Like so many romantic journeys from days of yore we begin our West Highland Way adventure on a train. The 07:37 from Aberdeen to Glasgow to be precise, followed by an as yet unbooked short jaunt on to Milngavie. We spot one other passenger – a lady of much more advanced chronology than us – carrying a rucksack and trekking poles.
“I wonder if she’s doing it as well?”
This is my first train journey in the UK and I’m well pleased that we’re leaving bang on our scheduled departure time. Rail service in the UK has a bit of a suspect reputation with frequent delays, cancellations and incidents of hooliganism, the latter of which I’m guessing will be less likely at this time of day. My apologies to those of you who are early morning train thugs for stereotyping.
I’m glued to the window for the whole journey to Glasgow, fascinated by the change in scenery as we gradually taper westward and away from the coast. Even the pair of cougars seated five rows ahead of us – who appear to have fallen in a Crayola box of makeup this morning, and who are talking so loud I can barely hear Steph sitting right next to me – can’t ruin my calm.
Purchasing our tickets for the next train on to Milngavie is a simple machine and bank card affair, though we have to go into the service centre to sort out which platform we leave from. Down the stairs to the lower part of the station and we’ve only got a fifteen minute wait for the train. The older lady with the rucksack and trekking poles from earlier is nowhere to be seen but there are definitely a few other folks who look like fellow walkers.
“Look at the size of that bag! Must be camping the whole way. That would be kinda cool, you think?”
“Uh, sure baby. You can carry the bag then!”
Glasgow to Milngavie goes by in a flash and we’re greeted by several welcome signs, directional posts, and rain. It takes but a few moments to wander into the pedestrianised area of town and find the famous obelisk marking the start of the trail. I must admit to finding it a bit odd that the start of Scotland’s premiere long distance trail is situated in a town centre and surrounded by shops such as Subway, Boots and Costa, but in a way it’s kinda cool. One of the main draws for the trail is the idea of escaping modern, urban Scotland and exploring the wild history and landscapes of the Highlands. We can’t wait to get started.
Actually, we’ll have to wait. Our walk starts tomorrow, and since we’ve arrived in Milngavie just past 11:00 we can’t get checked into the Premiere Inn quite yet.
“What do you want to do?”
“Guess we’ll have to kill some time in Costa. Caramel macchiato time, sweet!”
My efforts at ordering a caramel macchiato are stymied by the language barrier between myself and the barista (me no understand Glaswegian) so I settle for a vanilla latte. I suspect this won’t be the last such occurrence on the trip.
Interestingly enough there are two Premiere Inns within spitting distance (well, if you’re a really gifted spitter) of one another in Milngavie, but through an elaborate process of applied logic and deductive reasoning we pick the correct one to check into. By mere coincidence it happens to be the first one we come to.
“At the Premiere Inn we guarantee a good nights sleep or your money back. But, uh, just so you know there is a circus out back. They should be closing by ten or eleven. Enjoy your stay!”
I doubt the noise from a circus will be keeping us up tonight. We’ve got other things on our minds.
“What are we doing tomorrow?”
“What about the next day?
Hmm, on second thought, we’ve both got only one thing on our minds. Tomorrow, we walk.