My route for the TGO Challenge 2017 has now been vetted and signed off, and quite unexpectedly there was no need for any changes or alterations. Approved without a hitch. So here’s a quick run down of the intended trek.
I’ll be starting from Oban this year, and planning to cover about 362 km and a little over 17,000 m of ascent. There are also a few Munros planned in along the way, about 25 or so. That’s pretty much the same as my last challenge in 2015, though on this occasion I’m splitting it over 15 days and aiming to finish on the Friday lunchtime somewhere near Doonie Point, a stones throw north of Stonehaven.
I’ve listed the main stats compared to my previous routes at the end of this post, but to start here’s the basic plan, which as ever is highly likely to alter depending on the weather.
Note : Clicking on the maps should take you to the full detailed map on my Social Hiking page.
Day 1 will take the usual easy start through Glen Lonan to Tynauilt. From there I head along Loch Etive for only a couple of km, leaving the loch-side to camp high on the first night and set myself up for the next day over Ben Chruachan. I’m keeping the more normal route along Loch Etive and into Glen Kinglass in my back pocket as my FWA over days 2 & 3.
Day 2, weather permitting, I’ll be heading over the Ben Chuachan Hills, dropping down momentarily to the Lairig Noe half way along but climbing straight back out again, hopefully bagging 4 munros along the way before finally droping down into Glen Kinglass to camp.
Day 3 starts with a rather steep climb up Beinn nan Aighenan before a high level traverse over the Ben Starav Hills as far as Coire nan Cnamh for another high camp. Day 4 continues along the ridges of the Clachlet traverse (Black Mount) before finally dropping down to Glen Coe for a pint at Kings House Hotel. A short amble from there and hopefully by the end of Day 4 I’ll be camped somewhere at the foot of the Devil’s Staircase ready for the next leg.
So that’s 11 munros over the first 4 days. And if the weather is not too good, my FWA route takes me along Loch Etive and into Glen Kinglass as far as Loch Duchard, before sneaking back over Coire nan Cnamh, dropping down to Glen Etive again and then taking the Lairig Gartain to Glen Coe. Who knows, if the weather clears up again I may even pop along the Buachaille Etive Mor ridge as an alternative. Plenty of options.
Day 5 is an short day, giving me a bit of slack if the first leg from Oban takes longer than planned. I’ll follow the West Highland Way over to Kinlochleven where I plan to restock with food, hopefully get a slap up lunch at a pub, and then climb out of the valley in the afternoon and camp in the east end of the Mamores somewhere high above Loch Eilde Mor.
Day 6, if the weather permits, will be over Beinneinn Mor then dropping down to the Amhainn Rath and following the river east to Loch Trieg in time for a late lunch. From there I’ll head for Loch Ossian and camp somewhere towards the east end.
Day 7 will take me over the munros around Aonach Beag, dropping down on the north side to cross the An Lairig watershed before skirting high above Loch a Bhealaich Leamhain and dropping down to Lochan Na H-Earba to camp. There are a couple of additional tops along the way should time permit.
Day 8 starts easy enough, through the forest to Loch Laggan, then through Glen Shirra to the River Spey near Garva Bridge. But it’s only a brief respite as the route then heads up Geal Charn, and into the Eastern Monadh Liath. Hopefully I’ll have a high camp near Lochan Uisge, before dropping down to Kingussie on the morning of Day 9.
Day 9 be the second of my shorter days and gives me a chance to clean up and relax in Kingussie before a push through the Cairngorms. Who knows, I may even treat myself to a B&B, I will need it after 9 days.
The FWA over this stretch breaks away east before Loch Laggan and heads east via Lochan na Doire-Uaine, skirting north of Dalwhinnie to Loch Cuiach for a camp, and then continues the next day over to General Wades Military Road which I can follow to Kingussie.
Day 10 will start by heading across to Glen Feshie for the briefest of visits, before climbing out along the Allt Fhearnagan to trek over Carn Ban Mor and Tom Dubh for a high camp at Wells of Dee. There are a couple of munros close by if a fancy an evening stroll from the tent.
If one day really worries me it’s Day 11, which starts with the rather daft idea of making straight across the Lairig Ghru by descending directly from Braeriach to Pools of Dee at the high point of the Lairig Ghru, and then attempting to burn my calves into oblivion by climbing straight up the other side to make for Ben Macdui. It looks rather steep. so let’s see how practical that turns out to be. From Ben Macdui I’ll double back and be heading across the plateau to Cairn Gorm before descending to the Saddle to camp at the Fords of Avon Refuge.
Day 12 continues the high theme by crossing the Fords of Avon and climbing up to Beinn a Chaorainn, then picking off the munros heading east over Ben Avon and on down to Lochbuilg Lodge. I plan to camp somewhere along the River Gairn, hopefully making it as far as Tullochmacarrick.
There’s a tangle of FWA’s over these few days, weaving their way around the Cairngorm plateau so that on any day I still have the option of going high again.
Day 13 sees things finally easing off as I head out of the mountains and down to Aboyne where I’ll pick up the Deeside Way. After 4 days across the Cairngorms I’ll be looking forward to a shower at the Loch of Aboyne campsite.
I’ll use the Deeside Way as my route for the best part of Day 14 through Banchory, leaving it at Crathes to seek out a last nights camp on the Durris Forest. Days 13 & 14 are quite long, 35-40 km each, but hopefully by now I’ll be motoring. And besides, the ascent is almost nothing, about 600m each day.
The final Day 15 will be a thankfully short affair, up through the Durris forest and through the small windfarm on Meikle Carewe Hill and Curlethney Hill, before heading finally to the coast for a finish at Doonie Point. This should be a lovely end to the trek with a short walk up the coast via Grim Brigs to the café a Muchalls for a cuppa.
And I have Ian Sommerville’s blog post about the Magnificent Muchalls to thank for the idea of finishing here; It looks superb.
So there we have it. Needless to say I’ll need a good run with the weather if I’m to do even half the main route, but if the weather doesn’t play fair then the FWA’s offer a fine alternative route and there’s plenty of scope for picking up additional tops later on if weather forces me to drop some along the way.
Finally, here’s how the route compares to my previous TGO’s. Even though the mileage and ascent are pretty similar to my last Challenge n 2015, by taking the additional day and building in a couple of shorter days I’ve managed to reduce the daily mileage and ascent a little. It’ll give me a fighting chance.
|Daily Average Ascent||m||739||1226||1182|
|Munros + (optional)||1 (2)||16 (4)||25 (4)|
|Corbetts + (optional)||1 (1)||9 (1)||1 (1)|
All I need to do now is get fit, and pray to the weather gods. Oh and there’s the usual dilemma with a high route of deciding whether to pack the walking axe and spikes, and choosing which tent would be best for the numerous high camps.
Roll on May !