Sunday, 28 November 2010


For some time now, I've been going through old issues of Trail and TGO with a view to scanning pages I want to keep and throwing the rest out as they take up much needed space. Using a flatbed scanner for lots of pages is quite time consuming so the project was put to one side. Maybe I've come to this late, but I've "discovered" a much quicker way and that's to photograph magazine pages and then save them as jpegs into a directory for sorting at a later date. I've also started photographing other documents, letters received, etc. and then throwing the originals away. This method of "scanning" is fine where a true scanned image isn't essential or desirable and it's so much quicker. Here's an example.

Shoe Goo

I've just renewed an acquaintance with a product I used many years ago. As I walk to work every day and walk to most local places, my shoes tend to wear most on the heels and I end up throwing them away when only the heels are badly worn. I've just received, via an Amazon seller, Skate Slime, a tube of Shoe Goo.

This is amazing stuff. I just apply it to a worn heel and, within a few hours, I've got a few more millimetres of wearable surface. I shall reapply whenever needed and will also use it on the soles from time to time. It will also come in handy on trail shoes as it's always the heels that wear out first. Shoe Goo can also be used to repair many other things. Brilliant stuff.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Backpackers Rhayader/Elan Valley weekend

It was good to be out again. Some new faces, some not so new. The drive there was quite long. reckoned 2½ hours but it was actually three, all of it on the A4. Quite a good turnout, maybe about a dozen or fifteen of us. It was dark when I arrived at Gigrin Farm, Rhayader and I pitched the tarp in rain so it was good to get under cover and a meal on the go. Then off into town to, I think, The Crown.
Five of us walked together the next morning, Saturday. The rain had stopped. We followed the Wye Valley Walk, leading out of the south side of Rhayader to the River Wye or Afon Gwy, crossing the river by a swaying wire bridge.
Bridge across Afon Elan at SN965656
Cottage at SN959649
Looking across to Cefn Rhydoldog
Quarry at Cerrig Gwynion

From there we climbed up on to moorland and headed south west towards Caban-coch Reservoir, going into woodland above and to the far end of the reservoir. The views up there were wide ranging.
Bridge between Caban-coch and Garreg-ddu Reservoirs

Crossing the bridge at the end, we followed the minor road and, a little way past the farm at Ciloerwynt, we took the bridleway which doubled back at the rear of the farm, thinking we might find somewhere to pitch for the night. We found a reasonable place at SN882663 with a fast flowing stream a little way below. It was dark by 5pm so it was a long evening and night under cover.

Continuing on next morning, we climbed up towards the mast at Cwm Coel and then into woodland, eventually dropping down to the stunning road bridge dividing Caban-coch and Garreg-ddu Reservoirs. The autumn colours were superb. Over the bridge, we followed a cycle trail to the visitor centre at Elan Village. The café there was open for its last day of the season and served welcome cafetieres of coffee and bacon sandwiches. From there, we walked along a track alongside the B4518 back into Rhayader. 

Garreg-ddu Reservoir

Monday, 8 November 2010

TGO Challenge

Last year I was a Challenge virgin. This year, having been selected again, I'm going with a Challenge virgin, Sean Putnam. I wonder if the guaranteed way to be selected each year is to include someone who's never done the Challenge before?

So much planning to do now. Last year I took my tarp and, the weather being extremely kind, it coped very well. However, having seen the photo of Martin Banfield's 2009 Challenge with full snow conditions I may opt for a tent although, having said that, I used my tarp all through last winter, snow and all.

A route must now be carefully planned and submitted to the Challenge vetters for approval and comment.  Planning is almost as much fun as doing. More postings to follow.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Backpackers Hertfordshire weekend

A rotten drive to Standon. The M25 at its worst - Friday afternoon, lane narrowings and poor visibility due to spray. We pitched in a paddock behind The Star, which was excellent and very convenient for a very good pint or two of Greene King IPA. We were able to leave cars there till the next day.

