What is it?

The TGO Challenge is an annual backpacking event in which participants walk from the west coast of Scotland to the east.

What isn’t it?

It is very much NOT a competition or a running event. There are no prizes or medals and you will be a participant not a contestant. Everyone gets the same certificate and T-shirt at the end and there is no special kudos in fast or high crossings.

When is it?
It takes place every May. TGOC22 runs from 10th-27th May with each participant having a maximum of 15 days to cross.

Is it for teams or individuals?
Both – you can hike solo or in a group of up to four.

How many people take part?
In a normal year we accept 400 entries plus a small number of people associated with the Event and its sponsors with the aim of 330-350 participants setting of from the West Coast. For one year only, in 2022 this number will be increased to 450 places with a staggered start to ensure no one disappointed in 2020 or 2021 misses out again.

What if it’s over-subscribed?
A draw is held for places.   Those with suitable experience who are unlucky will be guaranteed entry the next time they apply.  Note: as the 2020 Event was cancelled priority will be given to those who missed out.  Any spare places will be allocated via a draw to new entrants.

What’s the route?
That’s up to you – there are 14 starting places in the west – click here to see them, and you can end your walk anywhere between Fraserburgh and Arbroath on the east coast.  You can plan a route through the glens or, if you have sufficient experience, take to the summits and ridges or do a bit of both. You can of course take inspiration from previous Challengers blogs and accounts but please do not copy an entire route. Our vetting team offers comment and advice to help you make it safe and achievable. At the end of the day, though, it’s your own bespoke route!

How far is it?
Most routes cover between  290-340km (180 and 210 miles).

What distances do people cover daily?
Most aim for between 20 and 25km (12 – 15 miles).

What level of skill is needed?
The Event is for experienced backpackers with skills including the ability and confidence to use a tent, cook in the wilds, navigate with map and compass, and protect themselves from bad weather.

Is it a race?
See previous answer!

How do I enter?
Entry will open via this website  – usually in mid September and closing in mid October.

How much does it cost to enter?
The fee for the 2022 will be £80 for new entrants.   Those from 2020 and 2021 who deferred before 31st December 2021 will not have to pay. Those who deferred after this date will receive a 50% reduction.

What accommodation can I use?
The TGO Challenge is a backpacking event and a tent or other suitable shelter is considered essential. Wild camping is at the heart of the Event but most of us need a bit of comfort now and again too. Challengers use campsites, bothies, SYHA and independent hostels, B&Bs and hotels. It is entirely up to you where you stay.

Can I camp where I like?
Just about! The Scottish Outdoor Access Code permits responsible wild camping away from cultivated areas, dwellings and roadsides.

Do I have to wild camp?
Not every night but it is difficult to plan a route without at least some nights of wild camping – many facilitated “official” sites accept walk-on bookings though some cater only for motorhomes and car campers. You’ll need to plan ahead, accordingly.

Can I resupply en route?
Yes, as often as is necessary. There’s no need to carry 14 days’ supplies (three days’ food is a good bet, depending on your route). Many small Highland towns and villages welcome Challengers with open arms. If supplies aren’t likely to be available you can send resupply parcels to accomodation providers with their prior agreement.

Is support allowed?
No – support of any kind is discouraged. Friends or family may visit and it is reasonable that they bring a supply box that you would have otherwise posted but it would be against the spirit of the Event if they transported gear for you or dropped supplies on a regular basis. The Challenge is a test of your skill and independence and it is intended to be a self sufficient trip.

At what age can I take part?
The Event is open to anyone aged 18 or over. There is no upper age limit but older participants or those with long term conditions should consult with their doctor or specialists before setting out.

Can I bring a friend?
You can walk with up to 3 teammates. Unofficial crossings with participants are a no-no though your friends are welcome to tag along for a day or two.

Can I use the walk to raise funds for a good cause?
Absolutely – and we’d be delighted to hear about it, especially if we can help spread the word.

Why does the application form demand details of my experience?
The Great Outdoors Challenge is not for beginners – we need to be sure that you have the experience and ability to make a good stab at crossing Scotland safely and successfully.

I’ve done the West Highland Way – is this the same?
Erm, not really. The WHW follows a defined route, passes through many villages and small towns, and you’ll find a bed and a beer each night if you want one. Not so on the TGO Challenge.

Why do people do the TGO Challenge again and again?
Come and find out!