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Four Years On

Four years on from my last Challenge (for now ... ) I thought I'd come and catch up with old friends, and give everyone a little update on what's been happening to me. Browsing the board I am perhaps a little saddened to see how many wonderful people are no longer with us. But that's the nature of life, I guess ... it ends for us all sooner or latter.

But my Challenge career hasn't been ended. It has just been ... interrupted.

I never got around to posting an account of my 2017 Challenge. Apologies to all who were eagerly awaiting it (that's about three people, I guess ... ). But as some of you know, I took early retirement in 2017 in order to re-train as a teacher. And teachers cannot be Challengers, because they cannot get time off at Challenge time of year.

No matter ... I have a cunning plan. I am working with our Duke of Edinburgh group at school, and as I am the only ML on the staff (we have others working for it) I have a lot of influence over what we do for the expeditioning, particularly now that we are able to offer Gold. In September we will be taking a Gold practice expedition to Snowdonia ... but my ambition (budget permitting) is to get them all up to Scotland next may, in the hope that we may just bump into a few of you on the hills.

Devious? Me??

Anyways, soon after I started my teaching job, the Principal took me aside and said "Jeremy, I hear you want to help with the D of E expeditions ... that's great. Can you get yourself booked onto a BELA course as soon as possible."

"Why do you want me to do a BELA course?" I asked, all innocently.

"Because it's the qualification you need to do the expeditioning," says he.

"Steve," says I, "I'm an ML ... and with that qualification I can TEACH the BELA course."

"Oh," says he.

I never did book myself onto a BELA course ...

Something really valuable that came out of my 2017 Challenge is that out of Tarfside I walked for half a day or so in the company of another Challenger who has an autistic daughter. Before we parted he said to me "You know that you're autistic too, don't you?" Well no, I didn't ... but I have now been diagnosed, and that diagnosis is hugely empowering. So thank you whoever it was (I cannot recall your name) for telling me. I would never have thought about it otherwise, but it has been a massively life-enhancing revelation.

And finally ... three years into my teaching career, I am starting to compile a list of my favourite exchanges with students, and I thought I would share my top three with you, as they are rather entertaining.

At #3:

[after putting a much more complicated equation on the whiteboard]
Me: now, what do you think you ought to do if you come across an equation like this?
Voice from the back of the classroom: close the book

At #2:

Me: I~, you don't appear to have done any work so far this lesson
I~: No, sir
Me: Is there a reason you haven't done any work so far this lesson?
I~: Yes, sir ... but it isn't very plausible

And at #1, my all-time favourite to date

Me: F~! I do NOT want to hear language like that in my classroom. So, what do you think I should do?
F~: turn your hearing aid off, sir

Re: Four Years On

Hi Jeremy!
Lovely to hear from you, and glad to hear you're enjoying your new career.
Hopefully I'll bump into you somewhere, if your cunning plan comes to fruition!
Louise 🙃

Re: Four Years On

Hi Jeremy.
Good to hear from you sir.
Glad the teaching appears to be going well.
Brings back memories of many years ago, all 13 of them.
I'm hopefully back on in 2022, if I can keep my damage limitation to a minimum.
Maybe see you up there somewhere...

Re: Four Years On

All 13, Mr W? I have only taken part in 12 Challenges (11 completions and one high-level glissade on the Lawers ridge ... )

Re: Four Years On

Not Challenges Jeremy.
My 13 years as a maths teacher, back in the 80's and 90's

Re: Four Years On

Hi Jeremy, thank you for giving us an update. I am pleased to hear that things are going so well. I see quite a few DofE groups on the hills up here, so maybe one day I will see you with your group – unless I see you back on the Challenge before then.

Re: Four Years On

Hello Jeremy. Very glad to hear that your new career is going well. I can claim to be one of the three readers of your previous Challenge blogs: enjoyable and so meticulous. It’s never too late to post your 2017 account! Good luck with achieving the Cairngorm trip with your DofE group.

Jenny (and Ted)

Re: Four Years On

Good to hear from you, Jeremy! Often wondered how you were getting on and it sounds like you are making a good niche in there. And good luck to you getting your DofE lot up here next May.

Re: Four Years On

Doesn't look like it'll be May ... probably April 2022 ... but I'm trying to sell our D of E manager on the idea of Fort Bill - wrong way up the WHW to camp in Kinlochleven - across to Loch Ossian YH - up to Benalder Cott bothy - then into Dalwhinnie.

A good 4-day expedition on sound trails well-known and beloved of all Challengers, which will absolutely blow the kids' minds!

I think I've got a bite, too ... it just depends upon whether we can find the budget to do it!

Re: Four Years On


Spotted your post, I was signed up for the TGO Challenge this year, but decided to postpone til 2022. You did say when we met at the bothy south of Spean Bridge I'd be back. I remember meeting you again in Braemar saying your tent was leaking. I wondered if you had finished the challenge. I wrote a blog of the day we walked together. I still stop every hour for 5 mins when backpacking. https://www.slatterymarsh.com/day-5-lairig-leacach-bothy-to-culra-bothy/

Re: Four Years On

Chapeau for changing career and becoming a teacher. I hope you can wangle a DoE trip to Scotland. That’s a fine beginners route you’ve planned. All the best.