Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca
Showing posts with label TGO Challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TGO Challenge. Show all posts

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

The TGO Challenge - Vetting Days (15)

 
I'm currently vetting a route that takes in some of the Creag Meagaidh ridge, and the last route I vetted also took this in, bringing back memories of several outings in this area.
 
Wind features quite heavily in those memories. On one wintry visit, Liz's gloves blew away near the main summit, necessitating a break in my emergency shelter before we tackled the steep descent from The Window to Lochan a' Choire.
 
My report on 13 May 2009 offers memories of mackerel being blown out of its tin at lunchtime, and an image of me sprawled under my rucksack, being the calmest place to take a rest. All this whilst low level Challengers were basking in hot sunshine in the valleys.
 
Our day had started from the camp pictured above (NN 369 873), and had basically taken in the entire Creag Meagaidh ridge, on which Sue is pictured below. This picture doesn't really portray the battle we had against the cold easterly wind.
 
 
By the time we had traversed the ridge and descended to 430 metres, we were out of the gale and enjoying a sunlit campsite at around NN 510 909. It had been a magical day, with wonderful views, despite the annoying wind.
 
 
My contemporaneous report is .

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

On the South West Coast Path (4) Polruan


Back briefly to my SWCP project. Here's the Polruan Ferry on 29 May 2005, transporting some of our 'team' across one of the many estuaries that have to be crossed during the undertaking of this walk.

We've been back from Canada for a week now, and I still haven't downloaded the photos. It has been raining for much of the time we've been back here, so I've been concentrating on a huge backlog of 'indoor projects'.

I'm conscious of not having updated topwalks.com recently (the Windows XP computer that houses the Dreamweaver software is out of action due to decorating) and I haven't arranged a programme of bike rides and walks. I'm not depressed, just haven't got around to those jobs, for which I won't have a vast amount of enthusiasm until the weather improves.

Meanwhile, TGO Challenge vetting continues.... and yesterday I discovered that I have a place in Andrew's taxi from Inverness to Torridon on 7 May. So I booked a train from Manchester to Inverness on that day. The seven hour journey came up at £22.95, so I didn't feel inclined to carry out the usual detailed costing exercise involving different routes and splitting the journey!

I've noticed that I left our Pyrenees HRP 2004 postings in a state of suspense that nobody seems to have noticed. I'll try to reach the end of that walk tomorrow.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

The TGO Challenge - Vetting Days (14)

 
The map above (try clicking on it for a better version) shows some of the routes I've been vetting (not sure why the north coast route shows in green), and indicates that quite a few of my vettees will encounter each other, and may even bump into their vetter.
 
The Portavadie starters won't meet anyone I've vetted to date, and the north coast route could be a bit lonesome. However, there's a pleasing range of different routes, and I'm sure everyone will enjoy themselves. I hope my input has provided a reasonable balance between getting the Route Sheet completed properly on the one hand and trying to offer constructive comments on the other hand.
 
Sue and I will shortly be heading overseas, leaving our trusty decorator in situ, so I'm taking a three week rest from the fairly time consuming occupation of vetting.
 
I'll leave you with a picture of a bridge I had to cross in Glen Builg on my first TGOC crossing in 2007. My vetter (the wonderful Ian Shiel) didn't point out this particular obstacle, on which a workman bravely posed for me after I'd stumbled across!
 
 

Monday, 27 January 2020

The TGO Challenge - Vetting Days (13)


Perhaps I should have written about last night's Book Club Christmas meal, where book club members and partners who aren't members congregate annually at Shan's house with such tasty goodies as soup, curry, beef lasagne, cauliflower moussaka, beetroot pie, bilberry trifle, lemon roulade, and After Eight Mints.

Anyway, I didn't take any pictures, so enough of that....

Today's Challenge picture shows a group of us, replete from the pleasures of Charleton strawberry farm, making our way along Kinnaber Links to the Park Hotel in Montrose on 23 May 2019, after a joyous finish to our 200 mile (or so) walk. Included in the picture is one of this year's team leaders, who has the responsibility of nudging one of the event's sponsors across Scotland. She certainly won't struggle with the last day, as I know she took the same route last year.

Friday, 24 January 2020

The TGO Challenge - Vetting Days (12)


The most southerly starting point for the Challenge used to be The Grey Gull Inn at Ardrishaig. Sue is pictured here before our 2012 start. She is carrying all her luggage - a bum bag - hence looking so cheerful.

