I’m sitting in the sun updating my blog. The weather has been sunny and hot for the last week and it’s almost too hard to remember how miserable it was during the first week of this year’s TGO Challenge. There was water EVERYWHERE. The burns were torrents. The roads were lakes. The boggy bits were swamps. My dry clothes were damp, at best. Parts of my route depended on good weather and fordable burns; Ha! No chance! My morale dipped and I was beginning to wonder why I was doing this. Then….. the sun came out!
The two Sundays were a complete contrast. The first one was constant rain and wind; the second was blue sky and sun. This was the day I’d planned to go fairly high (by my standards) and I was able to divert back onto my planned route. I had a great day, and the next one was just as good – walking a ridge with amazing views of the snow-capped mountains, all around, in the distance. (That day went a little awry later on, when I got lost in The Forest of Dead Things, but it was only a minor setback really and my gashed leg soon healed!).
I was disappointed that the first week’s weather had affected my mood so badly. Hey, it’s only a bit of rain – pull yourself together; but I wonder if I would have carried on if I’d woken up to more of the same on the second Sunday? It didn’t help that I had pain in my back, wrist and ankle at various times; oh, I can be such a wimp.
I finished in Collieston, which is about halfway between Aberdeen and Peterhead and calls for quite a bit of road walking towards the end. Also, the proximity to the Conference Centres of Aberdeen meant that I couldn’t find any accommodation after the second Sunday ….. and I’d been hoping to have a shower in the second week (whether I needed one or not). With a B&B on the first night, two hostels, one hotel, a bothy and nine nights in my tent, I think that’s the most I’ve camped on a TGO Challenge.
My kit produced variable results. I think plastic bags would probably be more effective than Sealskinz socks and I may get round to sending them a letter . . . . or maybe their definition of “waterproof” differs from mine. My Icebreaker top is an amazing bit of kit and I’m planning to buy a short-sleeved version for when the sun is out and I’d like to extend my tan past my wrists.
Parts of this year’s Crossing were definitely an ordeal and I had to just keep plodding, but I think I said that last year too. Collieston was a beautiful place to finish and made the road walking worth it in the end. That was my sixth TGO Challenge and, whilst I’m not interested in the numbers, it does seem to have become something that has become a part of my life and I’m sure I’ll be applying again as soon as the application form is out in a few months time.