No fool like an old fool: Walking across Scotland again

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.

5 thoughts on “No fool like an old fool: Walking across Scotland again

  • November 19, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Hi Ian! A nice looking route, I know quite a bit of it. Enjoy!

  • November 19, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Well Ian you have certainly picked a good route to appreciate the Monadhliath!

    Go to Mazeran via the main ridge – a longer route than using the road connections but one that is magnifiscent!

  • November 20, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Ah – a magnificent convert to the Challenge. Well done, Sir!
    Looks like Andy Walker & I will bump into you only at Braemar.
    Guinness all round, then!

  • December 1, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Hi nice route thought it said in” event details” sheet that we can’t use lairig grhu as a fwa ? Or if that’s your main route what’s your fwa to avoid it ? Ta Peter. Munro277 on twittet

    • December 1, 2013 at 11:49 pm

      The Lairig is my main route with FWA via Strath Nethy and the Fords of Avon. However, if it is foul weather as in chucking it down, I’d prefer to stick with the Lairig as it doesn’t involve any difficult river crossings. I guess I’d only take the FWA if there was lots of snow on the Lairig – snow and trail shoes don’t mix too well.


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