Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Friday 25 January 2013

TGO Challenge 2013 – A Route is Born

TGO Challenge route 2013

This week I finally got round to drafting a route for the backpack that takes place between 10 and 23 May.  Whilst it’s my seventh Challenge, I’ve managed to restrict any duplication with previous routes to just 3 km along the north shore of Loch Monar, where the route intersects my 2007 route

Moreover, of the 360 km (225 miles) that I’ll be walking, only about 20 km will have seen the soles of my boots before, so it’s pretty much all new ground.

I could surmise… ‘if I haven’t been there before, are these places really worth visiting?’ but time will only tell.  There’s a bit too much tarmac towards the end, but at least it’s ‘fresh’ tarmac.

My route is basically …. Plockton > Struy > Inverness > Grantown-on-Spey > Huntly > Turriff > Kinnaird Head (Frazerburgh), including around 11,500 metres ascent (6 Munros, 1 Corbett, 2 Grahams, 3 Marilyns, and 11 other hills).  It should be fun, but encounters with other Challengers may be something of a rarity!

Update:  By 1 February my route had been returned, duly vetted.  I got a map reference wrong, and have apparently chosen an aircraft wreck on which to pitch my tent at one point!  I hope the cockpit is intact!  See you in Montrose…

Monday 21 January 2013

The Joy of Hill …. Walking?

A paraglider in the Brecon Beacons - 6 October 2013

For those of you who would rather not think of snow …

[Themed from a post by Andy Howell.  Hope you don’t mind, Andy]

Sunday 20 January 2013

Wednesday 16 January 2013 – Dunham Winter Garden (1)

Brrr, it's cold!

Despite feeling distinctly ‘under the weather’ (norovirus for the second time this winter!), it was too nice a morning for staying at home, so my camera and I visited Dunham Massey, on the first of what I hope will be regular visits over the next two to three months. 

The weak sunshine failed to melt the frost or make much impact on the icy lake.

A partly frozen lake

The Winter Garden is just waking up.  The witch hazels have burst forth, brightening up bare branches – there are red ones as well as yellow.

Witch hazel (Hamamelis)

Whilst there is so little colour, the frosted leaves stood out, forming their own sculptures:

Frosted leavesFrosted leavesSculptural leaves

At the far end of the garden is a patch of grass where, in a couple of weeks time, snowdrops will be flowering.  But for now, these tiny aconites are the only ones braving life above the soil.


Some of the garden’s trees and shrubs might be bare, but the red bark of the Prunus and Cornus complements the greens and browns.  Staff also keep the white bark of the silver birch grove washed – soon the white will be reflected by the snowdrops beneath the birches.

Coloured bark 
The Orangery wasn’t receiving  many warming rays, but it makes a lovely focal point.

The Orangery

Nearby, these scented blossoms had burst forth, looking particularly fragile:

Winter blossom

The snowdrops were budding, so will imminently be in flower, along with the Christmas roses.  Then the beautiful miniature irises will carpet the beds – I hope the ones I have planted will be as successful…!