Recently, an additional, even more southerly, start point has been added - Portavadie Marina. I'm currently vetting a route that utilises that start point and sets off along the route of the Cowal Way. It looks very good; perhaps we'll start from there next year.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

The TGO Challenge - Vetting Days (11)

 
Today I've been vetting a route that follows the Rob Roy Way from Kenmore to Aberfeldy. That means the Challengers concerned will be able to enjoy the delights of the Birks of Aberfeldy, a series of small waterfalls in a beautiful wooded area above the town.
 
They are in for a treat!

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

The TGO Challenge - Vetting Days (10)

 
Here I am, on 17 May 2009, on the suspension bridge by Tarf Falls, which we found a little disappointing.
 
The trigger for this image is a route I'm currently vetting, on which the Challengers plan to cross Allt Garbh Buidhe here, en route from Tarf Water to Fealar Lodge. They may have to paddle across, just beyond the bridge. Sue and I must have done that in 2009, though my diary simply states "from the falls a pleasant path led over to Fealar Lodge".

Thursday, 16 January 2020

The TGO Challenge - Vetting Days (9)

 
Here, I'm packing up near the summit of Beinn na Caillich, on 18 May 2010, after one of the best nights I've had in a tent, with the door wide open and views across Loch Leven to Glencoe.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

The TGO Challenge - Vetting Days (8)

 
The route I'm currently vetting has a camping spot below the Munro summit of Creag nan Damh, on the South Glen Shiel ridge. Sue and I were there on 9 May 2008, in t-shirt weather.
 
This year's Challengers may not be so lucky - here's a panoramic view taken by Ali O on her 2019 Challenge, where a group of Challengers camped in the same (more or less - NG 986 111) spot in fine, but hardly t-shirt, weather. You'll need to click on the picture to view it properly.
 

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

The TGO Challenge - Vetting Days (7)

 
This one is for fellow vetter, Barbara, who asked about access to the Schiehallion path from Kinloch Rannoch (where ice creams are an essential purchase).
 
Here's Sue on 15 May 2019 at our camp (NN696554) along the track Barbara was enquiring about.

Monday, 13 January 2020

The TGO Challenge - Vetting Days (6)

 
Today I'm vetting a route that passes Ryvoan bothy, near Glenmore Lodge. I stayed outside the bothy on a lovely flat piece of grass, on my first Challenge in 2007.
 
I have a vivid memory of the ensuing sleepless night. Some might say I was disturbing the wildlife, but the troop of lekking black grouse acted as if I simply wasn't there, refusing to be shooed away from their night time mating rituals.
 
Don't camp here!

Friday, 10 January 2020

The TGO Challenge - Vetting Days (5)

 
This photo is from 10 May 2009, when Sue and I camped near the summit of Gulvain. The route I vetted yesterday went very close by, and my enquiries about the route near the A' Chuil bothy led me to the explanation as to why Sue and I didn't find a bridge mentioned by my vetter at the time, Alan Hardy. We were on the wrong path through Glendessarry - we should have gone through the wood that's to the south of the main path.
 
I wish I could still climb trig points like that!

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

The TGO Challenge - Vetting Days (4)


I've had the pleasure today of vetting a route that includes a day that almost exactly replicates the day Sue and I spent on 19 May 2008. I wrote about it .

I hope that Myles can enjoy his day in May on these hills as much as we did.

Sue is pictured above with the view from the summit of Lochnagar, back to Loch nan Eun.

Monday, 6 January 2020

The TGO Challenge - Vetting Days (3)

 
Another picture from the same (2009) Challenge as the previous two postings.
 
Our route joined the Great Glen Way for a while, passing by the southern end of Loch Lochy towards Gairlochy.
 
The views up Loch Lochy were immaculate, with birch and beech trees almost visibly bursting into leaf on the hot day.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

The TGO Challenge - Vetting Days (2)


Here's our camp that preceded the idyllic spot beside the Finiskaig river in the . I suppose that given the pace of global warming such pictures as this will become a rare sight on the Challenge in May.

We were camped at about 680 metres by Allt a Choire Odhair, which looked like this when we pitched the tent:

 
A reminder of this, our first day out of Mallaig, is .

