Just a few things to take note of before applying . . .
The Challenge is a non-competitive backpacking event. The most important principle is that you walk every step across Scotland on foot, on a route you have planned yourself. The exception to this is that an initial journey may be made by boat (eg Mallaig to Inverie, Kilchoan to Tobermory) and during your crossing large bodies of water (eg Loch Ness) may be crossed by ferry (or kayak/packraft). However journeys along (rather than across) lochs or watercourses are not permitted.
You can walk solo (most do) or in a group but the maximum size of a group is four.
Support teams are not permitted so you should carry all the equipment you need. However supplies can be purchased along the way or posted to pre-arranged points on your route.
Friends or relatives may walk with you for a few days during the Challenge but this should not be for a majority of your crossing and unofficial full crossings are not permitted. Dogs are not allowed on the Challenge.
You should be capable of navigating over pathless terrain in poor visibility, even if you are part of a group. Should the group leader be unwell or sustain an injury all members of the group should be capable of seeking help. You should also have sufficient skills to wild camp safely and responsibly and, while it is possible to plan a route using accommodation or bothies every night this will involve some very long days so you should carry a tent or other suitable shelter at all times.
The minimum age is 18 (on the first day of the Challenge). There is no upper age limit but older applicants or those with any health issues are strongly advised to discuss their fitness with their health professionals ensuring they are aware of the nature of the Event.
You are responsible for ensuring you are fit enough to participate and you should have sufficient first aid skills to deal with illness or injury in a remote setting. All participants will be required to fill out a medical form declaring any relevant conditions. This will only be used in an emergency when it will be passed on to the emergency services if the Coordinators/ Challenge Control feel it is necessary.
Routes should be submitted to the Coordinators by the deadlines set in the Event Details. If a route is not received you will be deemed to have withdrawn from the Event. The Coordinators may offer an extension in extenuating circumstances.
Routes must be submitted on the form provided giving sufficient detail to allow the vetter and those manning Challenge Control to follow the route without difficulty. No other format will be accepted. Accurate daily ascent figures and distances should be provided for each day and for Foul Weather Alternatives (FWA) where these are needed. OS Landranger 1:50,000 map numbers must also be provided even if the route is prepared using a digital system. Overnight Halts should be given as a place name (and grid reference if a wild camp is planned). Incomplete route sheets will be returned for further work.
Your route must remain within the Challenge Boundaries which are: the western seaboard of mainland Scotland between the head of Upper Loch Torridon and the Sound of Mull to Kilchoan, across the sound to Tobermory, eastern Mull, then by Oban (including Kerrera and Lismore), down the coast to Crinan, the Crinan Canal to Ardrishaig, across Loch Fyne to Otter Ferry, down to Portavadie and the southern tip of the Cowal penisnsula, western shore Firth of Clyde and Loch Long, Arrochar, Inversnaid, south shore of Loch Katrine, Callander, Comrie, Crieff, Perth, Tay Estuary to Arbroath; then the eastern seaboard to Fraserburgh and round to Inverness; then by the north shore of the Beauly Firth (but not Moray Firth) to Achnasheen and the A832/A896 to Kinlochewe and Torridon. The Torridon hills north of the road are out with the Challenge area, as is Skye.
Your route will be assessed by an experienced route vetter taking into account the participants’ experience. Vetting advice should be taken seriously and if changes are requested the route will need to be re-submitted. The vetters and Coordinators are happy to offer help to less experienced Challengers to achieve a suitable route but the Coordinators reserve the right to reject a route they feel is unsuitable.
GPS trackers, while useful safety devices, cannot be monitored by Challenge Control. If a GPS tracker device is used the main contact should be someone known to you and NOT Challenge Control. Your contact must know what to do if they receive an urgent message from you or an emergency beacon is sent. In the past several trackers have failed to send even though the Challenger is well so you should have a contingency plan for what your contact will do if your device stops sending messages or beacons. Challenge Control will be happy to discuss any problems with your home contact if they are anxious about your well-being. Further advice regarding the use of GPS trackers will be given in the Final Details which are issued in April.
All Challengers must sign out between 9am and close of business from one of the 14 start points on their allocated start day.
You, or your group leader, must phone in to Challenge Control at least four times during your crossing from the phone in points designated on your route sheet. Failure to call in may result in the emergency services being alerted unnecessarily. A text message service is also available. If your route has to change, you are behind schedule or you have to retire from the Event you should inform Challenge Control as soon as it is practical.
After reaching the east coast between Fraserburgh and Arbroath you should make your way (on foot or by public/private transport) to Challenge Control in Montrose.
If you withdraw, for whatever reason, before the Event starts your entry fee cannot be refunded and your place cannot be transferred to a friend or relative.
If the event is oversubscribed a draw will take place. If you do not gain a place you will be offered a guaranteed place next time you apply. Those on their 10th, 20th or 30th crossing, route vetters, those who participated in the first Challenge, sponsors representatives and walking partners of any of these will be exempt from the draw. Those who completed their 10th crossing in 2018 will only be offered places if the Event is undersubscribed.