So, it's more than three weeks since I got home from the Challenge, have I had any thoughts of how it went?
On the whole, it was brilliant.
My planning was thorough and well executed. I'm getting the hang of it. I somehow managed to plan my food to as near perfection as I think I can. I ate enough most of the time, I certainly didn't appear to suffer as much from food deprivation as I sometimes do. I think the dehydrated meals I buy from mountaintails.org.uk are the best, for me anyway, and I ate as much fresh food as I could when it was available. I mainly slept well, but I think that was down to the nights not being so cold rather than any of my gear in particular, although I do think thermal tights under my merino leggings works for me. I only had two nights in accommodation and three nights on a campsite, so slept most nights in my wonderful little Laser, however, I still have never managed a solo wild camp.
I was really excited about my route, it was covering an area largely unknown to me and I really enjoyed the new views and places of wonder that I found along the way. Even when I re-routed through Glen Tilt from Blair Atholl, I was still in unknown territory until I crossed the Geldie Burn. I was unfamiliar with the Morrone Birkwood, but I do know Braemar and Ballater quite well.
There was a change in the wildlife that I saw and heard as I made my way across Scotland. There were plenty of dippers and wagtails by the rivers, the woods were full of chiffchaffs and willow warblers and I heard a cuckoo every day as I walked. I saw ravens, a golden eagle and a kite and lots of roe deer, but no red deer. I heard a green woodpecker when I was camping at Innerwick, which was wonderful, having never heard one before. One day I'll see one, but not this far up north perhaps! On the whole, I think most of the ground I covered was more rural than usual, hence the different wildlife.
I could cover my gear in a different post, but most of it was the same as usual so I don't feel the need. I've mentioned the thermal tights already, they worked for me. This year I carried a spare pair of thinner walking socks instead of my thick sleepy socks and a pair of 'social' socks (as opposed to anti-social socks, obviously...) which meant I had choice of what to wear in bed if necessary and whether I wore an ordinary or thinner pair for walking in, depending on the weather and how much road walking was planned. I took the hat I had crocheted over the winter and I loved it, wearing it at the end of the day as I pitched camp and through the night, when necessary. I took my Velez Light instead of my regular one, which allowed me to wear my Rab Lunar top underneath in necessary or I was happy to carry the Velez Light if I didn't need to wear it, which I an not inclined to do with the regular one. I also found my Cascada II trousers very comfortable in all conditions. I still love my Osprey Exos 58, although with my new skinny collar bones, I found the need to make some extra padding to put underneath my shoulder straps. My sit mat came in handy for that. My Phd sleeping bag performed better, but I think that was down to the weather conditions. My lovely Laser is my best friend, I have no complaints at all. My Meindl Burma boots are in the same category.
There's not much else to say at the moment. If this was my last solo Challenge, (or possibly Challenge ever) I am happy that it was the most successful and enjoyable so far.