Thursday 7 May 2015

TGO Challenge 2014 - Index of Posts

With the 2015 TGO Challenge kicking off tomorrow, I thought it was about time that I actually finished off my blog posts about last year's crossing!  Therefore here is an index of my various 2014 TGO Challenge posts:

Looking across Loch Hourn to Ladhar Bheinn from the west ridge of Beinn Sgritheall

Posts prior to setting off:
Gairich, Sgurr an Fhuarain & Sgurr Mor from the SW slopes of Sgurr a'Mhaoraich

Occasional posts during the challenge:
Carn na Criche, Braeriach, Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Carn Toul from Monadh Mor summit

Day by day posts following the challenge, with lots of photos:
  • Day 1 - Glenelg to Glen Arnisdale
  • Day 2 - Glen Arnisdale to Loch Quoich
  • Day 3 - Loch Quoich to Inchlaggan
  • Day 4 - Inchlaggan to Fort Augustus
  • Day 5 - Fort Augustus to Chalybeate Spring
  • Day 6 - Chalybeate Spring to Newtonmore
  • Day 7 - Newtonmore to Ruigh Aiteachain
  • Day 8 - Ruigh Aiteachain to Glen Dee
  • Day 9 - Glen Dee to Braemar
  • Day 10 - Braemar to Gelder Shiel
  • Day 11 - Gelder Shiel to Queen's Well
  • Day 12 - Queen's Well to Tarfside
  • Day 13 - Tarfside to North Water Bridge
  • Day 14 - North Water Bridge to Montrose
Looking up Glen Dee towards the Lairig Ghru
It was an excellent crossing and my fourth challenge after three previous crossings in 2008, 2009 and 2010.  The weather was pretty reasonable much of the time and I had only about 20km overlap with my previous three crossings.

Wednesday 6 May 2015

TGOC 2014 - Day 14: North Water Bridge to Montrose

Thursday 22nd May 2014

A morning walk to Montrose trying to stay off the road as much as possible 

Distance: 15km; Ascent: 120m; Overcast with rain on the coast; Solo

It was forecast to be a wet end to this year's challenge, with rain due to arrive from around 11am.  Therefore I resolved to make an earlier start than usual and set off walking at around quarter past eight this morning, although others had left much earlier than me.

North Water Bridge campsite
Looking up the River North Esk from North Water Bridge
It was grey and overcast as I followed the main road east towards Marykirk.  However, rather than crossing the River North Esk and heading for St Cyrus, I instead picked up a footpath.  I had planned my route from here to the coast to have as little road walking as possible by studying the Angus Council Core Paths Plan.  Using this useful resource, I had plotted a route to Montrose beach along various core paths, with only around 2-3km of road walking from this point onwards.

Signpost for the path to Logie
The River North Esk at Craigo
Path from Craigo to Logie
Path through the fields to Logie
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Core Paths were actually signposted, which made route finding significantly easier.  I had brought printouts of the Core Paths overlaid onto 1:25000 maps from the council website in case I needed them to locate the paths; however these weren't needed in the end.  The path from Craigo to Logie was pleasant enough, with a section through some woodland followed by a bit through some fields.  From Logie I had a bit of road walking to reach the start of my next Core Path of the day.

Signpost for the path to Hillside
The track to Hillside
Entering the Rosemount Estate
In the Rosemount Estate
Good woodland tracks led me to the pleasant Rosemount Estate, after which I emerged onto the road again in Hillside.  Again a few hundred metres of road walking led me onwards to my next Core Path, this time from Hillside to Borrowfield.  This path ended in the middle of a housing estate on the northwestern edge of Montrose, from where I picked up the cycle path that I followed virtually all the way to the sea.

The track from Hillside to Borrowfield
Small lochan on the edge of Montrose
I rejoined the road a short distance from the sea, near to the golf club, at a road junction with a handy signpost for the Seafront Splash play area where I was due to meet Lynsey and the kids.  It was now getting a bit windy in addition to the threatening sky so I continued quickly towards the beach.  On the way there I met Lynsey, Isabel and Olivia and walked to the beach with them :-).

