Years ago, when our kids were in preschool, my husband and I had what seemed like a crazy pipe dream: Once a year, we would take a multiday hike as a couple. Turns out it was a crazy pipe dream. At least at the time. But last year, as empty nesters, we resolved to finally make it happen, despite the additional challenges posed by the pandemic.

Several months ago, however, we sensed an opening when booking flights to the United Kingdom, where our young adult children live. We’ve grown familiar with the island country, a relationship that started long ago when we lived there as a family. Though well aware of the country’s plentiful trails offering cozy inns and warm beds along the way, we had never had the chance to hike one.

This time, however, my husband and I plotted to disappear for four days to fulfill this old hiking dream. We decided on the legendary West Highland Way, which extends from Milngavie to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands, and we committed to walking the northern half of the approximately 100-mile trail known for its dramatic scenery.

Grazing cattle and verdant hills are a familiar scene along the West Highland Way, a 96-mile hiking route in Scotland.

(Kathryn Streeter / For The Washington Post)

This would be our first thru-hike, stopping each night and continuing in the same direction the following morning. We were also committed to carrying everything we needed on our backs rather than using a baggage transfer service. Having the right equipment was critical, and REI helped with my backpack fitting, so I wasn’t overloaded. Planning our dates and possible route, we leaned heavily on the recommended itinerary to lock in lodging for nearly 45 miles of hiking.

So it was that on a fine day in mid-September, with a bit of nervous energy, we began, arriving in Tyndrum by train. We’d read that, after Tyndrum, you couldn’t buy provisions for 28 miles, and my husband snapped up dozens of energy bars at a nearby convenience store to add to my stash of apricots and almonds.

The West Highland Way is identified well with its signature symbol, resembling the thistle, Scotland’s national flower.

(Kathryn Streeter / For The Washington Post)

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Source: https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/lifestyle/travel/story/2021-12-05/in-the-scottish-highlands-a-hiking-dream-fulfilled

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