Friday 23 May 2014

TGOC 2014 - The final five days

On Sunday afternoon I left Braemar to walk to the east coast at Montrose, where I arrived yesterday morning. My route took me via Gelder Shiel, Conachcraig, the Water of Mark, Mount Keen, Tarfside, Edzell and North Water Bridge; here are a few photos of these days when the sun mainly shone and it hardly rained :-)

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday 18 May 2014

TGOC 2014 - The Middle Section

Yesterday I arrived in Braemar, having spent five days walking here from Fort Augustus, via Chalybeate Spring, Newtonmore, Glen Feshie and Glen Dee, including a mixture of low level and Munro bagging days. This afternoon I head to Gelder Shiel.

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday 13 May 2014

TGOC 2014 - The first four days

I reached Fort Augustus late yesterday afternoon after four excellent days of walking since setting off from Glenelg on Friday morning. Here's a brief update on what I've been up to on route with a few photos - more details, photos and route maps will appear in due course once I'm back home.

On Friday I ascended Beinn Sgritheall as planned, with excellent views from the west ridge before I ascended into the cloud at around 800m. I descended to Arnisdale before camping a couple of kilometres up Glen Arnisdale.

Then on Saturday I spent the morning walking in rain to Kinloch Hourn, where I spent a pleasant hour resting in the tea room. By now the rain had cleared up and it was warm and sunny, so I decided to ascend Sgurr a'Mhaoraich with excellent views over Loch Quoich. That evening I camped near the road bridge over the northern arm of Loch Quoich.

On Sunday I had a long, good day climbing the two Munros of Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach. Again there were excellent views when I wasn't in the cloud, and there was a surprising amount of snow still remaining in their northern coires. After three long days in the hills, I descended to a B&B in Inchlaggan for a welcome rest!

Then yesterday I walked along the forest tracks to Invergarry, where I met Alan, Andrew and Phil in the pub and walked with them much of the rest of the day into the metropolis of Fort Augustus. Today I head into the Monadhliath.

See this post of mine from last week for details of my planned route together with updates on my actual progress via Social Hiking.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday 8 May 2014


After a long day of travelling, I'm now in Glenelg ready to start the TGO Challenge tomorrow morning. I'm hoping the views tomorrow are as good as those this evening in Glenelg.

posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Live Mapping for the TGO Challenge

Wednesday 7th May 2014

Tomorrow I will be heading north by a combination of trains, buses and a kind offer of a lift to reach Glenelg, from where I will be starting this year's TGO Challenge from. My plan is to walk from there to Montrose over 14 days, taking in a few hills on route. All being well you should be able to follow my progress using the map below (purple is my planned route and green is my actual progress). Please note however that the live progress information relies on my SPOT Connect and my phone working correctly during the trip!

See map on Social Hiking site or full size in a new window.

An Easter Backpack in the Galloway Hills: Day 3 - The Southern Rhinns of Kells & Lamachan Hill

Sunday 20th April 2014

A slightly less sunny day to end an excellent backpack in the Galloway Hills 

Distance: 27km; Ascent: 1310m; Sunshine at first with a cold wind; Solo

I woke up at around 1:30am to the sound of the tent being blown about - it appeared that the wind had not only strengthened overnight, but also changed direction so that the tent was now no longer optimally orientated with respect to the wind direction.  After concluding that the wind wasn't currently strong enough to cause a major problem I went back to sleep until around 6:30am this morning.

Early morning light at camp on the Rhinns of Kells
After a breakfast of porridge, I packed the tent up and set off walking shortly before 8:30am.  It was nice to have camped so high last night as I reached the summit cairn of Millfire (Donald Top) in almost no time at all.  Again there were excellent views this morning, with barely a cloud in the sky :-)  There was however a noticeably stronger cold wind than on the two previous days.

Corserine from the south
Summit of Millfire
Continuing south along the pleasant Rhinns of Kells ridge, I reached my second summit of the day: Milldown (Donald, Graham Top).  A short descent to the SSE brought me to my original planned camp for last night at the Lochans of Auchniebut, although I was glad I hadn't ended up camping here as it looked like it might have been tricky to find a dry spot of ground!  Another 100m ascent lay ahead before I reached a trigpoint; a few hundred metres further on lay the summit cairn of Meikle Millyea (Donald, Graham Top, HuMP).

