The Great Outdoors Challenge

A Wet Phil In Balmacaan Forest

The TGO Challenge is an annual self-supported walk across the Highlands of Scotland, west coast to east coast. The Challenge was the original idea of Hamish Brown, the writer and mountaineer, and has taken place every May since 1980. Still known to many as the "Ultimate Challenge" after the original sponsor, Ultimate Equipment, it is now sponsored by TGO, the walkers' magazine in partnership with Hanwag, the footwear and boot manufacturer. Application forms appear in the October issue of the TGO magazine (out September). More information can be found on the Challenge website.

Some challengers have published their diaries of the event on line - usually posting the address on one of the message boards. Trouble is, as time rolls on, these posts disappear, and most of the pre digital diaries and stories have never been shared beyond family and friends. This is a shame, as there are some great stories out there. So we have gathered a few here for the enjoyment (and entertainment) of fellow challengers, and to encourage those who may be thinking about taking up the Challenge.

Stories from the TGO Challenge in descending date order
Click on any title
Phil Lambert on Challenge 2014 NEW!!
Jean Turner's 2011 Diary - Ardrishaig to Lunan Bay
Phil Lambert's 2011 Challenge - Torridon to Arbroath
Derek Goffin on the 'Top Half of The Highlands' 2009 - Oban to Montrose
Mike Knipe's 2009 Account - Glenelg to Johnshaven
Steve Smith's Complete Challenge Accounts to2010
Gordon Green's 2009 Account - Strathcarron to St Cyrus
Mike Knipe's 2008 Account - Dornie to Dunottar castle
Jean Turner's 2007 Diary - Ardnoe Point to Rattray Head
Alan Sloman's 2005 Diary - Acharacle to St Cyrus
Jean Turner's 2005 Diary - Shiel Bridge to St Cyrus
Mike Knipe's 2004 Account - Lochailort to Lunan Bay
Bob Cartwright's 2005 Diary
Bob Cartwright's 2004 Diary
Challenge 1999 - Strathcarron to Arbroath
An Excerpt from Ken Proudler's Cape Wrath to Edale Book
Derek Emsley's 1999 "3 Generation" diary - Oban to St Cyrus
Marian Emsley's 1996 Account - Mallaig to St Cyrus
Peter Goddard's 1995 Crossing - Oban to Long Meg
Geoff Reed's 1995 Crossing - Oban to Auchmithie
A Sploshing Dutchman 1990
Peter Goddard's 1989 Crossing - Shiel Bridge to St Cyrus
Peter Goddard's 1988 Crossing - Lochailort to St Cyrus
Mike Daniel's 1987 Crossing - the 4000' route
Derek Emsley's 1987 Crossing - Torridon to Arbroath
Big John Hutchinson's 1986 Crossing - Lochailort to Montrose
Peter Goddard's 1984 Crossing - Lochailort to Montrose
Derek Emsley's 1983 Crossing - Mallaig to Montrose
Peter Goddard's 1983 Crossing - Morar to Montrose

The next selection is all links to external websites that we think have outstanding Challenge stories - we hope you enjoy them as much as we did, and if you know of a site that we've missed, let us know.

Some of the stories below are culled from blogs, and therefore are in reverse order (i.e. they begin at the end if you see what I mean)

More Ripping Yarns from the TGO Challenge!
Click on any title
Shirley Worral's's 2005 Challenge - Shiel Bridge to St Cyrus IT'S BACK!
Shirley Worral's's 2006 Challenge - Mallaig to Stonehaven IT'S BACK!
Shirley Worral's 2009 Challenge - Torridon to Nether Warburton IT'S BACK!
Gordon Green's 2011 Challenge - Oban to St Cyrus
Judith Barnes 2011 Challenge - Torridon to Portlethen Village
Louise's Big Adventure 2011 - Shiel Bridge to St Cyrus
Mick & Gayle's 2011 Account - Strathcarron to St Cyrus
Martin Banfield's 2010 Account
Alan Sloman's 2011 TGO Challenge
Alan Sloman's 2010 TGO Challenge
John Hesp's 2010 Account
Alan Sloman's 2009 TGO Challenge
John Hesp's 2009 Account
Andy Howell's 2009 Account
Martin & Sue Banfield's 2009 Account
Nigel Ellis' 2009 TGO Challenge
Alan Sloman's 2008 TGO Challenge
Martin + Sue Banfield's 2008 TGO Blog
Theo Fokker's 2007 Challenge and much much more
Roger Boston's 2007, 2006 & 2005 accounts
Martin Banfield's 2007 TGO...and a lot more besides!
Ian Cotterill's Photo diaries Photo essays from 2005 to 2012 - images to inspire.
Steve Smith's Challenge's 2004 - 2009 & much more! Wry & witty.

Audiophiles will be pleased to know that in addition to the links above, there is a series of Podcasts from Bob Cartwright. Do have a look around his shopping site Backpackinglight as well. Bob sells a wide range of lightweight kit, much of which you won't find in your local gear shop - and as challengers themselves, you can be assured that Bob & Rose will give good advice on your choice of equipment for your adventure.

For the time being we have decided that what we have here gives a sufficient flavour of the event and plenty of inspiration for those planning a route for the first time. We won't be adding more for a while as the ethos of the Challenge is self sufficiency, and that especially applies to route planning.

We hope that you've enjoyed these Challenge tales - and if you've not yet taken up the TGO Challenge, why not give it a try? Scotland offers superb backpacking country, and May is just the right time to enjoy it.

Go on. You know you want to.