Last year I completed my first TGO Challenge, the across Scotland backpack hosted by The Great Outdoors magazine. Picking a route was made easier by my starting choice of Plockton, as it has a place in my heart and my daughter Emma might finish her schooling there at the traditional music school. My end choice was Scurdie Ness lighthouse where the TGO monument is located. The parts in between were harder to choose but after laying out the maps, consulting the team, I had a route to follow!
My top 5 tips:
1) The TGO Challenge is a sociable event, I hadn't appreciated that and looking back this was my favourite part. The natural pinch points bring the challengers together. So go to the pubs and join in the fun!
2) There will be occasions when you'll be camped up next to fellow challengers and this is where you can exchange tips on kit, like self made food bag warmers, light weight gear etc. Go and ask for their tips!
3) I packed too much food, then watched folks pick up their parcels at locations along the way. Get prepared and post out supplies.
4) Despite having some of the lightest gear on the market, some of the challengers carried litres of water! Buy yourself a filter bottle if you don't have one, there's plenty of running water in Scotland!
5) Take and use your sun cream, my earlobes were like two cherry tomatoes!
I'll not be doing the 2017 challenge but I'd be happy to give advice on route, especially for Aberdeenshire. I can also walk in supplies to some of the bothies nearby! I'll be back the following year perhaps....
Good luck to all.