Wednesday, 29 November 2017

TGO Challenge 2018: A route sheet

It is still possible to print out a blank route sheet and fill it in by hand but in more recent years with speedy dispatch and handling in mind, Challengers have been encouraged to fill out an electronic form. 

It is entirely possible to make a pig's ear of this sheet, as it extraordinarily easy to nudge margins and tabs all over the shop or turn the thing into three or four pages! The fact that the document available to download already has some some unintended errors to start with isn't great.

Uncle Roger might been very cross to receive such an abomination as it would not have sat well in his filing system at all! Twenty-odd years ago I sent in my and Bob Butler's entry forms, with our details cut up from separate pages of our two magazines. The cut forms were returned and we were required to resubmit on just the one sheet, as the instructions had clearly stated. Could it have been coincidence that we got our places from the standby list that year? 

Lord Elpus and I are of the same mindset. Over the years we have taken a little pride in nudging the sheets back and forth to fit better on the pages, tidying up columns and rows, inserting tiny rows to make the text appear less crowded within the frame and rearranging the grid to make it more pleasing to the eye. Over-long headings are simplified, superfluous instructions removed, fonts swapped, and coloured text changed for greater contrast and ease of reading.

Of course, the complete fabrication that is the route description - the real meat of the document - remains the same whatever we do. But it makes us so much happier that it looks pretty.

Last night, just before the midnight chimes of Big Ben our vetted route plopped gently into our inboxes. This year our extraordinary Vetters were Les & Issy, and the Challenge Coordinators, Sue & Ali, were burning the midnight oil. 

Happily, no changes are required. We are good to go!



Postscript: An observation.

All Challengers should aim to get their route accepted, at the first attempt. From reading the Challenge Message Board it seems that a small number view the Vetters as a source of assistance when designing a route. It should be stressed that our admirable Vetters are volunteers and whilst happy to offer a route suggestion that might add interest to a Challenger, they might not be overly impressed receiving routes that are poorly prepared, needing countless revisions.  

Sunday, 12 November 2017

TGO Challenge 2018: A cunning plan...

In 2013, for his tenth TGO Challenge Lord Elpus assumed full control of planning our route across Scotland. Mad'n'Bad and I had one or two issues with his plan; At the time, I wrote:

"Now tell me if you think I am a curmudgeon but it would seem logical, that given we’ll be starting on the west coast, if we want to finish on the opposite side of the country it would be a good idea if we were to head in an easterly direction. Well, of course it would. But in our case, we shall be heading west..."

This year I have had a cunning plan...

We are starting at the mainland's most westerly cafe and lighthouse: Ardnamurchan Point. According to good old Google, there is sod-all west of here for some two thousand miles, apart from seawater and fish, until you arrive at Newfoundland. 


It follows that the only direction available to us is East. 

After enjoying a civilised cup of tea in the cafe at Ardnamurchan Point our plan is to then walk in an easterly direction for two weeks until we arrive at another wonderful cafe at the east coast. To add a spark, a frisson of excitement to our endeavour we have elected to walk within a tightly observed ten kilometre wide corridor, bounded by the OS Grid Northings 60 and 70. 

This voluntary constraint (Miss Whiplash tells me in confidence that Lord E enjoys a little constraint) at times requires very careful planning to ensure we don't inadvertently stumble over the thin blue lines to find ourselves horrifically out of bounds. This means that on occasion we will be found tumbling down and up steep valley sides instead of enjoying airy perambulations around the heads of glens. Public houses will be tantalisingly out of reach.

This is an expedition like no other we have attempted in the past. There will be suffering, howls of anguish. We are taking this challenge on for you, dear reader.  

Below, you'll find an overview of our route. It's three hundred kilometres long. 

NB: You can click on each of the maps to blow them up. However, if you right click on them you are given the option of seeing them at full size in a new tab. For those of you who enjoy RouteBuddy's full strength mapping, I should warn you; This is hardcore and should only be viewed in the company of consenting adults.


