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TGO Challenge 2013 – Crossing Scotland from the Atlantic to the North Sea
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Re: TGO Challenge 2013 – Crossing Scotland from the Atlantic to the North Sea on 05/30/2013 01:01:24 MDT Print View

Thanks for sharing! I have a couple of questions, if you don't mind.

First, what were the advantages you perceived from participating in the TGO instead of simply completing the walk on your own?

Second, you seemed rather well prepared for the journey. What were some of the more valuable trip-planning resources that you used? I've been thinking of doing a similar walk and am always looking for additional information.


Stuart R
(Scunnered) - F

Locale: Scotland
Re: TGO Challenge 2013 on 05/30/2013 06:14:46 MDT Print View

I'm glad that our 'variable' weather did not spoil your enjoyment of your hike. On the plus side, the cold spring has delayed the first hatch of midgies (noseeum) and that is a very definite bonus.

"In Scotland I purposefully pushed several limits and tested gear in adverse conditions. Scotland gave me the opportunity to be in really bad weather with the chance to walk out of situations back into civilization if necessary."

I advise great caution to anyone who thinks they are "pushing limits". It is always better to have something in reserve for when things unexpectedly go wrong. Although the weather has been disappointing for May, you did not experience any "really bad weather", and you cannot count on being able to "walk out of situations". Just this week a woman hiker died in Torridon and another hiker was airlifted out with a broken leg in a separate incident.
Take care.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Trip Planning Resources on 05/30/2013 07:04:49 MDT Print View


I don't mind your questions at all. For me that is a big part of being a BPL member -- being able to ask questions and learn from others and their experiences.

So here are my answers to your two questions

1) I see the following advantages for participating in the TGO Challenge instead of simply completing the walk on my own
a) As I'm a foreigner, who is in general unfamiliar with Scotland, it was re-assuring to me to have an experienced vetter discuss my route with me. My vetter had participated in numerous crossings since the early eighties and worked for many years as a guide taking people on coast-to-cost walks. His insights were very valuable to me. He gave me tips not just in regard to my route but also for logistics like transportation across Scotland (for example he pointed me to the time table for a tiny little bus company that runs from the train station to the start when he saw I was planning to walk 12 miles from the train station to the start.)
b) The organizers forced a certain planning on me that was useful. My own planning is way more detailed than what the organizers asked. The main difference between my original planning and their requests were the foul weather alternatives (FWA). In my own planning I'm very aware of bail-out points, but their request for FWAs made me think in a new dimension - where I wouldn't just bail out, but have an alternative planned out for each day that allows me to continue instead of waiting for better weather to get back on my route.
c) The social aspect of the TGO Challenge was nothing I planned on as I had planned for a high-level solo trip. It turned out to be a very nice addition to my experience. Meeting all those like-minded people towards the end of my trip was a blast. Seeing their camaraderie and hearing their stories was heart-warming.
d) Having the opportunity to contact Challenge control to get help was re-assuring. Knowing that local people with vast experience are ready to answer the "phone" and co-ordinate any kind of help that is needed was valuable to me.

2) Valuable trip planning resources I used
a) Grough Route Having access to 1:25k online maps and planning tools for such a reasonable price was very valuable. My route planning was done on a mix of the 1:50K Landranger maps that I had on my Garmin GPS and used with the Garmin Basecamp application, Google Earth and the 1:25 K Explorer maps available on Grough Route. Once I was done, I would print maps from Grough on waterproof paper for my planned route.
b) WalkHighlands This website allowed me to research all the mountains I wanted to climb upfront. I could see access routes, photos along the way and read descriptions. Reading descriptions with photos from different climbers in different season was very helpful. Comparing for example these two for the same Munros right in Torridon at my start Liathach in summer and Liathach in spring gave me a good idea of the spectrum of conditions I could encounter up there. The difference is enormous and had a big influence on me when deciding to take a FWA.
c) Geograph's website with photos of almost everything out there I used this site mainly to find bothies along my route. "Official" MBA bothies can easily be found online, but there are way more out there that are not published anywhere. I would use the search feature in Geograph to look for photos/locations of bothies, sheds, etc. and came up with a decent number.
d) Local weather forecasts from the Met Office I researched the weather on the Met Office's site and gave my wife links like this one for locations along my route to get daily up-to-date weather reports from her while being out there
e) Mountain Weather Information Service I read many of those to get a feeling for how quickly things change and what to expect in general
f) Mike Knipe's selection of TGO Challenge trip reports Reading several of these trip reports helped me get a good feeling for the different aspects of a TGO Challenge and I found useful information in them (like links to the above links).