Saturday, 4 January 2020

The TGO Challenge - Vetting Days (1)


Following the sad demise of Bernie Marshall last year, I offered to help the organisers - knowing that he was supposed to be on Challenge Control at the Park Hotel in Montrose.

"We have that covered, but Bernie was a vetter, and he will be sorely missed from that role" was the gist of the response.

I can't fill Bernie's size 14s, but I did agree to vet some routes. Around 300 routes are submitted each year from TGO Challenge entrants. A team of nearly twenty people vets these routes, to ensure that they are sensible, manageable and, as far as possible, safe.

January is the busiest month for vetting, as many participants prepare their routes during the Christmas holidays, and the deadlines for submission become imminent.

I'm enjoying the vetting, but it is time consuming, so I'll have less time to compose items for this blog for a few weeks. I've therefore decided to post random pictures from the TGO Challenges that I've been taking part in since 2007.

I'm currently looking at a first timer's route that passes through Knoydart and then up beside the Finiskaig River. He plans to camp at NM891943, but I'll be able to suggest that if he cares to continue for another 1.5 km, he may find an idyllic spot at NM906947, where Sue is pictured next to our tent in 2009.

PS We did take part in Wythenshawe parkrun this morning, with Sue walking with Jeanette as both are injured. There was a huge turnout of 401 people, on a fine morning. Everything went smoothly but I took no pictures. We spent the usual hour + in the tea room afterwards. Full results, just for the record, are .

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Saturday 25 May 2019 - Montrose parkrun number 98

Sue and I took part in the Montrose parkrun a year ago after spending a week on TGO Challenge Control. This year we were joined by Gayle, Mick having sensibly to spectate due to a damaged ankle.

There were 157 participants - about double compared with last year. (Meanwhile there was a record turnout of 439 for our 'home' run at Wythenshawe.)

The run director provided the TGO Challenge with a little publicity by introducing us and the event in which we had taken part. We thank him for that and for the friendliness of everyone we met.

With tired legs from walking nearly 200 miles across Scotland carrying backpacks, we all expected to be slower than usual. We were, but not by as much as we thought we would be. In fact, Sue and I were quickest in our respective age groups, and Gayle was well up in hers. 

Parkruns are, as many readers may be aware, 'an excuse to eat cake'. Today was no exception. We enjoyed cake supplied by a few 'landmark' runners taking part in their 50th or 100th events, at the end of the run. Then we revisited Charleton Strawberry Farm for more coffee and superb 'cake'.

Thanks go to Mick and Gayle for the treat that fuelled us for the 320 mile drive home, where we are now relaxing after our energetic holiday.

Today's pictures:
Sue speeds home just behind Gayle in about 27 minutes
The running TGO trio
Coffee and cake
Gayle's choice was the envy of all of us

Hopefully we will meet again next Saturday, but I doubt the cake will match today's standards.

I'll insert a link to the full results tomorrow  - I can't work out how to do this using the phone.

Friday, 24 May 2019

TGO Challenge 2019 - Ice Creams and a Foot Massage

We had a lazy day in Montrose before attending the Friday meal for about 80 people, which brought the 40th TGO Challenge to a conclusion.

The staff at the Park Hotel, from where the event has always been coordinated for the duration of the Challenge, even provided a birthday cake. That was after elder statesmen Hamish Brown and Roger Smith had given short speeches in appreciation of the Challenge and some of its legendary participants. 

We had a most sociable day, including a massage for Sue, ice creams all round, and a foot massage for John, who I collected from his St Cyrus finishing point in order to get him to the Park Hotel by the 5 pm deadline.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

TGO Challenge 2019 - Day 14

Date: Thursday 23 May 2019

Route: North Water Bridge to Montrose via Kinnaber Links.

Distance: 16 km (Cum: 303)

Ascent: 150 metres (Cum: 9550)

Time taken: 5 hrs including 1.5 hrs breaks

Weather: sunny periods, cool breeze

A lazy departure from the campsite saw us leaving nearly last at 9 am, together with the large (7 or 8 of them) self contained Danish contingent.

We were joined by Steph and John, the latter a former event coordinator, having walked only half the way with Steph.

After leaving the Danes to take a direct road route, we soon caught up with Carl, Sally and Laura. We were joined at Marymill by Andrew, who had spent the night with his team members Alan and Phil and had now rushed off to join his 'other' team.