Behind The Star

The Star, Standon
Our chosen route took us out of Standon north along the Harcamlow Way. We went by Patmore Heath. I was interested to see this as I hadn't been there since the early 1960s. Having grown up in Hertfordshire, we sometimes went as a family for a Sunday afternoon drive and I have faint memories of playing ball games on Patmore Heath and having things like coconut ice bought for us, made by a lady in her house overlooking the heath. It was another age.

Patmore Heath

Patmore Heath
We walked on then to Stocking Pelham and then to Furneux Pelham, where we camped in a garden area by The Brewery Tap. The landlady kindly came out with a spade and some earth and dealt with the little mounds of dog poo scattered around. Greene King IPA here too. The weather today was perfect walking weather.

It was the weekend of Furneux Festival. Plenty of village celebrations of all kinds. In the church was a Country Shop selling local produce, mainly preserves of one kind or another. I bought a jar of medlar jelly.

Furneux Pelham is really quite lovely, with a good number of quality village houses as seen below.

A new house being built

Who allowed planning consent for this?

Rain was forecast for Sunday but the first two hours were really quite nice and sunny. Torrential rain was falling further west but, although it rained on us later in the morning walking back to Standon, it wasn't that bad. Braughing was very pleasant with a couple of good pubs and a picturesque ford.

I hadn't realised that the practice of pargeting extended into Hertfordshire. This was a fine example.

Shortly before crossing back over the A10 into Standon, we passed through the village of Nasty. Not far over the border into Essex, there's a village called Ugley.

If proliferation of hedgerow fruit is a sign of a hard winter to come, we are in for a bad one! I've never seen so many blackberries, elderberries, sloe, hawthorn and rosehips.

Thursday, 30 September 2010


I've enjoyed my Bramley apple tree this year. Quite a good crop, despite having pruned it ruthlessly some months ago. I've made chutney, eaten stewed apple and made an apple crumble this evening. What I've never seen before, though, is conjoined apples as in the photo below. Does anybody know if they are a rarity?

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Backpackers Dorset Weekend

I left around 9.30 this morning and went off to do a little exploring. I drove a few miles up the road towards Salisbury and stopped off at Martin Down Nature Reserve There is a sizeable car park and the area is criss-crossed by well defined tracks and grassy paths. I found plenty of blackberries to eat along the way and walked maybe three to four miles. There weren't many people around.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Backpackers Dorset weekend

We are camped for two nights on the same site - what they term a "static" weekend - at a village called Sixpenny Handley. It's a very nice spacious site with good facilities and a restaurant with bar and a very good local beer.

We've walked eleven miles today. Plenty of wildlife. This morning, we were crossing a field, heading for a wood and no fewer than twelve fallow deer burst out of the wood not far from where we were. This afternoon, I was the only one to see a magnificent red deer stag, antlers and all, only about fifty yards away. He stayed no more than a couple of seconds. No chance to photograph him.

Quite a lot of our walking was in woodland which suits me very well. In one place there was a party shooting partridges. We were offered some but they wouldn't have been dressed and my skills don't extend that far.
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Monday, 30 August 2010

Dartmoor - Sunday and The Curious Incident of the Fox in the Night-time

When you go to bed under a tarp you do not want, or expect, the night to be eventful. Last night was certainly eventful. At 2.15am, I was awoken by a loud noise. It was then repeated a few times but less loud. After a moment's thought, I knew what it was. When I sat up and looked around, my suspicions were confirmed. A sunflower spread box that had contained my last two slices of porridge cake was missing and it was being bounced along the ground. Shining my torch around outside, I saw two eyes looking at me from a short distance. I put my shoes on and went to investigate. In the light of the torch beam, I saw the box with its lid off, a fox's mouth shaped piece taken out of the box and, a few feet away, a fox staring back at me. It then disappeared and I went back to bed, wishing I'd thought to have my camera with me.

