Archive for September 10th, 2011

September 10, 2011

Why no TGO Challenge in 2012?

by backpackingbongos

In retrospect I really enjoyed the TGO Challenge this year.  Admittedly at the time there were moments whilst actually doing it where I thought to myself ‘what the hell am I doing?’.  This was most certainly the case after I got blown off course by the big storm and found myself walking the Deeside Way into Aberdeen.  The weather this year made for a difficult crossing, day after day in full waterproofs often reduced the morale of this solo walker.  However there were lots of magical moments, especially whilst crossing huge areas of wild land.  The camaraderie of fellow Challengers was second to none.  I am keen to get a few more Challenges under my belt.

However, I have decided not to enter next year.  The reason why remains the same as it had been for many years prior to this years entry.  It simply takes out too big a chunk from my precious annual leave.  Next year I fancy condensing my Scottish wilderness fixes into smaller chunks.  Then as summer turns to autumn I am considering doing something really ambitious.

In February I am returning to what I consider to be one of the wildest, most remote parts of Scotland.  In October 2009 I did a short backpack on the Island of Jura, walking along a small section of the west coast.  The wild west of the island really made an impression on me, it is simply one of the most beautiful and at the same time bleak places that I have visited.  A trip has been planned with Peter Edwards, his wife Fiona and hopefully my buddy Rich.  As well as being a very decent chap, Peter is also the author of Cicerones guidebook; Walking on Jura, Islay and Colonsay.  A substantial part of the guide is dedicated to a five-day backpack along the west coast.  It is that route which we will be walking and it will be great to leave the route finding to someone who knows the area so well, it’s tough going there!  Reuben the Staffy and Dougal the Chocolate Lab will be coming along, kitted out with their own backpacks.  Jura is probably the worst place in the Highlands for ticks, hence taking the hounds in February.  In winter it’s not the easiest place to get to; a long ferry journey to Islay, followed by a bus or two across the island, then another ferry to Jura itself, before finally catching the bus to the north of the island.  To cut out all that travelling and to add an extra bit of adventure we are planning on hiring a boat to take us from the mainland and drop us off in a convenient location.  It’s already making me feel giddy with excitement!

The wild west coast of Jura.

In April I sadly turn 40, so in celebration there will be another trip to the Highlands.  My partner has agreed to us renting  a cottage of my choice for a week where I will be able to climb mountains everyday.  I plan to find somewhere stupidly remote……………..

The big one planned for next year takes me to a place that only a few years ago I would have thought impossible to visit independently.  Greenland has held a fascination for me for a while now, however is it a place suitable for backpackers?  An article a while ago in TGO magazine by Paddy Dillon sparked an interest which soon turned into a strong desire.  He has recently written a guidebook to the Arctic Circle Trail which I have purchased.  Follow the link and I think that you’ll agree that this trek looks simply awesome.  Reading the guidebook makes my heart skip a beat.  Fingers crossed and all going well I should be above the Arctic circle this time next year.

You may have gathered that I do enjoy a spot of trip planning!