After a few weeks spent pondering maps, my planned route for the 2020 TGO Challenge has now been submitted.
For background on the Challenge, and why I decided to participate, see this blog post. It’s an annual non-competitive backpacking event in which hundreds of people cross Scotland on foot from west to east. This will be my first year taking part.
Part of the deal with the Challenge is that routes have to be planned well in advance, and submitted to an experienced team of vetters who will examine your route in detail and make suggestions for changes. This has been a new experience for me. I’m used to planning routes by myself, which has occasionally resulted in surprises! I think this way strikes a good balance, though, and makes the Challenge more accessible.
My planned route
I will be starting in Oban and finishing in Montrose. You can check out my route here on OS Maps if you like. The total planned distance is 328km. Here are a few of the locations I’ll be visiting along the way:
- Ben Cruachan
- Glen Kinglass
- Glen Nevis
- The Aonach Beag – Geal-Charn ridge above Culra
- Newtonmore and Kingussie
- Glen Feshie
- Through the Cairngorms via the Moine Mor, Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotain
- Shielin of Mark
- Tarfside and Glen Esk
For my first Challenge, I haven’t planned too ambitious a route. Many of the paths I’ll be taking are classic Challenge thoroughfares, and there’s a decent mix of low-level, easier terrain and a few Munros to liven things up. Challenge rules stipulate that high and exposed terrain must have a foul-weather alternative at a lower level, and it’s been a good exercise to think about these FWAs in such detail. Besides, I know what I’m like – I’ll almost certainly opt for one or two of my FWAs even if the weather is decent.
My route passes through a few areas I know well, and also several new areas for me. The Munros I’ve selected on my main route will all be new to me too.
My wife and I have a room booked at the Park Hotel in Montrose, and we’ll be attending the final Challenge dinner on the Friday. I can’t wait to experience this very special backpacking event for myself.