You know there might be trouble when your vetter emails your mates and says:
“Here's something to cheer you up a bit. John Manning sent me Al's Challenge route, I haven't stopped laughing for two days!”
Pete Goddard, aka “Mr Grumpy” did indeed receive our route for vetting. And a fine job he made of it too. A few days after sending our route in to John Manning, (the new TGO Challenge Co-ordinator), the Vetter’s comments winged their way back to me. Pete made a few comments that set me thinking about the route:
“Thanks for sending such an entertaining route – I have laughed my way through the first ten days thinking of you up to your oxters in bog!”
“I do have some concerns about your second and third days as you will have a first time Challenger with you. If you manage to average 2kph I think that you will be doing very well, especially remembering that you will have full packs and that Dave will be carrying all that extra wine & cheese. Seriously, both days could well extend to 12 hours of walking and from experience it is very easy to burn yourselves out by overdoing things early on.”
“I will admit that I have not walked the ridge but I have been along your FWA and would suggest that the FWA will take more time and possibly be more difficult than your chosen route”
“Last time I passed through Gairlochy there was no ice cream”
“I thought Beinn Dearg a horrible mountain but then I did need to erect the tent at lunch time in order to get enough shelter to light a stove, wet, windy, cold and very miserable!”
“Your FWA is not the best”
“Although I do not personally favour your FWA for 21st I am prepared to let this go forward as long as you understand the difficulties that might arise due to the extreme weather that can develop on the plateau.”
Okay, so these are the edited highlights but Mr Grumpy does have a point, here. Even knowing that our team has pretty good experience of backpacking in Scotland, he is letting us know, gently, that we have bitten of a big mouthful this time around. But, hey! That’s what this is about. It’s a Challenge that we have set ourselves. There are a couple of days where we can cut out some of the toughest bits but still leave an interesting route. He also gave some really handy advice that we have incorporated into the route, especially for our Foul Weather Alternatives.
The Vetters do a fantastic job and Pete has probably made our walk next year a far better stravaig. Cheers, fella!