Wednesday, 17 December 2014

TGO 2015 How to feed a habit! (Award Winner!)

It was suggested I submit this piece for my Club Newsletter. At The Hill and Mountain Walking Club AGM on 8 November 2015 it received the Jack Griffiths Literary Award!

Check out the Club - which is affiliated to the BMC.

The TGO Challenge is like a drug. Once you try it, you want more. And, the more you get, the more you want. This continues until you enter the heady realms of being a Leg-end! You slowly but surely get sucked in to the event. There is no escape. To resist is futile. 

I know one or two Leg-ends and they are wretched souls. No hope for them. Totally high on the event. Why, even this year, I will start in a western den of iniquity with a couple of Leg-ends and an aspiring-to-be one too. You can spot them a mile off. Especially if the aspirant is wearing his orange smock.

To help feed this habit they indulge in various recreational drugs. Whisky has to be near the top of the chosen substances, but, good beer is well up there. Lesser mortals indulge in that amber coloured stuff they call lager! Some even go to the lengths of bringing sloe gin. Suffice to say, these recreational drugs don't last long. It becomes imperative to keep moving towards the next fix. These suppliers are dotted across Scotland and the hardened Challenger will make a bee-line towards their suppliers. But, as you observe bees you do notice that they don't really keep a straight line. Same with Challenge folk. They meander across in some haphazard manner.

Someone, somewhere decided that the finish should be on the east coast. Wrong. It should be on the west Coast! Anyone who's done the Coast to Coast in the accepted manner rues the day they exit Cumbria. Start in Robin Hood's Bay and you have the magnificence of the Lake District to end your experience.

Same issue with the TGO - you leave the Cairngorms and run out of mountains- unless you count Mount Keen as a mountain. I suppose it is a Munro, but can it hold a candle to the mountains on the west coast? You can make your last day really count by finishing on Knoydart, or, the Five Sisters, or, any one of a number of interesting finish points. Much better than St. Cyrus! or Lunen Bay!

But there is a rational for starting in the west. You leave the wild lands and make your way to the east cost navigating as you go by staggering from wind turbine to wind turbine. These are very conveniently placed to enhance your experience and to make sure you hanker to get back to the west coast for some real wilderness - at least before they stick a wind turbine on top of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan!

I mention the recreational drugs. These do give a sort of high. But there is another more compelling habit that needs feeding. 

Not content with recreational drugs, the wretched souls that leave the west coast in high spirits (usually from the party in the pub where they had a restless night's sleep) will aim to feed that other habit - climbing pointy bits. Now, climbing pointy bits is not compulsory in getting from A to B, but the amount of tortured thought that goes into getting over pointy bits does show how much of a habit this has become for some poor wretched souls.

Why, they even compete to see who can do the most pointy bits. Just listen to the tales in the Park Hotel. 

So, recreational drugs and the feed-on-pointy bits ensures that the wretched souls get to the east coast in a state of euphoria. They will have done their chosen pointy bits. They will have battled wind, rain, sleet, snow, hailstones, as well as a few squelchy bits underfoot - some even get so high that they try walking on water. They never learn!

Of course, no matter how much recreational drugs are consumed, and, no matter how many pointy bits figure in the plans of these wretched souls, there is always the bogeyman! The weather. The weather is essential in order to ensure that the euphoria that comes from hitting the pointy bits is realised. The fortunate will get their fill of pointy bits and will celebrate in the Park Hotel with a few recreational drugs. The ones who don't quite make their desires come true, will commiserate in the Park Hotel with a few recreational drugs. They all become as one as the evening wears on. Such is the way euphoria and melancholy are celebrated.

Whatever befalls these befuddled imbibers, there is only one way to go. 

Enter for TGO 2016.

Oh, yes..............

I'm Gordon Green and I'm addicted.

I've only got 18 big pointy bits on my wish list, as well as some long airy ridges ........... and, I won't be going over Mount Keen.

You'll see me in the bar at the Park Hotel. You'll have to guess how the bogeyman played with my head.


  1. Hope you have sent a copy of your account to Les & Izzy for the Link Mag.
    Your recipe of walking, camping.climbing pointy bits, beer and whiskey.
    Could motivate a few lazy legs into motion.

    1. I might just do that, Billy.
      For the unaware: the Link Magazine is for The Hill and Mountain Walking Club. It is affiliated to the BMC (cheaper membership that as an individual).
      It was founded off the back of the TGO Challenge and has regular meets in the UK, Ireland, Europe and further afield.
      Look it up on Google. It's a great club to be ..... in IMO!

  2. What have I let myself in for????????????

  3. Reason challenge finishes on E coast is availability of public transport between all locations on coast and Challenge control in Montrose. It is presently very difficult to link even the main towns far less a remote point on W coast without spending a whole day or more travelling. A situation that is highly unlikely to improve!
    Ian Shiel

    1. Hi Ian. Unfortunately, you are right.
      I guess the only solution would be to set out from the east coast to the west coast independently.
      The only problem with this is that very few if any would be doing the same thing. It just would not be the same.
      What makes the Challenge unique is the way it's set up. Despite my somewhat cheek comments, I wouldn't want it any other way.
      The only issue is that the weather usually gets better as folk get to the east.
      Could you please use your power and influence to ensure the first few days are benign :-)

  4. Hi Gordon! On addictions and feeding them you failed to mention 'gear'. Maybe you've kicked the habit but many TGOers are stuck with that yearning to get something lighter, stronger, better, brighter.

    Which brings me to the PHD Alpamayo Smock. If you lost it on the bus, would you immediately replace it with another? Or has your enthusiasm moderated? Might you research something different? Does it inflate and or flap in high winds?

    Are there any negative effects from the bright colour (does it frighten wildlife? or invite strange comments?).

    After some years with Paramo I've decided to get a real waterproof ...

    1. Hi Paul, Now you mention it - I have sold my Trailstar and bought a Tramplite cuben shelter which weighs in at around 670 grms - complete with cuben inner :-) But, I only have one shelter compared to some.

      The PHD Alpamayo Smock is the best waterproof I've had. It's well made - no scrimping on materials/finish and the shell breaths well. I've had no water ingress - although mine has a storm flap. I would definately replace it with the same. It's long and will fit over light down tops, but only weighs 635 grms. It's not at all flappy or prone to inflation (although it now costs more than I paid for mine).

      As for colour, I got the black one, so no issues there. I'd go for orange if I were to buy another :-)

      Have a look too at Andy Howell's recent review. He took ages to decide and he too had good Paramo tops before getting the Alpamayo.

    2. THATS 435 grms NOT 635 grms!!

    3. I obviously mis-identified this one !

      Thanks for the info Gordon. Paul

    4. That's my PHD Drishell Windshirt!
      Had it for years. Another good bit of gear :-)