What is it?

The TGO Challenge is an annual backpacking event in which participants walk from the west coast of Scotland to the east.

When is it?
It takes place every May. The 2021 event runs from 14th -28th May.

Is it for teams or individuals?
Both – you can hike solo or in a group of up to four.

How many people take part?
We aim to have around 330-350 participants set of from the West Coast plus a small number of people associated with the event and its sponsors.

What if it’s over-subscribed?
A draw is held for places. 400 places will be offered as on average 50 or more people withdraw from the Event before it starts.  Those who have suitable experience but don’t gain a place will be guaranteed entry the next time they apply.  Note: as the 2020 Event was cancelled priority will be given to those who missed out.  Any spare places will be allocated via a draw to new entrants.

What’s the route?
That’s up to you – there are 14 starting places in the west, and Challengers can end their walk anywhere between Fraserburgh and Arbroath on the east coast.  You can plan a route through the glens or, if you have sufficient experience, take to the summits and ridges or do a bit of both.

Who plans the route?
You do! Our vetting team offers comment and advice to help you make it safe and achievable. At the end of the day, though, it’s your own bespoke route!

Where are the start points?
Find out here.

How far is it?
Most routes cover between  290-340km (180 and 210 miles).

What distances do people cover daily?
Most aim for between 20 and 25km (12 – 15 miles).

How long does it take?
The event is run over  15 days; most people take 12-14.

What level of skill is needed?
The event is for experienced backpackers with skills including the ability and confidence to use a tent, cook in the wilds, navigate with map and compass, and protect themselves from bad weather.

Is there a prize?
The Challenge is non-competitive: there are no prizes though you do get a commemorative plaque if you complete 10, 20 or even 30 crossings.

Is it a race?
See previous answer!

How do I enter?
Entry will open via this website  – usually in mid September and closing in mid October.

How much does it cost to enter?
The fee for the 2021 will be £80 for new entrants.   Those with deferred places from 2020 will not have to pay.

What will a crossing cost?
Depends on where you stay, what and where you eat, where you’re travelling from to reach your start point…

What accommodation can I use?
The TGO Challenge is a backpacking event and a tent or other suitable shelter is considered essential. As well as wild camping, Challengers use campsites, bothies, SYHA and independent hostels, B&Bs, hotels…

Can I camp where I like?
Just about! The Scottish Outdoor Access Code permits responsible wild camping away from cultivated areas, dwellings and roadsides.

Do I have to wild camp?
Not every night but it is difficult to plan a route with out at least some nights of wild camping – many facilitated “official” sites accept walk-on bookings though some cater only for motorhomes and car campers. You’ll need to plan ahead, accordingly.

Can I resupply on route?
Yes, as often as is necessary. Many small Highland towns and villages welcome Challengers with open arms – there’s no need to carry 14 days’ supplies (three days’ food is a good bet, depending on your route).

Is support allowed?
Support of any kind is discouraged – the Challenge is a test of your skill and independence.

Can a friend drive my gear to the next overnight halt?
See last answer – It is intended to be a self sufficient trip and entering the backcountry without the gear that could keep you alive is against the rules and rather unwise.

At what age can I take part?
The event is open to anyone aged 18 or over. There is no upper age limit but older participants or those with long term conditions should consult with their doctor or specialists before setting out.

Can I bring a friend?
You can walk with up to 3 teammates. Unofficial crossings with participants are a no-no though your friends are welcome to tag along for a day or two.

Can I use the walk to raise funds for a good cause?
Absolutely – and we’d be delighted to hear about it, especially if we can help spread the word.

Can I hop on the bus when I get tired?
Sorry, no – to earn your T-shirt and certificate you have to cross Scotland on foot!

Where can I get more information?
The October issue of The Great Outdoors carries full details of the event and is published in mid September. The event co-ordinators can be contacted at newtonmorehostel@gmail.com or tel 01540 673360/673583.

Why does the application form demand details of my experience?
The Great Outdoors Challenge is not for beginners – we need to be sure that you have the experience and ability to make a good stab at crossing Scotland safely and successfully.

I’ve done Wainwright’s Coast-to-Coast Walk across England – is this the same?
Erm, not really. Wainwright’s CtoC follows a defined route, passes through many villages and small towns, and you’ll find a bed and a beer every night. Not so on the TGO Challenge.

Why do people do the TGO Challenge again and again?
Come and find out!

If you like facts and figures click here

Click here to enter.