Tuesday, 24 May 2022

TGO Challenge Day 13 - 24 May 2022

Walking 6am to 2pm

Distance walked 15 miles
Distance remaining 0 miles

I heard a couple of loud noises this morning whilst under the tarp. I thought a bird had collided with it but when starting to take the tarp down it appeared that one or more birds might have taken exception to me being under their tree. There was a lot of it but I was able to scrape it off and then wipe down with a wet cloth.


The woodland I had planned to camp in would have been fine; also around an electricity substation immediately before it. However, the exit of the path on to the road was totally blocked by a fallen tree but it would have been possible to exit just before the gate.


I road walked all the way into Brechin. There wasn't much traffic. I shopped for breakfast and lunch at the large Co-op.

All was well with my planned route until I reached a farm shown on the map as Caldcots. Here, I asked a lady walking dogs about my route as there were a couple of stretches with no right of way on the map. She wasn't sure but just then the farmer came along and I asked him. He said my route wasn't on rights of way but kindly gave me directions with advice to keep clear of cattle in a couple of places. Looking at my map, he pointed out a stretch further on where he wasn't sure there was a right of way. Sure enough, there wasn't. I went down a farm track marked private which, after a while, led to a grass track along a field margin (although shown as a white lane on the map). After this, I just trespassed along the route I wanted to go. There was no path at all and at one point I went through a hedge backwards to emerge on to a vehicle track.

Eventually, I reached a highway and road walked to Hillside and then on to Charleton Fruit Farm where there is an excellent cafe. Here, I stopped for a coffee and a substantial chocolate, pecan and caramel tray bake. 

Sustained, I walked the half mile across Kinnaber Links and on to the beach to complete my Challenge. 

Kinnaber Links

It was then a walk of something over a mile down the beach to Montrose where I booked into the campsite and then on to the Park Hotel to check into Challenge Control, collect my certificate and rather good Rab t-shirt.

TGO Challenge Day 12 - 23 May 2022

Walking 7am to 2.30pm
Distance walked 10 miles
Distance remaining 15 miles

As I was packing up, Peter and Rachel Cornish passed by. They had been camped a few hundred yards back. Had a nice chat and Rachel took a photo of the three of us which she'll post to the TGO Facebook page. 

Hunthill Lodge

It was easy walking down to the end of Glen Lethnot. My planned route had been over Ordies Hill and then following landrover tracks up and then down to a narrow lane at NO512707 but it was much easier to simply follow the tarmac lane around to meet at the same point. It was a lovely morning and Road walking doesn't get much nicer with fine scenery and I ascents. For some of the way I walked with Darren Smith from Northumberland until I stopped to make coffee and he went on. In fact, as I had time to spare, I stayed for over an hour reading and admiring the view. 

Coffee stop

Eventually moving on, I took the lane that passes between White and Brown Catarthuns, Iron Age hill forts. I had lunch by the small parking area. I asked some people coming down from White Catarthun whether it was worth going up to have a look but was told that it depends what you expect to see. Hmm.

Walking on, it rained hard. I had been planning to camp in some woodland before reaching Brechin but before then I came to the Tigerton National Grid Odourless Gas Installation. It's well fenced in but inside the hedge and tree perimeter it is grassed and ideal for pitching a tarp. There's been a couple of waves of torrential rain while I've been here. Tomorrow I'll have a look at the woodland where I intended to camp. There's been so much tree damage up here lately. 

Behind the gas installation

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, 22 May 2022

TGO Challenge Day 11 - 22 May 2022

Walking 7am to 3.30pm
Distance walked 13 miles
Distance remaining 24.5 miles

A very overcast morning but not cold. I walked down past the Glen Doll car park; just one campervan their presumably having spent the night. A lovely location. I then road walked the three miles along the almost deserted lane to Clova. 


In the car park of the Glen Cova Hotel I picked up someone's recently dropped bag of cheese and onion crisps and made quick work of them.

It was then a long, slow ascent to Loch Brandy but half way up found I had a 4G signal so made my last check in call to Challenge Control. I also phoned home. Shortly after, Paul from yesterday came up behind me. He and a couple of other Challengers had overnighted at the Glen Clova Hotel. He was following the same route as me today so we walked together. Up on the tops the mist was swirling and there was quite a wind. With his navigational gadget, a Garmin Fenix (I think), we got across some pretty featureless terrain. It was pretty boggy with stretches of black peat. His navigation brought us precisely to the landrover track which led us down to Shielin of Saughs bothy. This was to have been my planned overnight stop but it was far too early. Here, we took shelter from the wind although the mist had totally cleared. I made coffee and he went on to find a wild pitch as the day for both of us was to end in Glen Lethnot which we were about to enter. I stayed and my coffee stop morphed into lunch.

Walking down to Shielin of Saughs bothy

Glen Lethnot was quite lovely and the route followed a landrover track all the way until a marked footpath snaked down to the river. Along here I found what is possibly the best and flattest pitch so far and the river for water very close by. I haven't seen Paul so he must have gone further. I didn't want do as I have now walked nearly four miles into tomorrow's mileage.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

TGO Challenge Day 10 - 21 May 2022

Walking 6.40am to 3.45pm

Distance walked 15.5 miles
Distance remaining 40.5 miles

Away early and a lovely morning. I took the single track road on the west of Clunie Water, past the golf course. 

The bridge at Auchcallater

At Auchcallater I took the signed landrover track to Glen Callater. My planned route had been to take the path on the north side of Loch Callater but, instead, I took the easier vehicle track on the south side. In retrospect, this was a bad decision as the track crossed the burn at the far end and I had to walk through it.

