There’ll be quite sufficient day-to-day accounts of Peep’s (?Peepsies) TGO challenges in the blogosphere, many of which will have links provided by the peeps at Newtonmore wot do the organisation (Sue and Ali). So, I’m not going to do that. In fact, since me and John Jocys started at the same start point and our routes coincided from Glen Gour to Kinlochleven and then joined forces from then on, he’s doing a fine job of describing the route on his blog, so I don’t really need to, innit?
So, I’ll just provide a brief summary and then bang on almost endlessly about how fab it is to do the chally in a kilt and, in a subsequent blogpost at some point in the future, provide a bunch of pictures.
Day 1 Got up, walked a lot, got tired, met somebody who’s name escapes me for a mo, but I met them in almost identical circumstances four years ago, had me tea, sipped cheap scotch, dozed off for twelve hours. It didn’t go dark.
Day 2 (see above)
Day 3 (see Day 1)
Day 4 (see Day 1, but had a shower, washed undies, killed a tick)
Day 5 (As Day 2) Met somebody else.
Day 6-13 …….. ghasp….
So, I got the train to Oban (First class ticket from Durham to Glasgow only cost £19.40 and this included a breakfast. (get in…)) and discovered JJ lounging in his kilt in the Oban-Craignure ferry terminal and we travelled together to Craignure, then Tobermory and, next day, over to Kilchoan and walked together for about 2 miles.
I then walked to Kinlochleven via three tearooms, Ben Resipol and a pub over the next few days where I met Mr Jocys once again. I met only one other challenger during this time, in Glen Gour – a chap who claimed to be from Essex but who was not highly groomed, with perfect teeth and in the process of a difficult relationship with his girlfriend. (Yes folks, I did watch The Only Way is Essex on one occasion. I was drunk, obviously) The chances of meeting one of these snowflakes up Glen Gour seems unlikely. This lad just bashed on and, strangely, was followed by another walker who seems to have disappeared in mysterious circumstances. He went into a fold in the landscape, only yards nehind the Essex lad, and didn’t appear at the other side. Most odd.
At Kinlochleven, being somewhat knackered, I decided that my planned route was too hard. It had twenty-mile days with far too many contours. As it happens, JJ had nee maps (as they say in Crook), and I had. So I decided to do his route, told him, and he agreed. So thats what we did. The details are in his blog, a link to which is at the end of this blogpost (don’t want you drifting off till I’ve completed my diatribe, innit?) He’s doing a cracking job, so I don’t need to and, in any case I have something else less important to say about kilts.
JJ got these kilts from the USA and they’re made from micro-fibres (or micro-fibers as the colonials would have it). We decided to do the chally in the kilts.
Prior to the TGO challenge, I also wore my kilt on several walks, covering about 75 miles on trundles in the Yorkshire Dales, Lakes, North Pennines and Cheviots and a Crook Ramblers walk near Darlington.
For an Englishman who has absolutely no Scottish blood, but does have two Scottish grandchildren, and living in a kiltless society in a no-nonsense, but generally very decent working-class County Durham town where the wearing of unusual clothing could be seen as a bit of an affectation, putting on a kilt and getting the car out for a trip to the hills does require a modicum of bravery. It would seem. It would also seem, though, that nobody really notices. I’m not sure why this is.
In general, the bit we worry about is other people’s reactions to a beardy bloke (or any bloke) wearing what amounts to a dress in public. In practise, English people out on the hills don’t say anything at all. Maybe they’re too polite.
In Scotland, reactions are mainly positive. “Fair play to wearing the kilt” said a young lad in a pub in Tobermory. There were no explicit negative comments, although a ned shouted rude words from a passing car by Backwater reservoir, but his insult was in the singular and there were two of us, so I can’t put much weight on it. I suspect he would have shouted anyway, and, probably continued shouting at pedestrians, cattle, sheep, trees, his old Mum and a stray dog during his journey back to his stinking hovel somewhere in Dundee where the “F” word is a common adjective. I expect he was probably wearing really scaggy undies too. Trust me, I’m an expert on this stuff. I used to work in a casualty department.
