Friday, 15 December 2006


Being a regular TGO Challenger, I have been introduced by the more experienced Challengers I have met over the years to a variety of organisations that are associated with the Great Outdoors.

These organisations are all run on a voluntary basis by various bands of dedicated enthusiasts. I thought it might help walkers who are not yet aware of these fine groups if I wrote a few notes about them, so that you could consider joining yourself. There are other fine groups in Britain – this is just a selection - those I am a member of. You will find the links to these clubs at the top right of this blog.


I suppose the first group to talk about must be the TGO Challengers themselves. Every year 300 souls walk west to east across a vast tract of Scotland on a route they have planned themselves, to enjoy the wild places and to have the chance of bumping into like minded people as they walk across the country. This event has been running for the best part of three decades, and for nearly all of that time it has been run with quiet professionalism by Roger Smith. There are walkers on this walk that have completed it over twenty times, a truly amazing feat. After you have completed your first Challenge you are eligible to join the ‘Over the Hill’ Club, who meet up almost every month throughout Britain.

After my first Challenge I signed up to being a member of the MBA. The MBA is an incredibly hard working outfit – they take old mountain shelters and the occasional ruin and look after and restore them so that they are available to all who need a simple shelter in the wild places. They do not own any of the bothies, but they work with the buildings’ owners to ensure that the buildings are dry and safe. They organise work parties, all on a voluntary basis to keep the buildings up to scratch. They look after about a hundred of these simple shelters in Britain’s wild places. To share a fire in a bothy when it is a wild night outside is one of life’s memorable pleasures.

This is a new one for me – I have just joined. My reasons for joining were actually quite selfish to start with, but I have subsequently found out that they are a really sociable bunch with absolutely years and years of experience in this very ‘new’ phenomenon of lightweight backpacking! These guys have been making their own lightweight shelters and cutting holes in their mugs since time began. These are the quiet unsung experts in the backpacking world. My rather selfish reason for joining them was to gain access to their wonderful farm pitch directories – a list of farmers who welcome responsible backpackers for the occasional overnight stop – which is going to be very important to me on my LEJOG.

Having joined them I have found that they are a vibrant community, with their own newsletter, a regional group structure and very regular backpacking meets all over Britain. I shall certainly be spending a lot of time after my BigWalk with these wonderful people. Two of my Lejog Angels, Brian Crick and Peter Lumley are both members, and Brian did his own Lejog a few years back with his friend Ron. He wrote a wonderful little book of his walk. All in all – inspirational.


  1. I believe that Backpack editor Christine Roche did LEJOG in 2004 and wrote a book about her ordeal. She had it on special offer to Club members.

    Keep on blogging..

  2. Hi Alan,

    I'd love to have a list of farmers who allow pitches! How do I obtain?



  3. Hi Des, & Hi Daryl

    You are right Des - I shall put that on my reading list for after Christmas - Thank you

    Daryl - If you click on the link at the top right of the page 'Backpackers Club' and then go to the 'Services' tag you will find that if you join them they will send you the details.

    Really useful!
    All the best


  4. Thanks, Alan. I visited the site. Do you happen to know just what the farmers' pitch data is like? Is it on paper, how many pages? Are there hundreds of these friendly farmers, or just a few? Exactly what info is provided - e.g., how do you locate these guys?

    I have been trying to crunch down my load in every possible way. No books, for example. Everything must come to hand easily.


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