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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The 2015 Challenge: preparing for the off

Well, I didn't get back to Scotland in Spring 2015. An absurd performance appraisal at work had me marked down for "time management issues". There's absolutely nothing wrong with my time management: what I have is work overload issues. I had been trying to limit my working hours to something vaguely approximating the hours I am paid for; but now in order to prove I had addressed me "time management issues" I had to put in absolutely obscene hours (nearly 9 hours a day, on average, plus a commute that is 100 minutes door to door at normal travelling times; somewhat longer if I don't leave the office until 8 pm). And was it worth it? Here's the sickening part. After slaving my arse off (and I've got the statistics to show that this was BY FAR my most productive year ever, in terms of output) I was STILL marked down ("because the marking has to reflect your performance for the year as a whole, and you had time management issues in the first part of the year"). So why did I bother??

And my employer wonders why their staff engagement scores are consistently off the bottom of the scale? Wake up and smell the coffee, guys!

Anyway, the net effect of this was that I needed my weekends simply to recover from the strain of the week, and the chances of finding time to head off up to Scotland for a mountain or two were remote. Plus, the weather in Scotland has remained consistently poor. Even as I write, on the eve of my departure for the 2015 Challenge, most of the mountains in the Challenge area are still snowbound, and it looks as though it will be another crossing made up almost entirely of FWAs. Which is a shame, because for my tenth crossing I had planned something really rather special. A High Level crossing filled with some of the things I most want to do on a Challenge, and have been saving up specially.

This being my tenth Challenge, I knew I would be on - so I began planning early and had a route ready to submit as soon as my entry went in. Alas, I couldn't have my Torridon start (I did plan a corker of a route from Torridon; but when I broke it down into days, there were 16 of them. I tried reworking it as a 15 day routes but none of the days made sense, and the overnight stops were just horrendous. So I changed to a Dornie start, which would enable me to cut it down to 14 days. Ideal! It is a high level route, including the Drumnadrichit boat crossing, the Lairig Ghru, the ridge South West of Morrone and a Lunan Bay finish. It was vetted by Colin Crawford, who concluded his vetter's comments as follows:

"Jeremy, I have to compliment you. You always, without fail, submit an interesting route and I've much enjoyed following your wanderings. Obviously, you're aiming for over twelve tops to mark your tenth Challenge and you've given yourself sufficient additional tops to offer you a sporting chance of success. All we need now is the weather."

Alas! It is looking as though the one thing we need may not be there, and I may not achieve a High Level crossing this time, either.

Well, it is now half past 8 on Wednesday 6 May. I shall shortly go and post my resupply parcels at the village post office, and then I shall walk into Bedford for a (slightly later than usual) train to London. I shall then work until about 7pm, and wander up to the Bree Louise for something to eat and maybe a drop or two of something with a little alcohol in it. Then it will be on to the Inverness Sleeper, and away to the North.



  1. Are you going to write up your 2025. Hope you do!

    1. My 2025? I doubt I shall be writing that one up for a few years ... but I do hope to get the 2015 crossing written up pretty soon. I have hte piccies all nicely marshalled and everything. It's just a matter of finding the time ...