The next four RouteBuddy Maps screenshots show our route in a little more detail.





Lord Elpus has been busy: Our transport up to the West Coast of Scotland is all arranged and Bed and Breakfasts are booked. All that remains is for me to finish the route sheet and persuade our Vetter that "it'll go."

Oh. There's also the small matter of walking three hundred kilometres of tick-infested bog next May.

What could possibly go wrong?

EDIT: 22nd November 2017:
  • Point where we cross Scotland's W/E watershed added to map
  • Our group's Captain, our Senior Boy, Lord Elpus sent our beautiful, quite sublime route sheet (can you tell that I spent ages fettling it so that it looked reasonably professional rather than the botched, ugly job devised by a previous Challenge Coordinator who shall remain nameless) to the Challenge Coordinators on 20th November for vetting... However, at the time of writing we have yet to have the contents, which is what's really important, approved. We have one or two doubts whether it might pass scrutiny - but more on that at a later post!

Friday, 20 October 2017


Time marches on.

A few days back the blog passed its eleventh birthday.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Then sings my soul. Helegant walks LEJOG

It's been over ten years since I finished my LEJOG and lately I have been out of touch with the goings on in that wonderful community of daft buggers who want to walk from one end of mainland Britain to the other. Until a week ago. 

I received a note from Helegant, a lady about to set off on her own LEJOG. Casting around for advice she had contacted a lovely chap who had done the walk. Twice. I had the pleasure of walking with Daryl May for a day on his second end to end, that time from John o'Groats to Lands End. He in turn put Helen on to me. 

Helen's no stranger to walking, and has completed Wainwright's Coast to Coast (mostly) and the Ridgeway National Trail However, she's about to take on one of the UK's biggest walks. She estimates her route to be in the order of 1,400 miles, which is slightly longer than most. 

She has set herself a few rules, which I have copied and pasted from her blog, below:

  1. Run, walk or crawl all the way.
    Is that too obvious? I’ll be using transport links, personal and public to move between the start and finish points of each day’s walk, but I’ll restart where I left off.  Bridges are OK, ferries, helicopters and piggy-backs are not.
  2. I’m doing this because I want to, so rule 2 is “Enjoy the journey.” At least, try!
  3. Stay within my own capabilities. I inhabit an internet world where extreme achievements are normalised by some amazing people. I am in awe of you all, but can only work the body I have. Remember this on tough days.
  4. Leave no trace. “Take only photographs, leave only footprints.” I’m taking this a bit further because our land is precious. This means I’ll carry a rubbish bag and aim to deposit other people’s cans, bottles, crisp bags, sandwich and gel wrappers etc in waste bins as I find them. Won’t it be nice if I find nothing to collect? Hmmm.
  5. Visitors/fellow walkers are welcome (especially Fetchies – you know who you are).
    If you have positive comments and encouragement to offer, or you want to join in then please contact me, but standard rules apply.
    a) If you are an axe murderer, leave the axe at home.
    b) If you are an Eeyore/Henny Penny/Puddleglum/drain-person (as opposed to a radiator person), you are still welcome, but please don’t try to convince me that I’ll fail.

It appears from this list that Helen has got things spot on.

She is setting off from Lands End on Tuesday 24th October this year - that's in just five days time. She's splitting her walk into two parts; This October she'll be supported by her husband so she won't need to carry her camping gear and have to worry about putting up the tent in the dark - the clocks change a few days after her start - and next year, for the second part she'll be solo.

You can find Helen's very well written and organised blog by clicking on the link below:

Helen is walking for a charity that is close to her heart, Pancreatic Cancer Research. Her Just Giving page can be found by clicking the link below:

In case you lose the link as this post slides further down my blog, you'll find a link to Helen's blog on the right hand side of my blog under the heading "BETTER PLACES TO VISIT." Then click on "Then sings my soul"

I'll finish by adding my very best wishes to Helen. As an old friend once said to me as I set off on another day of my LEJOG, "Tight Laces," Helen.