TGOC 2022 finale. Not for the squeamish

A glorious day not to go hiking. I was still hobbling in the morning so I called it quits. My left foot was quiet happy with the decision, the rest had a bit of a problem with it but hay, one for all and all for one foot.

Author and Said foot awaiting more bandaids.

The other is much better looking!

Decision not really made until packed up and walking into town for breakfast. Could not raise the enthusiasm. So a last breakfast with many of the people I had been travelling with the last few days or longer. Interestingly most had planned an easier/ shorter day and were noticeably slower getting going.

I managed to sell off my most of my now surplus food and gas supplies which was good. So goodbyes and then it was off on the 10.30 bus to Aberdeen. Then a quick connection to the train to Glasgow.

I tried to advance my car hire arrangements but the company could not accommodate me, so I booked with another and will cancel the former.

Drove gingerly down to my friends place in Ayr where I am now writing this.

The other two you ask. Well Peter I believe finished today, four days ahead of the schedule I made, though he did cut a couple of corners. Still he is fast.

Ron is still on the route I planned, just a day ahead of the original schedule having skipped the rest day but he has not cut any corners. He bagged a Monroe today, and had the best days weather of the crossing to do so. Lucky dog, jealous I am.

So an interesting time has been had. Some great scenery and company, some lousy weather which makes it all the more memorable I guess. Pity I am unlikely to come this way again.

The sort of scenery I come for and walk through

TGOC 2022 day 10

From Red House bothy to Braemar via Mar lodge. Map not quite right as I had stopped and hour and a half earlier than originally planned and I did not do the detour through Tomintoul.

After the horrible night I was up early. The rain has stopped but there was still a fair bit of cold wind.

Into the bothy to cook up some tea and oatmeal then packed up. Only had to chase one item stolen by the wind, so managed quite well really and by 8 I was off down the glen being helped along by said wind.

The Red House bothy

Feet sore but manageable.

Going that way

Eventually got the Marr Lodge were tea, cookies and my resupply package waited. Shoes and socks off to air feet while listening to chat of all the other challengers.

A look back

The resupply package had enough food for 4 full days of back country living. I gave half of it away! I reckoned my new route from Braemar, avoiding hills. the Deeside way to Aberdeen, would give many opportunities for B and Bs and restaurant meals.

The recently renovated Victoria bridge at Mar Lodge

Then shoes back on and the final stage into Braemar. Went quite quickly. Now out of the wind and a nice spring day.

A view back up the Dee valley

Come Braemar treated myself to a nice late lunch. Brought some new socks., then went to a medical clinic to have my feet looked at. Doctors not impressed and prescribed some antibiotics!

Then to hostel where check in had just opened. Shower, laundry, FaceTime Tina, then hobbled out to dinner. Feet for all the care they had received feeling much worse. Unlike earlier in the day I could not make myself walk normally.


TGOC 2022 day 8

A leisurely start, on the trail about 8.45. Still one of the early ones away. A cold but dry morning after the rain last night. Glen Feshie continued to impress.

Double ford crossing instead of scramble, then dry socks.

One of several fords

Deliberate crossing instead to 1 k detour to bridge

The upper reaches of the glen went on and on. The crossing sad as last time I will pass this way

Wide open country
The Red House bothy, under renovation

Finished 5.15. Put up tent. Early supper then bed by 7.00. Breezy so tent flapping a good deal. Then the wind really Ickes up and the rain started. I t got pretty separate but the tent held and kept dry but was it ever noisy. Needed to hold one of my poles in place to stop it shaking loose. Continued real bad til midnight. Les than usual sleep that night

My tent and two others in the morning

TGOC 2022 day 7

Well the plan was to walk the 5 k to Kingussie station. If my feet were killing me bail and take the train, otherwise continue on to the bothy in glen Feshie as per original plan.

I had sent a resupply package to the hotel. I found that I did not need about half of it, so repacked it, and after breakfast, but before setting off, I made a quick trip to the post office to mail it back to Colin in Ayr.

Rain was forecast so I started off in full rain gear. As it was forecast to be a bit warmer than the previous few days I shed a mid layer.

