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TOUR DE TRIGS 2020 by Andrew Fairbairn

For many years I have set myself physical challenges to promote and/or raise money for charities. This year, my challenge was programmed for August/September but had to be postponed due to the pandemic. Instead, I have just undertaken what I suspect is a first – a solo (save for 11 miles when Diddy Hansford kindly accompanied me), completion of a Tour de Trigs route over the weekend of the event (or what should have been the weekend but for its cancellation due to the regulations imposed relating to Covid-19). Covid compliant as regulations and social distancing were maintained. For those of you who are not conversant with the Tour, it is a 24-hour, 50-mile orienteering challenge in teams of three which takes place annually over the first full weekend of December. Weather conditions and limited daylight hours make it a serious challenge and each year a significant proportion of competitors do not finish. For those that do, it is very satisfying. For those that don’t, it is unfinished business to return to when better prepared.

I hope that my completing the Tour will help to keep its high profile ready for December 2021. It is a well-organised competition which has been running since the 1960s. Details can be found on It was originally started by members of the Scout Association and many youngsters have taken part and is an interesting and distinctive addition to their cv. It demonstrates an ability to work as a team, an impressive capacity for physical and mental stamina as well as an ability to learn and implement technical skills in testing conditions. However, people of all ages take part. So, whatever your age, put it in your diary for December 2021, encourage friends and family to take part and use it as a medium to help yourself and perhaps others (charitable fundraising). But whatever you do, make sure your boots are in a better condition than mine (photographed at the top of Crouch Hill)!


I hope that my efforts will also demonstrate that even in these Covid-affected times, people of all ages can get out there and enjoy themselves safely with activities that improve their health. The first recollection I have of a pop single in our house was ‘She Loves You’ by the Beatles. Born in 1957 and aged 63, I am in my 64th year so my current theme tune for challenges is ‘When I’m 64’ (also by the Beatles). I have a friend who completed the 184-mile Thames Path in his 80s. My Mum, now 90, has the zip wire over the slate quarries in North Wales on her bucket list. Age in itself is not a barrier.     


I am dedicating this ‘first’ to two people who died earlier this year. First my father who reached the ripe old age of 91. I could not have wished for a more supportive, understanding and loving Dad. He was a source of great inspiration and introduced me to the mountains. Secondly, to a great friend, Steve Websdale, who I first met at the age of 11 on our first day at secondary school. We kept in contact throughout our lives, completed the Tour de Trigs and the West Highland Way together, he was best man at my wedding and was a great and fun character.


After his retirement, my Dad carried out voluntary work for over a quarter of a century for Katharine House Hospice, for whom my Mum was for a period the chaplain and my wife, Marilyn, is now a volunteer. Steve volunteered for the Samaritans. I am a trustee of the Banbury Sunshine Centre which provides critical help to the local community. These charities are particularly apposite given the issues arising from Covid. Whilst I am not seeking to raise money for charity from this challenge, if you feel that you can help any of these charities or indeed any other charity of your choice that is in some way involved in helping those suffering in some way from the pandemic, then that would be greatly appreciated. This year has been difficult for so many people. Whatever our politics or beliefs, I believe it is important now more than ever to pull together and help each other. I am very lucky to have a loving family and a great network of friends, yet I have still felt the pressure. Imagine, therefore, what it must be like for those less fortunate in more difficult situations.


My original 2020 challenge is now in the diary for August/September 2021. Having soloed Helvellyn via Striding and Swirral Edges in a white-out and Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis in recent years, it will be my most severe self-examination to date to accept calculated risks as I continue to push my boundaries, but this time in an alpine setting. Watch this space!