Tuesday, 19 August 2014

TGO Challenge - North Water Bridge to St Cyrus

I woke up at a given time on the last day of my inaugural TGO Challenge.  A given time that I cannot remember. 
I can't even remember whether it was early, or late.  I can't remember a thing about the packing up and setting off. 
I do remember the 'roulette' crossing of that bloody awful dual carriageway and heading along the roads and lanes, flanked on one side by agriculture, and the other by Dave (PC) Pickles.  The fields were nice, but Dave's company was fine. 
Wish these Scots would make their mind up.  That's Dave, by the way.
 We bumped into some friendly locals, so I asked the way...

Friendly locals.

Arriving at the sign for St Cyrus was, for me, slightly choking.  I gulped back the emotion of the moment.  You see, this had been my longest backpacking hike to date.  Six days was my previous farthest.    I could have carried on for days - I was really in to the swing of it. 

St Cyrus - Pickled.

What the f*** do I look like? - That's rhetorical, by the way.  Thank you.

Dave and I were on a mission, and I seem to remember us having an amusing and silent 'race' with Ian Cotterill.  I'm not sure if I remember this right, but I reckon we won.

The final strait? 
I've seen lots of coastlines in my time, and lots that look like St Cyrus too.  I have never felt anything like the feelings I had when I saw the bay here at St Cyrus.  It was more than just a bay.  More than a beach.  It was an accomplishment, and achievement.  The end of a challenge.

Dave atop the cliffs at St Cyrus

We carried our packs all the way down to the beach, unlike some naughty little tikes who seem to still have a bit of the challenge to finish.  You know who you are!
The waters of St Cyrus.

I dashed into the water with my shoes, sock and trousers still in situ.  I had made it.  For me it was a real achievement.  I had always dreamed of completing a long distance path like the Pennine Way, or the Icknield Way - something longer than 100 miles, and through the hills.  This was far better, for me, than doing a waymarked route.  It was my route and it had been a ball.

Here follow some pictures on the beach. 
Me, a bit lighter than at the start.

The Poolers (centre frame)

Ian Cotterill, Isabel, Lynsey, Alan, Andrew, Dave - in that order.

Dave, a chap whose name I do not know, Freddie - with vino.  And a boot.

Bryan "Quadriped" Waddington.  Another, VERY, nice bloke.

A circle in the sand - with some names in it.  Including MINE.

Rob Hausam and Mr Pickles vandalising the beach.

On arrival at the park, there were a lot of bags hanging around.  It seems impossible to me that no one picks up the wrong bag.  By this stage in the game, one's rucksack is like a family member, a removable bodypart.  It's like an extension of one's self. 

It was bally nice knowing I wouldn't have to carry it all day for a while.
Baggage Reclaim

Visit control in the Kinnaird Room.  Up-bloody-stairs!

Most of the lovely, and not so lovely faces I had met along the way had were in the bar at the Park that evening.  I was originally due to go for a curry with Andy Howell and some others instead of finishing my challenge with the post-challenge dinner.  However, I was rightly advised by Lynsey P that as it was my first challenge, I really should attend the dinner.  I asked at the desk, and yes!  There were some spaces available - and even Alastair, who hadn't crossed in this challenge, managed to get a place at the table.  
This is a man you just want to hug.  Every day.

I finally met Judith (@aroundthehills) which was great.  A very cheeky, and lovely (have I used that word too much about these challenge folk?) lady who I'd exchanged some internets with over the preceding year or so.  That had happened a lot during the challenge.  @s and #s and nicknames, all become real after an age of just pixels on a screen.
An infusion of challengers.

I ended up being sat with people who I now count as friends, some of them I have walked with since.  Andrew, and Alan, the Poolers. 
How I ended up with this lot, I'll never know.

This lot are much nicer. :-)


A nice photo to end a lovely journey.

I suppose I should reflect a bit here, it is customary to do so.  I don't think that is necessary though.  My challenge was good, in so many ways, but overall the people make it what it is. 

As far as this report goes, it's over now.  Thanks for bearing with me, and thanks to everyone who I met on the challenge for making the experience what it was.

Next stop - TGO Challenge 2015: Application time.


  1. Great, Carl. I do hoe we meet up in 2015. Or before of course.

    1. That was 'hope' of course, not hoe.

    2. We'll make sure of it. Go to the Snake Pass do in March too.

  2. Good Lord above!
    Well done Sir - for your first Challenge and, of course, for finally finishing the write up - just in time to fill out the application form for 2015.

  3. Congratulations on reaching St Cyrus :-) Looking forward to reading about your next crossing in 2015!

  4. Well done sir.
    My nose looked a bit red in that last photo, and I don't remember inhaling any Rioja.
    I am looking very much to reading about your 2015 Challenge.
    Sometime in 2018 by my reckoning.

  5. That should have said VERY MUCH LO)OKING FORWARD
    Damned this Chianti and Laphroaig Cocktail..... hic
    I Yoda becoming mostly Am!!!

    1. It was because the B&B lady punched you for not turning up. ;-)

  6. I didn't congratulate you, after all that nagging...
    Well done!
    So, fingers crossed then...

    1. No, you didn't. And that has been noted. ;-)

      Everything is crossed and double-crossed.

    2. I was busy around that time, children going back ti school, eldest not back at uni, you know how it is. Or, you will do...