River Tilt, and I’m still trying to find somewhere safe to cross
At this point last year on the TGO Challenge, my head gently started to steer thoughts towards the coast. This year was different, I wanted to delay the finish as long as I could, pack in as much as possible.
Before that however there was the little matter of finding my last five days food which I’d hidden over a month earlier near Baddoch Burn over 20 km east of Glen Tilt. And to get there I first needed to find a place to cross the river. Continue reading
Sunset from camp at the end of Day 7 below Carn Gorm
If I had to choose a favourite part of this years TGO route I’d take liberties and say the whole of the middle four days. But ahead of those there was the matter of that appalling weather which had arrived on day 3. It was still there thrashing around my tent as I awoke on day 5 and showed no signs of blowing itself out yet. Continue reading
Looking West from the top of An Stac out towards Eigg and Rum
Less than 2 hours into the TGO Challenge I was sat catching my breath at the top of An Stac (814 m), gazing westwards over Loch Ailort towards the islands of Eigg and Rum rising from a perfectly blue sea. It was one of those views which makes you smile from within, a view you don’t want to turn your back on for fear it will fade from memory.
If there is a perfect start to a Coast to Coast backpack, this was a close as I’ve ever experienced. Thinking about it now I only wish I’d had more time just to sit awhile and take it in. But there were another 5 corbetts ahead of me on that first day, and so with reluctance I turned my attention east and started the steep descent ahead of the next. Continue reading
Yesterday I finished the 2015 TGO Challenge at Dunnottar Castle on the east coast of Scotland.
This was my second TGO Challenge and in almost all ways couldn’t have been more different from my first coast to coast crossing last year. I’d planned a high level route this time, and that combined with more extreme weather, some high winds and cold air temperatures made it a much more challenging trek. Continue reading
Camped on Pen Lithrig y Wrach
I spent much of my 20’s and 30’s in Snowdonia, having gone to Bangor University in the mid 1980’s and living in North Wales for 15 years after graduating. In that time I must have walked, scrambled, rock climbed and ice climbed routes many times over, forwards, backwards and in all weathers. And in all truth it’s fair to say that by the new Millenium I had grown tired of the area.
Going back last weekend to backpack the arduous ‘Heart of Snowdonia 24 peaks circuit’ after 10 years away has rekindled the friendship I have with this special place. It is without doubt my favourite mountain area in the UK. And the circuit ?……it’s a beast. Continue reading
I recently purchased some new trekking poles to use with my TrekkerTent Stealth and in the process I’ve sorted myself a super light and quick way of joining poles together for my MLD Duomid.
The current poles I use are Mounatin King Super Trekker Compact which are cheap and light and have taken some severe battering over the years and coped well. But at a maximum 130cm fully extended they’re not long enough to use as an A-frame with the Stealth which requires 135-140cm poles. To replace these I settled on a pair of Fizan Broadpeak 3, which at 240g a piece are still a decent weight.
A rare moment of serious reflection for the Chuckle Brothers
The next couple of days would be a very sociable affair, walking with the Chuckle Brothers and the man who taught Bear Grylls everything he’s forgotten about wilderness navigation. It was also when a new piece of kit acquired me; A homing hat ! Continue reading
Route Day 7 : 34 km
After six days of relative solitude, pitching for the night on a grass verge amongst a small sea of TGO challengers in Dalwhinnie marked a watershed. By the end of today, and one last stretch walking alone, I’d enter the sociable side of the challenge and begin to realise what makes the TGO so special. Continue reading
Miles walked: 810 (short of my 1000 mile target, but doesn’t include 266 miles of evening TGO training walks)
Longest trip: 220 miles on the TGO challenge
Nights under canvas: 22 (not nearly enough)
High point: Laughing over a pint with the Chuckle Brothers until it hurt, in Braemar on the TGO **
Low Point: Doing an accidental back flip into a deep peaty ditch on day 1 of the TGO
Best days walk: Second day of the Limestone Lion from Malham to Grassington on a gloriously sunny spring day
Most expensive piece of kit purchased: Z-Packs 20 degree sleeping bag
Best piece of kit purchased: Vivo Barefeet ultralight trainers
Piece of kit I actually didn’t need to buy: All of it…it’s pure indulgence
Gear purchase excuses I used : (I) Orange is no longer fashionable. (ii) My life may depend on it, (iii) This one goes to 11
What I did too much of : Looking out of the window and deciding to wait until the weather was better
What I didn’t do enough of: Getting out while the weather ‘was’ good ** Not the Chuckle Brothers, obviously.
Looking from balcony Camp 2, Korzhenevskaya Peak
Sometimes a piece of kit comes along which becomes so much a part of you, that it’s more like a comfort blanket or childhood teddy bear than a rufty tufty piece of outdoor gear.
The Buffalo Belay jacket has been one such piece of kit, and so much more. But sadly after 20 years of faithful and devoted service it’s entered a final chapter of decrepitude, and it’s now time to say a fond farewell to the old chap. Continue reading