TGOC 2018 – it wasn’t meant to end like this

I shouldn’t be writing this post tonight. I should have been on my last wild camp of the 2018 TGO Challenge in Drumtochty forest, finishing tomorrow in Johnshaven. Instead, I’m sitting at home sorting out my photos from the Challenge and wondering if I did the right thing in withdrawing yesterday.

For us baby boomers, morning twinges and muscle stiffness and pains are pretty normal. I’m regularly told to stop the ‘old person noises’ as I stretch and groan to relieve aching joints. So, I thought nothing of it when my left leg felt a bit sore when I left Ballater camp site last Sunday. After all, I’d already walked 3/4 of the way across Scotland. I assumed this was simply normal wear and tear.

I am a believer in the curative power of walking and I reckoned that the problem would sort itself after a couple of miles. My route started on the Deeside Way, which is an old railway so there’s no hills and I set off at a reasonable pace. My leg was uncomfortable but didn’t really slow me down.

After about an hour or so, my leg was no better so I thought a couple of ibuprofen would sort things out. I stopped for a few minutes, took the tablets and had something to eat. I restarted after 10 minutes and my leg felt worse not better; I waited for the ibuprofen to kick in; it didn’t. Instead over the next 20 minutes, my leg went from being 75% efficient and a bit uncomfortable to 25% efficient and moderately painful. When I found that I had to stop every 10 steps for a rest, it was clear that I couldn’t go on.

I limped into Dinnet walking about 1k/hour and went for a coffee in the hotel. It didn’t get better. Luckily, we live close to the Deeside bus route so I jumped on a 201 and went home. I hoped a couple of days rest would sort things out and I could get back onto the Challenge.

My leg improved a lot but it was still a bit painful going up and down stairs; I decided not to risk knackering it with a couple of 30km days to get to the coast. I made the difficult call to withdraw from this year’s Challenge yesterday evening.

I was very disappointed not to finish and I do wonder if I did the right thing? Was I a bit wimpish – maybe I should have walked through the pain? Should I have risked it and tried to finish when my leg improved? I’ll never know.

But, on a more cheerful note, the Challenge up till then was fantastic. Here’s a picture that epitomises the weather and the scenery.

My last 2-day stage of the Challenge was to walk from Strath Nethy to Ballater via Bynack Mor, Glen Avon and Glen Builg. These lesser known Cairngorms glens are fantastic places, without the numbers of people in the Lairig Ghru or Glen Feshie. These are the Falls of Avon in Glen Avon. Had it been warmer, I'd have been tempted by a skinny dip in this pool.

5 thoughts on “TGOC 2018 – it wasn’t meant to end like this

  • May 23, 2018 at 9:16 pm

    So close!
    I’m a big believer in keeping going and walking through the pain too – or as hubby would say, just plain stubborn and awkward – but for probably the first time in my life it didn’t work for me either this time. First day too, for me! I keep wondering if I could have kept going too, but really I know I couldn’t have done with that pain, and made the right decision. Hurts to give up though!
    Hope you’re soon feeling better.

  • Pingback:My 2018 TGO Challenge in 10 images – Daunerin' Aboot

  • July 16, 2018 at 11:54 am

    We walked the same route by Loch Mullardoch. I was with a friend (Alan). It really was hard going in places. Sorry you had to withdraw. I had a similar problem to you and needed to withdraw at Ballater. Hope you are much better now. As a consellation, my wife and I stayed at the Shenval B+B last week. We both loved it!

    • July 17, 2018 at 4:35 pm

      Hi Brian, It was good to meet you on the Challenge. Sorry that you had to pull out too but at least we did the most interesting bit. The couple at Shenvall are lovely people. Hope to see you again on a future Challenge

      • July 18, 2018 at 11:15 am

        Likewise Ian. Already pouring over maps for the next TGOC. I would like to include the sections that I had planned, from Aviemore onward, in the next route. Alan and I had thought of spending a few days exploring along the north shore of Loch Mullardoch at some future point.


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