A pleasant footpath near the river, with verges of comfrey and avens, led to Logie, from where the four of us continued on country lanes to Hillside. Andrew's quartet found a different way.

The path to Kinnaber led past Charleton, where the strawberry farm has become a favourite with Challengers. Well over an hour was spent in there, with many others who were heading towards their finishing point.

Onwards along easy paths to reach the beach at Kinnaber Links. Another Challenge completed. Joy and tired legs all round.

A group of twelve of us made our way along the sands and across the golf course to sign in at 'Control' in the Kinnaird Room at the Park Hotel.
Sue and I were with Steph, John, Andrew, Carl, Sally, Laura, Nicole, 'Croydon', Matthew and Melanie for this final sunny stroll.

Still no sign of the dynamic trio - Roger and his cohorts, but I expect we will see them tonight after the celebratory dinner. Sue and I are giving that a miss - we will go to the Friday dinner - and are revisiting the excellent El Tajin Authentic Mexican Restaurant before adjourning to the Park Hotel. It could be a late return to Alison's nearby flat, which she has kindly let us borrow for a couple more nights.

Today's pictures:
The leafy lane to Logie
Finishers by the sea
A stroll along the sands
Signing in at the Park Hotel (after collecting this year's t-shirt)

TGO Challenge 2019 - Day 13

Date: Wednesday 22 May 2019

Route: Tarfside to North Water Bridge campsite (NO 649 662)

Distance: 28 km (Cum: 287)

Ascent: 300 metres (Cum: 9400)

Time taken: 8.7 hrs including 2.1 hrs breaks

Weather: showery until mid morning, then sunny periods and warm

After a cool night that left frost on the tent, we enjoyed breakfast at St Drostans after queuing for a while. The Rt Hon Sir Mick of Croydon excelling himself as usual by attempting to jump the queue (and just about getting away with it! - "Don't you know I'm Royalty" he bleats on...)

Everyone gradually packs up and leaves, with North Water Bridge being the destination for most of us. The Retreat was closed for 'restructuring'. Hopefully it will have reopened by the time of the next Challenge. Two kilometres down the road from Tarfside, it's a good breakfast destination.

Vicky followed us up past cuckoos and woodpeckers to the Masonic tower that allows up to three people to sit out a storm. Vicky works as a deck hand on luxury sailing boats. She went off towards the Fetteresso Forest.

We then joined the disjointed trail of people wending their way to Edzell. We were disappointed to miss the riverside 'Blue Door' trail due to a landslip. Later we were even more disappointed when Sabine told us the route wasn't really blocked at all. Health and Safety gone mad. She had been tipped off that the broadcast blockage didn't really exist to any extent.

Lunch was at the Tuck Inn café in the company of Nicole and others. We had walked with Nicole earlier when she needed help to get through a cow zone. That was after we had found her mysteriously scrabbling around a tree trunk. It turned out that she was looking for a geocache.

We spent nearly two hours at the café - much needed as we had walked for over 20 km in the five hours before lunch, without much of a break. Our longest single stretch without a brew stop on the entire walk. The Tuck Inn has changed hands since our last visit and although some of us were well satisfied with our meals, others perceived a fall in standards.

Another two hours saw us arrive by a mistaken route, due to my lack of concentration on the map, at this friendly campsite. En route we were distracted by a muck spreader that started up in a field right next to us. Yeuch! I blame that for my mistake. Anyway, we enjoyed more of the beautiful long green tunnel of foliage leading to our destination. Albeit the drivers seem to regard it as a race track. A speed camera here could make a fortune.

A refurbishment of the toilet block ensured that we all got a hot shower. In previous years the hot water has run out, but they have made a big effort this year to meet our needs.

Socialising at the campsite, dinner courtesy of Sue, and resting have taken up the rest of the day. We heard that the terrible trio - Roger, Viv and Steve - have finished today, and that my old school mate, John, who we called in to see on our journey to Montrose two weeks ago, has bumped into veteran Challenger, Russ Manion. As John says - it's a small world!

Later we learnt of Alan's exploits as a seaman in the Falklands when he was a young man. He proudly showed us a gallery of photos from the 1980s that he has on his phone.

Today's pictures:
Camping at Tarfside
The Masonic Tower in Glen Esk
The suspension bridge at Edzell
First brew at North Water Bridge, with Alan and Brian, and our tent in the background
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