It’s Official! TGO Route Vetted

Our TGO 2014 Route Summary
Our TGO 2014 Route Summary

Yaaaaaay…happy news! The route we created and submitted crossing Scotland from the west coast to the east coast for The Great Outdoors Challenge was vetted and APPROVED. This is largely due to the amazing help from the Challenge Forum of experienced TGO Challengers: Humphrey, Colin, Section Hiker, Vicky, and Gayleybird. Colin Tock, our vetter graciously sent us meticulous notes with camping, town, and route suggestions. Thank you everyone for your encouragement and very helpful suggestions.

Rockin’ and Dan’s TGO Route Stats:

  • 13 days
  • 218 miles or 351 kilometers
  • elevation gain – 43,566 feet or 13,279 meters
  • Start point – Shiel Bridge – May 10
  • Finish point – Stonehaven – May 22
  • Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet) – 12
  • COUNTLESS water crossings

The Challenge requires a detailed plan with daily kilometers traveled, meters ascent, overnight camps, GPS coordinates, and Foul Weather Alternate routes. The Foul Weather Alternates are routes to take for safety in case of storms (Scotland is known for them) and dangerous water crossings. This winter Scotland is currently experiencing record snow. From the notes from our vetter, Colin Tock:

“At the time of this writing Scotland is experiencing some of the heaviest snowfalls in living memory with greater accumulations at the main ski centres than most of the European resorts, Whistler and even Sochi. By May snow is usually – but not always – restricted to the higher tops, although snow melt can obviously add to river difficulties.”

TGO References
TGO References

This was by far the biggest project I have taken on. At first, I was more than frustrated, but after finding a few tools it was fun. After experimenting with mapping software, websites and apps, I ended up using Routebuddy mapping software to create our route and Viewranger iPhone GPS app. The process required hours of analyzing maps, reading books, and plotting routes on software.

Gotta say I printed a ton of maps and taped them together. At one time the floor of my office was completely covered in a taped together maps offering possible routes. This visual made a great reference and helped to make important decisions.

Route Planning Using LOTS of Printed Maps
Route Planning Using LOTS of Printed Maps

It was the moment that I first looked at a topographical map of the area we would be crossing in Scotland that I knew this was a different kind of undertaking.

The map language was Gaelic, which may well have been in Swedish.

Place Name charts were very helpful, but don’t even ask me to pronounce even one name. That learning curve is for another day.

Place Names
Place Names
Scotland Map with Gaelic Place Names
Scotland Map with Gaelic Place Names
Scotland Map with Gaelic Place Names
Scotland Map with Gaelic Place Names

Check…Route has been vetted…
Check..Transportation arrangements are reserved
Check…New rain gear bought (gear list upcoming)
Check…Started training
To do…Still tons

Always be able to look back and say “At least I didn’t lead no humdrum life. ”
~Forest Gump


  1. annathrax

    I have been to west Scotland, where you actually start from! It’s stunning land! I cannot wait for this series of blogs – Scotland is so beautiful!

  2. All we need now is the good weather. Here’s hoping the sun will shine this year for your trip to this side of the pond. Scotland can throw some really challenging weather at you at almost any time of year, but that’s part of the experience. And when the suns out there’s no better place to be. Hope you have a fantastic crossing.

    • Thank you for commenting. I just checked your blog, what a great resource! You have a lot of experience. Dan and I will definitely read through. We are getting excited for this brand new experience. I have certainly heard and read many horror stories about weather, wind, rain, fog, and bogs. Hard to imagine from sunny California. Hope to meet you on the crossing!

  3. We are visiting the New England area of the US in August and my husband has cut and pasted maps together to get the picture. Crazy? yes
    You doing it for Scotland? Makes total sense!!!! Looking forward to the adventure. I was interested at how much snow they have had in comparison to elsewhere!

    • It is an understatement to say that the taped together maps helped. I recommend this to anyone that is overwhelmed by a big unknown project. Get a visual and make it BIG. I am glad it was a tool for you both. Love it.

  4. You certainly don’t “lead no humdrum life”! I’m getting excited for you. My neighbors are from Scotland. I am going to forward your blog link to them. I think they would enjoy it.

  5. I’m from the west coast of Scotland, I’ll be leaving to walk the PCT in six weeks! A new experience for both of us I suppose, I know how it feels:)
    It looks like a good route you’ve chosen, i’m sure you’ll get on fine. If you have any random questions I’d be happy to try and answer them.

    Best of luck to you

    • A new experience is right. We live near the trail and often house or help hikers. If you are coming through Tehachapi and we are not on the TGO we would love to help. Just send me an email rockin’ . You are in for an adventure of a lifetime.

  6. All I can say is just….WOW.

    Can’t wait to “follow along”

  7. Wow, quite the map skills this takes!
    Sounds like you’ll need a specialized playlist for this trek – lots of Gaelic music! =]
    Thank you for sharing.

    • More like map skills I learned. I have hiked A LOT but never have used mapping software to create a new route. Google became my best friend quickly.

      I think you have a great idea! I am so going to download some Gaelic music for this trip. Putting it on my to do list. THANK YOU!

  8. I can’t imagine being able to do this trek because it would be my first time in the homeland and overwhelming! I’ll be waiting for every post!

    • Boy howdy. You are right. I don’t even want to add up the hours we labored over just figuring out transportation to get there and back. When you don’t have any experience to draw on it is hard because you second guess every decision. AND more importantly if you happen to make the wrong choice there are very inconvenient consequences. Thanks Neil for your comment and following along.

    • I’m totally directionally challenged when it comes to maps, so I look forward to seeing how the software you chose works!
      There’s some fun Scottish-esq songs on the Pixar “Brave” soundtrack for starters… =]

  9. Now that you have an approved route it becomes real! Thanks for sharing the process and can’t wait to hear about the actual trip. Will they be providing support for you or are you supposed to arrange it yourself?

    • Great question. The TGO is an unsupported trek. Everyone must haul their own food and walk the whole thing (with the exception of the ferry ride across Lock Ness). Participants have 14 days to finish the crossing with sign-in and sign-out points and must check in 4 times by phone during the walk. Dan and I are currently working on a food resupply strategy. Amazingly there are quite a few options.

  10. Congrats on the approved plan. Sounds like an amazin adventure…look forward to following along…

    • Glenn and Carol,
      Great to see you here! Just visited your hiking blog at Glenn & Carol’s Hiking Adventures. You guys get around!!! Thank you for sharing your treks and experiences. Thank you for following along.

  11. Definitely no “humdrum life” for you! Way to go Rockin’!

    • Gotta say this is one of my finer moments or maybe craziest. Just putting together the summary stats was surprising: No flat road walk that is for sure, lots of cross-country, and almost a peak a day. Just thinking yesterday as I was hiking Tehachapi Mountain that I am so thankful for you, your friendship, and the fact that you make me do more and be better. Thanks Wired.

  12. I am *so* glad that I’m not the only one to have ever cut and pasted maps. I used to think I was a bit daft to do that; no more. The more you share about this hallmark trip the more exciting it gets!

    • It is daft and lame, BUT it worked. I went from frazzled and completely frustrated to focused and determined. Computers are nice, but sometimes good old paper spread across tables and floors…is magic.

  13. My mind hurts imagining the challenge of interpreting the Gaelic language while charting potential routes through Scotland. What a challenge! This sure seems like an amazing adventure. I cannot wait to read and hear all about it!

    • It is kind of like charting our way through life, one step at a time but it is just one waypoint at a time. 🙂 Thank you for your boys and your support.

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