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West Highland Way 96 miles in 3 days
Following the loss of her dad to kidney cancer, Gail Robertson, along with the support of her mum and sister, decided to walk the 96 miles of The West Highland Way and created The Anchor Legacy in his memory. To-date Gail has raised over £8,000 from the walk and £14,500 through a Gala Ball. An amazing achievement. You can continue to support here on her JustGiving page
This is the blog of the walk.
Walk for A Cure – Anchor Legacy
Earlier in the year, I decided I would walk The West Highland Way in memory of my dad Stuart Scott who we lost to kidney cancer in 2016. Dad had completed this challenge and I was determined to do it for him to raise money to help kidney cancer patients and help fund research.
I’d intended to undertake this challenge with my husband Gordon and brother-in-law Seamus so was overwhelmed when five of my closest friends and family volunteered to join me.
Day 1 – Friday 6th October
We set off from Milngavie on Friday 6th October at 4.30am and with our head torches on, we were on our way. Friday’s weather was fabulous, and the sun shone most of the day. We made good progress and met Jim -who was driving our support vehicle – at the designated stops. First stop was Drymen, for comfort breaks and a quick snack to refuel.
We walked on to Rowardennan and arrived about 5pm and I were very pleased with our progress. Jim had made a delicious pasta for us which was just what we needed to keep us going.
Spurred on by our good timing, and news of our JustGiving totals rising we were feeling good and wondered what we had been worrying about!!
Darkness soon fell, and the rain started. The route was an altogether different place then, we had just over six miles to go until our first nights stop over at The Drovers Inn, Inverarnan. Those were the longest and toughest six miles I have ever experienced. Our normal pace, was four miles an hour and it was essential we stuck to this to even get close to achieving our goal.
The last section of the day was along the banks of Loch Lomond, the rain was pouring down and it was very marshy underfoot. We were clambering over tree roots, boulders and going up and down hills. Our pace dropped to just one mile per hour! Suddenly, we were all completely out of our comfort zone and the silence was deafening. It became a team joke that we had just one more mile to go!! Finally, at 11.30pm after walking for 19 hours, we arrived at our hotel. Jim our support said it was like watching fireflies in the mist when he saw us approaching. Thankfully, The Drovers, had a hot meal waiting for us. We were all slightly delirious, the walls filled with taxidermy and adult size statues, it was all slightly disconcerting.
Bed was beckoning, and we slept soundly.
Day 2 – Saturday 7th October
We woke to no power, heating, phone service or water, our clothes still wet from the night before; this was not as we had hoped for. We dressed in the dark, and set off without eating breakfast.
Our first 12 miles, were awful. We were all in pain from the day before, blisters, sore knees, pelvis and hunger had kicked in. The day
before we had been running all the down hills to gain us some time. This morning however it was agony and again our four miles an hour target was not happening.
We finally stopped for lunch at The Green Welly Stop, Tyndrum and were met by my mum, sister and the children; it was just the boost we needed! A hot meal, of what I can only say was the best Lasagne I have ever tasted hit the spot, a dose of painkillers, a comfort break and we were back on our way. The route that afternoon was much easier, and the weather went our way and it dried up. I can honestly say that we really enjoyed the afternoon walk, what a difference we felt after having a rest and hot food and the good weather.
Our overnight stay that night was the Bunkhouse at Kingshouse. It was warm, we had drying facilities and hot showers…..bliss! After a hot meal and a well-deserved glass of wine, we settled down in our bunk beds for the night. Unfortunately other walkers were partying, so sleep wasn’t an option!
Day 3 – Sunday 8th October
The last day, and what we called no pain day! We were almost there, our just giving total was steadily rising and this gave us a renewed aim!
After a hearty breakfast, we set off and were bracing ourselves for the renowned Devils Staircase, I was very apprehensive of this, and we had been forewarned about the steep climb we had ahead of us! But, we did it and survived! The devil’s staircase wasn’t nearly as bad as I had imagined, certainly compared to the pain of the first evening! Powered by pain killers, Jägermeister and the thought of seeing our loved ones, made the 3rd day easy! As darkness fell and we got the head torches out we reached the top of a hill, and in the valley, was the lights of Fort William.
Our pace went through the roof and before we knew it, we were back on pavements, street lights and nearly home. When we reached the town, my cousin Colin told us a fact he had promised to tell us the whole walk “you should measure your three days of achievement by considering that it is very similar to
what is expected of applying SAS personnel AFTER completing a 28-week long course which includes 10 two-day walks culminating in a three-day walk like the West Highland Way. Should you complete this as you all did, then you would be presented as suitable people with an organised and determined character.”
We had a few tears and a big team hug and then we marched on through the streets of Fort William arm in arm. We were met by all our loved ones, signs, champagne corks popping and lots of tears. This made every bit of it worthwhile.
It was tough and extremely emotional but cathartic for me, my dad had asked me many times to go walking with him and I was always too busy to go. How I regret that, but I felt dad pushing me through every step of that walk. The people I shared this experience I have made a lifelong bond with and I will cherish the moments we shared forever.