Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Friday, 5 February 2016

29 to 31 January 2016 – A Weekend in Newtonmore

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Thursday 28 January saw me and Sue tripping up to Newtonmore in atrocious rainy weather after Sue got home from work. Cary, Graham and John B had travelled up earlier and happily greeted us when we arrived at 11 pm.

Friday 29 January – the weather high up was dreadful, so a low level circuit for the five of us was in order. We drove past Ruthven Barracks before parking up and setting off from the car park at Torcroy (Insh).

The Badenoch Way was followed through woodland near the River Tromie to Tromie Bridge.

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The marshes around Kingussie have morphed into lakes after recent deluges.

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Today there was however some blue sky, which we glimpsed as we headed past lichen covered trees towards the Tromie, which was high, but well contained within its banks.

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There are various measuring devices in the vicinity of Tromie Bridge, the one below was fenced in, whereas another one next to the river looks like a small bird hide but actually contains devices that monitor the height of the river.

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Tromie Bridge is nearby, with this fine view of the frothing river as it rushes down to the Spey.

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Beyond Tromie Bridge, we soon left the Badenoch Way and headed east towards Baileguish. Here's our view east from the forestry track, looking towards the Cairngorm summits beyond Glen Feshie.

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We ignored a threatening sign informing us that there was no access to this area due to felling activity (we saw no evidence of current work), and continued on to the bridge across Allt Fhearnasdail at Baileguish, erected by an army working group in 2001.

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We crossed the bridge and elevensed outside the farm buildings that Graham could cast his mind back to when they were occupied. Graham (in his TGO Challenge vetter capacity) then went to inspect a further bridge across Allt Mor that Challengers heading to Glen Feshie will be keen to cross. Whilst the bridge remains intact, the recent weather has created a deep channel that needs to be crossed before the bridge is reached. Challengers will need to hope that the river isn’t in spate and that they can wade across at the site of a ford a few hundred metres to the south.

We returned across the Allt Fhearnasdail bridge, noticing that lots of felling has taken place beyond Baileguish, where we stayed to the west of the Feshie. The sun shone brightly in between wintry showers.

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I half expected one of a number of bothy smitten bloggers to come striding out of this building...

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Graham confirmed our thoughts that this large wheel was from an aircraft undercarriage. There was no sign of the rest of the plane.

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A quiet lane took us back to the Badenoch Way and past some smart houses with fine views in the hamlet of Inveruglas.

A couple of caravans had me wondering about their suitability as props in a dramatisation of Magnus Mills’ 'The Restraint of Beasts’.

Overhead, a flock of Greylag Geese seemed uncertain about where they wanted to go. Twisting and turning as if to keep within the boundary of a bird reserve, their leaders appeared to be masters of indecision.

Eventually we returned to Tromie Bridge and took the tarmac option back to the car as Graham felt he may have misplaced his voice in a roadside puddle.

Here's the day’s route - 23 km with 500 metres ascent, taking us a shade under 6 hours. An excellent day out.

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Jon and Margriet arrived to join us at the bunkhouse, and we soon set about gorging ourselves on smoked salmon, coq au vin, and a selection of vegetable curries. Not to mention Graham’s excellent crumble and custard.

Saturday 30 January – others started from a lay-by at the far end of Loch Laggan. I drove there but decided to come straight back as it was snowing in a rather determined fashion. The others – apart from Jon, who lounged in the hostel with his tax return – managed to scale the dramatic heights of Meall Luidh Mor - 514 metres, although I don’t think they saw very much. Margriet’s all wheel drive car got them all safely back to Newtonmore through the snow.

Meanwhile, I joined Sue, Molly and Harvey for a stroll up Glen Banchor.

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It snowed.

Harvey was anxious to get back home.

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You wouldn't have wanted to fall into the River Calder today!

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Another good nosh was enjoyed once everyone had returned to the hostel. The delights of ‘Boggle’ were also discovered, to the detriment of certain brains.

Sunday 31 January – Jon went up a small hill, Margriet (a little tired after the previous day’s exertions) went home to Aberdeen, and the ‘Manchester Five’ were joined by Sue O for a stroll up Glen Banchor. Here’s today's team: Martin, Sue B, John, Sue O, Graham, and Cary.

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We crossed Allt a Chaorainn (luckily there's a bridge) and rose slowly up an unseen path that rises gently beside the River Calder.

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There were some large herds of red deer low in the valleys and it was slow going through soft fresh snow beside Allt Fionndrigh. Care was taken to avoid dunkings in places like this…

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At the far point of our walk we crossed a slippery footbridge. Care was needed to avoid sliding into the river!

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Elevenses, with cake, were welcome at this point. Three people caught us up here and headed on in an attempt to climb Carn Dearg. It was slow going and they soon gave up. An early start would be needed to succeed in getting to that Munro summit in these soft conditions.

