It’s only been a month since our team of walkers from Branston Court set out on their epic adventure to walk the West Highland Way. The team, comprised of staff and young people from Branston Court in Glasgow and Quarriers James Shields project, set out on 6 days of walking in our unpredictable Scottish weather, but undeniably beautiful landscapes.
The West Highland Way is 96 miles in total, starting in Milngavie just outside Glasgow and ending at Fort William. Renowned for it’s challenges the team knew this would be a life changing experience, and they were right.
“It was brilliant, but tough as hell”
Having spent 16 weeks in training before hand the group set out as prepared and kitted out as possible, but from day one they were met with the challenges of nature. Rain and hail so heavy that bridges washed away, tracks and slopes turned into mudslides, and probably worst of all (Scotland’s number one enemy) the dreaded midge!
Incredibly though they tell the story of all these hard walking days with smiles on their faces. What they remember more than the rain, or the long days walking (8 hours and more) is the camaraderie between the group as well as their fellow walkers. “We were all in it together, we were all helping each other”; friends of friends offering boat rides when walking got too treacherous, bothy’s with honesty boxes provided by locals, a German couple helping to create a human chain to get people across a river, and walkers from all over Europe sharing their kit, as well as their moral support.
“If you can do this, you can do anything”
One of the best examples of this came from Branston Court support worker William, who told us about a particularly hard day where he was struggling to keep up with the main group. Walking alone and feeling disheartened, he realised he wasn’t sure which direction he should be taking. Growing concerned he headed to the nearest crossroad where there was a farmhouse he could ask for directions. As he got closer to the house he realised there was someone standing at the corner waiting. It was one of the young boys in the group, he had walked back just to find William – “No one gets left behind, that’s what you taught me in Branston” he said. They finished the rest of the walk to Tyndrum together.
Walking the West Highland way was not easy, but it was an incredible experience that will stay with everyone involved. Now, on reflection there is laughter about blisters and soaked through t-shirts, and fond recollections of the best steak pie supper ever eaten (courtesy of the chippy in Kinlochleven). It’s all been part of the once in a lifetime experience they shared together. We hope to continue offering this experience year after year, showing the young people we support what they are capable of, and that “if you can do this you can do anything”. We look forward to sharing with you all the adventures of the 2020 team.< back