The TGO Challenge 2013 – route shakedown

by backpackingbongos

I found planning this years challenge much easier than in 2011.  This is because there are a few areas which I am keen to walk though.  These being Knoydart, the Monadhliath mountains and the Moine Mhor.  I also fancied taking in Braemar on this years route.  Thankfully all of these places pretty much sit on a straight line if you place a ruler across a map of the Highlands.  I’m not adverse to making the route as short as possible!

As on the last Challenge I broke my route down into four separate backpacks, transport corridors make this easy to do.  This makes the task less daunting as you only need to plan three or four days at a time.  There are then natural breaks and places to restock supplies, meaning that no more than four days food needs to be carried at any one time.  I also like to have a nice warm and dry b&b waiting for me after three of four days in the wilds!

I have been a bit more ambitious this year with regards to my ‘main’ route, it goes much higher and crosses more hills.  If all goes well I will climb nine Munros and one Corbett over the two weeks.  There will be the choice however if tired or the weather is bad to stick to the glens on my foul weather route.  Overall my daily mileage is around 20 to 25 kilometres, the longest being on the third day at 28 kilometres.

So what is the route like in more detail?

(You can click on the maps to make them bigger).

Part one – 73 Kilometres (45 miles) over three days

Part 1

This years crossing will start with the ferry from Mallaig to Inverie in Knoydart.  If the weather is good I am then looking forward to ascending the Munro Luinne Bheinn and the Corbett Sgurr a Choire-bheithe, followed by the roller coaster ridge of Druim Chosaidh.  I have my fingers crossed for a high level camp somewhere along the ridge.   I then have two long but low-level days to get to Invergarry taking in Glen Quoich, the River Loyne and the forests of Glen Garry.

Part two – 58 Kilometres (36 miles) over three days

Part 2

Crossing the Monadhliath is something that I am looking forward to immensely.  The first day will see a moorland bash to Blackburn bothy before dropping down to the secretive Glen Tarff.  This is a spot that has been on my ‘must visit’ list for years now.  I will then cross a vast high plateau, right through the middle of the proposed Stronelairg wind farm.  I then find myself on a worryingly featureless section to try to find a camp near the headwaters of the Abhainn Cro Chlach.  A truly wild and remote section.  Finally I head to Kingussie via a high watershed, taking in the Munro of Carn Sgulain.

Part three – 58 Kilometres (36 miles) over three days

Part 3

After the fleshpots of Kingussie a gentle walk will take me to the Ruigh-aiteachain bothy located in the wonderful Glen Feshie.  The Moine Mhor is also on my ‘must visit’ list and I am hoping for clear weather to cross the clutch of Munros surrounding this high mossy plateau.  I’m hoping to camp up there which could be the high point of my crossing.  After dropping down to the Dee there should be an easy stroll to Braemar via Mar Lodge.  Saturday in Braemar should see the place full of unwashed backpackers.

Part four – 90 Kilometres (56 miles) over five days

Part 4

Leaving Braemar suitably refreshed I’ll sneak past Loch Callater lodge to enable myself to keep a clear head for the ascent onto the White Mounth plateau.  A spot of Munro bagging will take me to the Spittal of Glenmuick followed by another climb up to the Shielin of Mark bothy.  Then there will be a stroll down Glen Lee to camp with a mass of other Challengers at Tarfside.  In order to keep to the hills to the very last minute I’ll head to Edzell via the Hill of Wirren.  This will then leave a tarmac plod to the coast at St Cyrus via North Water Bridge.

I have to say that I’m rather looking forward to it!

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24 Comments to “The TGO Challenge 2013 – route shakedown”

  1. Fantastic route!

  2. A lovely route James and with a couple of high level camps. Wonderful, I hope the weather is kind for you.

    • Fingers crossed for some good weather this year Dawn. Hope that you are well enough to make the Challenge with Mike. Our paths will cross for the first couple of days.

  3. Looks awesomely enticing and exciting – roll on retirement……!

  4. Are you sure you’ll get past Callater Lodge without being dragged in? There will be quite a party in on Sunday evening and that gives you all day Monday to get to the Shieling Of Mark. Trust me. You’ll love it. Your arm will be twisted so far up your back in Braemar it will be difficult to refuse Bill’s legendary hospitality.

    Cracking route, by the way. I really like your Monadh Liath traverse. That will be special.

    • Arms are there to be twisted Alan. The route through the Monadhliath is something I am really looking forward to, should find plenty of solitude there and some stunning wild and open country to cross.

  5. Sounds great, far more adventurous than mine! Hope to meet you on the Saturday in the Fife Arms!

  6. Nice one. I’ve had a route planned for a few weeks, but it looks like I’m still too far down the standby list. Would coincide in a few places. Have a good one.

    • Cheers Robin. At least you will be ready to go for 2014 if you don’t get through on the standby list. Do you think you will still visit the Monadhliath in May for a backpack?

  7. vicarious enjoyment! Looks like a cracker, I’ll be in the Isles for much of april and may but I may just have to apply come September for 2014

    • You can’t beat staring at a map on a wet Sunday afternoon David. Enjoy the Isle, nowhere better in the UK in my opinion.

  8. A fine route, you’ll enjoy Knoydart at the start if you get fine weather, magnificent if a little hard going!

    • Thanks Andy, Knoydart will give a fine start, even better once all the climbing has been done and I’m sitting on top of a hill!

  9. Hi mate nice route. Funny I just shared mine. Anyway Callater Lodge and calling in leads to drink. Be warned.

    • I popped into Callater when I did the mini challenge during the foot and mouth year, I remember being plied with alcohol. I’ll have to head over and check out your oute and see if any of it coincides.

  10. Looking good – I like the idea of splitting it into 4 distinct parts…..my route is planned but I’m beginning to lose hope that I’ll get in this year….

    • Fingers crossed for you laura. I like splitting long route its smaller chunks. Makes it feel like lots of short backpacks rather than one long one, less overwhelming that way!

  11. Hi James! Liking the look of your route. Mine has one or two high bits, but it’s very weather dependent. If there’s any hint of snow up there, I’ll be sneaking along the glen instead, I don’t want to carry ice axe and crampons, I’d rather go back another day. I should see you in Braemar. Have fun!

    • I’m gonna take my microspikes but will avoid steep snow as not planning on taking an axe, will check out the conditions as I walk along. Enjoy and see you in Braemar.

  12. sorry i had trouble logging in so did a test !

    what I wanted to say was if you really want to walk the walk ( Robin, Laura ) why not do it anyway? Its not like the TGO has exclusive access to scotland in those 2 weeks. Yes you’ll miss the meal at the end and drinkies at Callater but surely the people on the TGO arent that ellist as to ignore others on the trail.

    Just seems odd to me that you don’t just do it anyway.

    • Hi Paul, no worries, I’ll deleat the test comment!

      Yep you’re right, there is nothing stopping people from doing the walk anyway regardless of getting a place. People doing the TGO Challenge would still talk to you! However its more about being part of something, hard to explain really. I’m usually a seeker of solitude so would personally avoid a big event I was not part of. The TGO Challenge brings out my social side!

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