I did a lot of it when I was in the Girl Scouts and even taught camping skills, when I was in High School, to other troop leaders. During the summers I would go to camp for the hiking/backpacking and canoeing trips. It was during this time that I started to hike the Appalachian Trail and did large sections of it in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. I always had the dream to walk the entire thing, all 2,190 Miles through 14 states but alas it never was to be, though I have friends who have done it.
Fast forward 50+ years and here I am planning for my retirement, next year and my sister and I were exchanging emails about what we would want to do and I said that I really only wanted to travel to Japan as this was one place I really wanted to visit but have not, yet. Another thing I wanted to do was to visit my friend Elisa, in Scotland, as we have not seen each other in almost 10 years; we were to visit almost 7 years ago and then I got shingles and when I was better and about to visit her she got them; then we moved to Texas so everything go put off.
In the past when I would visit Elisa (she takes many pictures that you see here on the website, by the way) I would go for 2-3 weeks and then in the middle of the visit take a side trip - Inverness, Aberdeen, Montrose, as a way to see other areas. She lives in the Northeast of Scotland south of Peterhead if you want to Google it. For the trip that got cancelled I was going to visit Glasgow and do a deep dive into Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow School of Art which sadly burnt down in 2018.
Well, if I am going to retire next year why not plan a BIG trip to visit! So when I thought what would I want to do as a side trip? I thought about how when we started taking trips to the UK, I learned about Offa's Dyke Path which is along the Welsh/British border and thought it would be a great thing to do. Up in Scotland there are many walking trails and I started to research them. I could walk around Loch Ness but there's not a lot of other things do along the way; I looked at a walk in the Orkneys to see Skara Brae and other neolithic sites but getting to/from there without a car is not easy with bus, train, and ferry connections. I then looked at the Speyside Way a walk along the River Spey and though Whisky country or should I say heaven! It's 65 miles excluding a few side spurs and loops and can be walked in about a week.
And how does one do such a walk.. is it backpacking or something else? Well you can backpack it but you can also do it much easier via walking with what is called a self-guided tour. This you can arrange your self or contract with a company that arranges EVERYTHING - B&B's each night along the way and transport your bag from place to place; you are provided all the maps you need; a list of things to visit along the way; and you get breakfast at each B&B plus the opportunity to have them pack you a lunch for the day's walk if you can't get to a shop to pick up supplies. After much research, I contacted several tour companies and started to get pricing.
BUT how many distilleries can one really visit.
It was on one of the tour companies website that I found the Moray Way - one of the lesser known walks that combines parts of the Speyside Way, the Dava Way and the Moray Coast Trail. It's 100 miles round trip and it can be walked in anywhere from 7-9 days depending on how many miles you want to do per day which can be an average of 13.5m for the 7 day version or 10.5 miles on the 9 day version - 1 day at 14, 2 days at 13 and 12 and 4 at 9 miles or less.
Looking at the trail and what is along the way, yes there are distilleries but also a cooperage, Caledonian woods, bag pipe makers, weavers, potters, standing stones, old viaducts and railway lines, shore line with dunes, caves, and more. I was in and went for the 9 day/10 night trip. Additionally Elisa and Mike (her shop elf) can drive me to and from the starting point YIPEEE.
It took almost 2 months to sort this all but I have booked the tour and made my plane reservations for next summer with the hope that COVID-19 won't interfere by then.
Now I need to get my ass in gear and get walking! I plan on increasing my milage so I can do 13 miles a few times before I leave; possibly signing up for a half-marathon as motivation.
Stay tune for more updates.