taking the slow road

West Highland Way, Devils Staircase

We’ve recently taken a little time out to walk The West Highland Way in Scotland. We packed our waterproofs, woolly hats and gloves but the weather was so glorious that we walked in shirt sleeves every day. The route took us ninety-six miles from Milngavie (just north of Glasgow) along the banks of Loch Lomond, across the wilderness of Rannoch Moor, up the Devil’s Staircase and into Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis.

West Highland Way Glen Nevis

Sometimes the path was broad.

West Highland Way

Sometimes we had to scramble up a few rocks.

West Highland Way Loch Lomond

But wherever we walked, the views were amazing and very different from home. Somehow, walking makes me feel part of the landscape as opposed to driving, when everything flashes by and I feel I’m just watching it.

mossy stones on West Highland Way

It was a great chance to get away from everything; to stretch out on a rock in the sunshine and do nothing at all for ten minutes; to dip toes in the pool at the bottom of a waterfall (very quickly because the water was very cold); to eat enormous breakfasts; to wonder when we’d next see a fresh vegetable on our plates; to slow down and simply enjoy “being”.

And after seven days of walking, we jumped on a train that took just four hours to return us to the start. Suddenly life was back at full speed. Bother.

There are some brief walking notes here, should you be thinking about making this walk.

42 thoughts on “taking the slow road

  1. That is fabulous. I wish we had the stamina to do that, it’s a fantastic part of the world especially off the beaten track like that.. well only a little beaten. You couldn’t have picked a better week for weather either. I’m very envious.

  2. Anne, what a wonderful trip and thankfully you had great weather, we would love to walk here and the train journey back must have been very scenic too.

  3. Wonderful! I’ve thought about that route a few times myself, perhaps this will nudge me into action – now that the girls are getting older, it might almost be a possibility!

  4. How lovely. We try to go to the Lake District once a year and have been taking our children on longer and higher walks as they get older. Last year we took our dog, too, and walked and climbed quite a high fell which was completely elating. Walking and being in such beautiful places is restorative. It’s a shame we have to return to everyday life.

  5. But what a wonderful seven days before “returning to the rush of reality”.

    One of my dream destinations…

    1. I was surprised how many Americans flew over just to do the walk and then fly straight home again. Didn’t meet with any Canadians though.

  6. My husband and I both love to hike and your hike looks gorgeous. I would love to learn more about it. Was this one of those trips where you overnight in hotels and your belongings are being transported? Where can I get more information? Thank you

  7. Looks wonderful Anne, enjoyed just looking at the scenery in your pics – I bet being in it/dipping your toes in it was brill.

  8. I was in Scotland — goodness, nearly 20 years ago — 1998. It was beautiful, but we didn’t get to Glasgow, though we were in Fort William at one point. This walk looks wonderful and I like the idea of having someone else take care of the bags! Very relaxing and downright genius.

  9. Your pics are wonderful Anne – very evocative and the scenery up there is just so beautiful. Like you, I like to walk in a landscape in order to encounter it close up so to speak – somehow walking without being against the clock and with nothing to worry about other than where the sunniest spot might be to choose for a breather or whether the water in a mountain stream is too cold for paddling and deciding it isn’t, is a very restorative way to spend time. Perhaps GPs should prescribe it! I know what you mean about coming back to everything in a flash but it also means you could go back in a flash too! You made me laugh about the rare sighting of a fresh vegetable – a bonus to enjoy coming back to your own wonderful vegetable garden again though! E x

    1. If I was in charge of the country, I’d make everyone leave their workplace for an hour half way through the day so they could eat a proper lunch and take a stroll in an open space.
      All meat pies and lasagne to eat! I was craving a salad by the end of the week.

  10. Oh how lovely. I have seen parts of the West Highland Way but never actually walked any of it! Taking note of the company you used for the future.

    1. There were lots of families at the weekend just walking a short stretch. Thought of you when we were in Glasgow; we really liked the city.

  11. You were lucky with the weather indeed – it’s been freezing, raining and hail stoning over the past few days up here!

  12. wow – thank you for taking us along with you, thru your words and photos. just breathtaking. many many years ago when I was in Scotland I did walking, and your photos take me back to that magical time across an impressive landscape.

  13. Those are such beautiful views. What a wonderful thing to do on a nice warm day. I can see it being very relaxing. After 7 days of walking though you must either be really fit or really tired.

  14. What a wonderful walking holiday you had Anne. Your pathways remind me of walking up Scafell Pike a couple of years ago, dragged by my brother. It was stone steps much of the way, and scree, but coming back down those steps my legs turned to jelly….I wonder that I ever reached the bottom! It was fantastic though.

  15. Turning up very belatedly to say, that all looks rather marvellous. Here’s hoping the holiday feeling lasted for a while once you were home, despite your rapid return to the hurly burly of your everyday.

  16. You narrate it so well, with words and pictures..and it becomes alive in ma mind. Great work especially on the pics. they are therapeutic and the landscape is very beautiful

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