Sunday, 15 June 2014

TGO Challenge Day 7: Exceptional People

Thursday 15 May 19 kilometres walked, 468 metres climbed.  5 hours 30 minutes.

Weather dry but apart from that unexceptional

Day 8 Route

I hadn’t planned to write up my blog of the TGO Challenge in the traditional day-by-day format, but I have fallen into that trap. I was going to approach it thematically, eg "Challenge People" (but that would be libellous), "Challenge Food" (but that would be so dry it would be dehydrated), and "The Destruction of Scotland's Wilderness" (but that would make you weep with anger, frustration and sadness).  So my apologies if you are finding this a bit tortuous, although to my knowledge you are not forced to be here.  You could always go and do something more pleasurable than reading this, such as heating up needles and pushing them under your finger nails.  I have to sit down and write this stuff, don't you know.

When planning the route several months before the off I had decided to repeat the section of my 2013 crossing from Kingussie to Braemar.  There were a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, and most importantly, I had really enjoyed this part of the walk last year. Secondly, I wanted to have a couple of days which were familiar, where I knew the ground in advance, and where I knew that I would find a good overnight stop.  Walking solo, and being a bit of a worrier (that’s a real understatement), and still being very new to walking in Scotland, I thought it would be nice to have a leg with which I was familiar. In case you are wondering I am familiar with both my legs. Indeed, I am very attached to them. I meant a leg of my route plan.

A sign

I am glad that I did this, but it did mean that this section of my route felt less exceptional. Enjoyable still, and I met more great Challenge people, but the following couple of days, walking wise, were unexceptional. Apart from almost throwing up all over Graham Weaver. But more of that tomorrow.

So what happened? Well I walked alone from Kingussie, but after a few miles began to meet Challengers, all following this particular trade route, and so I walked short distances whilst being entertained by the likes of Lindy Griffiths and Dave Wishart.
On the bridge over the Feshie at Stonetroper

Looking back down the Glen

Although having only been in the Glen once before, changes were very apparent. The Estate has been doing lots of work.  Not the awful Land Rover tracks that have so spoilt some other areas, but paths have been prettified, and little bridges have been put up over some of the streams that have to be crossed. Some of this work was almost twee in its impact but it did make for easy walking, with magnificent scenery all around, if not being challenging underfoot.

New bridge
Twee new path
The Feshie beyond the Bothy
I had a short stop at the Bothy and then headed on a few more kilometres. I could have walked much further, but decided to stop at the same place as I had done last year, at a pretty spot near the river, as did Dave Wishart, who demonstrated the art of wild camping pitch selection by pitching his Trail Star right across a small, dry stream bed. It didn’t rain so I missed the chance for a good laugh of the best variety ie at somebody else’s expense.   We were also joined by Roger Clegg and Paul Sandiford. Roger astounded me by mentioning that he had noticed I was wearing a different make of trail shoes from last year – we had met on the ferry from Mallaig – now that’s a memory for you.  Paul was the only Challenger I have met who is taller than me and after a mutual moan about tents with a lack of headroom and the challenges of being a tall backpacker he entertained us with anecdotes about trying to buy trousers to fit.
Brew's made - again
Later, John Sanderson arrived. I recognised him from cyberspace, as John has recently started a blog which is DEAD GOOD and highly recommended. Check it out. And if you look at the list of trails he has walked you will see that he is no slouch on the old walking front, as I was to find out in subsequent days.

Camp spot in Glen Feshie


  1. Dave also displayed some pretty nifty whittling skills, fashioning a fine set of emergency tent pages out of a fallen branch. Easton they weren't, but they looked to have the breaking strain of a rhinos withers.

    1. ...Dave Wishart that is, not your good self. I can't vouch for your own proficiency with a whittling knife.

    2. They used to be excellent. I was a Boy Scout and we had to make all our own tent pegs for the Black's Patrol Tent. I used to wear my sheaf knife around town in those days. These days I would be facing a large copper with a tasar, pepper spray and anti-stab vest if I were to try that.

    3. Ah yes, the good old days when as a young boy I could walk through the village with a fireman's axe over my shoulder to go and build a tree house.