Chapter 1: At Glasgow Queen Street station
When I ask Walter to go with me on the Great Glen Way, he immediately agrees and I am surprised. Walter is an experienced climber: he has climbed more than 200 mountains in Scotland. But he hasn’t done a long-distance trail before. Also, he has his own business, so he is very busy.
‘When do you want to go?’ he asks when I call him.
‘The second week of August,’ I reply.
‘I am going to Cyprus with my wife and son, but I will be back at the start of August. How long is the walk?’
‘Nearly 80 miles.’
‘How long does it take?’
‘Five or six days.’
‘Okay,’ says Walter. ‘Let’s do it!’
A few weeks later, Walter and I met in Glasgow Queen Street station. Walter had our train tickets to Fort William, the start of the Great Glen Way. With our heavy rucksacks on our backs, we shook hands. Then we sat, had coffee, and waited for our train to arrive. We talked about our families. Walter’s son’s broken leg was healing well. My wife was visiting her family in India. We also talked about how quickly time passes. When we were high school kids, we went climbing together many times. The last time we went into the Highlands together was more than twenty-five years ago. Now we were nearly fifty years old. Could we walk so far? A few weeks before, another friend of ours quit the West Highland Way because his knees were too sore. Would our knees be strong enough? Would we finish the walk? We were determined, but sometimes that isn’t enough.
‘Can I do it? Can I finish the walk?’
Neither Walter nor I asked the question, but we both thought it.