Thinking the fox might come back to raid the two bags I had with some food in, I stuffed them under my backpack which I was using as a pillow, and went back to sleep. A while later, I was rudely awoken by a tugging beneath my head. Turning my torch on, I saw the fox running away and a piece taken out of my polycryo groundsheet. What to do then? I had thoughts of keeping guard and not sleeping for the rest of the night. In the end, I decided to stuff the food bags inside my sleeping bag, hoping that my scent would mask that of the food. Either that or I might find the fox trying to share my sleeping bag with me! I was actually asleep again in no time and the fox didn't return. I think he was used to finding bits of food left by picnickers as this is the first time such a thing has happened in the nine years I've been using a tarp.

Our first stop after walking for about half an hour was at the excellent village shop at Postbridge where we had hot drinks and bought pasties for lunch. Our route then took us north by Roundy Park and Hartland Tor up to the Grey Wethers Stone Circle, where we had a brief snack stop, each of us sheltering from the wind behind a standing stone. Then on via Sittaford Tor, Little Varracombe, Whitehorse Hill and then Hangingstone Hill, where we stopped for lunch in an army shelter. It was raining by now so the cover was welcome. After that, it was more moorland walking, passing by Oke Tor and then back to East Okement Farm.

Clapper Bridge at Postbridge

Road bridge at Postbridge

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Dartmoor - Saturday

Last night's pitch was quite idyllic. We weren't disturbed at all by the six D of E girls camped just a hundred or so yards away and out of sight.

We were away at 9.30, retracing our route of yesterday for the first half mile before bearing east and then south east down to Fernworthy Reservoir. From here, we went directly south to stop at the Warren House Inn for lunchtime refreshments.

Long Stone

Across the road we joined the Two Moors Way for a short distance, then taking a path through a wood called Soussons Warren, then a bridleway across pasture land by Cator Common. A lane then access land brought us through gorse down to our wild pitch by the East Dart River by Bellever Bridge. A lovely day for walking, not too hot. The other side of the river is popular with locals for a day out but they've gone home now.

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Saturday, 28 August 2010

Dartmoor - Friday

A little rain overnight and woke to a misty morning. It soon cleared, however, and we were ready to start walking at 9.30. We went north from East Okement Farm for maybe half a mile with Harter Hill on our right before heading east on a good track down to Cullever Steps, where we turned north to make a wide sweep around Belstone Common rising up to our right. We crossed the remains of Irishman's Wall.

After all the rain of the last few days, we had to expect wet paths and boggy bits and, in this, we weren't disappointed. All three of us were wearing trail shoes - very comfy but the wet went straight in and, fortunately, straight out again. This was repeated a number of times during the day. Nice not to have blisters though.

We saw what to us was a strikingly unusual and beautiful bird which co-operated while we took photos. I think it may be a wheatear but I'm not sure. The photos don't actually do it justice.

Scorhill stone circle
Teign-e-ver clapper bridge

Friday, 27 August 2010

Dartmoor - Thursday evening

Pitched on a farm just south of Okehampton with a couple of Backpackers Club friends. I was originally planning to come yesterday but the weather has been so atrocious down here so we delayed the trip for a day. The mist has come down over the moor, it's rained a bit but now quite calm.

The plan is that we'll have a couple of days walking before meeting some other Club members at Bellever who will be walking south to north over Dartmoor over the weekend. The weather is set to improve (hopefully).

It's good to be out camping again.
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Saturday, 7 August 2010

Glyme Valley Way

I felt the need to get out for the day so headed for Woodstock, the start of the Glyme Valley Way, a sixteen mile walk to Chipping Norton -  The weather forecast was for rain but, apart from a couple of brief, heavy showers which I sheltered from under trees, it was a fine day. I last walked the Way a year ago and was able not to repeat a couple of minor navigational errors from last year. It really is a lovely walk, not demanding from an ascent point of view but the countryside is superb with lovely villages and an excellent pub in The Crown at Church Enstone.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Pocketmail RIP

