With great regret, this year’s The Great Outdoors (TGO) Challenge – a two week self-supported walk across Scotland, featuring 300 participants – has been cancelled.

[Header image by Martin Rye]

The challenge’s organisers and publishers of The Great Outdoors magazine, Kelsey Media, concluded they had no option but to cancel the 2020 TGO Challenge in light of travel, personal contact and emergency provision restrictions.

Places have been deferred until 2021, which will take place May 14 – 28.

In a message to participants, TGO Challenge coordinators Sue Oxley and Ali Ogden said: “We are very disappointed as we know how much hard work has gone into producing routes and that this is a highlight of many people’s year but the need to stay safe and limit the progression of the virus must take precedence.

“We considered postponing the event until later in the year but this would clash with the stalking season which would make the event unsafe for Challengers.”

Sue and Ali called on participants to think twice before cancelling with accommodation providers like bunkhouses and hostels: “We fear many may not survive and be able to offer accommodation to Challengers in future years. Please bear this in mind and, if you have the funds available, perhaps consider not requesting a refund and/or provisionally booking for TGOC21.”

They also warned Challengers away from considering “walking anyway”, citing Scottish Mountain Rescue Association’s request to stick to “safe and known adventures, the government’s advice to “avoid unnecessary travel” during the next few months, and the fact that related safety support for the event has been officially cancelled.

This year would have been the 41st Challenge. Since its launch in 1980 thousands of people have taken part, following their own carefully crafted route across Scotland from east to west. Many of those participants return from year to year, drawn by the event’s characteristic combination of wilderness and camaraderie.

The Challenge has been supported every year by The Great Outdoors magazine. The main sponsor of the 2020 event is Ultralight Outdoor Gear, with sock sponsorship provided by Bridgedale. 

A group of Challengers celebrates finishing their 2019 crossing at Kinnaber Links. Photo: Sally Phillips

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