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!
I applied for this year’s TGO Challenge but was put on the standby list at number 37. Today I was offered a place which I gratefully accepted. Being an efficient chap, accommodation and travel to Scotland has all been booked. I’ve started my training too, although I actually feel reasonably fit. I’ve already sorted out my route which will be Plockton to Stonehaven. It’s a bit more ambitious than my previous Challenges but should be achievable if the weather plays ball. I’ll fill in some details in a while.
Although I’m not going the TGO Challenge next year, I’m pondering whether to do a 4-5 day trip to coincide with the Challenge where the route might overlap a bit with Challengers on their way across Scotland. While it won’t be quite the same as doing the Challenge itself, it would be nice to bump into a few Challengers for a bit of social.
I’ve been mulling over three possible trips. The first is to revive my Attadale to Beauly trip plan that I had a few years ago. The nice thing about this route is that it is coast to coast, just a bit shorter. The second idea is a circuit of the Monadhliath. The third is Fort William to Dalwhinnie with a couple of side excursions.
One thing I want to be careful of is not to crowd out Challengers from train seats or hotel beds. The number of places on the Challenge for 2016 has been increased, so that could mean more pressure on travel and accommodation.
Not that I’m going to Montrose, but I had a quick check on hotel bed availability and there’s hardly anything left. If the camp site is out of commission, it’s going to be a disappointing end for some. Anyway, my plans can be quite fluid and it depends a bit on the plans of other Challengers I know.
I won’t be applying for the 2016 TGO Challenge. I gave my wife the veto and she has exercised it. I’m hoping I’ll be able to apply for the 2017 Challenge or failing that, 2018. This almost guarantees that the weather next year will be fabulous, so apply while you can.
My write up was published in October’s TGO magazine.