I thought I'd just check out the Pocketmail website and see if anything had changed in the last few months. It wasn't available so I googled Pocketmail only to discover that POCKETMAIL IS NO MORE - see Seems it's gone down the pan and I'm not really surprised. I really lost patience with mine on my LEJOG in 2009. I would type in a day's posting, locate a payphone and generally find
  • the phone didn't work
  • there was no phone in the phone box
  • the phone was working but I couldn't upload the email
Sometimes, I would be surprised but, in the end, I just lost patience. Fortunately, I had bought a pay-as-you-go Blackberry Pearl a couple of days before the start of my walk and I tended to use that and the Pocketmail was sent home. The joy of the Pocketmail was that I wasn't reliant on either a phone signal or the device being charged as the it ran on AA batteries which lasted a long time. However, it was very old technology and it was surely only a matter of time before it became totally obsolete. 

I clearly wasn't the only one who found the Pocketmail annoying - see Pocketmail has ruined my life

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Near Bala

Enjoying a tour of North Wales. Overnighted (in fact, spending four nights) at a site close to the crossroads at Cefn-ddwysarn. A before breakfast walk up in the hills in an area marked on the map as Rhos Dawel. The marked path was quite hard to follow and I lost it up behind a farm called Ty'n-y-bryn (although I later realised I'd gone uphill sooner than I should have done on going between the farm buildings). I'd intended taking a path going west into some woods but instead took the path north. It wasn't a problem - instead, I followed a path to Llwyniolyn and back down the lane to the site.

In the afternoon, I headed off again, going up a parallel lane and taking a path west to some derelict buildings called Cwm-onen and into woodland. The path went through the overgrown garden of a cottage, Creigiau-uchaf (possibly still occupied) and then back into woodland. After passing through the corners of two fields, there was a stile into some very overgrown and uneven land. I fought my way through for maybe two hundred yards. The vegetation was often up to chest level with brambles and unexpected ridges and furrows, all unseen below. My legs (I was wearing shorts) were lacerated and, although I knew exactly where I wanted to go, I couldn't get through, what with a fence with a drop the other side possibly into a ditch and thickening undergrowth. I turned back and found a much easier way round. On reaching a track, I followed it for a bit before taking a path into woodland and making a bee line east to Ty'n-y-bryn.

Doing the two walks in the same location was worthwhile, criss-crossing the area in two directions and so getting a feel for it.
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Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Freeloader Pico solar charger

I forgot to do a review of this bit of kit on my TGO Challenge. It can be charged by connecting it to a USB socket on a PC. When fully charged in that way, it will give a half charge (two bars out of four) to my Blackberry Pearl when that is registering low charge. It was a different matter charging it via its little solar panel. Obviously, the more direct sunlight there is, the better. Whenever I could, I would attach it to the outside of my pack. I left it to charge for about three days. There was a fair amount of sun but, even then, it only gave the Blackberry one bar of charge - enough to keep posting to this blog and maybe a couple of brief phone calls. So, is it worth having and worth the £16.00 or so that it cost? Well, for the price and considering the small size of the solar panel, it's probably not bad and you get what you pay for. I shall stick with it. After all, it weighs very little and takes up no space but I'm not over impressed. I might invest in a spare battery for the Blackberry as well.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

TGO Challenge - kit review


My Golite Cave performed brilliantly, as usual. I've had it nine years now. Plenty of space, light to carry. Fortunately, there were no midges, otherwise I'd have need the bug nest to go in it. If this bit of kit ever needs replacing, I'll buy one in kit from from I also fancy making a backpack from the same source some time.


Although I have other packs, my trusty Golite Breeze was fine. I really don't like hip belts and, using the Breeze encourages me to keep the weight down. It's meant for loads not exceeding 20lb. At its heaviest it was probably 25lb but this reduced each day with food consumption.


My Alt-Bergs were not a success on this trip. I realised that I hadn't resolved the heel rubbing problem and the resulting blisters spoiled the enjoyment of the walk. The Inov-8 Roclites that I bought at Braemar were superb. The twenty mile day that followed was very easy. My resolution now is to wear trail shoes whenever possible, certainly through the spring, summer and autumn.