Nearly there!
Montrose beach
Due to storm damaged paths, we were unable to get the pushchair down to the beach itself so I nipped down to the sea to dip my feet in the sea on my own.  It was now shortly after 11am and I'd finished the 2014 TGO Challenge :-).  I then spent an enjoyable half hour playing at the Seafront Splash play area with the kids, before rain stopped play!

We headed into town to get a spot of lunch somewhere indoors, before moving on to the Park Hotel for me to officially finish, which is also where we were staying this evening.  It was good to catch up with John, Ali, Gayle and Mick on control.  I spent a leisurely afternoon in Montrose with the family, before it was time for the enjoyable celebration evening meal in the hotel.  Lynsey joined me after the meal and it was good to catch up with so many other challengers :-).  Although it was sad to think that it was all over for another year.  It would be Lynsey's turn to do the TGOC next year, so it would be 2016 at the earliest before I'm next setting out from the west coast to walk eastwards for two weeks!

Not sure what Andy & Alan are so surprised about!
At the Park Hotel

Tuesday 5 May 2015

TGOC 2014 - Day 13: Tarfside to North Water Bridge

Wedneday 21st May 2014

A pleasant walk down Glen Esk, via the Rocks of Solitude and the Blue Door Walk 

Distance: 27.5km; Ascent: 280m; Dry with plenty of sunshine; Mostly Solo

The start and end points of today's walk were pretty familiar to me, having walked between them twice before in 2008 and 2009 (despite not actually having been on my route sheet either year!).  However this year I decided to investigate an alternative route instead of the perfectly pleasant walk down the southern side of the glen.  Angus Council's Core Paths Plan proved to be a useful resource for planning bits of today's and tomorrow's walk, which resulted in me deciding to pick a route between the hills over to Millden.

I set off at 9:15am, initially northwards along the Fungle Road, but after a few hundred metres I came to a signposted track junction and headed towards Millden.  The bulldozed track headed east and was reasonably well signposted every so often.  After a few kilometres I left this bulldozed route and picked up a older, greener track that led me down to the road.

Signposted footpath to Millden from the southern end of the Fungle Road
Looking back to the Hill of Rowan
The track from Tarfside to Millden
Signposts at the half-way point between Tarfside & Millden, with Craig Soales in the background
Looking back west from near Mile Cairn
The Hill of Wirren
Around half a kilometre of tarmac then brought me to the main road through Glen Esk, where I had a break to rehydrate on what was turning out to be a warm day!  I also took the opportunity to change into shorts given I still had a long walk ahead of me.  My original plan had been to backtrack westwards along the road for the best part of a kilometre so as to cross to the other side of the river.  However I decided that I couldn't really be bothered with the extra distance and instead headed straight down the road, which on the plus side was a route I hadn't previously walked!

River North Esk a few km downstream from Millden
Bluebells in Glen Esk
Trees in Glen Esk
An old looking signpost
At around half past midday I reached a old looking signpost for the Rocks of Solitude.  I'd heard that these were worth a visit, so I followed a path down through the woods to reach some rocky outcrops above the river.  It was lovely and sunny here so I stopped to enjoy the warmth of the sun whilst having lunch down near the river.

The Rocks of Solitude
The Rocks of Solitude
The Rocks of Solitude
I was pleased that I'd decided to come this way as the Rocks of Solitude were indeed worth a visit.  After feeling suitably refreshed I continued on a good path through the pleasant beech woods to reach the famous Blue Door.

Heading through The Burn woods
The riverside woodland path
The Blue Door, of walk fame ;)
I'd heard about this Blue Door several times over the last few years from various different people and had decided to include the Blue Door Walk on my route this year.  I was very glad that I had as it had been a really pleasant woodland wander :-).

