It seems such a long time ago now since I bought last October’s edition of TGO magazine.
In the magazine was the entry form for this years challenge walk across Scotland. Lynn was glancing through the magazine and the article for the challenge caught her attention, and it was suggested to me that perhaps we should enter. I quickly agreed to this and the rest, you could say is history!
Some years ago, I think back in 1998, I applied and got accepted for the challenge- I started looking at routes, but it all seemed a little to daunting back then and although I had many years of hillwalking under my belt even back then, I decided not to go ahead with it.
So last year when Lynn showed an interested in the challenge and with our ever growing interest and love in backpacking, it only seemed right that we should apply.
In November we received the email to tell us that we had been accepted- we were both very happy that we were now going to be taking part in this event. My longest walk had been the West Highland Way many years ago and recently both of us had been on many short overnight trips to the hills and Glens which we loved doing whether it was staying in Bothies or camping.
Two weeks of walking carrying a pack with all our gear seemed a little daunting, but it was an exciting feeling and we were confident that we could do this- I did have a niggling worry about my ankle which can play up after a few days of walking, but still this did not put me off.
The idea of the Challenge is fairly simple- you get a choice of thirteen starting points on the West Coast and you can finish anywhere on the East between Fraserburgh and Arbroath.
We picked Shiel Bridge as our start point and Kinnaber links on the east just a couple miles north of Montrose as our finish point.
For our first challenge, I picked a route that was fairly easy which was to take us through Glens and over a few passes. Camping most of the way with the odd night spent in a hostel. The route came in at 190 miles in total and when I was happy with the route I had chosen, I then had to submit the route to our vetter- Roger Smith.
The route was accepted back in December. Luckily it was a mild winter and we spent a number of weekends doing some long walks with overnight camps getting used to our big packs.
We already had all the right gear for the trip- it was just a case of what would be right for this length of trip and trying not to take too much, as after all, we were going to be carrying everything for two weeks almost!
The morning of 11th of May came and Dan turned up at the house at 9.30 promt. He was there to give us a lift across to Kintail Lodge in the west where we would spend our night previous to start day of the challenge.
We arrived there early afternoon in glorious weather, and as the afternoon went on, other challenges slowly started arriving.
We talked briefly to other challengers that evening in the bar, but decided to have an early night so we would be fresh for next morning!