The last GPS location

I turned my GPS on at the weekend. I was in North Wales, and before it had locked on to any satellites the little screen was showing my location for when I last used it – the beach at St Cyrus, my finish on the TGO Challenge. The tide was out a long way!

With a rush of excitement and big smiles I grabbed a photo on my phone. I can’t wait for my next big adventure, maybe it will be the TGO Challenge in 2013!

Track my walk across Scotland on the Rab TGO Challenge 2012

On Friday 11th May 2012 I set off from Dornie in the Scottish Highlands on the west coast of Scotland to walk to St Cyrus, on the east coast, 2 weeks and 184 miles later.

I will be crossing some amazing wild and open countryside, including the Monadhliath and Cairngorm mountain ranges, and you can see some details of my ‘intended’ route here.

On my walk I will be carrying a SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger which will transmit my current location to a satellite, every 10 minutes, and my progress will be recorded. You can track my progress on one of the following maps: (the map on 1 an 2 below will show properly once tracking starts and the last map, 3, will be set up shortly) Continue reading

TGO Challenge 2012 Preparation – My route is in!

Finally, my route is in! I submitted it last week actually and now it is with my vetter who has indicated that it will be back with me shortly, with comments. I hope the comments are to advise where I can get a nice cream tea from rather than to re-write half of my route! ;)

Route – a few details

  • I will start in Dornie on Friday the 11th May … and finish in St Cyrus on Thursday 24th May.
  • I will walk a total distance of 184 miles (at least ;) … with a total ascent of 9,096m.
  • The greatest ascent in one day is Day 2 at 1549m and the least ascent in one day is the last day from North Water Bridge to the coast at 164m
  • There will 13 nights under canvas (well, silnylon!) with no bothies or B&Bs.
  • The remotest, and highest, camp is Camp 5 on Carn Gearresith (GR NH 628115) at a height of 720m.

Thanks to everyone who has helped with my route, either directly through emails, phone calls and even twitter, or indirectly through me having read one of your TGO Challenge trip reports, it is very much appreciated.


I have bought a few more bits and pieces since my last post. The most interesting is perhaps The Pocket Stove Ti from I quite like using solid fuel tablets and I’m currently playing with meths stoves so this little stove could work out to be rather useful. Plus I can light a few twigs and have a camp fire too whilst trying not to set fire to the landscape! … but thankfully I don’t have a self destructing Jetboil Sol Ti !

My fitness is improving, slowly, although I keep having problems with my knees. This is not a new issue but a lifelong problem. Aside from that I think I will be ready for the Challenge and in any case I am going to do it regardless :) so if I am seriously struggling I will just have to adjust my route a little to deal with it. The goal is to get to St Cyrus, to compete the Challenge, and have a thoroughly enjoyable time, and as determined as I am to follow the route I have planned (more or less), it will sensible to shorten the route slightly and make it to the finish if necessary.

Blog posts in this series:

  1. TGO Challenge 2012 Preparation – Part 1
  2. TGO Challenge 2012 Preparation – Only 120 days to go!
  3. TGO Challenge 2012 Preparation – Dornie start it is then!
  4. TGO Challenge 2012 Preparation – My route is in!

TGO Challenge 2012 Preparation – Dornie start it is then!

In the last week I have made a decision on my start location for my 2012 Challenge – I will be starting from Dornie!

Over the course of the last couple of months, since finding out that I have a place on the Challenge for 2012, I have been reading and absorbing loads of information about where I would like to walk and what I would like to see. I ended up sketching out a number of routes that I liked the look of and suppose ultimately are similar to those that other Challengers have walked in the past. I knew that I would be happy on any route really and actually choosing one would be a compromise.

I really fancied Torridon but it’s a long way up and I did not want to do a long route for my first Challenge (hopefully I will be allowed to do it again!). I’ll save Torridon for another time. Acharacle and Lochailort both appealed because I quite fancied going across the Grampians. I could have made a route, that I would be happy walking, from any start point!

In the end though I decided that I would head a bit further north and start at Dornie. After a short walk up the road I’ll be straight into the mountains on the track beside the River Glennan. I plan on doing the An Riabhachan ridge on day two followed by a couple of gentler days until I cross Loch Ness and then its up and over to get to Aviemore and across the Cairngorms [big grins]

So there we are. Dornie it is, the B&B is booked and I’m busy filling in the details of my proposed route. My excitement-ometer is off the scale and I can’t wait to get started :)  106 days to go!

Blog posts in this series:

  1. TGO Challenge 2012 Preparation – Part 1
  2. TGO Challenge 2012 Preparation – Only 120 days to go!
  3. TGO Challenge 2012 Preparation – Dornie start it is then!

