The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday 26 June 2019

TGO Challenge 2019 Reflections: Weather

Immediately after the TGO Challenge this year I had good intentions of writing two blog posts, mainly as an aide memoire for my future self. Here I am just over a month later with the first one, on the subject of the weather.

Upon reaching Montrose early on the morning of Tuesday 21 May (the time and date are relevant to this post), I was of the belief that we had previously had a TGO Challenge that was equally dry. I remembered writing a post about it on the train home that year, but on looking it up I found my memory to be defective; what we had in 2012 was weather that wasn't as dreadful as most other Challengers described - we still had our waterproofs on at some point on most days. Further checking of my electronic memory tells me that our general experience of walking west to east across Scotland in May has been damp.

Things didn't get off to a promising start this year, when rain came in just minutes before we left the Dornie Hotel. However, it was light and it was around an hour before it seeped through to our skin, at which point we donned waterproof jackets. We left our legs unprotected, and they never got uncomfortably wet. The same was repeated as we made our way up the Falls of Glomach.

The only heavy rain that day came at around 5pm, after we had pitched the tent for the night. "Glad we're not out in that" we agreed!

After a few hours, the rain cleared and the sky with it. In the morning we woke up to a frozen world, including our shoes, socks and water bottles. A 'character building' sort of a morning...

Day 2 was showery, but every time rain hit it looked like it would pass quickly. We therefore decided to adopt the strategy of only waterproofing-up if we starting getting properly wet (i.e. rain onto skin through whatever layers we were wearing). Thus during every rainy spell we found ourselves overtaking others who had paused to apply waterproofs, whilst we walked on. We never did get wet. It was another cold night, but not as cold as the first (i.e. only a hint of ice in water bottles).

Days 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 were sunny and either warm or hot. Day 8 was still fine once the early morning cloud had cleared, but the temperature had plummeted. I recall marvelling at how light my bag was on Day 8 as, after days of carrying all of my layers, I was now wearing them.

Day 9 was when the weather broke. For the first time since leaving Dornie, out came the waterproof trousers. There were some substantial dry spells in the afternoon, but none long or warm enough to entice us out of those waterproofs, thus we wore them all day. Still, one day of waterproofs in 9 is a pretty good record in Scotland, isn't it?

Day 10 was a little bit drizzly in the morning, but nothing that got us wet. Day 11 was showery, but none heavy or long enough to trouble us to wear more than our jackets.

Day 12 is where the weather truly broke and we walked the whole of the rest of the Challenge in waterproofs. Fortunately for us, 'the whole of the rest of the Challenge' was under 3 hours and that whole period was fully togged up in Paramo and GoreTex.

The rest of the second week continued showery, but for us that was irrelevant. We had walked across Scotland in weather that only required our waterproof trousers for one day and three hours. Incredible!