Coffee stop opposite Callater Lodge

Glen Callater
The path was indistinct on the approach to Knaps of Fafernie and boggy. About here I met another Challenger, Paul, and we walked together on and off for about three miles although he was faster than me and I later lost him (or he me).

My original route was through Glen Doll but Storm Arwen some months ago caused extensive damage to the forest there and we were advised to divert via Glittering Skellies and Bachnagairn. This route was good at first but then became boggy above Loch Esk. It came on to rain, was windy so I didn't stop for lunch. The descent to Bachnagairn was lovely as the glen to the east came into view.


It was then a couple of miles to where I'd planned to camp but it wasn't really suitable so I carried on walking towards the Glen Doll car park. A short way before the car park I saw a couple of tents up to the right and went to have a look. It's not a great location but as a tarp pitch it will do. Nice view. I'd assumed my two neighbours were Challengers but they are not. They are friends up from near Glasgow for a few days walking and one uses a drone.

Storm damage

Friday, 20 May 2022

TGO Challenge Day 9 - 20 May2022

Walking 6.50am to 12.30pm

Distance walked 11 miles
Distance remaining 56 miles

Up and on my way early. A bit overcast but no sign of rain. A level walk along landrover track and tarmac all the way. At 4km from Mar Lodge Stables was the first notice of several by the roadside that tea and coffee (and hopefully more) were on offer. 

In fact, there were biscuits as well, but no cake. At the Stables were Grant and Lindsay who I'd met yesterday, Michael (who'd been at Melgarve bothy) and a new face, Dougie Symes. A very pleasant time spent.

I road walked into Braemar, rather than taking the undulating woodland route, and the views were good. I went straight to Braemar Caravan site and pitched, showered and shaved, had lunch and phoned home, not forgetting (but almost) to phone in to Challenge Control.

I then walked back to the village to resupply for the last few days to the coast.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

TGO Challenge Day 8 - 19 May 2022

Walking 7am to 5.30pm

Distance walked 17 miles
Distance remaining 67 miles (adjusted)

I woke to the early morning sun streaming into the open end of my tarp. It looked to be a fair weather day. I made my way towards Glen Feshie which must surely rank as the most beautiful glen. The extensive gorse being in flower added to the beauty.

The way down the glen was straightforward; I just had to make sure I crossed the river at the now only remaining bridge at NN850965. 

After about a mile and a half, I reached Ruigh Aiteachain bothy, substantially improved since I last passed this way. A large school party was just leaving, having spent the night in the bothy. I was welcomed in by Lindsay, who looks after the bothy for the owner of the Glen Feshie estate and spends much of his time here. The estate recently spent £250,000 in rebuilding the bothy and replacing the original hole in the ground toilet with two new ones. A septic tank was put in many years ago but the toilets still have to be flushed with buckets of water as there is no piped water supply.


There is a gas burner in the bothy and Lindsay made real coffee in a cafetiere which was an unexpected treat. We were then joined by Rob, who had been at Melgarve bothy a couple of nights ago. After some interesting conversation, including the estate owner's rewilding plans, Rob and I left and walked together until lunchtime, he to walk some 500 metres upstream of the River Eidart to a bridge whilst I walked across the wide river. He didn't want to get his feet wet. At its deepest it came to just below my knees but was quite safe.


I stopped for a lunch break the other side and didn't see anything more of Rob. The path from there was pretty wet and boggy much of the way and indistinct at times until, eventually, a landrover track was reached. This then left about four miles to my pitch for the night at the confluence of Geldie Burn, which I'd been following for some way, and Bynack Burn.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

TGO Challenge Day 7 - 18 May 2022

Walking 8am to 10am; 2pm to 6.30pm

Distance walked 11 miles
Distance remaining 88.5 miles

An interesting night. I'd pitched my tarp with the tail into the wind but during the night the wind and rain turned 180 degrees and I was woken by being rained on. Fortunately, I'd brought an umbrella with me so I blocked off the head end with it.

Barbara and I walked in to Newtonmore and called in at the hostel which is Challenge Control until very shortly when it will relocate to the Park Hotel, Montrose as usual. There were hot drinks and cake on offer for Challengers and good conversation. Unfortunately, my Amazon delivery of lithium batteries for my Spot tracker hadn't arrived but was due between 2-4pm so I decided to wait and had more tea and cake. I also walked down the road to resupply at the Co-op.

Was good to put some faces to names - Sue and Pauline at Control and Ali who also runs the hostel, had been doing the Challenge but had dropped out, Louise Evans who is very active on the Challenge forum and some others. About sixty Challengers have dropped out for various reasons, blisters and some having lost fitness during Covid and not realised how much. Mountain Rescue were called out to three Challengers but they are OK.

My batteries were delivered and I got away at 2pm. I shortened my planned route between Newtonmore and Kingussie by taking the cycle way alongside the main road which was fine. Kingussie didn't detain means a little on the other side I met an old acquaintance, Gordon Green, coming the other way, heading for a booked room in Kingussie. I knew him from the Backpackers Club but he's no longer a member.
Ruthven barracks

Inshriach Forest

Shortly before reaching my planned wild camp at Baileguish, I met a Dutch hiker coming the other way. He'd checked the place out and rejected it for camping. I went on though. The bothy at Baileguish was closed but the camping around it is alright. There was quite a strong wind so I pitched at the lee end of the bothy although the wind has dropped now. I look out towards Glen Feshie which I'll walk down in the morning.

Bailleguish bothy

My view