So back on Day 3 as I was just about to begin the roller coaster ride that is the West Highland Way around Loch Lomond, I met a Scottish man named Andy. We chatted briefly and he went on ahead.
I ended up running into him and an Englishman named Phil later that same day as my day was nearing the end. This was where I took the ferry across to Ardlui to stay that night.
I walked with them for a bit at the end of that day and found Andy and Phil to be great fun. Andy is a Glaswegian and Phil is from Lancashire (I think this is correct).
Andy and I ran into each other again in Tyndrum at the end of Day 4. I told him I was leaving at 8am for the 19 mile trek and I thought I might run into him at some point that day. But we never crossed paths.
But I had told him the name of my business so as I was getting ready for bed the night of Day 6 I got a Facebook message from him saying that he and Phil, along with another Scotsman, Jim, were walking together. He told me where he was staying and I told him where I was … and lo and behold, Phil was staying in one of the cabins at the MacDonald Hotel (where I was that night).
So as I went to breakfast on the morning of Day 7 who do I see but Phil. We chatted a bit and he then invited me to walk with the 3 of them. But everyone is always okay if you say no as we understand that many of us want to walk alone.
Well I had been walking pretty much alone for 6 days and I liked Phil and Andy both. Nice guys. Phil told me they were meeting at the start of the trail at 8:30 which was when I was thinking of beginning this last day of the West Highland Way.
I decided to join them.
Andy and Jim show up a few minutes late and we gave them a hard time. But it’s great to see Andy. He’s just a very likable guy even though I don’t always understand him. Damn Scottish accent!
Jim is a bit older, but pretty fit. Another nice Glaswegian who now lives elsewhere in Scotland. I instantly like him.
We then begin the slog up the hill to start the final day.
But it’s manageable and we stop to look back as the views are fabulous to Loch Leven and Kinlochleven.
Then we cross into a beautiful valley with mountains around. It’s stunning. We catch the last glimpses of Kinlochleven, the sun glistening off the loch.
We walk on and talk about different things in life. Sometimes we’re 2 and 2.
Sometimes we’re 1 and 3.
Sometimes we’re 1, 2 and 1.
We stop for short breaks, to take pictures and just drink in the scenery and our final day on the West Highland Way.
I have to admit, the company was nice.
And the day was gorgeous.
The valleys and the mountains are really beautiful in this section of the walk. And there are some old structures in the one gorgeous U-shaped valley. We keep commenting on how stunning it all is.
Then we catch those first glimpses of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak. It’s a massive mountain although not high by American standards. But it looms over us.
And again I’m reminded of my insignificance.
And I’m reminded of what’s important.
Meeting so many wonderful people who are on the same journey as me along the West Highland Way has been such a wonderful gift. It’s made the achy feet worth while.
Yes, the scenery is stunning. And I’ve certainly relished every moment of being in these incredibly gorgeous places. I love being in the natural world.
And yes, the time on my own was important for me. I needed more time to grieve and to heal.
But making new friends along the West Highland Way was a bit of an unexpected gift to walking this long distance trail.
And it’s been wonderful.
We’re all in it together. Talking about our aches and pains, but also talking about the beauty of the scenery or a part of the trail that we didn’t like. Or a particular section that was exceptionally lovely.
And we bonded.
As walkers. As lovers of the outdoors. And as people.
Germans, Dutch, Americans, English, Scottish, Aussies.
We’re all just humans.
And I think that is the beauty of this and all long distance walks.
The camaraderie you have with other people from all different places. People you may have not have otherwise met.
You just bond. Even for a brief moment.
As I sit here on the day after I’m sad.
I miss the West Highland Way. I miss the walking, the scenery, the goal.
And I miss the people.
People I know I’ll never forget.
So while the scenery is so etched in my memory so are the people.
And what an incredible gift.
I’m the richest gal on the planet.
Thanks to West Highland Way and all those I met along the way.