Reflections on TGOC-13

I’m back!  My first coast to coast TGO Challenge is done – 2 weeks walking across Scotland from Knoydart to Aberdeen. I have lots of notes and photos and plan a day-by-day blog but I thought that I would get down some short initial reflections before I forget and my brain gets swamped by emails.

I had my reservations about the Challenge (see this post) but for me it worked really well. Walking solo meant I could please myself where and when to go, how fast to walk, when to stop, etc. but apart from my final day, I always met some other Challengers. This can make a big difference as you can get pretty dispirited when you have bad weather on your own for a few days with no-one to talk to.  The Challenge reputation for inclusivity and friendliness was absolutely justified and sometimes, walking with someone really made a difference when grinding out the miles.

I more or less followed my planned route. It took me back to parts of Scotland that I hadn’t visited for many years such as Knoydart and Glen Roy and it was good to see that they haven’t really changed much – except that the beer in Inverie is definitely better.  It also took me to places where I’d never been and will never willingly go again. I walked over the hills from Glen Muick to Glen Tanar and have rarely walked in such horrible conditions – peat hags and bog in a featureless landscape. Although there was good visibility, there was no way to navigate without a map and compass.

For me, this walk was more than a nostalgic trip around old Highland haunts. I’d wanted to walk across Scotland for a while but after surgery for cancer, I decided to stop putting it off and just get on with it. You never really know what life will throw at you and if you put things off too often, you may never be able to do them.  Serious illness has debilitating psychological as well as physical effects and this walk was about convincing myself that I had recovered from these.  Now, I feel able to take on a new set of challenges and put this unpleasant episode in my life behind me.

Would I do this again – definitely. I had a couple of low times – surprisingly, not when bog-hopping but during road walks-  but the general experience was so positive and enjoyable that I will surely be back. Maybe not next year – I’d like to spend some May time in Sutherland – but before too long.

5 thoughts on “Reflections on TGOC-13

  • May 25, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    I’m delighted you enjoyed it – you certainly seem to have been captured by the very essence of the event.
    You could always enter next year’s Challenge AND visit Sutherland!
    I’m looking forward to reading your Challenge report. I hope to meet up with you next year 😉

  • May 25, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Ah yes: the hills from Glen Muick to Glen Tanar – there’s a pretty place if ever there was one. It brings to mind a comment Judith made at the Park Hotel: “When I was standing in the middle of a huge bog that went on for mile after mile, I consoled myself with the thought that this wasn’t the very worst bog I had been in, and so got on with it.”

    It’s lovely to hear that you’ve had a great time, Ian. I’m really looking forward to your write-up.

  • May 26, 2013 at 2:00 am

    Hi Ian – Good to hear you enjoyed the experience. Hope the weather and midges weren’t too bad. I’m looking forward to reading your day-by-day write up and seeing the photos. I’ll put the Glen Muick bog walking on the ‘places not to go’ when I come to Scotland next year.

  • May 26, 2013 at 6:42 am

    Hi Ian
    I am pleased I have found your blog as I am going to look forward to reading the reports of your trip. Your penmanship puts my efforts to shame -but at least I am ahead of you (at the moment) in writing up the trip!
    Excellent to meet you on the Challenge and I hope our paths will cross again.

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