I followed the bicycle path that paralleling the main road to Kingussie. I could feel my blistered foot, but it was more of a dull ache than anything, so come the train station I continued on.

Aiming for the glen before those cloud covered hills

The walk had three sections. First through backroads along the broad Spey valley .

Ruthven barracks

Then cutting across a mixture of moorland and forestry plantations to the Glen Fleshie. Wind roaring and gentle rain

Lower Glen Feshie

The up the glen to the bothy very windy out of the trees. The conservation efforts are baring fruit. Many small tress appearing, complimenting some magnificent older specimens. finally arriving about 3.45. A superb bothy, presided over by Lindsey who I guess must be a local legend. It was packed, with kids. On a school outing, but sheltering from the nasty wind and rain. Fortunately they are all camping.

I made my claim to what I hoped would be valuable real estate in one of the down stairs rooms.

Lindsey entertaining

TGOC 2022 day 6. A rest day

An uneventful day. Ron took off about 11.00?. I tried a gentle walk both in the morning and afternoon otherwise watched too much Morse on the telly. My two walks took me to the hostel and TGOC control. Not doing much business in terms of visitors, but were recovering from dealing with two challenger issues . One just way behind schedule, the other becragged and needing helicopter rescue.

Also heard much about the work load involved in running it, how long they have been doing it, and how it might not happen next year!

6.00 dinner then an early bed.

TGOC 2022 day 5

A long one. 34k according to Strava. Mostly down hill fortunately. And no rain !!!

Ron’s route. Peter and I kept to the tracks and road just south of his path.
Leaving the bothy
Another of General Wade’s bridges

A view down the valley
Start of the post lunch section. Got to get to that far mountain!

Generally easy walking. Pleasant country side, but little wild life. Parted from Ron at Garva bridge , peter and I to keep to the road, ron to the tracks to the north. And that was the last I saw of them till Newtonmore. Peter strode of ahead leaving nag me in his dust. Eventually got to Laggan and it’s coffee shop. Had a good 45 minute break for soup and a sandwiches, then it was on again.

About 5 k from the end I started feeling roughness under my left foot. Eventually stopped and took of shoes and socks. All seemed good stone wise, but it wasn’t. A blister, on the ball of the foot just behind the toes. Not good. Also not good was being attack by little red fire ants as I sat!

A view back up the valley

Eventually made it into Newtonmore were I ran into Ron wandering the wrong way down the high street looking for our hotel. Peter had arrived 2 hours earlier!

Every house and farm has it cloud of daffodils

Beer before shower and dinner.

Very pretty garden on outskirts of Newtonmore

Ron refused to inspect my feet, so I just left them to air overnight, but my hike may be over. I hate walking on blisters.

TGOC 2022 Day 4

Another beastly day weather wise, but I got over the pass and down the other side, so a success.

A good nights sleep at the lodge, an ok breakfast and we were off by about 8.30. Not actually raining at the time, but overcast and cool.

A short walk thru town then up into the hills.

We are at the end of Loch Ness

After a short pastoral walk we started into the hills.

Wild garlic

Past a spectacular pink house.

A last look back to Loch Ness
Ron waiting for me
Still a ways to go up

About this time the wind picked up bringing with it the rain. The climb was in two sections, an early slog, then a long traverse then the final rise over the pass. Generally good gradients . Got to the pass about 2.00 pm. Then a long descent, with a few switchbacks into the valley and eventually the Malgrave bothy around 4. Peter got there way in advance and secured us prime floor space. Soon fed and then into our sleeping bags to keep warm. Needless to say we were soon asleep.

Going down at last

The bothy is only 200m from the end of a drivable road. We were shortly joined by folks who had driven up for the weekend. The good news was that they brought coal for the fire so dry clothes in the morning. The bad news was that they were great talkers and kept going to midnight.

TGOC 2022 day 3

Well the day started well with a dry spell and a good drying breeze so at least the tent got put away dry. Then a small wait for the others to catch up with me which happened around 8.45. Then we were off.

A nice morning, note new snow on the tops!

The first part was track walking, mainly contouring the hills though of course with a fair bit of rise thrown in. And of course during this the wind picked up bring the rain with it. But at least it was chiefly from behind us.

