TRAVEL: Walking the West Highland Way»
Fresh air, lush lochs and abundant whisky on West Highland Way
The pastime of hill walking, as it’s called in Scotland, was something I knew I had to do as soon as I learned about it. I grew up hiking in the Rocky Mountains, and hill walking, it seemed, had the openair refreshment and meditative cadence of a hike, but without the high-altitude ascents. There were more rolling, lush landscapes, with quaint towns to explore along the way. And whisky tastings.
I traveled to Scotland from Colorado in 2010. I had just graduated from college, and for a year I lived in the country and explored Europe as an aspiring freelance writer. I was based in Dundee, in the coastal area of Fife, and I did more city wandering and paved-path running than hill walking while I was there.
Upon my arrival in his country back then, my then-new friend Jack Mckeown gave me an image-rich book on the West Highland Way. The pages detailed a 96mile, south-to-north route through mountains and lochs, forests and farmland that connects Milngavie, near Glasgow, to Fort William, on the western side of the country. Jack had completed it over a decade earlier, and I think I asked him right then and there if he would do it again, with me.
Four years after I left Scotland, I returned, this time with my boyfriend, Bobby. It was early September, and we had set plans to walk the Way: Jack would join us, and several friends would to meet us along the route, hopping on the trail for a leg of it here and there.
Crunched for time, we decided to set up our itinerary at six days instead of the more common seven. This preserved a
Jack Mckeown, left, Sheila Mckeown, center, and Bracken the dog stand on a hilltop outside of Bridge of Orchy in Scotland while Bobby L’heureux sets a stone on a cairn.
The view from the edge of Loch Lomond at sunset.