Let the Mountain Sing its Own Song
My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here; My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer Robert Burns, ‘Farewell to the Highlands’
‘Gone for a song’ aptly summarizes my recent Scottish adventure. I spent the first week in July walking the West Highland Way, Scotland’s first long-distance footpath that runs ninety-six miles from Millgavie, north of Glasgow (or from the city centre if you prefer) to Fort William – a dramatic trek which stretches from the Lowlands to the Highlands, from the ‘bonnie banks’ of Loch Lomond to the bleak wilderness of Rannoch Moor, and through the epic mountainous backdrop of Glen Coe and Ben Nevis. I had ridden on my Triumph Legend through parts of the route over the last three years, and earlier, by train, on the stunning West Highland Line, and I vowed that one day I would walk it, for it is just too beautiful to pass through in an hour or two. Such majesty deserves to be lingered over, indeed, deserves to be earned.
Having planned, prepared and packed over the last few weeks I set off with much anticipation and relief – embarking on a solo holiday marking the end of my academic year, a much-needed ‘detox’ from the demands of academe and the maddening din of daily life, depressing news, and soggy summers. Yet I left in a heatwave and was relieved to be heading north – although it was a long, hot ride up. I took the scenic route up the Welsh Marches, and broke the journey at the foot of the Lakes, at YHA Arnside. I pushed on the next day and finally made it to the start of the walk, parking my bike at the only campsite on the edge of town after leaving my heavy backpack with Travel-lite, a baggage transfer company who can take your luggage to each day’s destination for a minimal fee. I would be camping along the way, and this option made all the difference, meaning I need only take a small day-