Thursday, 16 December 2010


Phil's Picture: Above Loch Morar

(Click Phil’s picture to enlarge)

Attentive members of the congregation will have vague recollections of Lord Elpus and me picking up an award for our TGO Challenge route this year. I have to say that this was a bit of a surprise to us both but we shouldered the burden of applied greatness with aplomb. Apart, that is, from a bit of a boast on the blog but hey! I am only human with all the associated frailties… And it has to be said that for the last few years Phil had been doing most of the route design anyway…

This year however, Lord Elpus and I are doing separate walks. Ooh Err!

In October and November I began jotting down on the blog some ideas for next year’s walk. (Here, here & here). Plans don’t always go smoothly and so now I am looking at a new route.

I like the idea behind this new innovation; the “Route of the Year” award, as it encourages Challengers to think more creatively. I have walked across Scotland quite a few times now (fifteen “official” TGO Challenges plus one “unofficial”) and so I find it not too difficult to devise a do-able route quite quickly. However, I am now having a re-think. I want this trip to be a little different.

A good route choice

(Click picture to enlarge)

When I designed my LEJOG route all those years ago, I knew I wanted to incorporate a whole load of things into my “once in a lifetime” walk. I believe I ended up with a magnificent stravaig; a personal “Route of a Lifetime,” in fact. When I was interviewed by Podcast Bob in Braemar, about two-thirds of the way through that walk, I remember towards the end of the interview saying that upon returning home after the walk, I wanted to change quite a few things that I felt were going wrong with my life as it was at the time.

206 Toman Biorach

(Click picture to enlarge)

Well, right now, my life is very difficult and I have decided that I need to look at each year in a completely new way - as though it will be my last. I want to squeeze everything I possibly can into what remains of it. So, with that in mind I want my 2011 TGO Challenge route to be another route of a lifetime.  I have until the end of January to get my route in to be vetted, but I know that I can prevaricate for Britain, so I need to get on with it straight away, otherwise I could well be burning the midnight oil at the end of January…

293 Magnificent Gleann a Chadha Dheirg

(Click picture to enlarge)

So – I had better get on with it then!


  1. Live for the moment. Go for it Alan. Also January deadline? i better find some maps out fast and do my route.

  2. Hi Martin. Don't panic! It's a January deadline for Challengers who have done five or more Challenges. For everyone else it's the end of February.

    And, relax....

  3. There are many reasons to treat TGO routes, and, indeed other exploits, as if they were your last - mainly because one day, they will be.
    Get on with it, man...

  4. I hope things settle down for you soon Alan.
    The one thing that I have learnt over the past 18 months is how important it is to treat each year- month - week - day etc as if it is your last. This is often said by people but very rarely put into practice.

    One of my mantras is 'only live in the present moment'.

    You take care buddy.

  5. Good for you. Many ears ago my neighbouring farmer in Co Wicklow, Jack Roche, told me that "A farmer should sow his fields as if he'd live forever, and live his life as though it was his last day"

    Apply this to your Challenge and we'll celebrate you as ever!

  6. Equilibrium does eventually return, Alan (you've been around long enough to know this anyway!). I hope the return is a speedy one for you.

  7. Another reminder that I really should get planning my route. I will get to it soon. Honest.

  8. Sixteen crossings! I'm quite jealous. The wonderful thing about Scotland is that there must be thousands of possible routes to be done. And, given the Scottish climate, probably a thousand different weathers in which to do them.

    I find studying maps is a great way of taking my mind off problems in my life. Planning routes (even if I will never get to do them) really cheers me up.

    All the best.

  9. Morning captain,

    Planning a route then are we? Two words for your consideration: cheese, wine.

    And I know I'm from Suffolk, but word verification ... "yokel". Really!

  10. Hi Alan, what is the view of "unofficial" crossings? If I don't make the 2012 cut, I may well have to go anyway!

  11. Hi David - You are right - you could walk the same route on subsequent years and have totally different walks just down to the vagaries of the weather... However, that would mean missing out on new places and ridges to explore!
    Reading maps cheers me up too!

    Lord Elpus: Good Lord, man! I have just travelled your route via Anquet fly-through. Are you serious??? Yes - Cheese and Whine must be taken into consideration - ow about a lunchtime party on Cairn of Claise? That ties in so far...

    Kenburg - Hi! Our unnoficial crossing was in 2001 - the year of "Foot & Mouth" when the Mini Challenge started at the A9. By a bit of careful negotiation with the estates we managed a complete crossing starting at Shiel Bridge - along with three Germans who had the same idea. So it wasn't what is commonly known as an "Unofficial Crossing" more a complete crossing instead of half a crossing. The Mini Challenge of 2001 does not count in number of Challenges completed when totting them up by Uncle Roger.

  12. Chin higher than that....UP!

    That's better.

    I'm hoping to get in from the waiting list and in the spirit of optimism have spread maps of Scottish-Land all over the lounge floor.

    I'm an unpopular resident of JJ Towers at the mo.


    Word: fouthi. Sounds like the name of a finish point. Innit.

  13. "I have just travelled your route via Anquet fly-through"

    Possibly better than walking it. I did it that way in 2009 if you recall. Exactly how boggy were those bogs btw?

  14. JJ: Chin now up again. Thank you Sir. It's so much more satisfying laying the maps out on the floor - you can see the scale of the undertaking and crafty cut-throughs not so obvious on the small screen.

    Lord Elpus: Them bogs are good'uns Sir. I suppose you've a while to get through them, not being in a hurry an' all...


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