This year I was lucky enough to walk across Scotland on a route I devised after being accepted on The Great Outdoors Challenge (TGOC) with my partner Lynn.
The route I chose was a relatively easy crossing- sticking to low level paths and tracks with the odd high level pass thrown in for good measure along the way. This was our first challenge and both of us have never done a walk of this length before in one go, so choosing something reasonably easy and across a lot of familiar ground was a wise decision- although we found it fairly easy going even with big packs.
Along the way, we many many new friends with other challengers and we discovered that this was a yearly essential in many people’s walking calender- quite a number of people were on their tenth crossing!
Addictive was the word we heard again and again from other people- although at the time I failed to see why so many people would do the challenge year after year- but I will get back to that one later.
Our chosen route was one I enjoyed and I would have only changed the day we walked from Garva Bridge to Newtonmore as it involved a fair bit of road walking and as it was a warm day- our feet objected to the tarmarc bashing in the heat!
I think I chose well with all our equipment for the trip, but I shall briefly go through some of our gear:
Osprey Atmos AG 65 Pack: I’ve had this pack for well over a year now, its not the lightest of packs, but its the comfiest pack I’ve had and dont intend to change it at the present.
Tarptent Scarp 2 Tent: This tent served us well on our walk- great interior space and having two porches was good too, although what we did sometimes was to store both packs in one porch and cook in the other. The weight of the tent for the trip was around 2 kilo’s which equates to a kilo per person, so cant complain there- although we could have used a lighter tent, but I didnt want to compromise on space.
Meindl Minesotta GTX Boots: Great reasonable light weight fabric waterproof boots which were great on the walk- I only had one small blister which I think was the result of the day when we did some road bashing in the heat, as I’ve never had any problems at other times with these boots which I’ve worn a lot. Wear and tear on the soles were miminal and they kept water out for the duration of the trip, although now they have started to leak- I’m going to see if Meindl with cover this under their warranty.
It was great to complete the challenge, and at the end I wish I could have turned round and walk back to the west coast! It was a great achievement and very satisfying to do this walk coast to coast and yes I’d like to do it again. Pick your starting point on the west and your finish point on the east and plan your unique walk across Scotland- making many new friends along the way and seeing some fantastic scenery with some great wild camping locations. Now I see why its addictive!
Its now only a month away before the entries for the TGOC 2018 goes live and I’ve already been looking at possible routes- lets hope we are accepted for next years walk!