I hope this is useful for your planned walk.

Have fun out there!


Edited by Orienteering on 05/30/2013 07:06:46 MDT.

Philip Werner
(earlylite) - F - MLife

Locale: New England
Re: TGO Challenge 2013 – Crossing Scotland from the Atlantic to the North Sea on 05/30/2013 10:04:10 MDT Print View

Manfred - great to meet you on this Challenge and to read your most excellent report. Did you know that I was in U of Edinburgh about 23 years ago in the School of Epistemics? Wouldn't be surprised if we had the same profs. Do stay in touch. My best, Philip

Re: TGO Challenge 2013 – Crossing Scotland from the Atlantic to the North Sea on 05/30/2013 13:34:15 MDT Print View

Thanks for the thorough response, Manfred; it is very helpful!

Robert Hausam
(rhausam) - MLife

Locale: Salt Lake City, Utah area
Re: TGO Challenge 2013 – Crossing Scotland from the Atlantic to the North Sea on 06/03/2013 10:57:32 MDT Print View

A great crossing and a great report, Manfred! I really enjoyed spending those last few days in Montrose with you - even though I was there early only because I didn't quite get to finish my own walk. Hopefully we'll have a chance to cross paths again - on either side of the pond.

Stuart R
(Scunnered) - F

Locale: Scotland
Nuttin wrong with that bridge on 06/03/2013 14:55:20 MDT Print View

Pushing the limit on the Allt a' Chonais bridge :-)

Allt a Chonias bridge

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Need to learn the technique ... on 06/03/2013 15:00:08 MDT Print View


You are a way braver man than me :)


Stuart R
(Scunnered) - F

Locale: Scotland
Re: Need to learn the technique ... on 06/03/2013 15:09:23 MDT Print View

The river was low, so I came half way across on the stones and then climbed onto the bridge. It would have been 'entertaining' had the river been in spate tho'...

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
TGO Challenge 2013 – Crossing Scotland from the Atlantic to the North Sea on 06/03/2013 15:30:12 MDT Print View

Ah the New Zealand school of bridge design:).

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
TGO Challenge 2013 on 06/03/2013 15:52:02 MDT Print View


Met Office has the May summary data available, and I prepared these images for our own Scotland May'13 trip report (coming soon). Thought you all might like to see them.

Left images are actual, and right images show Anamoly.

It felt awfully darn cloudy on our trip, but I see that 2013 May hours of sunshine was about average for May - averaging about 5 hours a day. Given that on May 15 in Torridon there are 16 hours of potential sunshine, the normal of 5 hours a day is, well, not like California in May.
Scotland Sunshine

Rainfall in the western part of Scotland was above average - in the 125-175% of normal for the month in most areas.
Scotland Rainfall

And finally, while we were hiking many locals told us that it was an unusually cold spring. When I look at the data though, May is not much cooler than usual. March and April mean temps were a couple degrees C lower than normal, but May temps are only slightly below normal in some areas, and close to normal in others.
Scotland Mean Temp

These graphs, and many others, available here:

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
WOW! on 06/03/2013 17:38:46 MDT Print View

What an amazing trip. Thank you for posting such a brilliant trip report!

Paul Mountford
(Sparticus) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic Canada
Re: TGO Challenge 2013 – Crossing Scotland from the Atlantic to the North Sea on 06/04/2013 01:29:20 MDT Print View

Great report! Makes me regret not applying for it this year, but my son is still too young to do it with me.

For anyone thinking about planning a trip to Scotland or any other place in the UK – Ordnance Survey Getamap

is a great planning tool.

Niels Overgaard Blok
(NielsOvergaardBlok) - MLife
TGO 2015 on 11/12/2014 03:50:44 MST Print View


As a would be Challenger from a foreign country (Denmark), and never having done any walking in Scotland before, I found your report most informative. Your comments and insights are much appreciated from one who is looking to plan his own high level route. Hopefully the weather will be a little better in 2015.

Thank you


John DeMorris
(Bulwyf) - F

Locale: West TX
Thank you! on 12/04/2014 09:36:34 MST Print View


Thank you for sharing this wonderful trip report. It sounded like your TGO experience was a tremendous adventure. I enjoyed reading it very much and hope to undertake such a trip myself some day.