This was my first multi-day hike using a gas stove for many years. I liked it very much. The stove is a GoSystem Trail Classic and it only cost £16.00 or so. It's not the lightest but it was efficient and much faster to bring things to heat. I shan't abandon my meths stove though as I have over two litres of meths to use up.


These were Peter Storm ankle gaiters from Millets – cost £9.99. They were excellent. Unlike the Outdoor Designs ones that I replaced them with, they fitted snugly round my boots and were very effective in stopping water and general crud from getting into the boots.

Travel Tap

This was great. I would fill it from any water source I passed and was able to drink immediately. If and when it wears out, I shall replace it with a new, full price one.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

TGO Challenge Day 13 Wednesday 26 May - Brechin to Lunan Bay

Walking 8.50-12.30
Miles walked today - 8
Total miles walked - 175
Distance left - 0

Thought we were going to find it difficult getting a decent pint last evening. The Bridge Inn was closed for the day, the Victoria Inn didn't seem safe or desirable and the Red Lion was closed for good. Then we happened upon the Caledonia Hotel and all was well. The beer was excellent and we were engaged in conversation by a local hill walker who recognised us from having passed us on the road earlier.

All road walking today. We had hoped to walk through Kinnaird Park but couldn't find a "side gate" we'd been told to look out for. However, the road wasn't bad and the sun was more out than in. There was a slight blip just past Fithie Wood at a farm called Renmure. The map showed a white track going by it but we found that it wasn't a through route - there was a house and garden in the way. However, we were given permission to pass through to pick up a track on the other side. After battling an unclear path at the end of the track, it was then plain sailing to the beach at Lunan Bay where we wetted our shoes/boots in the water and took photos.

Then, after a hot drink at the Lunar Life Farm Shop and lunch, we walked back up to the main road and flagged a bus down to take us into Montrose where checked out at Challenge Control at the Park Hotel. Here, we were given our Challenge T-shirts, badge and a miniature of Bowmore Islay Single Malt.
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Tuesday, 25 May 2010

TGO Challenge Day 12 Tuesday 25 May - Tarfside to Brechin

Walking 8.10-6.00
Miles walked today - 20
Total miles walked - 167
Distance left - 8

Another lovely morning. I'm told Challenge weather isn't always like this!

We started with a delightful road walk, missed the turn off for a bridge across the River North Esk so carried on along the road to just before Millden Lodge where a narrow lane took us to another bridge. We walked roughly parallel to the river for five miles, really nice, easy walking. The new shoes, the weather, etc. really put a spring in my step. The end of our crossing is beginning to be in sight.

Our next path was through woodland high above the Esk for a couple of miles into Edzell where we found a café with a heap of backpacks outside. A bacon and egg roll later, we steamed through the final eight miles into Brechin. It was easy. We are now well out of the hills. The countryside is not at all unlike England, even down to the fields of oil seed rape.
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TGO Challenge Day 11 - Shielin of Mark to Tarfside

Walking 9.00-3.00
Miles walked today - 11
Total miles walked - 147
Distance left - 28

The day started with an energetic bash across heather and bog for a mile up to Muckle Cairn - no path at all but we picked up some marker posts to the south side of the top and then a path of sorts. From then there was a clear track down to Glen Lee.

We followed the track for nearly three miles. There was a little rain but it soon passed. After a further mile along a track in a valley bottom, we reached Loch Lee and followed the road along the north side - very pleasant walking with nice views.

The final three miles into Tarfside were along a clear track and we went straight to St. Drostan's Hall where facilities for Challengers were laid on. One bacon butty later, we headed for the recreation ground which is available for camping.
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TGO Challenge Day 10 Sunday 23 May - Braemar to Shielin of Mark

Walking 8.00-6.30
Miles walked today - 18
Total miles walked - 136
Distance left - 43

Most of today's walking was easy enough. We began by retracing the last three miles of yesterday's route, past a rock called the Lion's Face, followed by a lovely distant view of Invercauld House. Then along the A93, turning right just after the bridge over the River Dee to go over the old Invercauld Bridge and into Ballochbuie Forest. It was easy walking along clear tracks with light rain showers.

