The West Highland Way. A self-guided walk that stretches 96 miles north from Milngavie to Fort William, a Highland town nestled at the foot of Ben Nevis—the highest mountain in the UK. It’s a walk that we had been considering for many years and with Milngavie being our home town, it was always there as a reminder. We would regularly see groups of excited walkers meeting up at the Obelisk starting point in the town centre and say to each other ‘we’ll need to do that walk one day’.
2015 was going to be a busy year. We would be celebrating our 50th year on this amazing planet. As were some of our friends. So back in early 2014, during a get together and a few Prosecco’s, we decided to organise our West Highland Way (WHW) walk for May of 2015.
When we say organise, what we mean is that it was decided that Aileen and I would organise. We’re good at organising. Or should we confess that we like to ensure things go smoothly, everyone is kept up to date, all planned and unplanned elements are prepared for and it will run to military precision. Thankfully over the years since this walk, we have mellowed and now actually embrace the unknown – with, of course, a backup plan B just in case!
As it turned out, there is a bit of planning required to walk the WHW. Especially if it’s a group of 6, now in their 50’s with varying degrees of fitness and walking experience, who all want a decent night’s sleep in comfortable beds and a hearty breakfast to send us on our way. So with great gusto, Aileen and I set about our organising. –
Spreadsheet with accommodation, dates, costs and daily distance – check.
Organise baggage transportation – check
Set up a group chat – check.
Use group chat to ‘encourage’ and ‘motivate’ some of the team to get active – check
Start our own training regime (we were fit but not long distance walking fit) – check
Print off WHW places of interest – check
Start to become concerned that some of our group weren’t putting in the miles – check
Question why we are always so organised and is this a negative trait – check
Finally, on 17th May 2015, our intrepid group of 6 met at the Milngavie town centre Obelisk for a photo opportunity and we talked excitedly about the walk ahead, just like all the other walkers we had observed over the years. We dropped off our luggage with Travel Lite, who ensured our belongings were waiting for us at our destination each day and off we set.
Our walk took 7 days. Some do it in 5 but we wanted to stop a savor the views and not feel rushed. This was a good decision as the pace and daily miles were steady but not too arduous and gave us plenty of time to stop and enjoy the moment. Our accommodation ranged from the ‘just perfect’ to the ‘That’s one of the most uncomfortable nights of sleep I’ve ever had’ but each one was welcoming and had its special memories. Each night we would all meet up over a meal and loudly discuss and recall what had happened earlier that day. This was a special walk with amazing views, funny stories, tales of anguish and pain, a feeling of achievement and 7 days of sheers escapism from the realities of life.
All on our doorstep and enjoyed by people from all around the world. We would recommend adding this walk to your bucket list and if you need somewhere to stay the night before your walk, you will get a big welcome at our own Airbnb (its initial inception and our experience of it will be available in a future blog)