Here is a working draft of my 2010 TGO Challenge Route across Scotland. I realize that this probably just looks like a bunch of Gaelic place names right now, but I’ll be expanding the detail considerably over the next few weeks, with hyperlinks, photos, maps, and historical information to make this much more accessible to you and to help me refine my route.
While this version of my route is not 100% baked, it’s at the point where I’m very close to submitting it for approval. If you have any alternate route suggestions or observations about it, please leave a comment. Planning a hike of this length without local knowledge is quite a challenge, and I’ll take any help I can get (I have already greatly benefited from suggestions via the TGO Challenge Message Board, I might add.)
I’m planning on starting my crossing at Shiel Bridge at the western end of Glen Shiel on the west coast. My end point on the east coast will be St. Cyrus, just to the northeast of Montrose center, where all Challengers congregate at the end of the event. The total distance of my route is 176 miles over 14 days.
You’ll note that I haven’t allocated any complete rest days, although I do have a few low mileage days for town stops where I hope to find a B&B to sleep at for the night and where I’ll resupply my food. The reason I removed the rest days is that I really want to bag a few peaks while I am in Scotland. So, I’ve added 1.5 days for climbing Munros (over 3,000 ft) and their sub-peaks. These Munro days occur on days 2 (half day) and 11 (full day), and neither ‘take me out of the way of my primary route. So, if the weather is bad or I’m tired, I have the option of skipping them entirely and either resting or continuing forward on my route.
|Day||OS Grids||Miles||Ascent (m)||Start||Sleep||Route|
|1||33||11.5||650||Shiel Bridge||Wild||Activity Center, Glenlicht House, Allt Grannda Waterfalls, Camban, Alltbeithe|
|2||33, 25||13.93||1441||Alltbeithe||Wild||Carnach Mor, Cnoc Fada, Coire Leachavie, Mam Sodhail(1181), Carn Eige (1183), Sgurr na Lapaich(1036), Loch Affric|
|3||25, 34||11.75||477||Loch Affric||Wild||Allt Garbh, Cougie, Creag Bhog, Coire Dho, Cul Dubh|
|4||34||11.7||464||Cul Dubh||B&B||Ceannacroc Bridge, Collie Ghormaig, Meall Dahm, Druim a' Chathair, Old Military Rd, Jenkins Farm, Fort Augustus|
|5||34||16.3||972||Fort Augustus||Wild||Culhachy Ho, General Wades, Corrieyairack Pass, Melgarve, Garva Bridge|
|6||35||15.5||425||Garva Bridge||Wild||Garvamore, Laggan, Drumgask, Catlodge, Melm, Phones|
|8||35, 43||15.5||578||Kingussie||Wild||Druim na Feuraich, Maol a Ghiubhais, Baileguish, Stonehopper, Rushie Non Leum, River Eidart|
|9||43||16||276||River Eidart||Wild||Geldie Burn, White Bridge, Lin of Dee, Victoria Bridge, Braemar|
|10||43||15||1173||Braemar||Wild||Invercauld Bridge, Connachat Cottage, Gelder Shiel, Meikle Pap (980), Monelpie Moss, Glas-allt Shiel|
|11||43, 44||15||654||Glas-allt Shiel||Wild||Sheilin of Mark, Muckle Cairn, Loch Lee, Hill of Rowan, Tarfside|
|12||44||17.5||369||Tarfside||B&B||Woodhaugh, Dalhastnie, Rocks of Solitude, Edzell, Brechin|
|13||54||9.5||49||Brechin||B&B||Mains of Dunn, Montrose Beach, Montrose Campsite|
Ok, so here is some more information that you need to interpret the table:
- There is an organization called the Ordnance Survey that manages all public mapping data in the United Kingdom. They break the country into a series of OS Grids, which correspond to the map numbers shown in my route plan. I wrote a post over the summer that included a section about OS Grids. They are an alternate form of lat/lon system used for UK navigation that foreign walkers like us Yanks have to learn to read maps and estimate distances. It’s a rather clever system actually.
- There are some historic roads, jeep roads and walking paths that crisscross Scotland called hill tracks and are used by hikers and stalkers (hunters). These are cataloged in Scottish Hill Tracks and listed when available in the column Tracks. I don’t know how reliable they will be as walking trails or how easy they will be to find, but they have been useful planning aids to mark the best cross-country routes through a region. You’ll notice that they drop off the further east you go.
- The route column lists named way points that I’ll pass by during the day. I will eventually provide 6 digit OS grid locations for each of these. Some of the places listed have a number in parentheses like Cac Carn Beag (1155). Weather permitting, this is a Munro or sub-peak that I hope to climb, along with it’s height in meters.
- The column called sleep lists “wild” or B&B. Wild camping is what the Brits call when you camp outdoors but not in a designate campground. It’s a popular and scenic way to camp for Challenge participants. People also sleep in old buildings maintained for walkers and hunters called bothies. See the Mountain Bothies Association for more info about these. These are useful shelters when the weather really goes to sh+t, but I’m hoping to stay outside if possible under a pyramid tarp and the stars.
With that background, let’s read through day 10 of my route, so you understand how to figure out where I’m sleeping at the end of the day, which is listed in the start location of the following day. So, on day 10, I start in the town of Braemar, where I spend the previous evening in a B&B. I walk through Ballochbuie Forest, past Connachat Cottage and Gelder Shiel and wild camp at Corie na Ciche. Make sense?
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You've inspired me to look into the 2011 TGO challenge.
Do they still have the requirement that you have to have hiked in Scotland? (I've done a fair bit – though not backpacking – in Wales and other bits of the UK)
I'm not sure it's a rigid requirement. I hiked in Scotland over a decade ago and just on day hikes. Can't have counted for much. From what I gather, the Challenge does favor foreign applications a bit more highly, so you should have a decent shot. There are only 5 or 6 Americans participating this year.
Wow, you're well organised! You've inspired me to start planning my route *g* Yours looks great.
I was just reading through some of your TGO journals this weekend. They make a lot more sense after you've planned a route. I noticed that one year you did a very similar walk to mine from Shiel Bridge to St. Cyrus. Did you find the low level route too easy? That's a lingering concern of mine.