The rich colors of Scotland are something I've never seen before. Around every bend is an image from a fairytale or the epic novels of Tolkien. When we first arrived in Glasgow the taxi ride leaving the city felt as if I was going through the rolling farmlands and dispersed wood of Wisconsin. It wasn't until we started heading north that I felt like I was leaving the country. As the road started twisting, the green and purple mountains pierced through the misty sky and I knew I was in a new magical frontier, the place of Lock Ness and Braveheart.
Based on what I had read I was prepared to see hills but the word hill is a gross understatement and an injustice to the landscape of the Highlands. These were mountains, maybe not mountains to rival the altitude of the Rockies but the gains in altitude with the wild colors on the rocky faces was just as impressive. Ben Nevis, the tallest peak in mainland Scotland, stands at 4400 feet and I feel it is similar to climbing some of the peaks of Colorado. To put it in perspective the altitude of something like Longs Peak, in Estes Park, is just over 14,000 feet but the climb doesn't start till about 9,500 feet. Ben Nevis startas at about sea level. I guess what I am trying to portray is that the difference in these mountains is mere altitude for feet gained is similar, so if standing at the base of either of these hikes you will have roughly a similar experience minus the breathing factors of altitude. I only say all this because the 30 mile hike we had planned was a bit more labor intsive than we had prepared for. Maybe lack of reasearch on our part and we were hiking in mountains with 35 pound packs not hills and so the leisurely stroll I had in mind was not there at all!
Another mistake we made was lodging. We ignored the travel books warning that lodging was difficult and during the peak season you needed to book in advance. When Charlie and I travel we are very bohemian about it and well this time we paid dearly. By paid I mean we paid 3 times what the hotels should have costed had we done even the slightest bit of planning. Then again this is adventuring and if you plan it all out where is the surprise.
Over all the part of the West Highland Way we tracked was amazing. A beautiful place of dreams with more waterfalls that one can count with kind people all along the trail putting one foot in front of the other proving to themselves that they can make it through the elements to the finish.