Women in Scotland were explicitly rather lustful about the kilt. Some of these were foreign tourists. “ Oh My gawd, Henry, look, it’s my first kilt. Oh my gawd, there’s another one! Are you Scaddish? Can I take your photo?”. This kind of thing happened several times between Kinlochleven and Kingshouse. I kid you not. Ladies from Ilkley were happy to fondle JJ’s knees. And girlies at the scene of an accident near Brechin involving the accidental trimming of several kg’s of ash tree onto a car by a high-sided vehicle declared, on seeing the kilts during the clean-up operation that they wouldn’t help, but would “just watch” Phwoar
So, despite misgivings about public reactions, there’s nothing to be bothered about. The kilt can be worn with no issues.
And then we come to (mainly) male acquaintances. There is banter and ribbing. Much of it is adolescent. Some of it is sexual. Some joking is to be expected and be recieved in the usual “matey” kind of way. Some of it goes too far and, I suspect, reflects the insecurities of the banterer, particularly where it’s persistent (is banterer a word?). A text from TGO control joked that a contract had been put out on me and JJ for wearing petticoats under our kilts. There were several comments about cross-dressing, one of which came from a female wearing trousers (dhuhhh). I don’t mind a bit of banter – and, in fact, the male British standard is to insult your male friends on a regular basis in a fairly robust kind of way, When you stop doing it, they think you’ve fallen out with them. Some of the kilt-based banter is a bit creepy, though and has hints of desperation about it.
The simple fact is, that kilts give you very brown legs and are very well received amongst women. And this is no bad thing.
Moving on to the actual walking: A lightweight neo-waterproof kilt is probably the most comfortable garment anybody could possibly want to wear for the hillwalking. The sheer freedom of being able to move the legs unencumbered by trousers is remarkable and probably adds some distance to whatever distance you could comfortably walk in trousers or shorts.
In very rainy weather, I also wore the traditional overtrousers which went on easily over the kilt. In shoiwery weather, I don’t bother as my legs dry out quickly, and so does the kilt.
At night I had a Crivit full base-layer which includes a top with a hood as a pair of toasty jim-jams. These are less than £9 from Lidl and there’s nowt wrong with them. I coped easily with several ice-coated nights in the akto.
In hot weather, the lightweight kilt is Just The Thing and wafting breezes are a comfort and a joy.
Whether or not to wear undies is a personal choice. JJ did and I didn’t. This saved me some weight and some laundry.
On the question of insects, particularly ticks – I didn’t get any. And I didn’t take any special precautions. I did have a nightly inspection and was armed with a tick remover, just in case. I also didn’t get bitten any more than in shorts, although sitting on wet grass can be “refreshing”. But skin dries out quite quickly
For toileting, a quick pee can be had just by lifting up the front (applies to men) but you have to be more careful with the number two’s.
After two weeks, the outside of the kilt was looking as fresh as a daisy. The inside, however was a fetid mash of seething putrid gunge and required a bit of a wash. A week is probably more than sufficient before a serious wash is needed. You have to be careful with the washing, thouigh, and I’ve been handwashing the kilt with Asda gentle handwash and then drip-drying. The kilt has leather buckles and sewn-in pleats, so, some care is needed. This is probably impractical on very long walks, bt at 300 gms, it’s not impossible to carry two kilts.
My advice, to men and women alike, is to get a sports kilt for the hillwalking in spring, summer and autumn. Be brave and put it on (women probably don’t really need to be brave in this respect)
I’m still wearing mine for hillwalks (I have washed it now, ta)
There were four kilted men on the 2018 TGO challenge. I would like to see more than this. Peeps are missing out. Other peeps will poo-poo this – some a bit nervously but in a manly, joking kind of way which also impunes the masculinity of anybody who might decide to do the same. Be a man. Get a frock….
John’s blog with TGO chally stuffJJs blog