining about a pain in his foot, so he had a little paddle by the bridge. By now it was pretty hot so water bottles were filled.

After about half an hour, we moved on, taking the track to Lochan Sron Smeur. At the boathouse on the western end, we decided to have lunch, taking advantage of the level ground and the shade.

We decided that the north shore of Lochan Sron Smeur might be easier than the southern shore as there were no deer fences on that side, so we crossed the Allt Gormag again. It was a lovely walk along the shore with small beaches punctuating our path. At the eastern end of the lochan we made for the forest over some boggy and uneven ground and then followed a track north eastwards. Along the way we spotted a herd of deer galloping along the valley bottom.

We took our time as the sun beat down. After another boggy stretch we reached a proper track. Instead of following it we went uphill to Meall an Ullt Riabhaich. It was slow progress in the heat, but we were rewarded with some fine views at the top of this minor hill, proving you don’t necessarily have to go high to have a good view-point.

We lazed around for yet another lengthy break, but who cares when you are in the midst of such glorious scenery? Eventually we had to leave and made our way over rough ground to the forest below. We had to climb a high deer fence before locating a boggy ride through the trees to the southern end of Loch Ericht across the dam.

From the dam it was a short walk along another track to Ruighe Glas and the Challenge Cheese & Wine party. The remoteness of the spot meant that only two other Challengers who were not part of our little group made it. Well done Craig and especially Paul, who had a monster day to be there. Despite a relatively short day in terms of distance and only modest height gained, it was a superb day’s walk and one of the best days I’ve spent in the Highlands.