Summit of Milldown
The Lochans of Auchniebut and Milldown
Trigpoint on Meikle Millyea
Meikle Millyea summit cairn
There were excellent views SW from here towards my next range of hills, which included the hills of Millfore and Lamachan Hill.  In addition I could make out the Arran Hills and the Lake District hills in the far distance!  My original plan had been to continue along the ridge over Little Milyea and Darrou, but I realised that it looked relatively easy to gain the forest road to the SW of Meikle Millyea.  Therefore I decided to descend through felled forest towards the Green Burn and follow this down to the forest road, which should allow me quicker progress and allow me to catch up with my original plans.

Millfore, Lamachan Hill & Loch Dee
Green Burn
It was hot out of the wind in the forest as I followed the track for two to three kilometres to reach a bridge over the Black Water of Dee.  Around here I joined the main east-west forest road through the forest park, which meant I encountered a few vehicles and probably around a dozen cyclists.

Black Water of Dee
Forest Road in Glen Dee
The section of the forest road was also the route of the Southern Upland Way, a temping sounding long distance route across the Southern Uplands from coast to coast.  Soon I had a lovely view over Loch Dee towards Craiglee, so I decided to stop for lunch around here.

Southern Upland Way marker near Loch Dee
After lunch I left the main forest road and headed southwards through the area of forest marked on the map as Black Laggan Ward.  There had clearly been a lot of felling here in the last year or so as there were loads and loads of logs piles up in huge piles along the edges of the path.

Some of the many log piles in Black Laggan Ward
The felled forest north of Millfore
At the southern end of the track I had planned to follow the firebreaks up to reach the open hillside around 500m away.  However owing to the felling of part of this forest, the first section of the firebreak didn't really exist, which resulted in the unpleasant negotiation of a couple of hundred metres of felled forest.  Beyond here I picked up the firebreaks, but following these wasn't without difficulty as there were many fallen trees blocking the way.  However after much fighting my way through the trees I finally reached the open hillside!  By now I had almost run out of water so I re-stocked from a handy nearby stream before ascending up to the trigpoint and cairn on the summit of Millfore (Graham, Donald).

Cairn and trigpoint on summit of Millfore
Whilst I sat having a break here, it was clear that that I was enjoying the last sunshine of my trip as it was rapidly clouding over this afternoon.  The walk from Millfore to the bealach below Curleywee seemed to go on forever as it was very knobbly!  However I did pass the nice looking White Lochan of Drigmorn and the visited the summit of Gairy of Pulnee (Donald Dewey).

White Lochan of Drigmorn
Summit of Gairy of Pulney
Curleywee (Donald, Graham Top, HuMP) was my next objective and from here it looked very steep, and I can confirm that it was a very steep ascent!  However after much exertion I finally reached it's summit cairn perched on a rocky outcrop.

Rocky summit of Curleywee
The descent from Curleywee was quite steep with various craggy bits to circumvent, plus quite a bit of scree in places.  I continued west along the ridge over the minor top of the Scars of Milldown (Donald Dewey) until I only had one hill left to climb.

Curleywee from the west
I pushed on to the rounded summit of Lamachan Hill (Graham, Donald), where I took a short break near the summit cairn.  To descend from here I descended steeply into the coire at the head of the Sheil Burn, which I roughly followed down over unpleasant tussocky grass to eventually reach the forest track below.

Lamachan Hill summit cairn
My pace quickened now that I was on the homeward straight; the good track certainly helped with this!  I crossed the Gairland Burn and continued on to ascend back up to the Bruce's Stone carpark, which I reached shortly before 8pm after a long day's walking.

Gairland Burn
It had been an excellent three days of backpacking in what appears to be seldom visited hill country, and it didn't rain at all!  I decided to get some of the way home this evening so that I could join the rest of my family at Tatton Park the following day for some Easter fun :-)

Monday 5 May 2014

An Easter Backpack in the Galloway Hills: Day 2 - Mullwharchar and the Northern Rhinns of Kells

Saturday 19th April 2014

A long sunny day in the hills, during which I only saw one other person! 