TGO Challenge 2012 Preparation – Only 120 days to go!

I can’t believe it has been a month since my first post about my TGOC preparation! It is about time for an update. I titled this post ‘Only 120 days to go’ because there were 120s to go when I started writing it. Now, as I write this, it is down to 118 days but I’ll leave the title – it is a nice round number.

My partner asked me the other day if I found the thought of doing the Challenge daunting. I realised then that I didn’t. I did initially, a few months ago, but that has given way entirely to excitement. It is certainly going to be a challenge, both physically and mentally, and that is something I am looking forward to, but daunting it is not.

TGOC preparation has now become part of my life (and my family’s, oops! :). It slots in at any moment without me realising it. I have continued to read many blogs and trip reports of previous Challenges and of backpacking and walking in general. I have bought some new gear. I have chatted a lot on twitter which is not directly related to TGOC preparation but having recently made a whole new bunch of twitter friends I am entering into discussion and more easily following and learning about what is going on in the backpacking (and particularly lightweight backpacking) world.

I have not made a lot of progress in actually having something to show for my route planning efforts. This is partly due to Christmas, where I have not had so much time, and to other things that I am involved with that have been taking some of my small amount of spare time. However, I have been constantly researching where I would like to walk and I have now got even more roughed out routes with even more possible permutations! One of the hardest things to do is to just pick one of the start points (I read this in someones blog too and apologies but I cannot find the url), something that needs to be done soon for me now and then the rest of the route will more easily fall into place. Some decisions will be made soon

I am kind of using the Challenge as an excuse to buy new gear but really I have had an interest in lightweight backpacking for sometime and it is nice to be back into looking at gear and what is available. I have just purchased a 900ml Evernew and 400ml Mug from BPL (very good service and super fast delivery). I have yet to get my hands on them as I had them delivered to my folks house and I have not been round to collect them but I should get them later today. I am excited about that, something my partner cannot understand :) I also purchased some of that super light windshield and some pot cosy material.

My current gear list gives me a base weight of just over 7Kg at the moment. I have a few more things to add to it I but I am quite happy with the weight at the moment. I have just read a review of a lightweight titanium gas stove at Going Lighter and it looks very interesting. Do I want to spen £30 to save 20g though? .. probably not, but you never know, and besides, I have not settled on my cook system yet but gas is looking favourable.

I have been doing quite a bit of walking and leg strengthening. One of biggest challenges is going to be looking after my knees because I have always had problems, but I’m trying to do a variety of exercises that will help and I am also doing a lot of stretching. I need to get started on some yoga too which I think is really going to help. I’m some way off being able to walk of one day on the Challenge with a full pack at the moment but I’m confident that I will be fit enough for the Challenge. I was planning on walking in North Wales, with a wild camp, but I have yanked my knee a bit and will settle for a longer flat walk nearer home

Blog posts in this series:

  1. TGO Challenge 2012 Preparation – Part 1
  2. TGO Challenge 2012 Preparation – Only 120 days to go!
  3. TGO Challenge 2012 Preparation – Dornie start it is then!

A quick test of gas use for lightweight backpacking

I have recently been considering what cooker I am going to use when I undertake the TGO Challenge next May. For my recent overnight lightweight backpacking trips I have taken to using solid fuel tablets with the Esbit titanium stove [pictured]. It is very light, weighing in at just 13g, and the solid fuel tablets that you require for an overnight trip are light too. However, for a longer trip the amount of solid fuel you require becomes rather heavy and you are better off with another fuel (I have not worked out at what point yet, i.e. how many days) and so you are looking at either an alcohol or gas stove.

I took the opportunity last weekend to record the amount of gas I used with my little gas cooker (a Coleman F1) so that I could roughly calculate how much gas I would require for the TGO Challenge next year, which is 13 or 14 days backpacking – should I decide to use a gas on the Challenge that is.

Over a 24 hour period I had a few cups of tea and a dehydrated dinner and breakfast. I weighed the gas cartridge before and after, and this represents the gas used for one day:

Two cups of tea: 300ml each = 600ml
One cup of tea: 200ml
Dinner: 400ml
Breakfast: 200ml

Gas cartridge weight, before and after: 174g – 152g = 22g of gas used.

Therefore, assuming the amount of water boiled above is representative of a typical day then a 250g gas cartridge would last me approximately 11 days, which means I would have to obtain more gas along the way.

I plan to do some more tests to verify (or disprove) my calculations, and I will work out how much solid fuel I would need as a comparison. I’ll post the results here at some point.