TGOC2013 – Ardrishaig to Auchmithie – A quick look back

Ardrishaig - Crinan Canal

I enjoyed this year’s TGO Challenge, which was such a relief after the misery and hardships of 2012.  The first three days were very wet, which was similar to last year, but I didn’t have any nasty river crossings planned and although the rain wasn’t particularly enjoyable I managed to stay cheerful.  Maybe 2012 made me mentally stronger as I now know I can cope with most things the Scottish weather can throw at me.

I wore my waterproofs for at least some time every day, but in the second week this was to protect me from the bitterly cold wind rather than keep the rain out.  There were a few days with very pleasant sun but the weather was still quite cold during the day – although I found the nights quite warm.

Starting from Ardrishaig, which is the most Southerly of the current signing-out points, and finishing just North of Arbroath, I knew I wouldn’t meet many Challangers.  I met one on my first day (his second) and one in the second week – although he wasn’t actually on this year’s Challenge!  This might sound like a very lonely crossing but my regular phone calls to Control and the many tweets and text messages I received made sure that I continued to feel a part of the event.

I had wondered if the landscape and scenery to the South of the Challenge area would somehow be inferior to that in the North but I needn’t have worried – it was beautiful and wild with plenty of “up” bits.

My kit generally worked well.  My new Osprey Exos rucksack is a vast improvement on my Golite Pinnacle.  Yes, sometimes my pack felt heavy but it was usually fairly comfortable and it seems to be able to take a couple of extra kilogrammes, eg extra water and food, without making any difference to the comfort or balance of the pack.

One new piece of equipment which made a huge improvement to my camping comfort was a piece of B&Q laminate flooring underlay.  I took around 100 grammes of the underlay, rolled up in the roll-mat straps on the bottom of my rucksack, and this was enough to carpet the whole of the tent.  Once the carpet was laid I could then take my time unpacking the rest of my gear and didn’t have to sit on either a cold groundsheet or teeter on my Neoair mattress (which never works well as a seat as it relies on the body’s weight being spread along the whole length of the mattress).  Thanks to Alan for the suggestion.

I’ll get round to publishing my Challenge photographs and writing up my trip report soon(ish).

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10 Responses to TGOC2013 – Ardrishaig to Auchmithie – A quick look back

  1. David says:

    Looking forward to the full write up, Judith.


  2. Laura says:

    Well done on completing Judith – sorry we didn’t get much chatting time in Montrose – maybe see you next year….?


  3. Congratulations on a successful Crossing Judith! I look forward to the write-up as the southern part of the Challenge area is much less well known to me and it will be interesting to see what sort of places you found. I too took an Osprey Exos on my Crossing and was really impressed by it as a pack – I’ve always liked Osprey but the comfort, even with up to 12kg surpassed my expectations.


  4. louse4 says:

    I look forward to it Judith, you’ve been through an area I don’t know well and it’s very intriguing.


  5. AlanR says:

    Glad you enjoyed it. Looking forward to the whole write up. Its great you found the underlay works. Warmth for weight value is the best I found.


  6. Martin B says:

    Crumbs Judith, that’s a short report! I wish I could write as economically! I thought that seeing just five Challengers was a low tally, but you seem to have done ‘better’. Was there nobody to stroll up the Crinan Canal with and enjoy a coffee at the Cairnbaan…?


    • Judith says:

      Don’t worry, there will be fuller reports to come; I’m just a bit busy at the moment. I saw no walkers alongside the Crinan Canal – apart from my one Challenger coming back from the real West coast. I chatted with a couple of miserable sailors who were negotiating the locks. The weather was a bit dreich and they didn’t seem in the best of spirits! ….and yes, I did have coffee at the Cairnbaan.


  7. Alistair says:

    Congratulations on completing your crossing – it sounds like you had a good time. I’m looking forward to reading more!


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