Then the fun began, 3k of bog walking paralleling a deer fence and the bog was wet! Very tiring. Once in up to both thighs. Very carefully extracting my self so not to leave shoes behind. Peter lead thru this section dancing away . Apparently he used to do races over this stuff!

A fairly mild hazard by the standards of the day

Eventually we got to our gate out and set of down to join general wades road. Again Peter led and found us a good route high above the river.

From the road on it was much easier, just a bit more of uphill and then down hill all the way into Fort Augustus and our accommodation.

I quick shower for me then out for a bowl of soup.

R and R till supper then an early bed.

TGOC 2022 day 2

Woke with a very stiff back and creaky knees. Not good but three Tylenol and some gentle shuffling about got things moving again. Saw no reason to change strategy, so shortly after 9 I was off again heading east down the road and that was most of the rest of the day really.

The wind was at my back so I didn’t see the showers coming, and I guess we had about four during the day.

Glen Shiel is quiet attractive so it was easy on the eyes. The traffic wasn’t too bad, and there was always a verge to get on to in face of on coming traffic. While the verge was often wide euro walk on it was usually very soft/wet, so it was easier to walk on the road, and just step onto the verge when traffic was coming.

Looking back to the Inn

All the while I was monitoring Ron and Peters progress on the other side of the ridge. They started earlier than me, at 7! They also sensibly decided to deviate from the route I had designed, keeping of the tops. I will here how it worked out for them when we met up tomorrow.

View at Elevenses . I have to walk to the end of that loch and beyond

I finally left the road and, as per plan, started heading up into the hills. I had chosen wisely as the gradient was nice and gentle , suitable for my condition. Around 4 I got here and found it was as good for camping as I hoped. Peter and Ron stopped about 3 k back of me.

View from my campsite

iPhone camera lenses managed to get misted up. One is now sort of clear, but it looks like just wide angle pictures for a while.

A nice rainbow to close out the daylight

TGOC 2022 day 1

Well it didn’t go as planned, but a “success “ anyway. Apologies in advance, not many pictures as a wet iPhone does not like to take commands.

The day started as planned except for the weather. We were signed out and ready to go a 9.00.

As tradition dictates, we dipped our toes in the sea and then it started raining. So a brief pause to don rain pants and we were off.

Our route was designed with about 7 k of road walking to start of. I thought had seen a route that kept off the road but my route vetter did not think it could be done. Well when we got to where it diverged it seemed to be at least occasionally used, and Ron was keen to avoid the road so off we went.

It worked out ok, but of course took longer than using the road would have done. It was also very wet in parts and I soon abandoned any attempts to keep my feet dry.

So after about 2 and a half hours we were momentarily back on the road after passing through swamps, Peter in up to his thighs in one sticky patch, and easier walking through a sheep farm with lots of young lambs being closely watched by their mothers.

Peter cleaning up after almost losing a boot

Then it was up the big hill (-2000ft) All this time the wind had been building and it had been raining on and off.

Leaving to road for the big hill

Well in most places the path up was doubling as a stream down. It was tough going. I was struggling. After a while Ron took my food . That helped a bit but not enough. After taking 2hrs to do 1000ft and getting progressively slower, and colder, I decided to abort. At the time the wind and really got up, and got colder too. The rain was almost sleet!

Looking back down the path. Path straight ahead, torrent to the right

So down I went. One major fall near the bottom. I slipped on some mud and ended up on my back in a deep puddle. No injury except to my pride.

My initial plan was to go hitch a ride back to the hotel were we had started, and get a bus the next day. Then I thought “buggar it” maybe I can still complete the challenge, and decided to walk the road east and then possibly meet up with the others the next day . TGOC control strongly recommend NOT walking this road, sure it was a bit busy but there was always a good verge to hop on to .

A view up the glen I was road walking. Very pretty. Just wish it was in better circumstances

So with the gale at my back off I went up the valley. My target was a lone hotel and I eventually got there about 6.30. A long day. I was planning to camp in the vicinity and eat at the hotel, but I wimped out a took a room instead. Very nice it was too, and here I am.