The Camino Frances inspired Sue and me to backpack four more European distance treks, each with a unique personality. A closed sign greeted us at an ancient aqueduct as we left Spoleto, Italy on the Way of St. Francis in 2018. Part of the official path, the aqueduct was closed after a 2016 earthquake, forcing us to turn around and walk a lengthy detour. How many stairs are there on England’s South West Coast Path? We climbed and descended many of the 30,000 steps in 2019. Glaciers on the Mont Blanc massif frame our favorite accommodation on the Tour du Mont Blanc, Rifugio Elisabetta, in 2016. An ingenious drying rack was a godsend at the Lander Bed and Breakfast in Drymen on the West Highland Way in 2014. Our adventures on the four treks are featured in my second book, coming soon.
If you consider yourself a mountain aficionado, then the Buachaille Etive Mor might make you forget your other loves. Poised at the entrance to Scotland’s Glen Coe, The Buachaille, as Munro-baggers refer to it, is a highlight of the West Highland Way, should the weather permit it to show off. This photo of Sue on one of our favorite treks holds a special place in my memories of 1,100 miles of backpacking in six countries. The Buachaille and the West Highland Way are among the featured characters in my second book, coming soon.
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.
It may not look like it, but Sue and I saved the best for last. Soaked to the skin after our finish at Land’s End on England’s South West Coast Path, we were exhausted, but exhilarated. We had walked in horizontal rain that pounded us all afternoon, but it was a perfect ending to our near-monthlong backpacking trip. The trek is one of four adventures in my second book, due out soon. Write me through “contact” on my website (regspittle.com) to get early word when it is published.