TGO Planning: Q & A Session 1

The first TGO Planning Q & A covers more on route planning, carry food and resupply strategies.

The TGO Song can be downloaded here.

Simply Stunning! Review: A Pocket of Wind Resistance by Karine Polwart

Regular readers will now that I am as passionate about my music as I am about the outdoors. Everyone and then something connects these two worlds together in the most extraordinary way. The new album from Karine Polwart does just that, the effect rather like being discovering the books of Robert MacFarlane for the first time.

Polwart is one of the country’s best singer/songwriters. In recent years the demands of young children have stopped her touring and she has begun to explore more mixed media offerings, mixing song with the spoken word. Wind Resistance was commissioned by the Edinburgh Festival and received rave reviews. Fortunately for those of us who weren’t in Edinburgh this has now been transferred to CD.

The story (or show) focusses around the Fala Moor bog, Sutra Hill and the ancient Salter’s Road in between Edinburgh and the Scottish Border country. The story features migrating geese, love and loss during war and childbirth. Jude Rogers in the guardian described this as “an epic, emotional endeavour and a stunning one too”. She’s no exaggerating.

This might be the most perfect thing to listen to while out wild camping on the hills.

Can you tell, I just love this! 

North Face Make Gear Breakthrough

North Face have been a top brand for many years, truly international and truly innovative. But, arguably, they have just created their most innovative and most important product for many years.

I need one of these. No, I need at least three!

North Face launches range of gravy-proof clothing for the ‘indoorsy type’

TGO Planning Videos: Q & A

Thanks of the emails and comments about this short series of videos. Many of you have given me ideas for new subjects that you would like to see discussed. I am going to produce a series of Q & A videos and will have the help of four experienced Challengers.  Feel free to send your questions to:

andy.howell AT me DOT com

TGO Planning Guide: Internet Resources

In this video I take a look at how to get the best out of the Challenge Message Board,  take a look at TGO challenge diaries and journals and also look at community websites and how they can help us plan.

Websites mentioned during the video:

The TGO Challenge Message Board

Phil Lambert — Doodlecat

The Outdoors Station — TGO Challenge Podcasts

Traveline Scotland

TGO Planning Guide: Navigation II

In this video we play a route through the open country of the Balmacaan Forest, breaking the walk down into sections that can be fixed using features of the landscape.

From Ragleth Hill

From Ragleth Hill

From Ragleth Hill

TGO Planning Guide: Navigation Across Open Ground

The first version of this had it’s sound mangled on upload to YOuTube — this version is OK!  Apologies if you watched first time around.

In this first of two videos about navigation I look at how we can use water to guide us on our way!


TGO Planning Guide: Start Points and Planning On

The third video in the series looks at the various start points of the Challenge and considers their relative merits? Which are the most popular for first time Challengers?

In addition, I take a look at how — once we have chosen our start point —we can move on and plan our route East.

The video mentions a number of books to help you plan. Here are the listings for Amazon (but of course you can buy from anywhere).


Hold On: What Time of Year is It Again?

A month ago I posted about a walk in my favourite South Shropshire Hills. Summer had finished but, mainly die to the heat, it didn’t feel as if Autumn had begun. Yesterday, I was out that way again and I found the seasons even more confusing!

These hills are always stunning in Autumn. We don’t have quite the display of autumn colours than you would expect to see on the edge of the Caringorms but down in the shelters valleys things can be pretty magical. I feared I had missed Autumn. I was in Poland for some of the time and when I returned the country was being battered by high winds and hurricanes. I assumed most of the Autumn leaves had been blown away.


Yesterday, I immediately took a sharp climb and — to get the heart beat tracing a little — I left tracks to push up heather slopes. From the hill’s ridge I had stunning views out to Wedlock Edge to the North. Mist hung in the valleys but here on the top — even at this early hour — the sun was breaking through. I met a local walker out with his dog. Down there, he said in those valleys they’re all sitting about moaning about what a miserable morning it is!

As I walked on the sun became stronger, the lowland mists cleared and I experienced the best walking weather I have all year. If this had been a summer day in the Scottish Highlands it would be judged the perfect summer’s day. There was a gentle breeze which was warm. I could feel the strength of the sun on my face. It was a day to climb high and simply stroll around aimlessly. Again I left the paths and explored some of the narrow cuts — or batches in the hill side. Finally I took advantage of some high bridleways to preserve my time up high for as long as I could.

From Ragleth Hill

As I walked I was delighted to see that I hadn’t missed Autumn at all. In sheltered spots the leaves clung on and were well on their way to their seasonal best. I had to remind myself that this was November 1st. I can’t remember the last time that I had seen such a display here so late in the season. It has been unseasonably warm for week and I wonder if the lack of a real cold snap has held the Autumn colours back?

Ashes Hollow

For any readers here who regularly walk these hills, this weekend might just provide the perfect Autumn display. There are no high winds forecast and I reckon the saturation of the colours will be at its height over the weekend and into the beginning of next week.

We really had be a little disturbed about our weather, and in general terms I am. But the hills are unpredictable places. And a summer’s day in November? I’ll take it for once.