For many years I had the notion of walking across Scotland from one coast to another and this year (2013) I finally did it walking from Mallaig to Aberdeen. I did this as part of the TGO Challenge, a semi-organised event where 300 odd (deliberately ambiguous, read as you wish) people walk across Scotland on a a variety of different routes starting from Torridon in the north to Ardrishaig in the south.
Before I started this I was a bit dubious – I was concerned that it would be a bit of a circus. But all the commentary on the web was very positive so I gave it a go and I really enjoyed it, in spite of the wind, rain, cold and snow. In mid-May, the weather really should have been (a lot) better. But the experience was a good mix of doing stuff alone, which I wanted, but also meeting up with like-minded people and socialising when you wanted to. Many fellow Challengers shared my view that Guinness is, in fact, a foodstuff and after all that exertion, we needed to eat.
Next year, a glutton for punishment, I’ve decided to do it again.
Last year, my primary motivations were to revisit parts of Scotland that I hadn’t been back to for many years – Knoydart , which I saw nothing of in the rain, Glen Roy and Glen Feshie, which was magic. This time my motivations are firstly, to go back to Maol Bhuide bothy that I helped renovate in 1980 (photos here) in memory of my pal Danny who fell off Bienn Alligan. Secondly, I want to to take in some Challenge classics – the Monadliath and the Angus glens. I’ve always thought of the Monadliath as a bit dull but lots of people rave about them so I’d like to be convinced I’m wrong.
So, My route in 2014 is:
0. To Strathcarron (hotel)
1. Strathcarron to Maol Bhuide bothy
2. Maol Bhuide to Strathfarrar (camp)
3. Strathfarrar to Cannich (camp/B & B)
4. Cannich to Drumnadrochit (resupply) and ferry to Ault na Goire (camp)
5. Ault na Goire to Glen Mazeran (camp)
6. Glan Mazeran to Aviemore (B & B or hostel)
7. Aviemore to Corrour via Lairig Ghru (camp)
8. Corrour to Mar Lodge (camp)
9. Mar Lodge to Braemar (B & B/hostel)
10. Braemar to Shieling of Mark bothy
11. Shieling of Mark to Tarfside (camp)
12. Tarfside to Northwater bridge (camp)
13. Northwater bridge to St Cyrus then bus to Montrose
Sadly, I won’t have a chance to go to Loch Callater Lodge on Sunday as I need to be in Edinburgh on the evening of Wednesday 21st. But then back to Montrose on the 22nd for dinner and party.
Now I need to get this route into TGOC format and think about foul weather alternatives. Completely unnecessary really as this will be the year of crisp mornings, balmy afternoons and midge-free evenings, gentle breezes, perfect campsites, low rivers and dried-up bogs. I also expect world peace to break out that month.