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Saturday, 13 November 2010

Another year, another Challenge ...

I was successful in the 2010 Challenge draw, so I knew that I could start from one of the popular start points if I wanted by getting my entry in nice and early. I still hadn't used Oban as a start point, but I really didn't feel like resurrecting the 2008 route. In retrospect, it had had too many big days. It was over-ambitious. After 2009, I decided I needed to re-think my route planning. Try to keep the days that bit shorter. Give my feet more of a chance.

And so this time, my start point was going to be the furthest south that the Challenge allows: Ardrishaig! And, for the first time, I wasn't going to use the train to reach my start point. Instead, my wife agreed to come up with my in our camper van. During the first couple of days she would trundle around Scotland by herself, dropping off my resupply parcels in the process, and meet me at Inveraray. Then on the third day she would drive to Dalmally and walk back along my route until we met up, then walk back to Dalmally together. On day four, she would head back to England and I should be on my own for the rest of the Challenge.

It was certainly a bit different ... and I didn't think it fell foul of any of the rules or the spirit of the Challenge.

I got my route in, and was looking forward to the event when in February I almost killed myself turning my car over into a ditch. I was shaken ... and I damaged my shoulder quite badly (hanging upside down by your seatbelt isn't all that much fun) but I was determined to go ahead with the Challenge if I possibly could.

Then in March we discovered, finally, what lay behind my various bouts of ill health over the past few years: I am gluten-intolerant! A quick re-think of my provisioning followed, not to mention telephone calls to all of my intended overnight stops to check that they could all cater for somebody requiring a gluten-free diet. They could and so, come May, I was on my way back to Scotland once more.

Only this time, I had a small, light digital camera which I was prepared to carry with me in a little pouch on my rucksack strap. So this time, I should be able to take photographs to illustrate my Challenge blog ...

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