The TGO Challenge in 40 photographs

We started at Dornie, where a Hercules flew over us, the lobster pots and the folly in the water.

It was cold.  And windy, but there was no mistaking spring.

We were the last to leave, on the Saturday.

The walk out got good almost instantly, but then stalled on the track in Glen Elchaig.

The falls of Glomach are steep and enticing,

beckoning us towards ever grander schemes.

A hiatus was required because of the weather,

but we continued the following day in good company along Glen Affric, 

naked above, but lush below.

A walk through icy showers and ancient woodland,

passing an energy highway called Beauly Denny, wading

to stop at last on a fine dry beach at a reservoir named Loch ma Stac.

Through old hunting ground now of many lakes, the Balmacaan Fforest,

through snow showers and rain showers and glimmers of sun, to cross a bridge bound for Drumnadrochit.

A boat trip across Loch Ness punctuated our journey,

and this is what love looks like - inside it says 'the telephone is a good way to talk to people without having to offer them a drink'.

Onto the plateau of the Monadh Liath, the grey hills, that's the part of the map with no roads on.  The part with bird bones and mountain hares and more deer than is good for it.

Again in good company, peat hag bashing, and some bald, flat tops in the quickening weather.

Down to the Findhorn meadows, where you can taste human history in some kind of relative harmony with nature,

and where a thousand sea birds flew far inland to escape the freeze,

 and we woke to a cold, wet and muted world,

 which quickly grew colder and wetter.

A long day to Dulhain in deep damp snow, the hills further east cut deeper still by new roads for those who won't walk with their shotguns and new huts alongside equipped with paper plates and plastic cutlery,

and then along the Burma Road, a slow and soggy trudge to a warm dry cafe.

We washed our clothes and lined up for the Pass of the Cows,

and the snow bore our weight, but only just.

Through the red mountains, Am Monadh Ruadh.  Ah, so this is where they have been hiding all the big hills.

Past the endless howl of Carn Toul, and onto to a cheery Derry Lodge, and sunshine at last.

In to Braemar and on to Lochallater for an unexpected social,

then 3 munros on Lochnagar,

postholing every other step in a high white wonderland,

with the Cairngorms whence we came in clear view,

and Iain never far behind us.

Down off the Meikle Pap, looking back from best kept Royal Glen Muick, a little too tidy,

to camp by the bridge over Allt Darrarie and eat Smash and crash early.

Five hours of hag hopping was long and exhausting,

but rewards are found in hidden places,

on the quiet side of Mount Keen.

The sun beats down for the last few days, hill tracks and tarmac roads and a Mason's village,

Finally along the hot lanes with salt on the breeze, to Peregrines and Buzzards on the cliffs, and the beach at St. Cyrus.  We walked until we touched the sea.