Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Seven camps from seven TGO Challenges.


One of the joys of long-distance walking lies in the wild camps. I like to enjoy these, to spend time in a wild place and not just pass through. On the fifteen TGO Challenge crossings of the Scottish Highlands I've done since the first in 1980 I remember many of the wonderful camps as well as the walking and the views. Here are pictures of a favourite camp from each of the seven Challenges I've undertaken in the last fifteen years. I do have pictures from the eight Challenges I did before 2004 but they're all on transparency film and I haven't got round to scanning these yet. I will do so after I'm back from this year's Challenge which I'm sure will offer more superb camps.






Monday, 6 May 2019

The 40th TGO Challenge starts this week. Looking back to the first.

Later this week I'll be setting off for Lochailort to begin the fortieth TGO Challenge. I've chosen Lochailort as that's where I began the first Challenge back in 1980. I couldn't have imagined then that I'd be back there in 2019 or that the event would be thriving and would have become so important to so many people.

In 1980 the event was called the Ultimate Challenge, after the sponsor, long-gone tent maker Ultimate Equipment, though it was organised and run by The Great Outdoors.  For that first year it was three weeks long. I was the only one of the seventy or so Challengers who took more than two weeks. Poor Roger Smith, TGO editor, sat in the Park Hotel in Montrose for a week waiting for me. Since then it's always been two weeks long. I'm going to take a similar route this year but shorter with fewer Munros - there's no way I can do in two weeks what took me three in 1980!

Journal entry for the first day of the first Challenge

Back then I was on my first round of the Munros, which I was mostly doing in a series of long backpacking trips inspired by Hamish Brown's first continuous round of the Munros, described in his superb book Hamish's Mountain Walk. Hamish also came up with the idea of the Challenge. When I saw the quarter page ad for the first event in The Great Outdoors I was grabbed immediately. A coast to coast walk seemed a great idea and I realised I could incorporate many Munros I hadn't yet climbed into it.

Gear list for the first Challenge - continues over the page. Back then I listed every item in first aid and repair kits!

Reading my journal from that first trip there's an air of youthfulness and excitement. I was going into unknown country. I hope I can capture some of that this year, on what will be my sixteenth Challenge.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

What I've Been Reading Online No. 6

Snow falling, May 3

Some more of my online reading, covering the last month, mostly on rewilding and conservation. To break up the long list I've added some recent photographs

The John o’ Groats Trail – Filling the Gap north of Inverness

An interesting new trail described by its ranger and creator. I might go and have a look at this.

Death of a Glacier

The story and significance of the Lyell Glacier in Yosemite National Park

Parakeets, "pests", and the problem of ethical wildlife control

Conservationist Hugh Webster on the problem of the knee-jerk killing anything that might cause a problem without considering other options.

Restoring biodiversity through rewilding

A positive piece by Mark Avery on the need for rewilding.

Two-thirds of glacier ice in the Alps 'will melt by 2100'

Damian Carrington looks at the worrying and sad disappearance of ice in the Alps. 

Are we loving our wild landscapes to death?

Susan Flockhart on the rise in visitor numbers in Scotland the effect on wild places.

It's wrong-headed to protect nature with human-style rights

Law professor Anna Grear explains why she thinks it's unwise to apply human rights to nature

Why do we feed wild birds?

An interesting investigation by ornithologist Dave Clark

Joining the dots between the Clearances, colonialism, land reform and climate change

Land reform is important in combating climate change says Mairi McFadyen.


Findhorn Beach, May 1

Some lessons from Glen Etive

David Lintern was one of the people behind the Save Glen Etive campaign. Here he looks at the lessons that can be taken from this defeat for conservation.

A Diet of Worms 

A fascinating beautifully illustrated look at the importance of marine worms by biologist Paul Sterry. 

Climate change, fires and why we need to rewild grouse moors – starting with our National Parks

Nick Kempe of Parkswatch Scotland on muirburn, rewilding and climate change.

Into thin air: Carol Ann Duffy presents poems about our vanishing insect world

Powerful and moving poetry.

Hunting for the Wild 

Ben MacDonald, author of the new book Rebirding, which I'm looking forward to reading, demolishes the case for driven grouse shooting. 

What lies beneath: Robert Macfarlane travels 'Underland'

Robert Macfarlane writes about the world underground, the subject of his latest book, another I'm looking forward to reading.

The stories behind the notebooks that documented Rob Macfarlane's travels underground

Here Robert Macfarlane looks at the notebooks he kept during the journeys that led to his latest book.

Why Green Pledges Will Not Create the Natural Forests We Need

To combat climate change new forests need to be natural not monoculture plantations says Fred Pearce. 

Lesser celandine, April 29