As The 2019 TGO Challenge Comes To An End: The Slightly Weird Impact of Social Media

As today roles on most TGO challengers — well those who didn’t complete their trip yesterday — will be signing off in Montrose. Tonight there will be the dinner, the speeches and the certificates and presentations. And then it will be home again, until next year.

It has been fascinating following this year’s event. I had to pull out because of a series of care issues to do with my elderly mother that needed to take precedence. I figured I wouldn’t have prepared properly and might not have enjoyed the walk. And if I’m walking across Scotland I want to be able to enjoy it to the full. Still, as I always say, the mountains will always be there next year.

These days it is possible to follow the event on social media. You’ve been able to do this for a while but this year feels very different to me.

Back in the day (about five years ago) walkers Tweeted and Facebooked their messages at the start point. Then they disappeared into the hills for three or four days, only re-emerging at the Great Glen. Then they disappeared again to surface in the Cairngorms before more radio silence until they got to Braemar or Ballater. Somehow, these periods of radio silence added to the sense of adventure and drama.

But these days are long gone. Now it appears that Challengers can get a signal even on top of the most isolated hill. You can settle down each evening and trace that day’s adventure. It is almost as if you are walking along with your favourite mates.

All of which feel a bit weird to me. Of course, as humans we have an almost overwhelming desire to communicate but I wonder if this constant communication takes the edge off the event, makes it feel less special or challenging?

Of course, Challengers still have to do the actual walking. Navigation can still be a challenge and the weather almost certainly is at some point. For me the best part of the Challenge — especially a solo trip — are those days of solitude. I suppose people can still be solitary while sending messages to the world. But it still seems odd to me!

Anyhow, enough of the rambling on. To all you Challengers, congratulations on your walk. Have a great evening. I can imagine you now, sitting in the bar of the Park Hotel reliving stories, talking endlessly about rucksacks and tents and — if you are Lee or Tony — downing more Guinness than seems advisable.

I’ve missed you. See you next year.


  1. Andy: spot on the money post. Yes we all live too much of a connected life (are we Phonosapiens or even Phonodigitalis); but the adventures that others post keep the imagination alive in our minds… The TGO Challengers have done brilliantly – they have shown us that there is a world that we need to escape to as well!

Write in the box and the login details will suddenly appear!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.