Saturday, June 28, 2008

Betsy's Take on The West Highland Way

The West Highland Way is marked by dozens of brown posts with white thistles emblazoned on them. It cuts through forests, along the wide shores of Loch Lomond, through highland meadows and a vast moor, across the Devil's Staircase, through a final pass and down into Fort William in Northwest Scotland.

Our hike was a lovely one, though punctuated with some frustrating weather and the occasional cloud of voracious pregnant midges. We saw most of the beauty and crossed many of the miles of the way, though we did ride in a car and a couple of buses when necessary. I won't try to recap the whole experience, but I'll share a few of my memories.

Picture these moments...

On our first day we climbed over and through and across many fences designed to outwit sheep but not hikers, getting acquainted with the stepstile and the kissing gate in particular.

Late one evening after setting up the tent, we came across someone who was RUNNING the entire way as part of a race (the men's record for these 80 + miles was around 17 hours!). Kind of put the hike in perspective...

While Loch Lomond diminished behind us, we hiked up and up through a tremendous green bowl, sheep scattered on the far left reaches and birns tumbling down from the right.

Who would have thought those four other tents on the beach would contain such inveterate partiers? Several hour long blocks of pouring rain didn't keep them from mirth and merriment on all sides of our tent until after four a.m.

Nothing tastes much better than an apple rhubarb crumble at the end of a thirteen mile hike, unless of course it is so badly burned that no fruit is recognizable within its charred black mass. I sampled the good and the bad.

I met my first wild swan one morning as we hiked by its powder room (the edge of Loch Lomond). It fussed and rustled its feathers like the most fashion conscious teenager.

I'd tell you about all the beautiful sunsets and sunrises, except they all happened while we were asleep! We went to bed in pretty broad daylight, and woke up to it too. Welcome to the north country!

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