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TGO Challenge 2007 day 2 - 3

Sunday, 13 May 2007 - day 2

distance 17km - ascent 450m

during the night caused a lot of condensation on the flysheet. I had been camping in the clouds and after a simple breakfast I packed my tent. A faint but obvious path was leading around the summit. I decided to follow it. I would have done much better by going straight over the summit. The visibility was bad and I got disorientated. I crossed an awkward boulderfield and turned several times. Yesterdays fatigue didn't help very much. Once below the cloudbase I saw I had descended into the northeastern corrie. Instead of going back up again over this horrible boulderfield I decide to move further down and reach the footpath that would lead to Bealach Dubh Leac. I almost got crackfast at a one point and had to negotiate the wet rocks with great care.The previous day had taken its toll and instead of going over the south Glen Shiel Ridge, containing seven Munros, I descended into Glen Quoich. A good decision from the energylevel point of view but with the sky slowly changing to an almost cloudless blue a missed opportunity for a perfect ridgewalk.At least going down the gentle grassy slopes of Glen Quoich gave my body the chance to recuperate. Gradually the seven Munros passed on my lefthand side as I walked from Glen Quoich to Glen Loyne. After Alltbeithe the footpath becomes a LandRover Track. The LRT leads east into Easter Glen Quoich, rising slowly to the col between Glen Quoich and Glen Loyne at a height of 320m. Where the LRT is joined by the footpath coming down from Craig a Mhaim, the most easterly Munro of the south Glen Shiel Ridge, I turned to the River Loyne.I had two options for crossing the river at this point. Option one was a wide and shallow river, perhaps kneedeep, with all rocks submerged beneath the surface and at option two the river was much less wide but much deeper. More than my lenght at least. Sharp points of vertical slabs were just above the waterline and seemed stratigically placed within jumping distance of each other. With option one wet legs were guaranteed, with option two a complete submersion was a distinct possibility. Needless to say I opted for option two, a rather odd decision after yesterdays almost fatal disaster and this mornings weird wanderings. Nevertheless, I felt totally confident. I stuffed everything in drybags in my rucksack, put on my gaitors and took a firm grip on my walkingpoles.I regulated my heartbeat and stepped on the first rock. The mountains were no longer there. It was just me, the river and four pointy rocks, smaller than my boot. In five big jumps, like an iceskater, I reached the other side of the River Loyne. Completely dry ! For the first time during this journey I felt really proud of myself. One kilometre downstream I spotted a wide circle of short green grass surrounded by the wetlands of the River Loyne. A wee burn was meandering nearby. I pitched my tent and prepared dinner. In the evening I was sitting in front of my tent enjoying the solitude and setting sun. The temperature was just right and the views were stunning.I switched on my mobile and received a textmessage saying my two boys had past their swimming exam that day. That took away all my doubts about completing this Challenge. My Challenge.If they can succeed so can their 'old man'.

The still air

Monday, 14 May 2007 - day 3

distance 34km - ascent 786m

I started early

today because it was going to be a long day. After a short level walk I reached the path going up to Mam na Seilg. What looked like an easy ascent turned out to be hardgoing and I had to stop regularly to catch my breath. From the top of the path you could see Loch Garry, twinkling in the bright sunlight. The descent into Glen Garry was a bit tedious and as soon as the tarmac road was reached speed was increased. After 4km of roadwalking I passed the Tomdoun Hotel. It looked deserted this early in the morning. I still had this odd gnawling feeling of being a day behind everyone else. There's a bunkhouse next to the hotel and it's possible to camp also but you must be a ticklover to do so. Many a Challengers leg has been covered in dozens of ticks out here.Cars coming from the mainroad passed on their way to Knoydart, one of Scotland's true wildernesses.This road is the UK's longest cul-du-sac. After another three and a half kilometre of tarmac I reached thebridge crossing Loch Garry. Time for a lunchstop and a cuppa. Please take notice : the Rights-of-Way Society sign gives you the wrong distances for Invergarry and Laggan, stating the walk to Invergarry is10 miles and to Laggan 8 miles. Of course it's the other way round. After crossing Loch Garry the forest track passes Greenfield and starts to gain height again. I turned round and looked back to Mam na Seilg, the col I crossed this morning to enter Glen Garry. It was raining in Glen Loyne while I was walking in sunshine. Another 8km of forest track guided me through Glengarry Forest, reveiling devestationwhere treefelling had taken place. I know it's necesarry to do so to restore the natural flora of the Highlands but it still makes my hart bleed.Two kilometre short of Invergarry I metthe first walkers on this trip and theyturned out to be Challengers Wendy Olsen and her brother Craig Macpherson.We started talking and it turned out they were heading for the Loch Lochy Youth Hostel at Laggan also. We had such a good conversation that we didn't pay any attention to the road. We missed the startof the Great Glen Cycle Route, our turn-off point for Laggan. After discovering our mistake, close to the A82 road at Invergarry, we decided tobacktrack and follow our planned route, adding another 1,8km to an already substantial day of walking.The hot showers in the YH flushed away all tiredness and in the evening I met other Challengers with whom I talked about routes and (their) previous Challenges.

Wester Glen Quoich

Alltbeithe

Wildcamp in Glen Loyne

Glen Loyne

Spidean Mialach

Glen Garry

TGO Challenge 2007





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