The six of us eventually reached the 743 metre summit of Creag Liath on the pleasantly calm but annoyingly cloudy day.

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A fairly direct descent route saw us all pausing for lunch before taking our own individual routes towards the bridge at Glenballoch, another farmstead that was occupied until fairly recently.

I waited for a while on the bridge, admiring the fine view up Allt Fionndrigh.

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Then it was a pleasant stroll back to Newtonmore, past a couple of skiers who were struggling lower down to find sufficient snow to justify their mode of transport.

Here's our route - 17 km with 650 metres ascent, taking a little over 6 hours.

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Later, the five of us scrapped plans to eat out and sat down to a dinner of leftovers in Newtonmore Hostel. There were enough such ‘scraps’ to feed Sue and Neil, and Ali, Adrian and Ellen, as well as the Manchester Five.

Monday 1 February – we awoke to more lashings of rain and decided to go straight home, arriving by 4 pm, well in time for Sue’s yoga class.

Here’s a parting shot of the exceedingly hospitable Newtonmore Hostel.

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As well as clicking on any of the images above to see a larger version, there’s a link to a slideshow (56 images) here. Click on the first image then click on ‘slideshow’ if you feel like a quick browse.

An excellent weekend despite the imperfect weather. Thanks to everyone for turning up and it’s a shame that Julie had to pull out at the last minute and that Roger B was foiled by an unexpected commitment.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Graffiti from the Southern Half (9)

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As previously recorded, whilst in Valparaiso we took advantage of a ‘Tours4Tips’ (T4T) guided walk. Priscilla and two assistants took a group of nearly twenty of us on a three hour tour of the city centre. Here, Priscilla gives us a brief talk about the graffiti. Different artists have different styles and I think she named the person who created this image on an otherwise rather tired looking building.

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Note the T4T ‘Where’s Wally?’ uniform – the guides were very distinctive. T4T runs a number of different tours, including one of the nearby wine region. We would have liked more time in Valparaiso, to take advantage of such tours and other attractions that we didn’t have time to visit.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Stockport to Timperley – An Amble with JJ

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My old friend and TGO Challenger, JJ, flew into these pages for a brief visit last Wednesday when Sue’s new car needed some teething troubles investigated by the dealer in Stockport, from where it’s a pleasant 20 km stroll back to Timperley.

JJ’s usually more sensitive than to try to impersonate a disaster, so his ‘crash landing’ beside the two plaques in remembrance of the 1967 air crash was an insensitive mistake! Shame on you JJ….

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After enjoying a coffee in a convenient shop, and dropping off our Nallo tent with Jose and Hugh at Alpenstock (Hugh kindly fitted a new set of zip pulls that should resolve the zip problem we encountered in Patagonia), we headed off across the River Mersey to the Kings Reach Bridleway that follows the course of the river along the Trans Pennine Trail.

Looking across the river we could observe the old mill now used by a storage company, and a curious extension overhanging the river. I wonder who occupied that room, and why was it built like that?

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The view above is in the vicinity of sandstone cliffs with caves that date from 1670, purpose unknown. More tunnels were added in World War Two, by way of excavations to provide air raid shelters. They were sealed after the war, but I believe you can visit them.

Soon the riverside path leads to open countryside as it passes through the environs of Heaton Mersey then Didsbury and heads towards Northenden. Throughout this area, and all the way to the river’s union with the Manchester Ship Canal, high banks protect the area from flooding, which if it does occur utilises the golf courses that line the river as a flood plain before reaching domestic housing.

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Hereabouts, Kingfishers can often be seen, but not today. The resident Mallards and Canada Geese were joined by Great Crested Grebes and a lone Cormorant, all seemingly finding plenty of food.

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Cheadle Bridge is passed, taking the walker or TPT cyclist into Didsbury.

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After a big loop in the river, we took a shortcut across Withington Golf Course, crossing the M60 motorway via an underpass that at a distance looked locked, but did, through a couple of prison cell doors, release us back into daylight – and a deep pond to wade through.

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Staying with the riverside TPT path would have kept our feet drier. Either way, you reach this bridge and cross the Mersey for the direct route to Timperley. The right bank of the river could be followed all the way to Stretford, for a longer route to Timperley utilising the Bridgewater Canal towpath for the final 5 km from Stretford to Timperley.

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Across the bridge there’s a good view of one of a number of weirs along this section of the river.

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It’s several years since the Tatton Arms closed. At some point it will no doubt be demolished to provide housing for people who will then need a pub wine bar.

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Nearby, a giant heron looks attentively for victims.

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Our direct route to Timperley through Northern Moor and alongside Baguley Brook to Brooklands is shown on the map below (click to enlarge). A sharp shower meant that cameras were stashed and waterproofs deployed for the final few minutes of this flattish 20 km stroll that would have taken us about four hours if we hadn’t paused at length in Stockport.

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