Preparing for The West Highland Way

My friend Michelle and I just walked 10 miles (16 km) as part of our 3 month training plan to walk the West Highland Way.  No matter what the weather (it’s still winter here in Toronto), we promised ourselves that every Sunday, and eventually every Saturday AND Sunday, we will do our “epic walks”.  The West Highland Way after all, is 96 miles in total, and we are booked to start our walk on May 19, 2015….ready or not!

The West Highland Way is a footpath in Scotland that runs from Milngavie (pronounced Mull-guy) in the south, to Fort William in the North.  It’s a self-guided walk in what promises to be breath-taking scenery.

The West Highland Way - it is strongly recommended you hike south to north to experience the dramatic and majestic scenery as it unfolds in front of you

The West Highland Way – it is strongly recommended you hike south to north to experience the dramatic and majestic scenery as it unfolds in front of you

There are a few ways you can do this walk.  You can throw all your gear on your back and wild camp along the way, or you can arrange for accommodations along the way that range from simple shelters, to hostels, to B&Bs, to hotels.  Michelle and I opted for the B&Bs.  As for our luggage, it will be shuttled from place to place as we strap on our day pack and walk.  Seriously, how civilized is that?

The West Highland Way is normally walked in 5 – 10 days, depending on fitness levels and/or the desire to take it slow and take it all in.  We decided to take 8 days.  Our typical day will consist of 12 miles walking, about 4 – 7 hours depending on the stops along the way, and the terrain on that particular day.

We hired Macs Adventure to arrange this trip for us.  For approximately $825.00 USD each, Macs has arranged and paid for our accommodations each night, as well as our baggage shuttle.  They mailed us our “kit” which included a map in a water-proof sleeve, a book about the Way, and some other printed brochures.

I can’t remember being so excited about a trip.  It’s like nothing I’ve ever done before.  We have 2 1/2 months to get ready.  That means shopping!  I’m pretty much set with footwear, backpack, rain coat, and hiking poles.  I consider these purchases an “investment” because I strongly believe this type of self-guided hike will become my favourite way to travel.  At least for as long as I have my health and I can put one foot in front of the other.

Deuter Futura 22 Backpack, Black Diamond Alpine Ergo Trekking Poles, MEC Alpine Ally Rain Jacket, Merrell Azura Mid Waterproof Hiking Shoes - stay tuned for reviews. And of course my 8 year old Lowa hiking shoes...tried and true

Deuter Futura 22 Backpack, Black Diamond Alpine Ergo Trekking Poles, MEC Alpine Ally Rain Jacket, Merrell Azura Mid Waterproof Hiking Shoes – stay tuned for reviews. And of course my 8 year old Lowa hiking shoes…tried and true

I think one of the coolest things about this walk is that the B & Bs and pubs along the way will offer true Scottish hospitality, and lots of food and drink to reward our efforts each day.  As Michelle describes it “a 96-mile pub crawl!”.

I’ll be sure to post lots of pictures, reviews and stories each day.

 

 

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