The TGO Challenge is a self-supported Scottish Coast to Coast backpacking adventure walking on a route you create yourself.
It isn’t a competition. Whether climbing over multiple hills or passing through the glens, crossing in a week or taking the full 15 days, wild camping all the way or sleeping some nights in a real bed, everyone gets the same T-shirt and certificate at the end. The non-competitive nature of the event and the ever-varying routes foster a unique camaraderie with Challengers returning year after year.
In essence it is about experiencing the remote parts of Scotland you can only reach by foot. Wild camping is a large part of the experience. Nothing beats opening your tent door to reveal a different stunning view each morning – although we can’t absolutely guarantee the view won’t be behind a cloud . . . !
So what makes the Challenge unique?
Unlike just about all other backpacking events, you plan your own bespoke route. There is an immense satisfaction in walking a route that you have created. Route planning might seems a little daunting at first but the Coordinators and the route vetting team are always happy to help. It can be time consuming but you have over 3 months to do it – what else are winter evenings for!
First time Challengers are advised to plan a lower-level route for their first crossing. Many people plot routes through the glens mixing remote wild camps with visits to some of the small towns and villages that have taken the Event to their hearts. Where accommodation (B&Bs, hotels, hostels or campsites) is available you are welcome to use it. However, if you have the skills and experience you can take to the summits and ridges or mix high days with lower-level ones. The choice is yours.
Another large part of the Event is the famous Challenge camaraderie. The Event is not competitive so it fosters a fellowship amongst those who participate often resulting in long-term friendships – even a few marriages! Our two Coordinators first met and became friends on the Challenge in 2004.
Many people come back year after year, but the lifeblood of the Event is first time Challengers. Every year up to a third of Challengers are new to the Event and they receive a warm welcome from experienced Challengers. Although you must be self-sufficient many regulars will offer advice and often go out of their way to help if you have a problem. We would just warn against taking too much heed of advice offered in any of the hostelries along the way!