In just a few days I’m heading to Scotland to participate in an annual event where some 300 challengers attempt to cross the country on foot, each following a route they’ve designed themselves.
Each year The Great Outdoors Challenge is hosted by The Great Outdoors Magazine. It is a challenge, rather than a race. The goal for each participant is to walk from the west coast to the east coast across northern Scotland on foot in two weeks. No motorized transport is allowed, with the exception of taking a ferry across large lakes such as the famous Loch Ness. What makes this event especially interesting is that there’s no one defined route. There are many possible starting and ending points and you can choose any combination of trails, jeep tracks, forested glens, boggy moors, and remote highlands that you like.
Scotland is notorious for cold, wet weather, especially in May. This year is shaping up to be quite a challenging one with heavy snow still falling and steep icy snowfields remaining on the high peaks. At the moment, the forecast for Lochnagar, one of the high points on my route, is “snow turning to rain” with “severe gales”.
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