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TGO Challenge 2015 – Coast to Coast on historic paths

In less than four weeks the TGO Challenge 2015 will be underway!

I have talked about it in my preview already.

Today I want to focus more on the route that I will walk from the West Coast to the East Coast of Scotland.

My idea for the challenge is to follow historic paths through the Highlands. Paths that were once important but don’t have a lot of traffic today.

Today’s roads, as the infrastructure for modern car traffic, follow some of the historic paths of the Highlands but there are many glens and mountain passes that are not crossed by a modern road. Here historic drove roads, trading paths or military roads survived as vehicle track or even basic trails.

They are windows into a different era. A time, when the context was different – different economic systems, different centers of population, times of war or military occupation.

The TGO Challenge 2015 is a great opportunity for me to experience the landscape of the Scottish Highlands and at the same time take a look through those windows into the past.

TGO Challenge 2015 – The Route

At least two-thirds of my overall hike will be on historic paths through the Highlands. Here are some of the more prominent ones:

St Duthac’s Way: The old path through scenic Glen Affric is a route said to have been used by medieval saint Duthac. Place names in the area are still giving reference to him.

Fort Augustus Drove Road: Now only a vehicle track, it was once a connection between Wester Ross and Fort Augustus. A part of it was expanded by General Wade as a military road.

Corrieyairack Pass: This track was build by Wade as a connection from Speyside to the new military post in the Great Glen that became Fort Augustus.

Lairig Ghru: The Cairngorms form a large barrier in Eastern Scotland with few North-South passages. The pass of Lairig Ghru is one of them that cuts though the high peaks.

Firmounth: An old path over mountain pass south of the River Dee. It connects “Royal Deeside” with Glen Esk and is used since medieval times.

Whisky Road: This is the extension to the Firmounth and a remote track. It is said to have been used by smugglers.

The links to the paths are taken from the Heritage Paths website. They have collected a vast amount of information about historic paths in Scotland. I especially like their interactive map interface!

Experiencing the Highlands

The paths above are somewhat of a framework for my TGO Challenge 2015. There is much more to explore.

Some historic spots are on my list already like Ruthven Barracks near Kingussie or the Deeside railway route.

If there is a place along the route that I should definitely not miss, please let me know!

 

But as much as I enjoyed planning the route in advance and getting an idea about what to expect, I look forward to the unplanned, the adventure part of it.

Experiencing nature and meeting new people will hopefully make the Challenge a memorable journey.

 

Postscript:

Now that I have completed TGO Challenge 2015, I can share some impressions of my coast-to-coast walk here:

Part 1: St Duthac’s Way

Part 2: The Road to Ruthven Barracks

Part 3: Firmonth Road.

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