West Highland Way 2008

Four Plus Baby on the West Highland Way - September 2008

Last year I promised my son, daughter and son-in-law to take them walking on a long distance path (LDP) in the UK. We all chose the West Highland Way because none of us had ever been to Scotland and the length fitted their time frame to be away from work. My son Peter is a physicist, daughter Naomi has an import business and her husband Chris is a psychologist, all living in California. I am retired, thank goodness. This will be my sixth LDP.

The WHW runs from just north of Glasgow to Fort William, about 95 miles and taking 7 days. We will take an extra day to climb Ben Nevis, 12 miles up and down and 4400 ft elevation. Then we plan on a train ride over to the coastal fishing village of Mallaig before returning to Glasgow. They will spend an extra day in Glasgow before flying home, and I will continue on to Carlisle for two days of walking Hadrian’s wall.

Meanwhile, after plans for the walk had been decided upon, a miraculous conception occurred last year on Naomi and Chris’s eight day trek in the Andes to Machu Picchu. Ergo, this September we had a 4 month old baby to accompany us on the WHW. Naomi insisted we not cancel the trip because of an extra 14 pounds to carry and feed, she could handle it.

This walk was going to be quite different from my solo LDP walks in past years. Suddenly, I had responsibilities. Frankly, it was quite scary having the little one along but I trusted my daughter to prepare well (which she did). For the first time ever, I booked accommodations through a booking service (Easyways) and had two bags transferred by Travel-lite. My son Peter and I carried our own packs. Naomi and Chris will alternate carrying baby Braylon (in an Ergo front carrier) and a daypack. The four of us each carried about 14 pounds. I would say we are about equal in walking ability, they have the edge in age (34 to 37), I have the edge in experience (70 years old). I have no worries about their fitness. Peter is a tri-athlete and has a black belt in karate. Chris is a consummate surfer and has a black belt in judo. To her credit, Naomi faithfully followed the walking program that I recommended. Chris neglected that part of conditioning to his regret. More on that later.

We all used frequent flyer miles to get to Glasgow from California, so our flight schedules were different. I flew from San Francisco and they flew from Los Angeles a day later, meeting at Queen St. Station in Glasgow for the short train ride to Milngavie and our first B&B on Sept 18. This was the start of the West Highland Way.

For a guidebook we used The West Highland Way Official Guide by Bob Aitken (w/map)
and a trail guide Naomi printed off the internet. We also purchased two Footprint maps from The Iron Chef store in Milngavie. These proved to be extremely convenient and useful for when we were separated. They were excellent maps as well.

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