Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The TGO Challenge - 2012

A relieved Challenger locates Medical Supplies at a remote spot

It was a pleasure, a few days ago, to receive the October (!!) issue of the splendidly revamped TGO Magazine.  It includes an entry form for next year’s Challenge, which will be held from 11 to 25 May 2012, and short reports from ten of this year’s challengers that provide a flavour of the event.

I didn’t expect my small contribution to be published for the second year running, but it was.  And if it’s good enough for TGO Magazine, it’s good enough for these pages:


“Hello Martin” exclaimed Markus as he set out purposefully from Culra Bothy on a wet and windy day in search of a sheltered spot for his tent, “that must be ‘Poor Michael’” – he pointed towards my bedraggled companion who was approaching the bothy.

I hadn’t seen Markus since cycling across the Alps with him last summer. He’s normally the only Challenger from Austria, but this year was joined by his sister Silke.

My companion, ‘Poor Michael’, was a first-timer like Silke. We were all searching for a sheltered spot for our tents.

“We don’t do bothies”, we all agreed. All four of us prefer the warmth and comfort of our tents.

“I’ve found a good sheltered spot for tonight” I confessed.

I’d discovered the back room of this well maintained bothy.

“Seems ok” everyone agreed.

So we installed ourselves, shortly to be joined by a rare species – Stefan, a German first-timer who had set off from Oban with a 24 kilo load. Today he arrived via the Munro, Beinn Bheoil, where he reported “the wind was worse than the wind that I experienced at the North Cape!”

My marginal decision to bale out of a five mile ridge walk had been justified.

We maintain regular contact with people like Markus, Silke and Stefan. We visit them. They visit us. There is great camaraderie amongst TGO Challengers. I know that anyone can walk across Scotland at any time, a point often made by non-Challengers, but even on an obscure route where few or no Challengers are encountered, the camaraderie remains. Life-long friendships are forged. Like-minded neighbours in towns across the UK discover each other and enhance each others lives.

It’s a simply wonderful event, sensitively organised by a team led by Roger Smith over the years, and now passed into the capable hands of John Manning.

Long live the TGO Challenge!

Martin Banfield (Challenger Number 15)

Roger, Silke and Markus, with Medical Supplies

The header picture was taken by Roger Boston on 24 May.  He had noticed me rummaging in the undergrowth, GPS in hand, after our 30km stroll from Ballater to Water of Aven, and recorded my delight in locating some ‘Medical Supplies’.

‘Poor Michael’, Roger and I were later joined by Silke and Markus for a cheese and wine party in the bright evening sunshine at Water of Aven.

Such are the happiest of days.  Here’s what I wrote at the time.

Next year I hope to get Sue, the ‘Shortbread Lady’, on the Challenge again, but as she can carry only a light bum bag these days, the planning may be quite demanding in itself.

Alan R – coming?
Ethan – you would enjoy the Challenge!

The TGO Challenge website is here.


Martin Rye said...

Nice one Martin. Have a good trip if you get on next year. Based on your track record I expect you will.

Phreerunner said...

Thanks Martin. I still have the last two years' photos to sort out!
I've been lucky in the draw so far, but that luck may change this time.

James Boulter said...

Nice one Martin on getting that in the magazine. No TGO Challenge for me next year. A cottage booked in the highlands in April instead, a week of remote luxury!

By the way are the trousers you are wearing in the first photo inflatable?

Phreerunner said...

Haha James - you have a very short memory! Don't you recall that it was a bit breezy from time to time last May!

Seriously though, the Rohan convertible trousers do blow around a bit, but they are light, windproof, warm and quick drying - I was using them up to 4000 metres in the Alps last week.

Scotland in April is great - we'll be there ourselves for a week around Easter time.

Alan R said...

hi Martin,
As you know, we have booked 5 weeks in New Zealand starting New Years Eve .
That’s taken up almost all of Sheila’s holiday entitlement for 2012. She has an odd week left but wants to save it for later in the year when depression has set in.

Louise said...

Firstly, hope we all get on and that Sue is able to join you, I'm really looking forward to meeting her as your write ups were some of the most influential when I first heard of the Challenge.
Second, the genius bit. You've reminded me of a bit of route I was interested in (yes, I know, my route is finished!) but I couldn't remember where I'd seen it. Should have known! Tweeking complete, 2 miles knocked off that day, thank you!
Everythings crossed.

Phreerunner said...

Alan - ah, yes - and we may be able to help you with NZ - hope to see you both tomorrow evening.

Louise, you've got me wondering where that 2 miles was. Feel free to email via the 'Contact us' - I wonder whether I can conjure up any more little dodges for you! Still have to devise the 'bumbag route'.

Alan R said...

Walking curtailed for the moment i am suffering with Shingles and find walking a bit painful and carrying a rucksack is out of the question.
I got to the docs quickly so hopefully i have caught the virus in time and it won’t spread too much.
Back at the docs tomorrow.

Phreerunner said...

Sorry to hear that, Alan. My mum got shingles last Xmas and it's only now just about better. Her doctor didn't spot it though so it wasn't caught as fast as it should have been. Will email you re walks and NZ.
Thanks Louise for your email - I will reply...