Ke­van Man­war­ing

Let the Moun­tain Sing its Own Song

The London Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

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-

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