TGOC 2019 Days 1 to 3 Lochailort to Gairlochy

The Prequel

TGOC 2019 Part 1 - THERE AIN'T NO GEAR LISTS!    -  So move on!

Any spelling or grammatical mistakes are JUST SODDING MISTAKES OK, 
don't be a bloody PEDANT!

So, it was that time of year AGAIN 🙄, and time to head north and plunge through bog and pain for 2 weeks.
This would be the 40th TGOC, and my 14th (the counselling and pills had failed again).

I filled a car full of gear and musical equipment to drive to Humphrey's in Ladykirk, so we could get gear to the gig at the Park at the end, and get a chance to go over the final set list.

Then it was Thu, and I headed with Humph to the railway station to get the train to Edinburgh and then to Glasgow and a meet up with folk and then finally to Lochailort.

Many were met on the way and chats had, and gear looked at and all manner of Challenge stuff.
In Glasgow we wandered and went to a pub. I had coffee, and raised a dram to Bernie with Terry and the kilted boys (as you would).

Then it was Lochailort already, and a check in with the VERY VERY NICE MAN (Mr Williams) as mssrs Sloman and Lambert were already there.
We would all walk together briefly this Challenge, despite being a team of 4.
TBH, a team of 3 + 1 and often 3 + 1 + 1.

Ho hum.

Anyway to the real mission...

All of the pictures this year were taken on my CAT S41 phone.
Good phone, robust, OK camera, but crap in low light.
The Samsung and Huawei have far superior cameras.

I wandered down to the sea and dipped a toe on the Thu with Alistair and the very very nice man.

The Music (Obviously)
There will always be music.
Later it will be even more targeted to the days and the people (Just sayin')

Celtic Heartbeat - Dave Lockwood

Day 1 Fri 10th - Lochailort to Feith a Chatha

But enough of the prequel, it was now Fri, and it was REAL!

Much of the commentary here will be captioned in the photos, with a bit of fill in dialogue.

DO NOT expect a blow by blow description.
It ain't my style!

And so we are in the hotel.
It has started to bloody well rain.
NO.....I mean rain FFS! It was nice at 07.00 🙄🙄

I waited for Alistair.
The rest of my team headed off down the road.
It was on and off drizzle and stuff and they had surged ahead.
Best to let them have their brief moment of being in front, before I vanished in the distance, despite apparently (according to Al) never having looked at a map.

A fair bit of that extra weight will be gone by the end.
And even after that.
Need to lose at least 7 kg by the end of June (minimum)

Finally leaving the road and car misery
We soon caught up with the others.
Now it was time to start in earnest.
There would be climbs a plenty. Varied weather, and wondrous views this day.
On paper it looked like a short day.

OH F*** NO!!!!!!!!

The climbing has begun

Moody skies and seriously lumpy hills

Lunch(ish) stop
It was getting colder and a rather big cloud was moving in.
Time to head off, once Al and Phil had fiddled packing their rucksacks.
Shortly after heading off, the weather changed.
I was with Alistair.
A mad panic to get wet weather gear on as we were lashed with rain and sleet.
Too late, my hands were bloody frozen in a flash.

Took ages to warm them up.
Lucky we were heading up hill rather than down, the work out did me good.
Day 1 to lose that belly was working out ok.
The rain passed, but it remained windy.
Who cares.
Just look at the views as we went along the ridge.

Looking down onto Loch Beohraid 
(look, if it is spelled wrong then just bloody LIVE WITH IT!)

Amazing stress patterns in the rocks on the final push to the top.

Some of the terrain and mist reminded me of the sulphur pools on the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand, except the eggy smell was missing.

On the highest point at last 😁

We dropped down to a sheltered spot to grab some food.
I say, we.... Alistair, David and myself.
It had been harder than expected.
David headed off, and as Alistair and I got ready to go, Al and Phil arrived.
Well, not being ones to avoid sitting down, they did again.
We headed off after David.
There was still a way to go, and more importantly Alistair had to get to Glenfinnan for a B&B.

Who would have thought that these two would be sitting down AGAIN? 🤔😂

We dropped down, caught up with Alistair briefly at a water stop, then followed the river along again.

There were few places to stop.
We looked over at Al's spot and David did a recci, and reported lumpy and not that nice,
We decided to look further on for a nicer pitch.
Just before the start of the higher track, near the new river works, we found a flattish all be it stony spot.
Waited and waited and waited, pondering on just buggering off to Glenfinnan (well I was anyway), and then decided to put tents up.
It was stony but ok, and right next to water.

