One way

Hey, what’s up with you?

I’ve got a cold. It’s bad enough to make me feel miserable but not serious enough to warrant a day off work. A runny nose, an irritating but only occasional dry cough, a bit of a headache and sore throat. Nothing major.

The worst thing about having a cold now is that in one week’s time, I need to be fit and healthy to start walking The Way.

Yes, months have ticked by since I made the booking (September last year!) and the Way time is upon us.

This time next week, I will be eating breakfast at a hotel in central Glasgow, dressing in scruffty outdoor clothes, towing my suitcase out to Milngavie on the train to hand it over to the luggage transfer people.

There will be some photos under the sign “The Official Start of the West Highland Way”, and then walking.

A whole day of walking.

Followed by seven more whole days of walking.

I worry about this.

I worry that I’m not fit enough, that I haven’t done enough practice walks, that this cold won’t shift and I will be tired and breathless before we get near any hills.

I worry that my knee will give me trouble on the uphills or the downhills. I worry about what happens if one of us falls over or gets injured.

I worry about Conic Hill. I worry about the tricky section after Rowardennan that is described as a “lochside scramble”. I worry about the descent into Kinlochleven and the steep climb out the next morning.

One thing I am not worried about is the Devil’s Staircase. That ascent is apparently not as fearsome as its name implies. Phew! One worry off the list.

I worry that I won’t enjoy it.

This thing, this experience which I have wanted for years – decades even – here I am, about to embark on it. What if it’s not what I was hoping for?

But how could it not be?

I’m not expecting perfect weather. I know sometimes it will rain, or be overcast, or be windy. Or all of those things at once. But sometimes the sun will come out and light up the landscape and I will take a deep breath in and think, Yes, I am here at last.

(C) Paul Saunders Photography

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