Cicerone publishes guides to many far-flung and exotic locations which draw more and more visitors every year. Whether you put it down to the wonders of modern air-travel or an age-old instinct to explore, it seems we just can’t resist jetting off in search of adventure.
With so much on offer it’s all too easy to forget that our own little island can offer some fantastic adventures of its own.
The West Highland Way is the oldest long-distance walking route in Scotland and one of the most popular in the UK, with over 17,000 people making the trek from Glasgow to Fort William each year.
The path extends for 95 miles, past the peaceful waters of Loch Lomond, across the wilds of Rannoch Moor, and over the evocatively named Devil’s staircase.
Cicerone’s first guide to the West Highland Way appeared in 1997, after author Terry March first completed the walk. At that time I was, believe it or not, less than a decade old, but it wasn’t all that long before I too was to tackle the route.
My family were used to spending long days in the Lake District, but the West Highland Way was our first long-distance route. My siblings and I were not at all sure that 10 days in the Scottish highlands really constituted a summer holiday, but coaxed on by the promise of mars bars and crisps we slowly began to enjoy ourselves.
One of the ways that Mum and Dad kept up my enthusiasm for the walk, through man-eating midges and aching legs, was by telling me that, at 10 yrs old, I was undoubtedly the youngest person ever to tread those paths. Unfortunately this was a tactic employed by more than one set of imaginative parents – one 12 yr-old in Bridge of Orchy was particularly upset when I skipped into the B&B.
We had a great trip and, although we went on to higher and harder treks in years to come, memories of that Scottish adventure will remain some of the funniest and proudest that I have.
Next month the third edition of Cicerone’s guide to the West Highland Way will hit the shelves. It’s been fully updated and now describes the route from north to south as well as the more traditional south to north. The photographs are wonderful and the route description carefully and vividly detailed. But nothing beats seeing the landscape for yourself…