During summer 2017 I decided to apply for the TGO Challenge 2018. The challenge invites to cross Scotland from the west to the east coast within about 15 days - All self supported, by foot and mostly wild camping, on the route you choose...
Did you miss all the preparations? Back to Part 1
11.05.2018 River Affric
The start could not have been more beautiful! I Love the almost alpine character of the hills and passes at the west coast. The weather adds his own drama with changing conditions and heavy blowing wind...
Great discussions while walking together with Bob who is on his 10th crossing, looking forward to celebrate with you!
We see it coming from the west, the rain which then accompanies us down to the camp ground.
Finally I push a few km further down the glen than planned and pitch my tent short before Loch Affric, forming a small tent village with a few other Challengers.
12.05.2018 Loch na Beinne Moire
After the rainy night I leave my first camp ground under bright sunshine, which does just so much for the motivation!
Glen Affric is a beauty in this early daylight with its Caledonian pinewoods, the Loch and fresh green foliage everywhere.
This day all the rumors about Scotish maps became real: First time lost somewhere in a bog as the path drawn on the map disappears on the terrain... Compass, some climbing and great cameraderie (thanks Peet for the nice walk!) helped us out.
And we got rewarded for the struggle with a cold beer at Cougie later on!
In the afternoon again the path I'm supposed to use does not exist, forcing me to do a detour as the forest does not look very velcoming for a cross-country walk... just adding a few km to the daily count.
I had planned to stay around this fascinating ruine of Guisachan House over night. But I decide to attack the ascent to Loch na Beinne Moire to shorten the third day and trust to have a better view from up there than down on the valley bottom...
It was hard to find a small piece of land to pitch my tent on in this boggy and water soaked land around Loch na Beinne Moire, but as hoped I was rewarded with beautiful views and a nice sunset...
Over the night a steady rain set in and surprises me while waking up. On the path from here on I must be the first hiker since years.
But the path exists, although sometimes barely visible and always soaking wet and boggy - First time I'm really thankful for my high boots and gaiters!
But eventually the sun cames out again and I follow River Enrick down to Drumnadrochit.
After a long hike through many different kinds of forests and meadows, this afternoon I arrive at Loch Ness.
Time for laundry and a tasty Dark Ness - I swear while booking I didn't know my hostel was right across the road from the Loch Ness Brewery :)
14.05.2018 Glen Mazeran
Crossing the Loch Ness this sunny morning is a real pleasure! Plus the stories from Gordon the skipper... and talking with the few Challengers who cross on the same boat, until we all spread out on different paths.
There is a long bit of road to do before I finally start the ascent into the hills. Green plains full of sheep!
In the upper part of the hills the dirt road ends and I have to navigate through this odd landscape of bog with little canions washed out of the peat by errosion here and there.
The place is wild and full of life, I put quite some animals to roat on my way. But also find traces of death.
Finally walking down into Glen Mazeran with its meandring river - All for myself and I just have to spot the perfect ground with a view to pitch my tent :)
15.05.2018 River Dulnain
The morning in Glen Mazeran presents another golden sunrise on this Challenge!
I walk out of Glen Mazeran which runs into River Findhorn, and cross it here before walking up the hills again on its east side.
On the other side I follow a small canion down to River Dulnain, a long glen with a wildly meandering river again.
In the heavy wind blowing down the valley I decide to pitch in the shelter of an eroding earth wall along Allt an Tudair. But after a short rain in the evening the night was calm.
Another hill to climb, but this time on the Burma Road which runs entirely over the hill and down into Aviemore.
Over the pass the view opens to the Cairngorms, which will be my next obstacle on the way to the east coast!
17.05.2018 Glen Feshie
Walking out of Aviemore I come across Loch an Eilein - hard not to stop here for a decent long exposure photo shoot...
I did not expect too much surprises this day, but again a bit of a path is missing in the real world. But this time I'm not keen to do a long detour through the forest, and cross the bog with compass and map - Just to discover a river blocking me, which is missing on the map, too...
But after some swearing, searching and balancing over more or less muddy terrain I'm back on my dirt road. Just happy it is not raining today!
Through forests and bogs finally the valley narrows down into Glen Feshie, a beautifully remote and wild place!
What gives the character to this glen is its pine forest, with all these old and majestic trees withstanding the harsh environment and the powerful river reshaping the scenery every spring.
My tent almost invisible between the forest on the slope of the valley and the brushwood of the river bank.
Want to know if I finally made it? Forward to Part 3