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Yip, Theo's right on the money. Basically anywhere west of Braemar and above 500m is good - but look for aeriated sources - aka swift-flowing, plenty of oxygen.
Comatose Challengers are always a problem, but they tend to group/grope around the flesh-pots and are easily spotted.
East of Braemar, with the exception of the high ground E of Mt Keen - and there's not much water there - is a little iffy. Drinking from lowland rivers is out of the question. As in any source that is obviously contaminated. Having said this, in ten crossings I've never felt the need to carry any kind of purification system - apart from my Elemental Soul, but that's more a question for The Very Wonderful Rev Dave, que no?
Hi Marc, if you are going to be carrying a water bottle anyway, and like me you want reassurance when collecting water then change it for the Travel Tap. I’ve had mine a couple of years now and wouldn’t be without it. I met a lad last year while doing the CWT, he dropped out with DnV, We were both filling our water bottles from the same water source. Was it the water? I don’t know! My water was going through the Travel Tap and I was ok. Plus you don’t need to carry buckets full to see you through the day.
Bob and Rose will sort you out if you want:- http://www.backpackinglight.co.uk/product353.asp?PageID=40
I'm with Billymacca - you'll get lots of people who don't filter and never get a problem and some that swear by it. I'm in the second camp and filter water.
I use the Aquaguard Micro from DrinkSafe systems. With it I can connect to pretty much any any bottle or bladder I choose. And if its a hot year (which never happens in my experience ) you can then even lift water from an animal trough safely.
I actually like the taste of water from this system. Give it a go.
What Humphrey said.....
After Braemar it gets a wee bit harder.
Really hardcore type just carry beer from there
The Delios filter is also excellent.
Fits on most bottles and all platypus bladders.
I take one, but only used it last year on way to Edzell.
It was bloody hot that day.
Have to say I treat all my water, just for the reassurance. I just know I'd be the one to get caught out! I use drops which weigh next to nothing, take up no room and are quick and easy for a bear of little brain like me. I've tried a Travel Tap but being of a particularly feak and weeble nature, I can't squeeze the bottle and it causes too much hilarity amongst my companions when I squeeze the bottle between my knees and collect the water in a pot at my feet.
Like all other bits of kit for the Challenge, it's personal choice.
Obviously this doesn't apply to more 'suspect' areas in farmland and populated areas (a few micropure tabs, just in case, although never used so far) but generally I fall into the "don't filter and can't see what the fuss is about" camp. I sometimes hear tales of dreadful bursts of the squits blamed on "the water" - but I tend to think that personal hygiene (especially after toileting procedures) is the more likely culprit.
So I always carry a small bottle of alcohol gel - and use it.
I drink from high, fast flowing streams when up in the hills (after a short check up stream and in the lowlands, knock on doors if in need of water; have never been refused yet!
Like Louise, I find the Travel Tap a nuisance to use as it requires a stronger wrist than mine to squeeze the liquid through. I'm back to just using a plastic drinks bottle and filling from fast moving water sources. It's lighter too.
This strength thing can be more of an issue with kit for women than you might at first think. I was really enamoured of the Neo-Air mattress but the review says it requires "about 12 man breaths" to fully inflate it. This would be a non-starter for me as I have trouble blowing up balloons!
I do think for stronger women and most men the Travel Tap is a seriously good piece of kit and gives peace of mind.
Drink tea! We stop three times during the day and boil water for tea (or coffee) and so far never had a problem; famous last words. Also we rarely carry water, certainly if we are west of Braemar we don't bother and on the few occasions we have not been able to find a decent supply of water in farming areas we have knocked on a door and asked. I never understand those light weight exponents who shave grammes off their pack weight and carry 2kg of water! Each to their own I guess.
Have to agree regarding the travel tap. It gives good peace of mind, but the effort required to extract water is a bit over the top. Last Challenge, I was kneeling on it with all my weight to get a pretty meagre flow.
I've swapped to a Sawyer filter since then. Carry Micropur to use if the water is really suspect.
Agree with Mr Grumpy about water, although I have been caught short once or twice so I do carry a supply.
I treat all of my water by taking it to the pictures and then for dinner and a few jars in the "Reservoir Keeper and Laudry Maid Arms" It's usually Ok with that. Wot other people said - you're in much more danger of squitters by touching handles in railway carriages on your way to Scotland or sleeping with strangers in bunkhouses, bothies and hostels. Avoid rubbing itchy eyes and get paranoid with the alcohol gel and you'll still get the squitts! Enjoy the time in the loo/ peat hag/over the wall in the woods by yourself. Try not to make too much noise. Take a book. And remember that sphagnum moss is God's gift to those with a sore bum.
Thanks a lot to all of you for the answers and comments...
Now I'll try to sort it out !