Still here…8th May 2009
I don’t know which JH Darren Christie had in mind when he included a link to here among his illustrious list of blogging TGO Challengers. What I do know is that I’d be extremely surprised if it was me and I hope that I haven’t disappointed you with that admission. For one thing, I don’t believe that I’ve ever mentioned the Challenge on here before so I suspect that the link came (many thanks, anyway) amid the last minute rush before departure. Getting ready for something like this cannot be the simplest of tasks and I wish all of them the very best in their endeavours. Doubtless, there will some tales appearing online in time and I only hope that they are happy ones.
However, the episode does prompt a question for me about the Challenge and this is its thirtieth year, after all: what about it? There is one thing in its favour, and that should be apparent from various blog postings that you find here, is that the parts of Scotland through which an itinerary would take me are among my favourite parts of the world. Nevertheless, the idea of a two week crossing adds other points to ponder. Back to back multi-day treks are something that I really haven’t been doing much since I finished off the West Highland Way and made a more concerted start on the Rob Roy Way. Then, there’s the matter of lessening dependence on serviced accommodation (well, hostelling is gaining some favour with me over hotels and guest houses) in favour of a more independent alternative; some may use the former option for the whole Challenge but it seems to be the exception rather the rule. After that, there’s the subject of personal fitness and I very much realise that work is needed there too.
So, my answer to the question of doing the challenge is not just yet. What I am not saying is that it is not for me because many of the things that I enjoy these days were activities that I was happy to leave for other folk at one point. Apart from the whole hill wandering habit, this is true to an extent also of how I earn my living. When you ease yourself into something at your own pace, things start to happen and heaven only knows how far you’ll get.
In the meantime, the longer days of summer are now at hand. Of course, that is no guarantee of fine weather in these parts and I don’t like it too hot anyway. Even with those caveats, my mind is turning to multi-day excursions again. Having a selection of Graham Uney’s Backpacker’s Britain Cicerone Guides, I shouldn’t be short of a few ideas and the prospect of managing walks for which public transport logistics might be tricky has a certain footloose appeal. Much of Chris Townsend’s The Backpacker’s Handbook has been read and there is nothing at all to stop re-readings. Gear has been building over time up but more acquisitions remain in order. What I really need to do is decide when I am sufficiently equipped for stepping just across that threshold from walker to backpacker while not going in too deep too soon; that should keep the wish list under control. Suspicions are building that there could be some tinkering and familiarisation before I embark on anything more adventurous. A summer of exploring the paraphernalia of independent backpacking might be no bad thing, even without their being used in anger on an escapade.