The international popularity of the annual TGO Challenge continues to grow each year with more ultralight and lightweight backpackers participating in the annual coast-to-coast hike across Scotland. This year, Trail Ambassador Martin Rye and I participated, hiking 220 miles in 12 days from the west coast of Scotland to the east coast, across three mounatin ranges with many miles of cross-country travel across high elevation moorland.
This was Martin’s fifth successful hike across Scotland in the TGO Challenge and my second. A surprising number of Challenge hikers participate in the event year after year because it’s customary to hike a different route each time. Scotland has some of the best hiking in the world and hiker-friendly right of ways laws make cross-country, wilderness routes feasible. Martin and I know many backpackers who’ve hiked in the Challenge a dozen times or more, and once you get hooked it’s easy to find a reason to come back and hike it again.
Completing the TGO Challenge is always a formidable hurdle because the early spring weather in Scotland during the 15 day event is often quite poor. This year it rained most of the first week and we had to hike through cold snowmelt that soaked our feet after last winter’s record snowfall. But people complain about the weather every year on the Challenge and keep comping back for the scenery and the cameraderie, which is just tremendous. Some of the world’s most accomplished hikers participate in the event and over 90% of the 300 annual participants complete the journey.
Martin and I each carried Gossamer Gear’s higher volume Mariposa backpack on this trip to carry extra food and warm clothing. The extra long front mesh pocket of the Mariposa made it easy to access and stow frequent layer changes and get at snacks without having to constantly stop and dig around in our packs.
If you’re interested in learning more about the TGO Challenge, check out Martin’s trip report on his web site or my account of our 2013 journey. As an American hiker (Martin is English), I’m also available if you’d like help in understanding how backpacking in the Scotland differs from backpacking in the States and Canada and the additional skills you’ll want to acquire if you plan to hike in the TGO Challenge.