As we got tents up, Al and Phil arrived.
Al waving his arms in some strange dance of disapproval, as we hadn't stopped at the designated spot, and then they wandered off to a distant spot away from us bad chaps to put up tents.

You can just see the tents in the distance.

Late on I wandered over, forgiveness was granted 🙄, and whisky drunk,

and then we wandered back to our tents to catch some ZZZzzzz

Well that was 1/14 th done then...

If you never have done this walk.
Do it.
Bung it into a start.
Similar to the Morar ridge as a start, this is bloody hard work, but given some decent weather at times, it is an ABSOLUTE BELTER!

And sleep!

Day 2 Sat 11th - Feith a Chatha to Glensuilag Bothy (Schisms? What Schisms?)

Well, it was 8.00 departure on day 2. Alistair had cracked on the night before, to a hotel bed.
So we really just needed to get to Glenfinnan for a bacon roll and a sit down toilet.
And Phil needed a hat.

And soon indeed we were in Glenfinnan.
Having survived the short stretch of road.
Indeed most motorists were great, the only exception being a police car, that gave David and I the evils (well, we were bound to be ahead),  and then stopped and told Al and Phil they should walk on the grass verge. As a lot of it had nasty grass verge and culverts, Al kindly told them NO!
No arrests were made, and they pissed off.

We waved to Alistair who was being rather tardy, and in the Rail Carriage for breakfast

Phones and bodies charged, and even more importantly, a nice white sit down toilet 😁 we headed off to Glenfinnan itself to go to the visitor centre so Phil could buy a hat, as the forecast was for sun.
Well, as it happens, there was a cafe there, so we went in and had another tea. Some (not I), even had extra cake 🙄. And they wonder why they lost no weight...

Sadly, it was time to head along the board walk, before a bloody long trudge along tarmac before we could get off the road. I hate bleeding tarmac, I just cracked on.

That's me on the left (which is right).
I am thinner now.
AND much much fitter.
I even have been for a run or a bike every day since I got back.
THIS is now a serious fitness effort.


Who went home, dossed about and ate cake??? eh????

Alistair and I had started to surge, soon the boys would be far behind, except maybe briefly David.

After a while of the off the road and up the track bit (just look at the map ok), the boys, being Al and Phil and David, had a sit down. I don't think they'd had one for a while.
Alistair and I cracked on.
We had a brief water stop just before the bridge.
It is only on the 1:25000 and an interesting bridge it is too.
Alistair was destined for Gulvain. I was tempted, but I hadn't told my team, and it would be wrong to vanish. Not that they'd notice for hours. I was destined to the lower heights of Meal Onfhaidh.
A mere 581m of climb over heathery bog.

Before the crossing

It wasn't that one, it's behind that.

View 1 from the rickety bridge

Looking down from the bridge (there were no side). 
So across the bridge, Alistair was on his way.
I headed up across steep sided, long grass and bog. Picking the best route I could find up.
Only 482m of ascent, easy.

Listen, it was bleeding hard work ok.
AND... one of those hills that every time you think you are there, you're bloody miles from the summit. 🙄😫

Still not fucking there!

Yes, it was ONLY a feeble Graham, you heightist bloody Munro grabbers, but it was hard, and great views, and TBH, Grahams and Corbetts don't have ****ing great paths up them for list grabbers OK!

Oooooohhhhh controversial.... Slagging off the big hill boys 😮😮😮

They'll get you they will, they is "Like Well 'Ard Init" 

Beeh ill boyz
I lerf in zee face of yur 'ardness
So, anyway, finally at the top, I headed down, MAPS? "I lurf at zem mes amis.…"
I did it by eye, which is why I had to then make a left turn to avoid the bleeding great crags 🙄

But , eventually I dropped down, and down and down and down.
Was there a path MUNRO baggers????????


I love these crazy pathless hills.
The hardest bit, (and there was interesting navigation, was getting onto the bloody path to the bothy.
Everything ended abruptly from the hill with a 7 foot drop. (That's approx. 2m for you millennials).

And then with a bit of jiggery pokery, and a lot of Glucose Tablets, I was down at Glensuiaig bothy.
Nobody else was there.
TBH I little expected it.

I looked inside.
It was horrid for sleeping.

