When I first learned I would be taking a walking trip, I immediately envisioned a marathon event – and the picture was not a pretty one. I imagined long days focused on getting to the destination, enduring challenging climbs and seemingly endless roads and breathless moments where I worried I might not be able to keep up. It didn’t comport with my vision for how I usually go about exploring new places and sampling new cultures. However after two back-to-back trips with The Wayfarers Walking
Vacations in Scotland last June, I consider myself a convert to this form of travel. Whether in the Highlands or the Borders, we walked through time, deeply engaging with the historical and current culture of these distinct regions and then with each other in rich exchanges and heartfelt camaraderie.
Even as a travel photographer who has chased stories on remote trails and distant tarmacs for most of my years, the two trips were a bit ambitious: participants on these tours nearly always book only one itinerary at a time.
Averaging 10 miles a day, the tours are packed with gorgeous vistas, historical sites and local lore at every turn. Despite the beauty, however, it was the camaraderie kept us going. My fears to the contrary notwithstanding, competition was never in play. Everyone was supportive and each went at his or her own pace.
One person from each trip usually percolated up to the front of the line – intense walkers who took even the steepest passages with ease. Nor was age a factor; We had some life-long walkers whose walking sticks seemed natural extensions while they ventured forth, while others who were new to this mode of travel got to know their own bodies while exploring new surroundings.
S IS FOR SCOTLAND
If you come away with any memories in particular they will likely involve salmon, sheep and sky, whether in the highlands or borderlands. These include patient, solitary moments of fly-fishing along the Tay, Tummel and Tweed rivers. Who knew there are seven names for the seven stages of life for salmon?
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