Okay, I admit it. I’m totally obsessed with the West Highland Way in Scotland. What is this?
It’s a 154km (96 miles) long path that begins in Milngavie (just outside of Glasgow) and ends in Fort William. It wends its way through pasture land, forests, moors and along Loch Lomond. The end of the West Highland Way lies in the shadows of Great Britain’s tallest peak, Ben Nevis. And it’s firmly on my “list” for next spring’s European adventure.
Why? Well I think there are several reasons why it appeals to me.
Reason 1 – I really want to do a long distance walk
But I’m not ready to do the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain which is 769km (478 miles) and takes 4-6 weeks.
I love the idea of walking from point to point, staying in town at a hostel, B&B or hotel and having a good meal — then getting up to do it all over again. And spending time in nature as you take this long journey makes it that much better.
The West Highland Way takes about a week so I think it’s a great introduction to the whole long distance walk thing.
Reason 2 – I want to really see Scotland (I haven’t been there yet)
Don’t get me wrong. Edinburgh. Glasgow. Inverness. Loch Ness. Castles. Small towns. Scotch whisky distilleries. I want to see and experience all of that. But this area of Scotland is quite varied. I’ve read so many accounts of this walk and everyone says the varied terrain is fabulous — that the scenery is spectacular.
And I’ve seen loads of photos of this area to prove that it is gorgeous. You’re looking at some now.
I just have the feeling that this is the perfect spot to begin my journey in Scotland. To me the best way to see a country is to get out of the damn car (or bus or train) and see it on foot. This allows you to go at your own pace, stop when you want to take a closer look at something, meet other travelers and locals alike and take pictures when you want (that would be me).
Reason 3 – I love to walk and hike
Look at that last part in reason 2. Yes, the best way to see a destination is to walk or hike. You are able to get up close and personal with a place this way. And it’s a slower way to travel so you can take the time to really see where you are. Whether it’s a city or town, the seaside or the mountains.
For me, being active is just who I am. I spend enough time sitting — in front of the computer especially — that getting outside to walk or run or hike is what my body needs. It’s what my body craves. Especially as I get older.
I remember my time in Paris a few years back. Never once did I use the Metro. I walked — everywhere. It was awesome. I worked off all the good food (cheese, wine, baguettes) and saw and experienced so much more in the process.
Reason 4 – To see Glen Coe
This area of Scotland is supposed to be stunning! I’ve seen so many photos and read other travelers’ blog posts about Glen Coe. I’m tired of looking longingly at these photos and reading about it. I want to experience it for myself. To me walking through it is the only way to truly see it.
There is a village called Glencoe as well, but I’m talking about the glen or valley. Glen Coe is volcanic in nature. It’s often said to be one of the most spectacular places in all of Scotland which is saying a lot as Scotland is filled with so much beauty. The village of Glencoe lies within the valley.
I know I could simply stay in the village of Glencoe and take some day hikes from there to see and experience the valley. But I’m loving the idea of the long walk…
Reason 5 – Because I can still do it
As I get older I realize that my time is limited for doing these active adventures. Now don’t get me wrong — I’m only 50 and am in really good shape (okay, I could stand to lose a few pounds). But I run 3-4 times per week running 5-7 miles each time. I walk a couple of days a week doing about 4 miles. I’m not fast when I run, but I’m still able to do it. Recovery is a bit tougher as you get older and yoga has become my friend to balance out my running. I definitely need to stretch more often.
So while I know I still have time to take on these active trips, I also know that I don’t have another 50 years. Hopefully I have at least 20 though. My dad is almost 86 and he still mows the lawn, plays golf and hits the weights and the elliptical at the local community center. I know I have some good genetics on my side.
But time ticks away. We need to do the things we want to do now. Because tomorrow is never a guarantee.
If I want to complete one of these multi-day walks then I need to get on it! And just do it as the slogan says.
Is there a travel “to do” on your list?
Something that you really want to see or experience? Maybe now is the time to make that travel dream come true! Tomorrow is not a guarantee. What are you waiting for?