Suitably challenged

by backpackingbongos

My hope was that with the last two TGO Challenges being a wash out, this year would see a return of settled May weather.  This was not to be and Challengers were all battered by rain, gales, snow, hail and finally burnt by the sun.  I have to say that I was very happy to eventually dip my toes in the North Sea on Thursday.  I had been plagued by a problem with my foot and ankle since the fifth day when it swelled up and went a very unattractive shade of yellow.  I had to bail and seek medical advice which resulted in a day off and becoming a day behind my schedule.  Thankfully I returned to that spot and limped to the finish, eventually catching myself up.

Ankle aside I thoroughly enjoyed myself this year.  I engaged much more in the social side of the Challenge and spent a few days walking with other Challengers.  I also found myself frequenting more drinking establishments.  Discovering that there is more to the Challenge than just a long walk.

Anyway, it will take a while to sort through my photos (I took surprisingly few due to the weather) and do a write-up.  In the meantime a quick taster.


Just before the climb up Mam Barrisdale I could feel the wild country of Knoydart envelop me.  Unfortunately mist and rain enveloped the hills instead leading to a very wet first day.


The weather on the first Monday was rather tempestuous.  Strong winds and heavy snow saw me abandon my plans for a trackless wander across the Monadhliath mountains.  Instead I took to the Corrieyairack pass where the wind combined with the snow at the summit made walking difficult.


My favourite camp of the whole trip was in upper Glen Feshie.  It’s a wild and magical place and a picture perfect image of the Highlands.  It was also mostly dry which is nice!


Reaching the east coast at St Cyrus, the sea was a very welcome sight indeed.  The beach there is a lovely spot to end a coast to coast walk.

31 Comments to “Suitably challenged”

  1. Well done James. Pleased that you got through ok.

  2. I’m glad that our assessment of your foot at Ralia was wrong and you were able to continue mate. You picked the best spot to pitch on the way up to Sheilin O Mark too by the way!

    Take care and well done bud!

    • Thanks for taking a look at it Stuart. It made me take it seriously and go to the docs. The subsequent day off probably made all the difference and meant that I could continue. The Shielin O Mark was a desolate spot. Congartulations in finishing too!

  3. Well done, I hope Reuben’s forgiven u for leaving him behind lol.


    • Reuben has already forgotten being left behind, a walk this afternoon got me back in his good books.

  4. Glad you made it to the end.Its good to here that you enjoyed the social side as well.I Might be applying to do it myself in the next few years.Looks like the ankle as heald. Cheers

  5. Great effort with injury and weather. Well done! Look forward to the write up.

  6. Well done James. Good to see you blogging again ! Look forward to your trip reports

  7. Sounds like plenty of stories to tell, well done for finishing under strain, get those write up’s done 🙂

  8. Hi James

    Looking forward to reading more, and you clearly take some great photos.

    I met lots of great people on the challenge and you were well up on the greatness list. Hope our paths cross again before too long. No, not cross – I hope we will take the same path before too long.


    • Thanks for the kind words David. It was a pleasure meeting you, a backpack or something will have to be organised this summer.

  9. Well done mate and you made it. Seek help and plan B paid off for you.

  10. It takes character to bite the bullet and take an unscheduled day off and still get back on schedule – especially so in the weather we had in the first week. Well done, James. The Challenge can be a wonderfully social occasion but it still requires an effort sometimes to “join in” even when you are absolutely shattered.
    I’m really looking forward to your report.

    • Thanks Alan. I was lucky that I had scheduled two easy days after Braemar, which allowed me to play catch up by Tarfside. I know what you mean about having to make an effort to join in on the social side, sometimes you just want to curl up and go to sleep!

  11. Good one James. Sorry to hear about the poorly leg-end, but seriously well done for catching up with your schedule.
    BTW, didn’t anyone tell you that good weather isn’t due until NEXT year’s Challenge!
    Hope to see you on TGOC2014.

    • Let’s hope that a trend has not been set for TGO weather John. Gonna decide later this year whether to apply for next year!

  12. Well done – look forward to reading everything in detail in due course 🙂

    • Cheers Chrissie. I have a bit of catching up to do on your blog, you are already on your second trip since I left for Scotland!

  13. Well Done James, Looking forward to the report and of course plenty of photos.

    • The photos are sadly lacking this year Phil, for some reason my camera spent a lot of time packed away. Perhaps it was the rain!

  14. Just catching up after a few days away myself, but glad to see you had a fully-fledged “experience”!

    Look forward to the more detailed write up in due course.

    • The experience was definitely ‘fully-fledged’ Jules. One day I will do a TGO Crossing and it will be lovely and sunny!

  15. Maybe ……. if you live long enough. Nice weather in Scotland is like Brigadoon – appears once every 100 years!

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