During my West Highland Way walk in Scotland, a Brit said to me “why on earth would you come all the way from Canada to Scotland just for a walk? You live is such a beautiful country”. Beautiful yes, but huge, and varied. Coming from Toronto, I am no where near the majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains or the seaside paradise of Newfoundland. Even if I did live close to the coast, there is no infrastructure to support long distance walks. At least not the kind of walks they have in the UK.
Here in Canada, hiking the West Coast Trail demands stamina, expertise in hiking and backcountry camping skills. It is isolated, strenuous, and potentially hazardous. On the other hand, the East Coast Trail holds out more hope. It is 265 kilometres of coastline, connecting over 30 communities. There are 24 different paths, ranging from 2.9 to 17.1 km. and range from easy to strenuous. But I just want to spend a week walking from Point A to Point B. I want someone to vette the route and plot the accommodations. I want my luggage to be waiting for me at the end of a day’s walk. This is where the Brits have nailed it. They have so many different long distance walks, you are literally spoiled for choice.
The Brits Are Just So Civilized
For most of these walking holidays, you can choose to camp, stay in local B&Bs, or arrange for hotels along the route. Furthermore, there are any number of tour companies more than happy to plan it all out for you. You just pick your route, decide how many days you’d like to walk, and what date you plan to start. You can even build in rest days if you like. The tour company will arrange and pay for your accommodations, arrange for your luggage to meet you at every stop, and send you maps and guides for a successful, self-guided holiday. How civilized! I personally used Macs Adventure for my WHW walk, but there are many others to choose from, and from all accounts, they are all good.
In the UK, you don’t have to be a Cheryl Strayed to enjoy long distance walking. The Brits have long distance walks engrained in their culture. The West Highland Way is rated a 3/5 (moderate) hike, but we saw people in their 70s handling it just fine. In the UK, anyone who enjoys some degree of fitness can enjoy a weeklong walk with no hassle whatsoever.
I thoroughly enjoyed my walking holiday, and I want to do it again. I learned enough from my previous adventure that I’m ready to tackle a solo walk (something I’ve always dreamed of doing). I’ve been researching every evening after work for the past month on what I want to do next. I’m desperate to find a walking holiday in North America that matches any of the long distance walks in the UK. So far I’ve come up with nothing. I’m not too bothered though, at the end of the day, I can always jump on a plane and head back to the UK.
This post was written based on my personal experience and/or knowledge of the brand. I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein.