After the cancellation of the TGO 2020 walk, due to Covid 19, there was a worry that 2021 may have to be cancelled as well. Thankfully it became clear that it could go ahead as long as we followed the Government guide lines. Big thanks here to Ali, Sue and their loyal team of helpers who once again brought it all together, an incredible effort!
I hadn't started the 2019 TGO as I dislocated a rib on the Shetland to Aberdeen ferry on the way to the Start, so I was keen to get on this one.
I had chosen Lochailort as my start point as I wanted to visit the deserted crofting community of the Ardinish peninsula.
I left Shetland by ferry on Tuesday the 16th of June, arriving in Aberdeen on Wednesday morning. I travelled by train to inverness, then Bus to Fort William. From Fort William I took the train to Lochailort. I had booked in to the Inn there for 2 nights. I had a nice meal there that night and a big breakfast in the morning. That set me up for a walk on Thursday out to the Peanmeanach and Glasnacardoch ruins.
The weather was variable, sunny to start with some showers later.
I discovered that after less than 200 miles of use, my Roclite Inov8 400GTX boots were no longer waterproof, but my Berghaus trousers and Rab Jacket were sound. I followed a rough path out to the old settlements. It was a beautiful walk and well worth the effort. the old Settlements were in a stunning location.
the round trip was 12.4 miles with 2317 feet of ascent.
All my walks were recorded on Viewranger.
Looking back at the Lochailort Inn
I pass a small church that is now a private residence.
I get off the road and start following the old path
After about 6 miles I reach the Old settlement.The one remaining roofed croft at Peanmeanach used to be a Bothy, it is now a private croft that can be rented out,
I dip my toe in the water ready for the start tomorrow.
Later back at the Lochailort Inn, I see
Mike and Colin arrive From the train.
On day one of the Challenge proper, I set of towards Oban Bothy
11.4 Miles 2313ft Ascent
I set off from the Inn and catch up with Mike
Mike quickly finds a faint track, so I follow him.
He breaks a pole just after this photo is taken and sinks to his knees in the bog.
Luckily he is able to tape his walking pole together and carry on.
We separate as we head downhill, Mike is heading for the west side of Loch Beoraid, shown in the photo below, and I am going to Oban Bothy
I get my first glimpse of Loch Morar as I descend Abhainn Taodhail
I camp in front of it.
It has been a nice first day, helped initially with the company of Mike, then encouraged by the fine sights and brighter weather. It was wet underfoot and my feet are soaked.
I have an early night as two vertebrae in my middle back is threatening to lock up.
A bit worrying this far from any easy escape route.
I speak briefly to another TGO hiker who arrives 2-3 hours later, but our conversation is cut short as midges descend.
I hear the other Hiker leave, then I take plenty of Ibuprofen and paracetamol and linger at the Bothy, until my back eases a bit. I then head up the beautifully atmospheric Glen Pean.
Both the small Lochan and Loch Leum an t-sagairt are a test of my head for heights, as I pass them on very steep slopes.
I passed a cliff with about 4 nesting Kestrels
I have a peep in at the Bothy
Once I realised my mistake, I decided to carry on rather than turn round as My back wasn't completely pain free and the easier route may be more sensible.
Photo looking back at the road I had just come and across at the route I had intended to take up the steep slope on the left of the V shaped valley.
Just after this photo I had the Bonus of bumping in to Kirstin, and we walked a couple of miles together until she made camp.
I went on another couple of miles in an attempt to make the next day shorter, as there was rain Forecast.
Later I spoke to Colin who camped the other side of a small stream
I get my tent packed away, in a cloud of Midges, before the weather breaks, then I have a day of Continuous rain. Good news though is my back has loosened up and feels fine now.
I stop to pay my respects at the Commando memorial.
I phone the Spean Bridge Hotel on the off chance they have a room.
I get lucky, and also get an excellent Bar supper of Fish and Chips and a Breakfast to set me up for the day.After a comfortable night at the Hotel, where I wash up my Gear and get everything dried out, I set off in better Weather
I get a brief sighting of a Red Squirrel
That's Scottish for "Perrie"
I walk a few miles with a climber and his dog, They are heading higher and we part company at the Bothy.
I take a tumble before Creaguaineach lodge, Bump my head, bruise my shin and realise later, when I get home, that I have broken the knuckle of my right perrie finger.
It swells and is tight to bend, but Lucky really, as I nearly fell quite a few metres into the burn.
Although I have camped at Creaguaineach Lodge before, my Vetter Martin Banfield, suggested that I should camp further on, as it has been reported as a tick zone.
I take Martins advice to move on and find a camp site on a nice ledge a little way up the Allt Ghlas burn.
17 Miles 3363ft
In the morning a deer passes my tent
I pack up and head to Corrour Station for a breakfast treat.
I've been here before and it is always a welcoming stop.
After the excellent hospitality at the Station I pass Peters rock then ascend Carn Dearg and Sgor Gaibhre then down to Bealach Leathann, from here I went ESE through Rannoch Forrest to pass N of Dun Daimh to Loch Ericht, Then followed the Loch to eventually cross the Dam. I then followed the road to make camp in the rain at the ruin at Ruighe Ghlas.
Looking down at the Corrour old lodge ruin.
At the top of the first Munro I meet a Glasgow Teacher on his last official day at work. I lost my note book after this so unfortunately can't remember his name. He was bagging these two Munros when the Kids were doing an easier outward bound day with the other teachers lower down the hill. He was a remarkable fellow and shared his and his wives incredible story of beating adversity. I had the pleasure of his company for the second Munro.
Looking down to Bealach Leathann.
I should have gone up the next hill then down the ridge. But made the poorer choice of heading down at the Bealach. This was a much rougher and wetter route, which I would not recommend.
Approaching the Dam.
My camp at Ruighe Ghlas.
14.2 Miles 2357ft
Today was a wet cloudy day so there weren't many photo's taken
A Fox runs past me then disappears into the clouds
Reaching the TRIG pillar and cairn on Beinn Mholach.
I camp behind the ruin at Ruighe nan Saorach.
21.1 Miles 4630ft
I meet Ian Cotterill at this sign Board and walk a couple of miles up Glen Tilt with him.
A cold wind is blowing down the Glen, Ian Stops to take photos, I push on after Forest Lodge as I have a longer day today.
The Falls of Tarf are Impressive, as is the Bridge.
I cross the burn and head up past Fealer Lodge, pausing to watch them caaing Sheep.
The weather and clouds close in as I reach Loch Nan Euan. Gulls are nesting where I would Like to Camp so I have to pick a poorer spot at the North Side of The Loch to avoid disturbing them, worried the parents may desert their chick.
In the morning A cold wind and sleety rain is whipping over the Loch. Visibility is very poor. I had hoped to follow the ridge to the ski centre. I would have been doing it for the view, as I am not really a Munro Bagger (Not practical coming from Shetland) So I take my Foul Weather Alternative route.
18.8 Miles 1600ft
Bridge at the Spittal of Glenshee
The weather is great lower down, so I feel that I have made the right choice. I join the Cateran Trail and find it a lovely walk.
It was an excellent find that I highly recommend.
The next day I head back into the hills to join my planned route to Glen Clova. I had planned to Camp there, but on the off chance of a room I phone the Clova Hotel from the top of Mayer and strike it lucky. Another night in comfort, no Dehydrated food and some Beer.
19.3 Miles 3685ft
Path into Glen Clova.
The next day's plan is to camp in Glen Lethnot and visit the Brown and White Caterthun Forts the next day.
I am full of walking and reach the Glen very early in the day, so carry on to the Forts.
As I reach them it starts to rain and gets colder. I decide to carry on a bit to find a camp site, but find that after passing the forts the fields are agricultural and due to the time of year already planted. Camping will be difficult, so I head for Brechin and book into a cheap Hotel.
26.3 Miles 3892ft
I pass another Challenger at Loch Brandy
Covid Pebbles, full of Kind thoughts, memories and sound advice
Everyone agreed it was different sort of challenge this year due to the International Travel restrictions, the later start date, reduced numbers and fitness levels due to lack of hill time caused by the
Covid epidemic. This probably contributed to the high dropout rate with only 108 of the 125 hikers that started completing the Challange.
I enjoyed my route and finished a bit earlier than planned due to using a Foul weather alternative route and extending days due to feeling it was too early in the day to stop.
I walked a total of about 203 Miles with 33652 Feet ascent, giving an average of 16.9 Miles/day.
Biggest changes I will make to my gear is I intend to invest in a 1 Person Tent, as there were a few occasions that the footprint of My Copper Spur Big Agnus 2 was too big to allow me to camp, when I wanted, and I would like something that will stand up to poorer weather.
I have been looking at the Tarptent Notch Li over the last year or so and Can't see anything that would suit me better.
I was disappointed with my Boots, a pair of Roclite Inov8 400 GTX. They just weren't up to the job. They let in water at 200 Miles, the uppers suffered from "Pilling" the soles have started to detach from the midsole at @ 500 miles and they have practically no ankle support, which is most noticeable when walking side on along a slope.
On the plus point they were very comfortable when walking on a level surface and they have good grip.
I have bought, used and worn out 3 pairs of Roclite Inov8 G275 since the TGO as they have all the good points of the 400's without the additions that doesn't work, like failed Gortex, and floppy ankle support.
I use them on my road walking where ankle support isn't needed and is just additional uneccessary weight.
For the hills, I have upgraded to Salomon X ultra 4 Gtx Boots and have found them a great improvement.
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