TGO Challenge 2018: Day 1 – Oban to Loch Etive

This year, not having been bullied into signing out early, I’m downstairs in Oban youth hostel just a few minutes before 9am, and sign out for that time. I then linger a few minutes and find myself talking to David from Dartmoor. About Dartmoor, of course.

Traditional Dutch customs…

The pair of us cross the road to the “beach” and head to the water’s edge for the feet dipping ceremony, where we are joined by Willem and Leendert. I’m keen to be on my way so leave them dunking soft toys in the sea and head along the beach a short way before taking to the streets again. I’ve decided to head up to McCaig’s Tower and thence through the lanes to join my route.

McCaig’s Tower

My route through the lanes is thwarted in a private estate when half the roads/paths on the map don’t appear to exist in reality – or if they do not without walking halfway across someone’s garden. I retreat to the town and take a more conventional way along the minor roads. Eventually, I’m on the good track that runs parallel to the railway which will take me to Connell Bridge.

The bridge is crossed, the Falls of Lora are nothing special today though.

Connell Bridge

Now for some road walking which by mid-afternoon brings me to Bonawe and a timely bus shelter just as the rain starts. It’s also right next to a phone mast – if only I could camp here!


It takes a bit of gee-ing myself up to get going again, but I’ve nearly covered my planned distance for the day so get on with it. The road is soon left behind as I reach the quarry and pick my way carefully on the manky track past it. I start looking out for camp spots, which aren’t that promising. Specifically, the one I put down on the route sheet is utter rubbish. I find some water though, so fill up and decide to simply stop when I see something worthwhile. It’s another 5km to Cadderlie Bothy, which feels a bit beyond me for today. My pack is heavy, weighed down with food to get me to Braemar on day 9, with only a limited resupply in Dalwhinnie, so I’m not really up for doing the best part of 30km on my first day.

I soon spot a little track down to the water’s edge and find an ok spot at the back of the lochside beach.

Day 1 Camp beside Loch Etive
Day 1: Friday 11 May – 26.89 km, 432m ascent

5 thoughts on “TGO Challenge 2018: Day 1 – Oban to Loch Etive

  1. I can understand carrying a pebble (done it myself several times) but who the hell wants to carry a soggy cuddly toy around with them, dripping all over your dry stuff? Also, how did the tradition develop, what’s the symbolism behind it? All these are questions you fail to address and you leave me curious and frustrated. Not sure I can continue reading this journal now, in case you insert more cliff hangers!


    1. I’m putting this particular instance down to some odd Dutch custom. Mind you I did spot quite a few mini cuddly toys attached to people’s packs this year. I think this may be a special sign for those “in the know”.


      1. Ahh, like some special ‘club’ – do you think wet toys are maybe a hardcore branch of the membership? The mind, quite frankly, boggles! 😜


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