After eight miles, we came to Balmoral Castle and headed straight for the tearoom for refreshments. We saw a red squirrel just outside.

Passing by the Royal Lochnagar Distillery (we didn't have time for the tour), we climbed gradually up a clear unmade road on to heather moor with good views opening up all around.

At Spittal of Glenmuick, we picked our way along a narrow path alongside a burn, climbing gradually up for a couple of miles until, by a rather circuitous route (as it's easy to miss), we arrived at the bothy at Shielin of Mark. Gill is in the bothy; Frank and I are camped by the burn with a number of other Challengers.

With my new shoes, I've hardly been aware of the blisters.

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Saturday, 22 May 2010

TGO Challenge Day 9 Saturday 22 May - Hut at NJ180980 to Braemar

Walking 8.00-11.30
Miles walked today - 6
Total miles walked - 118
Distance left - 61

It rained most of last evening and there was a torrential hail storm which hammered loudly on the metal roof of our hut. Nevertheless, we spent a peaceful night and were up and about earlier than usual.

It was an easy and clear walk into Braemar, much of it downhill. We took a wrong turn along an estate road and found ourselves on tracks that weren't shown on the OS map but they were going in the right direction so we weren't too bothered. We skirted by Invercauld House, home of the Farquhar family since the 1700s. Somehow they've managed to keep hold of their money all that time. A lovely house.

A woodland path took us through the outskirts of Balmoral Castle (we have to go back that way tomorrow) to The Invercauld Caravan Club site - excellent facilities and a shower and shave made a lot of difference, although it wasn't until I was stepping into the shower that I realised I didn't have my towel with me and my T-shirt had to suffice.

The heel blisters continue to be my constant companions so I've bought a pair of Inov8 Rocklite trail shoes and the shop will post my boots home at no charge to me. Let's hope the feet are more comfortable from now on.

The weather is quite got now and I'm enjoying what's left of a lazy day with today's paper.
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Friday, 21 May 2010

TGO Challenge Day 8 Friday 21 May - Faindouran Bothy to bothy above Braemar NJ180980

Walking 9.15-5.30
Miles walked today - 11
Total miles walked - 112

Because of the necessary extra day's walking (see yesterday's posting), I'm not sure of the miles remaining.

We had lovely weather to pack away in and start today's walking. It was easy, just following an unmade track generally alongside and above the River Avon. After six miles, we reached Linn of Avon, a point where the river comes down a rocky incline and is then channelled through a small gorge. The colour of the water here was beautiful [photos to follow].

A right turn here brought us into Glen Builg, with Builg Burn alongside. After lunch, the heavens opened and this formed the pattern for the rest of the day. We had to wade the burn (maybe twenty feet and up to nine inches deep) and then Bill, our navigator at that point, took us back across it two hundred yards down before realising we shouldn't have done it so we had to go back! The others changed into sandals for this. I only had boots, but with my new ankle gaiters (thank you, Sue) and overtrousers, I managed to keep dry feet. It was on the fourth burn crossing, where the water was a little deeper that water came in but it could have been worse.

A little further on, we parted company with Bill (again).

We are overnighting in a bothy and tomorrow we have about five or six miles to reach the fleshpots of Braemar. The place will be teeming with Challengers.
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TGO Challenge Day 7 Thursday 19 May - Glenmore Campsite, Loch Morlich to wild camp at Faindouran Bothy NJ082061

Walking 9.15-7.00
Miles walked - 13
Total miles walked - 101
Distance left - 74

The prospect of another nice weather day. We are so lucky (now it will rain all day tomorrow).

Our route took us east, past Glenmore Lodge, a national outdoor training centre. It was then a rough surfaced trail past An Lochan Uaine, a delightful lochan ideal for a quick dip (we didn't).

