I’ve been talking about it for years and years, Husband has got sick of me talking about it but doing nothing about it.
“Just book the bloody thing,” he said, “and then you can stop talking about it.”
What am I referring to? The West Highland Way, of course, one of the UK’s more famous hiking paths. It runs 96 miles (~150km) from the outskirts of Glasgow, beside Loch Lomond, across Rannoch Moor, through Glencoe and finishing in Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis (the UK’s highest mountain).
I sat down last weekend and booked the accommodation (because I may be many things, but I am not a long distance hiker who likes to camp).
The Way is very popular, but it also travels through some remote places, where hotels, B&Bs and even simple bunkhouses are thin on the ground. The first step is to work out your route (we are taking a relatively slow 8 day journey) and where your overnights will be, and then get booking.
Having been a lurking member of the West Highland Way Facebook group for some years, I know that Inveroran and Inverarnan are not just similar sounding, but also both difficult to get accommodation. So we start there, and work outwards to the top and bottom of the Way.
It takes a chunk of the evening and a few follow ups the next day, but we are all booked. I can’t pull out now or I lose all those deposits.
When are we going?
Still some time away, but people do book months in advance. I don’t know how many rooms the Inveroran Hotel has in total, but they only had two available for the night we are passing through.
The other good thing about booking so far in advance is it gives us time to practice waking long distances. We have time to build up from 4-5 miles this month with the aim of being easily able to handle 12 miles by March next year.
It’s not just one day of distance we need to practice, it’s going out for long walks on both days of the weekend, to get our bodies used to being sore and tired, and then to get up in the morning and keep on walking.
Because once you start, there is no stopping. Some places are so remote there’s no public transport. If you start across Rannoch Moor and you get caught in horizontal rain or snow, there is no option but to keep walking to the other side. There’s no road, there’s no Uber.
Because you can’t predict the weather – this is Scotland after all, and Scotland in the spring, with all and any weather possible. We could be hiking through rain and snow and sunshine all in the one day.
One thing we won’t have, hiking in April, is midges: small but highly impactful bitey insects that are the scourge of the Scottish summer. Snow and rain against inhaling swarms of mosquito like insects up your nose… I’ll take that.