Amanda McGuire from Alberta, Canada

Given that the word ‘Challenge’ appears ‘on the tin’ so to speak, it shouldn’t surprise me to be faced with obstacles; however, I am continually surprised! 2022 proved no different and in fact ended up being challenging for everyone.  

My husband and I began from Calgary, Alberta, with a delayed flight due to a snowstorm. We cleared Customs and began a wait for our backpacks and gear that would ultimately last four days. With our packs enjoying an unplanned city break in Toronto, we booked hotels and enjoyed our own in Glasgow. We had tremendous support from Sue at Challenge Control, who pulled up a previous route that we could potentially finish in our new timeframe.

The four-day delay was, in fact, a gift. During those four days, our fellow Challengers were met with an onslaught of rain and wind. Hiking soaking wet without any reprieve is incredibly challenging. Our late baggage may have kept us in the Challenge this year.

Finally reunited with our backpacks, we began in Torridon. Breathtaking and quite isolated, it involved some challenging route finding and a windy camp that bent a tent pole. Our shortened route necessitated some road walking, but thankfully our feet held up, just about. Only one such section led to a virtual divorce, but a quick reconciliation resulted as there was no one else to talk to!

By the time we reached the Cairngorms, we’d caught up with others – some known and some new. The feeling of being together always provides the encouragement and energy needed to continue. Our new route continued to be beautiful and inspiring all the way to a serene finish at St Cyrus.

Initially, I swore this third Challenge would also be my last. But Scotland and its people are beautiful and inspiring; and blisters, wind, rain and insects are not enough to discourage another attempt. The shared camaraderie of crossing with others who walk just to walk is indescribable, and the triumph of new friendships trumps the hardships. Even a failed Challenge attempt is not a failure; it is preparation for the next crossing. We will be back for more…