Thursday, 17 January 2008

The Academy of Vetters

Each TGO Challenger has their route vetted by one of a team of route vetters from the Academy of Vetters. Some say that Vetters are hewn from the most ancient of rocks of the far northern wilderness. Others say they have no fathers. The truth will never be known.

After submitting your route, you wait...

You wait a little longer and then the Vetter's Comments appear magically in your 'inbox'. You scan it quickly at first, then print it out to compare it side by side with your route sheet and maps. Have you messed anything up? Are the mileages and climbs calculated correctly? Has it been approved?

Well, worry not: Here are a selection of Vetter's Comments from my 2003 route and this year's route:

"Thanks for your route. I see your grandson is accompanying you this time. Quite why the others are tagging along when they have no hope of an inheritance is a bit of a mystery."

"Yes, your party should be okay near the Arab owned lodge as even a trained marksman cannot get four in one shot. Anyway, stalkers are supposed to cull the weak and lame. How is the gout by the way?"

"As the Fife Arms does not appear on your route sheet, it is of course now off limits. Vetters will be in attendance to ensure everyone sticks to their schedule. You know it is for your own good"

"Thanks for your route sheet. I don't know why I had the misfortune to get landed with it; perhaps those injudicious remarks about the craven cottagers of Fulham free falling through the Championship and into League 1? You would think the Esteemed Co-ordinator has supported them long enough to develop a sense of humour. Plus, of course, all the other vetters laughing so much they couldn't type properly kinda swung it for me."

"9th May. I hope you sort out your difficulty in organising travel to the connoisseur's start point. You may have the LaBorwits as travel companions for the first day or two, and I am sure Phyllis will help carry Alan's backpack if he gets a bit fatigued."

"11th May. I expect you will be feeling unwell this morning, having contrived a visit to the bar and restaurant at the head of the loch."

"12th May. The chip shop in Tyndrum is awesome."

"15th May. ... great community cafe..."

"20th May. Enjoy! I hope the Masons arms will still be open when you eventually get there."

"21st May. I recommend the path from Buskhead to Clash of Wirren, then east over to west Wirren. The extra miles at altitude will clear your head."

"As this is the third year in a row that I have vetted your route, under Scots Law I have adopted you, which means I am obliged to write you into my will. That's a home found for that shedload of lightweight gear..."


  1. Seems to me that there is scope for a book here Perhaps times to mark the 30th anniversary of the Challenge). A collection of Vetter's comments over 30 years. and perhaps some of the more off-the-wall routes that have been submitted over the years???

  2. Peter - As a responsible blogger I could not possibly divulge my sources.

    You would not respect me in the morning.


  3. David a: A fine fellow and one who reads a good book or two!

    Surely when its all ice & snow up there in Scot'sland you don't have to do the rounds? A perfect chap for the job in those long, dark winter nights of yours.

    Get to it, my good fellow!

  4. I assume that if you find yourself in the Flow Country you will have by then realised that you are slightly off course and will take steps to recify your position.
    If you do the thoughly decent thing of having a bath during the crossing take adequate precautions to avoid getting the other toe up the tap.
    To avoid excess weight I suggest you get Phillip to carry the "golden nectar"
    Hope you enjoy John's route from Glasgow to the start point!

  5. Alan, no, I still go out in the snow and ice (more likely to be dark and raining actually!).

    I still think there is mileage in the idea though. There could be tall tales too, including toes ending embedded in tap holes, fire-starting Challengers, escape from the dragon's lair, trouble in Coire Dhondail, sheep rescuing, and others ...

  6. God!

    I didn't mention the sheep, did I David?

    Don't tell Lynnie!

  7. David

    I well recall our meeting - you, striding tall, commanding. Me, weak and fluffy. I fell on my back and awaited your stong arms ... bAAAAAH! BAAAAAHH!


  8. Alan

    Relax! - the sheep encounter was mine. On last year's Challenge I was a few miles beyond Achallader farm (and about half a day behind you - you were a fit LEJOG person then!. I found a ewe stuck on its back and managed to help it back on its feet ... I didn't know her name was Dollie though!!!!!

  9. I'm a bit upset about this. I thought me and Dollie had something special going...

  10. Pieman (sniff):

    You and me both, along with a few dozen other Chally Daunderers. That Dollie is a right little madam. No more lipstick for her this year!

    No Siree!


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