I wandered down the track away from the bothy and found a nice spot littered with sodding great cow turds.
I kicked a few out of the way and put my tent up near the edge.
God forbid I stole the best spot from Al 😨🤣

A long time later David arrived.
He said Phil had had a bad day, and Al and Phil were on their way, bit still a while back.

Phil and Lou had already arrived at the bothy via a lot of tarmac.

They were going to stay inside.

God know why, but heh... They are 89 and 88 or 88 and 87 FFS 🙂🙂

I'll be bloody happy to be breathing at that age let alone attempting to walk across Scotland.


So, as it was obvious that the team members needed assistance, I went and God the bothy shovel, and spent about 15 to 20 min shovelling cow shit off the grass so they would have an easy pitch.

Eventually they arrived, put their tents up.
We had chats and ate food and climbed into tents and slept.

It was another 08.00 start in the morning.

Day 3 Sun 12th - Glensuilag Bothy to Gairlochy Camp Site

And as normal it was almost an 08.00 start except for


Now, many years ago along Loch Mullardoch , I was late by a mere 15 minutes due to the need to crap my way senseless in a wood. It was a cold morning, and Al had to wait.
Well, he didn't really, but at the time he was either being a nice guy, or building up the bitching points.
Anyway, he has never forgotten it.
I was late ONCE!!!! FFS and it is now a life defining moment!

He can post a comment when he reads this! 🤣🤣😂

So, anyway, we headed off over a track that was SWEET FA for miles (kms)

Until eventually, we picked up the track and the road and finally stopped for a rest just off the track.

The rest of the route to the Caledonian Canal was tarmac.

I hate bleeding tarmac!!!

NO!!!! HATE!!!!!!

I had a cunning plan to do the forest and then the track!

I did a recci on the track, while the others had a rest.
Then I headed into the woods via a track??????

What can I say??


IT WAS A FUCKING NIGHTMARE, and I never found the bastard track.
Best explained in the verse I dictated afterwards walking along the road

So, it was just after lunch I departed the Three
And PLUNGED into the woods

There should be a track, but it's definitely NOT THERE
There should be SEVERAL
As I crashed from tree to stumbling tree
My knees, feet now broken and WET
My brow was damaged
My demeanour quite crushed
And my shirt was covered in sweat
I turned round, I looked back
I saw my team go past on the road
Touching distance away, and yet so fucking far, I stared at the canopy and groaned
Well, apart from the BOG, trees, river  and shite
YES the RIVER that stood in my way
I could have leapt and reached them
BUT, this was not going to be my day
I went ON, I went ON, then common sense struck
And I turned and I headed straight back (well, NOT straight TBH)
It took me forever, of bashing and SCRATCH, and after a shite show of pain
I arrived at the same fucking start from an hour ago
And I still had miles of TARMAC AGAIN!


So, yes, eventually I turned round and got back to the place I started.
It was a long time later.
I headed up the road singing songs at SPEED.
Eventually catching Phil before the underpass to the canal.

Phil in the tunnel

S0, anyway I went through the tunnel.
BUGGER all visibility, and water up to 6" deep in bloody trail shoes.


Still more belly to lose
And PECS to build.
Just sayin… Job is done now!!!!!

So had they waited at the other side of the tunnel?
Had they ***K
And this folks is why I don't wait for them.

The Caledonian Canal, mainly populated by people on bikes
We trudged on in heat to eventually Gairlochy campsite

Finally Phil and I caught up with Al and David, lying by the side of the track.
It was bloody hot, and time for a rest.
I lay back and watched lycra clad people drift by
AND, somehow lost a packet of anti-chaff Vaseline tin.


So, eventually we arrived at the Gairlochy campsite.
Very few there, but apparently 18 arriving.
We drop gear, go and pay, and then try and get tents up hammering pegs into what appears to be ROCK...
What is it with campsites that seem to think the best place for tents is the bit of ground that is the rockiest?

And even more weirdly, the wettest bit 🤔🤔🤔

So, eventually tents up.
Robin was already there, BUT had done his knee ligaments in and wouldn't be joining us, I went and showered, put on clean stuff. Cleaned dirty stuff.
I say cleaned, I mean removed evolving life forms from.

Made food, collected parcels, and combated the ever awakening midges.
The only place I get bitten by midges was in a campsite 🤔

The lumps would plague me for days.


Billions of the bastards?
They honestly have a function?


 And TBH, it was time for listening to music on headphones and getting some ZZZZzzzz's again!

8.00 tomorrow?
I'd be there, WAITING again!