We then took a right fork and then, after a mile, a right into Strath Nethy, where the Garbh Allt, a clear, fast-flowing burn was our companion all day. We lunched by it and drank from it more than once. Higher up, we trudged through more snow. In one or two places, the snow completely covered the burn, forming a tunnel of maybe 100 feet.

Eventually, after something over seven miles we reached The Saddle, a magnificent viewpoint overlooking Loch Avon (A'an) and mountains to the immediate south and far reaching views eastwards.

Our aim then was to walk the 1.5 miles to the Fords of Avon (A'an) and cross the river there. After much debate, however, we decided not to ("bottled out" is the term) - the river was a little too wide and fast-flowing and we didn't want those at home to be reporting a claim on life policies. This was unfortunate as we had to switch to our FWA (foul weather alternative) route which means an extra day's walking, although we are a day ahead of ourselves so it's not a great problem, just a little annoying. Better to be alive though.

We walked on some four miles to Faindouran Bothy, where we are camped outside, apart from Gill, who opted to sleep in the bothy, never having slept in one before. We haven't told her of the possibility of mice. Here also, we found Bill again, having parted company with him yesterday in Aviemore.
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Wednesday, 19 May 2010

TGO Challenge Day 6 Wednesday 18 May - Wild camp to Loch Morlich campsite

Miles walked today - 14
Total miles walked - 88
Distance left - 87

A little rain fell around 7am but soon cleared up and we were able to pack away everything dry.

We started with a short level walk to the bridge over the River Dulnain and then followed a long, laborious ascent of about three miles up the Burma Road. This was an estate track, not difficult but all the time we could see it snaking before us with featureless heather all around.

At the pass at the top, we were met by a flock of ewes and lambs being herded to their summer grazing.

We then had a gentle descent of some two miles to the A9 which we crossed to follow the B road into Aviemore, we headed straight to the Cairngorm Hotel and ordered the venison casserole in a Yorkshire Pudding on Frank's recommendation - he'd had it last year. Excellent it was too.

A walk then of six miles, much of it on an off road forest track, brought us to Loch Morlich Campsite, quite large but very nice, overlooked by the snow capped Cairngorm mountains. We head that way tomorrow.
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TGO Challenge Day 5 Tuesday - R. Findhorn to wild camp at NH805163

Walking 9.10-4.00
Miles walked today - 11
Total miles walked - 74
Distance left - 101

Woke up to a perfect sunny morning. If this is Challenge weather then I like it! The long trail through the River Findhorn glen was quite lovely. From here, we ascended the track above Allt a Mhuillin, a really pretty walk. We lunched by a burn.

Then followed a heather and bog yomp of two to three miles, quite hard work. This then brought us to a track near the River Dulnain. We are camped close by a wooden hut with a red roof. Bill is still with us but I think we part company tomorrow.

Today's weather has been perfect. We were joined by six Air Force officer trainees and their instructor, mountain biking & camping as a training/bonding exercise towing little trailers behind their bikes. However, they are overnighting in the hut.

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TGO Challenge Day 4 - Monday 17 May Drumnadrochit to wild camp near River Findhorn NH674170

Walking 7.00-8.00 & 8.50-6.00
Miles walked today - 15
Total miles walked - 63
Distance left - 112

An early start at seven was necessary to walk for an hour to catch the ferry for the forty minute trip across Loch Ness to Inverfarigaig. The jetty there was little more than a rocky outcrop so we had to scramble up on to it. A bit precarious!

We breakfasted at a picnic area not far from the jetty. A road walk of about two miles then brought us to Errogie and then around the northern end of Loch Mhor to Farraline. The wife of a Challenger couple who had been on the ferry turned back around this time, suffering from bad blisters. I've got blisters on both heels but am dealing with them.

We also met Bill, who was also on the ferry. He's the treasurer of the Munro Society, membership being open to those who have climbed all of Scotland's Munros.

