West Highland Way
"Be the Troll You Want
to See in the World"
155 KM/96 Miles, 7 days, Scotland, United Kingdom
The West Highland Way is full of people, pubs, cold air, and rocks (that sometimes are big and go up real high, aptly named 'The Highlands'). Started this trail dreading the idea of walking beside, around, and behind hundreds of hikers as they attempt the very thing I am attempting - to not die in Scotland.
But that changed as I walked along, throwing in the towel of solitude and trading it for the towel of sharing memories with cool humans (Phoebe, and Bryony! And more!). It's actually nice to walk on a trail with so many more people for once. I can really connect with other people if I stop forcing something to be what it's not, and just look around myself and take it for what it really is: a treadmill in the woods.
I metamorphasised like a cold grumpy caterpillar into a positively human loving willowy brittle butterfly, only managed to injur my knee on the second last day, soaked all my clothing (well, nature soaked my clothing) and realised I needed non-soaked clothing to sleep in overnight as to not do the whole dying in Scotland thing, and laughed at the mountains as I strolled at their bases for 7 days. Although the WHW does go up one large hill on a section named the Devil's Staircase (so dramatic), because Scotland is 50% poets with whimsical lyrical minds and 50% other poets, killed by the first set of poets, in Clan wars, most likely on the Devil's Staircase.
I was surprised by the toughness of the experience for a trail that's notoriously accessible. To get me through the tough times, and really, just along with me for almost the entire journey, were Phoebe and Bryony. Two solo hikers, brandishing their witty silliness and passion for walking in equal measure, not being afraid to show their authentic feelings about their days, and overall being their warm, full selves and allowing me to do so as well. The trio of us assumed the name of The Hiking Trolls; sleeping under bridges and very much accepting the scraps/free pints of the well-off human hikers surrounding; which there were many of (thanks guys!). To this day we are still friends. Once in a while we meet up at bridges, counting the tolls we've collected over the months gone, and reminisce about that time we went on a week long pub crawl through the Scottish highlands.
I loved it, it drained me, I hated it sometimes, I lived for it, it gifted me friends, it gifted me almost dying, I sometimes likened it to a 'gentle stroll in the park' only for it to immediately smack me in the face with a handful of gorse, grab me by scruff of my neck, stare into my eyes with the ferocity of a Glaswegian who was just asked "to speak English", and whisper, "Och no, this is Scotland, ya daft edjit." So, you know, all the normal hiking emotions. Enjoy!
xoxo, The Gay Man Walking