Scotland’s West Highland Way has become one of the world’s most popular long-distance treks. Sue and I used Charlie Loram’s guidebook to plan our 96-mile walk from Milngavie (Mul-guy) to Fort William. We started in Glasgow, adding 10 miles to the official path.
Loram’s 53 hand-drawn maps were our favorite feature and the guide goes well beyond the usual narrative with many pages of information about accommodation (including camping), food, weather, and much more.
Paul Bissett’s journal of his Highlands walk, From Milngavie to Midges, would work well as a companion to Loram’s guidebook. Bissett completed the walk in just six days and admits he should have taken longer. He offers alternative itineraries and websites that would help hikers plan their walk. His narrative is an easy and quick read.
If you are as fortunate as we were with Scotland’s unpredictable weather, the Highlands walk will unveil spectacular scenery unlike any other. And, if you want to keep going, the Great Glen Way extends the trek to Inverness along the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness.
On his 100th birthday, Allan Karlsson climbs out of the window of his Swedish nursing home and makes a run for it. Actually, as most people his age would do, he shuffles off to an adventure that leaves readers to decide if he is a hero or a bumbling fool.
Take a deep breath for the title: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson. Karlsson’s daring escape from his caretakers quickly becomes the least surprising of his actions in this ridiculous, but charming story. His life becomes linked with an unlikely collection of co-conspirators, shady criminals, and law enforcement officers. Millions of crowns, several killings, explosions and an elephant named Sonya all play roles.
If you are a history buff, you may be intrigued by his connections to Harry Truman, Mao Tse-tung, General Franco and Joseph Stalin. And explosives. Then there is his role in the development of nuclear weaponry.
At the beginning of the story, I turned pages as fast as I could. I got bogged down a few times in the flashbacks to his earlier exploits, told in perhaps too much detail. But if I live to be 100, I know I will share Allan Karlsson’s desire to do the unexpected, to defy those who think they have me figured out. I just hope those who follow me are as curious about my fate as I was about Allan Karlsson’s.
As 2020 is ushered out the door, author David Smart wins my applause for writing the best book out of the 50 or so I read this year.
As a distance trekker, I am in awe that he walked more than 2,600 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mexican border to Canada. He earns his trail name, Stayin’ Alive, many times over. As a fellow writer, I admire his honesty and entertaining narrative. He earns my hope that this is not his last book (nor distance trek).
If circumstances again keep me from a distance trail in 2021, I will pick up The Trail Provides: A Boy’s Memoir of Thru-Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, for an adventure that will not feel as vicarious as it is.
Check out my review here.