Spreading it out

James at backpackingbongos made a good post last week on why he wasn’t applying for next year’s TGO Challenge. It certainly struck a chord with me. I’d love to do the Challenge, but two weeks off work in one go would mean little backpacking in the rest of the year. I’m not sure I want to make that sacrifice. This year, by the time I go to the Lakes later this month, I will have managed four trips (one to the Cairngorms, two to Snowdonia and one to the Lakes). Excluding travel, that will be twelve days out on the hills, marginally less than doing the Challenge. Getting out in the hills and wild camping keeps me sane in this mad world. I enjoy thinking about what I might do next. If I could only get out once a year, then I would find that tough. Several trips also ekes out the time so the other half doesn’t realise how much time I’ve used. Until I have an opportunity to have more holiday time, I probably won’t do the Challenge, even though I’d really like to do it.



18 thoughts on “Spreading it out”

  1. The way I see it with the tgo challenge is that you have to make a 2 year commitment to it; especially as a 1st timer.

    As there is no guarantee of getting in the 1st time (second time isn’t a given either) as I found out for this year.

    I had the plans all sorted with work & SWMBO but never made it, so those plans have had to be changed and there moved to next year.

    Ok; its true 1st timers do get on 1st time around but if you don’t well, you see what happens.

    That’s why I think if you are going to do it, its better to apply earlier than later and just except that the year you do get on is going to be a possible barren year for many trips.

    Then again as my mate says “If I want to walk across Scotland; why wait to be invited” I try to explain its the social size but…

  2. I walked across Scotland long before doing it on the Challenge. It is a great event but walking across Scotland does not mean needing to go on the Challenge.

    I am not applying as I have only two weeks available next year for trips plus weekends. So it is too much in one trip leaving nothing for the rest of the year to do the Challenge.

    I will do a coast to coast up there in a week come May, and another walk later in the year in the North West Highlands as well.

  3. It is a major commitment and given that any of us can cross at any time it is puzzling why the TGOC remains so attractive. Must be something to do with the people.
    Personally I still owe my employer 6 hours having crossed this year and risk incurring their wrath if I am able to go next year due to the lateness in the month interfering with month end stuff. Can’t make up my mind whether to apply. Is it worth the risk of unemployment, starvation and penury?
    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm YES……………better get the app of today.

  4. I cant always see what the fuss about this event is. However having put my first application for next years challenge in I shall have to wait and see… If I dont get on I’ll do something else with my time – back to the Pennine Way project then.

  5. Wellll…
    It gives you the opportunity to get to know a vast swathe of the Highlands and for the idle, like me you are forced to plan more thoroughly than normal. fun
    Even for mainly solitary hikers like me it is a pleasure to cross paths with familiar and unknown faces whilst on the trail. You all have something slightly more in common with them than on a normal hike.
    The gatherings (opportunistic or planned) are morale boosts.
    You have access to a huge amount of experience of every nook and cranny of the country held by former crossers and those involved in the organising of the event.
    Those left behind are happier to issue passes knowing that your progress will be loosely monitored and that support is there whilst allowing us the freedom to get lost and fall off things.
    Don’t worry tho -no one will deprive you of the freedom to get despondent,depressed,wet or sore – which may be why it is such a buzz to get across to the North Sea.

  6. A good summation Fred; that’s kinda what I got from the podcasts and articles.

    It would be good to say that I’ve done one but I dont think I’d take two weeks the following year to repeat the experience.

  7. They all say it is addictive.
    Reading my former comment – it makes it sound like something to be endured but in fact the whole thing is a joy:- waking up to one of those eternal sunny days, getting to the top of a snowy Munro to be left breatheless at the surrounding ripple of peaks and ridges running blue to infinity, the astringent pleasure of a swim in a remote lochan, the feeling of getting stronger and fitter as the lard drops off and the experience of leading a nomadic existence totally immersed in it for 2 weeks.
    Thanks for raising the topic Baz – it made me think on. I shall check oput the calendar again with 5 days left to apply. See you there!

  8. I think the social side is very attractive and would be a major reason for doing it. I’m tempted to do the Ullapool/Evantown crossing in a week. Two weeks is just too much at the moment.

  9. I may get shot down for saying this but on the two occasions that I have experienced the TGO challenge, most of the challengers were a ‘little older’ than me. What I am trying to say is that many would not have to take any annual leave to participate!

  10. Scotland is open all year round guys, and you can walk from just about anywhere you fancy to anywhere else you fancy. No application forms are necessary!

  11. Ahh
    Not sure how to start this comment as so far I have done fourteen ‘official’ Challenges and one ‘unofficial’ crossing.

    I don’t do it for the ‘safety’ aspect – I am quite happy walking alone for four months on end. Yes, I suppose I could walk acorss at any time of the year, but May is possibly the best time of year to do it – more likelihood of settled weather, no midges etc etc.

    So – I suppose it’s for the cameraderie when you do bump into other Challengers. Of course you don’t need to bump into others – indeed there are a few accounts on Phil’s Doodlecat where Challeners rarely meet another Challenger until the finish at Montrose.

    Each to their own.

    I don’t get the ‘it takes too much time up’ argument either, as this year I have been backpacking in the Lakes, The Challenge, The Lakes, and the Yorkshire Dales and still intend to get out for at least another trip or two. You just need to make it long weekends.

    Try it – you will get hooked – read Andy Howell’s blog to see how the Chally has changed his mind.

  12. The time argument is based on how much holiday you have – if you’ve only got 2 weeks that you can use out of it for a backpacking trip and the rest for your family holidays, then the Challenge means that you’ve got no other long trip that year. But if you do one week-long trip in May and one in October, for example, you’ve got that week’s walk to look forward to after the May one. Agreed, you may not get the same distances, but you’re still getting a good week’s backpack in. Friday night to Sunday you could do 9 days. The Challenge finishes on a Thursday – if you started on a Friday you would do 14 days max, and that’s your holiday gone (in my case). The two week-long trips spread over the year could give you a total of 18 days’ walking. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the Challenge and I will put in for it again another year, but I just can’t this time. The wonderful mix of highlands and meeting other participants is a blend that is hard to resist and will draw me back to it.

  13. At a previous company I had twenty days leave, three of which I had to use for the xmas break. So taking ten days leave in one go would have been a hard decision to make even if I had no family to factor a break with in.

    I’m luckier now having more annual leave but am still having qualms about block booking ten days for the trip, if there was a one week variant I’d be much happy with that.

  14. I guess it all comes down to how you manage your time, not just in the hills but at home too. I like the idea of the Challenge but it doesn’t suit my lifestyle – at least not at the moment.

    2 weeks is a long time to justify with a partner who doesn’t share my love of the hills. So, as with all things, its about balance and I balance my trips with other interests and time spent at home with my GF and friends. I’ve found a way to make this work quite well but I can’t see The Challenge working for me at this point in time.

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