The long haul

Freedom. We all crave it sometimes. Freedom from the daily grind; freedom from work; freedom from our worries and cares.

For us, the surest way to feel a sense of freedom has always been to travel. There’s nothing like strapping a rucksack on and knowing that its contents are all you will need, and all you can call your own, for the next few weeks (longer if you are lucky). We’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced that feeling many times over the years, and it still brings a thrill to feel that physical weight on your shoulders lifting the figurative one from your soul.

Backpacking trips are fun, but the purest form of escapism is the long distance trek. Setting off, you can only take what you can comfortably carry on your back or you will suffer. Wet weather gear, cold weather gear, normal walking clothes, maybe one good shirt for days off, a sleeping bag, a sleeping mat, tent, stove and pots and pans if you have to camp, and the toiletries that always seem to weigh the most all need to be crammed in. On top of that, you have to carry whatever food and water you need. It soon adds up. Over the years we have learned the art of weight reduction. You soon discover how few socks, pants and tops you really need!

To get that feeling of liberation which a trek brings, you don’t have to walk for weeks. There are, of course, monster walks like the Pacific Crest Trail in the USA taking six months to walk in full, if you have the stamina. Nearer to home, though, continental Europe is criss-crossed by a network of waymarked GR routes. They go all through the Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites and other mountain ranges and many of the treks can be completed within a two week holiday.

Nearer home, Scotland has its famous West Highland Way. We also have the Great Glen Way and the Cape Wrath Trail. Both of them pass our front door (follow the Invergarry Link and Great Glen variants). So maybe we’ll see you soon. It might be at Saddle Mountain or it might be on the trail somewhere in the world. Wherever it is, we can all share the sense of freedom which comes from joining the long haul.

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