Hello, and welcome back to my blog. The blog that's been dormant for quite a while now. And what do I have to tell you? Well, first of all, that I might not be around for the next few days …
On Wednesday, I leave Tiree to take part in The Great Outdoors Challenge.
The TGO Challenge is an annual self-supported walking event across the Highlands of Scotland, west coast to east coast. It started in 1980 and was the brainchild of the well-known writer and mountaineer, Hamish Brown.
The Challenge is held every May and is sponsored by TGO, the walkers' magazine, in partnership with Rab, the outdoor equipment specialist.
I first heard about the Challenge while listening to a podcast called The Outdoors Station. The host, Bob Cartwright, produced several series' worth field recordings and interviews in all types of weather and surroundings. Somewhere along the way, I said to myself 'you know, I fancy a crack at this'.
I'm not knew to endurance challenges, or, indeed hiking. I've been on a few long distance treks, even getting to Mount Everest Base Camp (17,500 feet above sea level) in 2009.
But this will be the first time I've ever gone on a self-supported expedition. I'll be carrying everything I need on my back. Along the way I may make use of a b&b or two but for the most part I'll be carrying my home on my back in the form of a tent, sleeping bag, small stove and all the other bits and bobs you need to survive in the great outdoors.
Luckily for me the fiercest beasties I'll be meeting along the way will be the Highland Midges who will no doubt conspire to make my life a misery.
On Friday 11th May I set out from Dornie, a small fishing village in the Kintail district in western Ross-shire and begin a traverse of Scotland which will – hopefully - end on Monday 21st May at St Cyrus in South Aberdeenshire.
Now, the trouble with trying to tell the story of this journey as it happens is all down to poor mobile coverage in some of the wild areas I'll be passing through. Let's face it, mobile coverage in the Highlands is bad enough at the best of times.
But I will do my best. I will blog when I manage to get to a computer. Otherwise, if I get a signal, I will attempt at least a daily Facebook update (follow me at www.facebook.com/gdwscottwww.facebook.com/gdwscott).
I leave Tiree on Wednesday, travelling to Fort William. On Thursday I will bus to my starting point of Dornie, where I will allow myself the luxury of a hotel room and a good meal. On Friday, it all begins.
The weather forecasts for the start of the Challenge is still changeable and vague. There will be rain at some point, that's for sure. But at the end of the day it doesn't matter: I'm committed to going and all I can do now is … well, get it done.
There are another 300+ challengers taking part, all setting off from their own start point of choice. Along the way, I'm bound to meet quite a few of them and I'm looking forward to sharing the 'craic' in the great outdoors with kindred souls.