It was a long ascent out of Farraline, much of it over pathless heather, very uneven and often difficult to walk on with unexpected holes and bog to stumble into. We went through the grounds of Dunmaglass Lodge, a lovely, large Victorian house.

After this, there was a seemingly endless uphill grind of four miles or so l some on tracks, some across more heather and bog. We came across patches of drifted snow.

We were glad to finish and we have a good pitch next to a burn. Bill is camping with us tonight. He's good company.

Apart from a few passing showers, today's weather has been dry and sunny.
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Sunday, 16 May 2010

TGO Challenge - Day 3 Sunday 16 May - Cannich to Drumnadrochit

Walking 11.00-7.00
Miles walked today - 14
Total miles walked - 48
Distance left - 127

I wasn't alone in my sleeping bag last night. When I got into it, something stung or nipped my foot. I kicked around a bit and scratched. Things seemed then to settle down. This morning I aired the bag and found an ant, still very much alive.

Got off to a late start as the village shop didn't open till 10am. A lovely sunny day. We started with a climb up east of Cannich above Kerrow Wood and emerged near to Loch Riabhachain. There then followed a cross country bash for nearly a mile to meet a track entering woodland, at the end of which, was the hamlet of Corrimony. At a chambered cairn there we met some other Challengers, having a siesta.

We then had a long forest walk via Shenval, following mainly wide forest roads all the way to Drumnadrochit, where we are camped at Borlum Farm.

Apart from a little light rain this afternoon, it was a warm, sunny day. We picked up our resupply parcels at the Cannich site so our packs have been heavy with nearly a week's worth of food. Still, they should get a bit lighter each day.
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TGO Challenge - Day 2 Saturday 15 May

Walking 8.15-6.15
Miles walked today - 18
Total miles walked - 32
Distance left - 141

Quite a lot of rain in the night. A very good and long night's sleep.

First night's camp

After a mile, we joined the northern side of Loch Mullardoch and followed this for nine miles. We had been led to believe this would be very hard work and the path often non-existent. So much so that our original plan to do the nineteen miles to Cannich was split in two to satisfy our route vetters. In the event, it wasn't too difficult and we were able to cut a mile off as a torrent of water crossing proved to be possible (photo to follow) and we reckoned that, with a bit of effort, we could get to Cannich. Frank only slipped over three times and Gill only filled her boots with water once.

The weather today was mixed - some showers but lots of sunshine. The last nine miles into Cannich was along a very quiet minor road and, for road walking, as good as it gets. Much of it (from Liatrie Bridge to Cannich) was a stretch of my LEJOG last year and so was familiar, even down to the herd of deer at Liatrie Bridge.
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Saturday, 15 May 2010

TGO Challenge - Day 1 Friday 14th

Walking 9.15 - 4.30
Miles walked today - 14
Total miles walked - 14
Distance left - 159

A little rain around 7am but it turned into a glorious morning and just right for striking camp. The view from the campsite over the loch with mountains behind was quite stunning.

The campsite

Cottages overlooking Loch Long

Eilean Donan Castle

We made our way into Dornie and signed out, as required, at the Dornie Hotel.

Me, Gill & Frank

After a visit to the village shop for some essential supplies we were off, at first alongside Loch Duich to Bundalloch, and then east for just over three miles following the valley and River Glennan to Camas-luinie, a little settlement of just a few houses. We met four other Challengers along this stretch. There was a little rain but not too bad. Continuing east, we followed the metalled track alongside and above the River Elchaig for several miles, hilly in parts but not too demanding. There were fine and clear valley views all the time.

At Iron Lodge we took a steep winding track south east for three miles to our pitch for the night, beside a gurgling burn called Allt na Criche, just before Loch Mullardoch, which we shall follow all day tomorrow. A good first day. A bit tiring but we're off to a good start.
Loch Mullardoch

Unfortunately, I've managed to pitch with a lump in the ground underneath my torso. The advantage of a tarp is that I can just shift to one side and a couple of feet down and use it as a pillow!

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