River North Esk from Gannochy bridge
Crossing the river by way of the road bridge, I picked up a path between the fields and the river down to Edzell where I arrived at the Tuck Inn at around 2pm for a second lunch!

Outside the Tuck Inn
Here I met up with Lynsey, Isabel and Olivia again :-).  I was in no great rush to get to North Water Bridge this afternoon so I spent a good couple of hours in Edzell with them, which included much running around on the grassy Edzell Muir playing with a tennis ball :-).  Eventually it was time for them to head back to Montrose for tea, so I picked up a few supplies in the village shops and left Edzell at around quarter to five.

The Shakin Brig
Looking down the River North Esk from Shakin Brig
I crossed the Shakin Brig with Martin and Andrew, who I spent the rest of the day walking with to North Water Bridge.  We arrived at the campsite at around 6:30pm, to find it overrun with challengers (no surprise there then!).  There then followed a very sociable evening at campsite catching up with lots of other challengers, although it was sad to think that tomorrow would be the last day of this year's TGOC for me!

Ploughed fields near Arnhall

Monday 4 May 2015

TGOC 2014 - Day 12: Queen's Well to Tarfside

Tuesday 20th May 2014

A short morning walk down Glen Mark and over to Tarfside 

Distance: 11km; Ascent: 130m; Overcast with warm sunshine later; Solo

I slept well last night after my long day in the hills yesterday, and I woke this morning to find my tent surrounded by cloud.  However this gradually thinned and lifted a few hundred metres over the next hour or two.  I set off walking soon after half past eight and wandered over to take another look at the Queen's Well in the light of day.  It seemed a little odd to have such a dank well when there were perfectly good burns around to get water from!

My overnight pitch near the Queen's Well
The Queen's Well
The Queen's Well
Glenmark and the Queen's Well
After leaving the Queen's Well, I made my way down Glen Mark on the reasonable vehicle track.  All the surrounding hills were still covered in cloud, but there were still good views up and down the glen at times.

Looking back up the Glen Mark track
The Water of Mark from the bridge
A very old looking gate near the bottom of Glen Mark
Footpath signs at Invermark
At around 10am, I reached the road at Invermark and wandered over to the car park, where I met a couple of other challengers: David and Margaret Brocklehurst.  I stopped here to chat to them and to have a bit of a second breakfast.  However I didn't linger too long as when I was on Mount Keen yesterday evening I'd arranged with Lynsey that I'd meet her in Tarfside at midday.  Therefore I headed along the hill track over to Tarfside, which I'd walked three times previously - the only such overlap between my four crossings.

Looking back westwards from the track to Tarfside
Looking down Glen Esk on the way to Tarfside
A welcome sign :-)
On entering Tarfside at 11:15am, I headed straight for St Drostan's for a welcome shower, bacon butty and tea :-).  At around midday I wandered over to the camping field to find Lynsey, Isabel & Olivia waiting for me - it was good to see them all again!  It was strange arriving in Tarfside so early as I had the pick of the entire field for pitching my tent as no-one else had yet arrived.

We had a leisurely picnic lunch followed by a visit to the nearby play park; it was good to be spending time with the kids again :-).  My tent seemed to be an exciting place to play in too!  By now a few more challengers had started arriving, so we decided it was time to start eating Lynsey's birthday cake.  It reminded me of our first challenge back in 2008, when Lynsey also celebrated her birthday in Tarfside and Roger had arranged for a surprise birthday cake to be delivered to Tarfside!

Lynsey's birthday cake :-)
The rest of the afternoon was spent around the camping field and back at St Drostan's saying hello to lots of other challengers.  We headed down the road to The Retreat for Lynsey's birthday meal, before it was time for Lynsey and the children to head back to Montrose.  I headed back to St Drostan's for a jacket potato, before spending a sociable evening in the Mason's Arms with many friendly faces :-).

Tarfside camping field