The TGO Challenge is an event that’s held each May when about 300 people walk from the west coast of Scotland to the east coast. Written like this, it sounds pretty grim – like a ghastly extended ‘fun run’ that lasts a fortnight, where everyone is almost certain to get wet. But it’s not like that at all. People start in a number of different start points from Ardrishaig in the south to Torridon in the north and they finish up and down the east coast from Arbroath to Peterhead.
So far, I’ve done three Challenges, the last in 2015. Family events – my daughter’s wedding in 2016 and the birth of her first child in spring 2017 – mean that I have missed a couple of years but I hope to be back in 2018.
Individuals and groups decide on their own routes, which vary from low-level routes through the glens to high-level Munro-bagging expeditions. You can pick a route where you don’t see any other Challengers for 2 weeks or you can pick a ‘social route’ where you are always bumping into other people. The best description of the Challenge that I heard was from Alan Sloman, a redoubtable 20+ times Challenger, who described it as a series of social occasions with a bit of walking thrown in. If you want it to be, this really is true.
Of course, you can do a coast-to-coast walk anytime but meeting like minded people who become friends is one of the things that makes the Challenge unique. I hardly ever take my camera to the pub so I regret is that I haven’t captured the diversity of people and the conviviality of the event. This will change in future now that I have a good smartphone camera.
A logical narrative to tell the Challenge story is a chronological and geographical one – moving through time and landscape from the west to the east coast of Scotland. But there are dozens of Challenge stories on blogs written like this. So, I’ve taken a slightly different approach based around 4 themes – weather, land, trees and water.
Most of the images here were taken using an iPhone camera or a Sony RX-100 compact camera. I took a fairly new Sony NEX-7 mirrorless camera on my first Challenge in what was claimed to be a waterproof case. A couple of days of Knoydart rain demonstrated that waterproof it was not. The camera developed an electrical problem where it ran down batteries very quickly. So I had to use it very sparingly and although it still sort of works, it was classed in the camera repair shop as ‘beyond economic repair’. Since then I have used Aquapac waterproof cases for both my camera and phone. They seem to work.