Here’s a slideshow video of my 2017 TGO Challenge from Plockton to Stonehaven. Hope you enjoy it.
Here’s a slideshow video of my 2017 TGO Challenge from Plockton to Stonehaven. Hope you enjoy it.
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: https://www.tgomagazine.co.uk/news/digital-feature-what-makes-the-tgo-challenge-special/
We are starting to see trip reports from various TGO Challengers on blogs and forums. They are always fun to read. This year was blessed with particularly good weather after the first day.
Alex Roddie, TGO magazine’s social media coordinator will be highlighting blog accounts as they appear over the next few weeks on the TGO Blogger Network page. Sneakily, my “Not The TGO Challenge” account has been slipped in.
I’m looking forward to more from Judith, who has started her day by day posts, although she actually did a few while on the Challenge. Great fun, and well worth a read. https://aroundthehills.wordpress.com/2018/06/01/tgoc2018-a-photo-a-day-day-0-anticipation/
JJ walked most of his Challenge in a “Sports Kilt”. Rather him than me! http://adventures-with-jj.blogspot.com
Matthew started at Oban and I’m looking forward to reading more about his crossing. Apart from being an entertaining blogger he’s also a talented artist. https://backpackartist.com/2018/06/02/tgo-challenge-2018-day-1-oban-to-loch-etive/
André from Sweden is publishing a series of videos on YouTube. Here’s a link to a thread on the Trek Lite forum with his videos http://www.trek-lite.com/index.php?threads/tgo-challenge-2018-shiel-bridge-to-dunnottar-castle.4645/
Neil has also published an account of his crossing on Trek Lite, which is well worth a read http://www.trek-lite.com/index.php?threads/tgo-mallaig-to-st-cyrus-part-1.4650/#post-93269
Those are ones I’ve spotted so far. I’m waiting with some trepidation for Alan Sloman’s account 🤪
Overall I was pleased with my gear choices for this trip. In particular I was glad that I use my Lightwave Ultrahike as it carried the extra weight well and definitely the right choice. I managed to do without the Inov-8 belt pack for the majority of the time and should’ve left it behind. The Tread Lite shoulder strap camera pouch was excellent and compensated for no hip pockets.
The Tramplite shelter was fine, coping with the strong winds on Saturday night/Sunday morning really well. For choice, it’s a little cramped inside and if weight had not been a major consideration, I would’ve taken my Scarp. However, the Tramplite is half the weight. My sleeping system of As Tucas down quilt and Thermarest X Lite short was perfect. The new Sea to Summit Aeros UL pillow was comfortable, especially if slightly under inflated.
In terms of clothing, I loved the Rab Interval T. The thin material evaporates sweat quickly and didn’t smell even wearing it for four days in a row. Even though it wasn’t that cold, I was glad of the As Tucas Sestrals insulated trousers in the evening. The Berghaus Furnace jacket was about right, but if it had been colder, I would’ve preferred my PHD Minimus jacket. I slept in my Helley Hansen Lifa long sleeve polo shirt. It wasn’t as warm as I thought it would be and I think I’d take a warmer layer for this kind of trip in future. The Paramo 3rd Element jacket worked well and I appreciated the flexibility of being able to use it as a gilet. I really liked my new Outdoor Research Swift cap. The partial mesh kept me cool and largely sweat free, while the solid crown gave me adequate sun protection. The one thing I wish I’d taken was my Montane Featherlite windproof smock. At 88g, it weighs virtually nothing and I should’ve taken it.
I didn’t need my waders, but they are good insurance. I left my umbrella behind, but I didn’t have any occasion where I could’ve used it. I was pleased with my Olight Nova H1 headtorch and I will do a separate review. I had a new Tread Lite USB lantern, which was excellent. I used an Anker Power Core 10000 battery charging pack for my iPhone, which not only carried enough power to charge my iPhone most days with plenty to spare, it was also quick to charge and very light for its capacity at 177g. I should also mention my Bioskin neoprene knee support which was a real life saver when I tweaked a knee ligament on the first day.
If I go on next year’s Challenge, I would probably swap out the Ultrahike for the Tramplite Pack as I wouldn’t be carrying so much food. I’d take a warmer sleeping base layer top, a windproof smock or jacket and probably a warmer down jacket. Beyond that, my gear wouldn’t be much different.
Slideshow video: https://youtu.be/3Oqj-Krpngs
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.
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.
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.