Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Glimpse At My 2010 TGO Route, Part 2

Yesterday I posted a summary of my planned route to hike across Scotland during the upcoming Great Outdoor Challenge. This two-week event has been running for the past 32 years and shows no signs that it is going to stop. Many walkers have participated in the Challenge for decades. It is a non-competitive event whose goal, as I see it, is to foster a love of travel by foot across long distances while engaging with the people around you. You are part of a community of Challengers who all share the same goal of trekking across the Highlands of Scotland and sharing the mutual joys (and sometimes sorrows) of that experience. Along the way you meet people who are not taking part in the Challenge: the locals who live in the region mostly. That opens up another realm of experiences which are just as valuable. The Challenge is limited in size to ensure that it can be managed and not overwhelm the areas being hiked through. The management takes the form of the people, volunteers, who staff Challenge Control during the event and those kind souls that examine the submitted routes and advice the entrants about what may a better way to accomplish their goal. For example, a vetoer might point out that a route crossed a river that no longer has a bridge or note that you are taking an unusually long way round to get from point A to B. Their advice is invaluable. These aspects help cement the community aspect of the Challenge.

I fully expect that I will meet other Challengers every day of this hike. In 2008 I had a couple of days where I did not meet anyone after leaving a gathering point. The very first day after I left Dornie I did not see any other Challengers (I did meet a couple locals out for a stroll). On other days I met one or two Challengers early or late but that was it. Only a couple times did I find myself walking with groups of people for the bulk of a day. This year I suspect that will be different. I am following a pretty classic route and in some cases there really aren't that many ways to efficiently get from point A to point B. I am certainly I'll meet many Challengers at the major towns along the way and I'm looking forward to that. I have very fond memories of the evening at Kingussie and my day in Braemar. I hope I have enough time this year when in Fort Augustus to actually see Loch Ness (last time I arrived sometime after 7:00PM on a rather rainy evening and just wanted to dry off and have a nice rest). We will see what happens.

You've seen the route summary already and I thought I'd share a map with you. This route does share some of the same countryside as my 2008 trek. The hike between Fort Augustus and Kingussie is the notable repeat stretch. It's a steady climb up over the Correyairack Pass but the Old Military Road is an easy route to hike. The stretch between Garva Bridge and Kingussie is on paved single-lane road for the first several miles as your approach Monadhliath Hotel. There is also road walking beyond the hotel in the vicinity of Mains of Glentrum but it is a pretty area and you return to two-track as you walk through Phones towards Lubleathann (with a dud of a roadwork into Kingussie proper). While I've no doubt I can cover that stretch in two days I can easily see breaking it into 3 days like I did in 2008. It will depend a lot on who I meet along the way. My foul-weather alternative out of Kingussie would be a reprise of what I did in 2008. While I'd be irked if I have to go this way the hike through Glen Feshie is an enjoyable one though the last few kilometers to White Bridge on the two-track are dull and the six or so kilometers from White Bridge to Mar Lodge are hard on the feet. Finally if I take my foul-weather option out of Braemar I'll walk a few kilometers of paths I've seen before but it's hardly worth mentioning.

Show/Hide the map for TGO 2010 Planned Route

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