Seeing it All: Scotland and the West Highland Way
Scotland is truly a nation of plenty, and the West Highland Way is the perfect way to experience its staggering beauty. Despite being smaller than the state of Maine, Scotland packs a disproportionate amount of rich history, dramatic geological features, rugged stretches of coastline, and engaging tradition (not to mention whisky) within its borders. From the cultural hub of Edinburgh to the ancient stones of the Outer Hebrides, there’s much to see in Scotland. This past fall, I went to the land of the Scots to travel along the famed West Highland Way. [caption id="attachment_26072" align="aligncenter" width="900"] The majestic view over Loch Lomond from the West Highland Way.[/caption]
How Do I See it All?With the endless highlights in Scotland, I quickly discovered my biggest problem as an American with 10 days to travel. How do I explore this country without spreading myself thin or missing the parts that I’ve been so excited about? I was eager for the challenge and satisfaction of completing the multi-day, iconic West Highland Way. That said, I also wanted to see and experience more of the country after committing to a flight to Glasgow.
Macs to the Rescue.Lucky for me, my heroes-turned-co-workers at Macs Adventure came to my rescue. As my first experience with Macs and in the UK, I was happy to have their guidance and local knowledge. They built me a robust itinerary that encompassed the highlights of the West Highland Way, a historical trip through Loch Ness & its surrounding castles, the Highlands Capitol of Inverness, and two stunning days in the Perthshire at Blair Atholl. I could fully engage in each place that I visited as well as get broader sense of exploration & see more of this incredible country. Without Macs, I wouldn't have known to visit all of these spectacular places. [caption id="attachment_26073" align="alignnone" width="900"] Walking along the West Highland Way with advice from my heroes-turned-co-workers at Macs Adventure.[/caption] During my travels, it became apparent that my interactions as a solo traveler were just as important as my itinerary. I was welcomed with open arms at all of the B&Bs & country pubs that I visited, and I met some incredible fellow hikers along the route. There’s a genuine sense of camaraderie that transcends nationality or purpose on the West Highland Way. For this reason, there’s never a shortage of cheerful, curious new friends. Though I was traveling “solo,” I never felt alone. In fact, I got out of my comfort zone just enough to engage with my surroundings more than usual. [caption id="attachment_26074" align="alignnone" width="768"] My new West Highland Way friends, Mischa and Heike![/caption]
A Trip to RememberAs I drank my last pint of Scottish beer in Glasgow at the end up my trip, it was easy to marvel at how I was able to immerse myself into many of the ideas and dreams of Scotland that I had built up over the years. What’s more is that I did all of this without sacrificing the quality and authenticity of my experience. Though I could never pretend to see everything that I hoped to on my trip, I found the perfect balance. I achieved all of the aspects of travel that are important to me: a point to point itinerary, a goal-oriented adventure, some spontaneous discovery, and many relationships created along the way. Though one trip is never enough, my 10 days were the perfect pace and taste of this amazing country. I can't wait for my next visit. Take a look through our West Highland Way blog posts for advice and tips on this gorgeous Scottish trail. If you're interested in the itinerary featured in this post, take a look at our main tour of the West Highland Way, or contact one of our specialists, who will be happy to help you help you with your own West Highland Way adventure. Happy trails!
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