My husband and I were selected to participate in The Great Outdoors Challenge, a west- coast-to-east coast cross-country backpack across Scotland. I am super excited and honored because only 300 participants are selected each year with only a handful from the United States. The annual event is May 9 – May 23. The Challenge is sponsored by The Great Outdoors Magazine (much like Backpacker Magazine in the United States), in partnership with the outdoor company, hanwag.
A few years ago, I read Trail Ambassador’s Philip Werner’s account of his experience and challenges hiking in a foreign country across wet and demanding terrain in this event called the TGO. I remember thinking, “How cool would that be!”
The TGO is entirely non-competitive (although, upon finishing, Challengers receive a special badge, certificate and T-shirt). A maximum of 15 days is allowed for the crossing. Most people take between 12 and 14 days to cross, and the average length for a crossing is about 289 kilometers (180 miles). The Challenge demands a good level of competence in navigation, survival techniques, campcraft and general hillcraft that requires crossing rivers, climbing Munros (peaks over 3,000 feet), walking through peat bogs, being prepared for rain, mud, and boulder fields. There are no pre-blazed trails, just hill walking. The event is very organized with due dates, rules, and a cool get together at the ending point, Montrose. The event is renowned for its sociability, support, community, and camaraderie.