Thursday, 11 January 2007


For two weeks of my walk I am to be looked after, quite splendidly in fact.

I have just received back my vetted route from Uncle Roger at TGO High Command. He actually got one of the Vetters to do it – a lovely chap, also called Alan. Alan is a bit of a legend, in that he has completed the TGO Challenge NINETEEN times. (That was in capitals to show you it is a Very Big Achievement). Yes he has crossed from the west coast to the east coast of Scotland successfully nineteen times. I don’t know how long his legs are, but there cannot be much left of them by now. I have heard it said in a bar in Scotland by a very authoritative man that you lose 6mm in leg length for each crossing. So by my ‘O’ level mathematical reckoning, Alan must now be some 114mm shorter than he was 20 years ago.

In real money that’s four and a half inches. Having met Alan a few times now, I reckon that is spot on. He is not the tallest chap on the Challenge. (They tend to be the younger first-timers) He is however one of the smiliest and wise. He has all the attributes of wisdom: A flowing white beard and piercingly bright eyes. No one can tell his age, but he goes back in time before the Great Outdoors Challenge was even a twinkling in Hamish Brown’s eye. Yes. Centuries old.

And he has vetted my route and made one or two Very Wise suggestions which I shall follow:

Stay away from the terrible drinking dens of the challenge.
Stay away from polite company

He also mentioned some helpful nonsense about bothies and waterfalls to die for.

So back to my opening comments: For two weeks of the walk I will have someone to phone in to, to let them know how it’s going, to have a shoulder to cry on when it gets all shitty. That’s a very comforting thought.

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