Distance: 26km; Ascent: 1220m; Warm & sunny; Solo

After a reasonable night's sleep, I woke up to a gloriously sunny morning next to Loch Enoch high in the Galloway Hills.  There were excellent views across the crystal clear water towards The Merrick rising above the far side of the loch.

Morning sun at my Loch Enoch camp
Loch Enoch
I set off walking at around 9am and headed up the southern slopes of my first hill of the day, Mullwharchar, with fantastic views all around.  Soon I reached the cairn on the summit of Mullwharchar (Graham, Donald).  I took a short break by the cairn for a second breakfast, whilst admiring the views.

Mullwharchar summit cairn
Looking west to The Merrick & Kirriereoch Hill from Mullwharchar
Looking north towards Loch Doon from the N ridge of Mullwharchar
I continued northwards along the ridge, past my planned campsite for last night, to reach the summit of Hoodens Hill (Donald Dewey).  From here there were good views northwards to Loch Doon, and from a little bit further down the ridge I could pick out my planned route through the cleared forest to a footbridge over Gala Lane.

Summit rocks of Hoodens Hill
Looking down to Loch Doon and Gala Lane from the N ridge of Hoodens Hill
As I continued northwards the ridge narrowed and became more distinct, with a faint path heading down the ridge.  By now I was quite low on water and the day was starting to warm up, so I detoured westwards to resupply from the pleasant looking burn of Eglin Lane.

Loch Macaterick and Eglin Lane
Eglin Lane
My route down to the footbridge, through the cleared forest, was easier than I expected but still quite boggy in places.  At the footbridge I stopped for my first lunch break, and soon after I crossed the footbridge I joined a forest road, on which I made fast progress heading NNE towards my next hills.

On the forest road on route to the next range of hills
Log pile
The forest road annoyingly, although not surprisingly, ended in the middle of the woods leaving me with around a kilometre of forest to make my way through to reach the open hillside.  Luckily there were several firebreaks to make this easier, although I still ended up having to push through the last few metres of densely planted trees to reach the open ground above.  Now I was out of the forest, I soon joined up with a reasonable path ascending up to reach the summit of Coran of Portmark (Donald, Graham Top).  Shortly before reaching the summit I met the only other person I'd see all day, who had just finished a traverse of the Rhinns of Kells.

Loch Doon from the NW slopes of Coran of Portmark
Summit cairn of Coran of Portmark
After a good break for a second lunch by the cairn, I continued southwards over the summit of Bow (Donald Top, Graham Top) to reach the trigpoint on the summit of Meaul (Donald, Graham Top), with good views of the next section of the walk along the ridge to Corserine.

Cairn on Bow summit
Trigpoint on Meaul; looking towards Corserine
I now ascended up to above 800m for the first time on this backpack and headed towards the massive cairn on the summit of Carlin's Cairn (Donald, Graham Top).  From here I could make out my route on to Corserine, which appeared to be quite a bulky hill.

Carlin's Cairn
Corserine from the North
A final pull brought me up to the trigpoint on the summit of Corserine (Corbett, Donald), where I stopped for a break whilst deciding where I should camp for the evening.  My original plan had been to reach the Lochans of Auchniebut, but to reach this spot would involve climbing a further two hills today and I doubted I'd have time to do this before sunset.  Therefore instead I settled on somewhere on the ridge between Corserine and Millfire.

Carlin's Cairn from the N slopes of Corserine
On the summit of Corserine
Looking south along the Rhinns of Kells ridge
I took a detour east from the southern ridge of Corserine to stock up with water from the headwaters of the Hawse Burn, which here ran through a quite steep sided little gorge high up on the hillside.  Regaining the ridge, I continued southwards before finding a lovely flat grassy spot to camp high up on the ridge with excellent views.  I pitched my tent and watched the sun set over The Merrick whilst enjoying a pleasant dinner of couscous, pepper and chorizo.

Ridge top camp in the Rhinns of Kells
Sunset from the tent