A Winter Pilgrimage
THE WEST HIGHLAND WAY, JANUARY 2022
WRITTEN BY JOSH
I love stripping down to a life based on meeting our most simple of needs and being surrounded by the wild. Stocked up with delicious food from @firepotfood (our incredible food provider @itsthelivingproject) and carrying all we needed for a good few days of solitude, we headed to Scotland to see what the West Highland Way had to offer in Winter. For my adventure buddy and I it was our first self-sufficient multi-day expedition in a long time, and it felt good to stride out into proper weather, wondering what was to come. After all, temperatures were hovering around 0 degrees and there were few, if any folk about once we left suburban Milngavie and began…
As we hiked we were treated to driving rain, snow storms, incredible views, big red deer, birds of prey, and those magical rare clear blue skies that appear every now and then over the mountains. Pitching camp in empty forests or by lochs, we shared our long dark nights with the owls and the creatures around us. Sharing it gave us the time and presence to really connect and explore together. Sounds dreamy huh…..
Another reality is that it was hard. When things are continuously wet, your feet are hurting and you forget to look up - the mind games are more than half the adventure! Although we ended up having to stop before we completed the West Highland Way thanks to a nasty foot injury on my part (I’m fine), it was magical to be out in the wild and sleeping wherever we found ourselves at the end of the day. With time and reflection the gratitude for such powerful experiences finds itself in a magical remembering that the wild and its weather is simply ‘there’, and it’s up to us to find our place in the elements. This always feels like a gift – whether that’s in the mountains or some other place that reminds us of our spot in a natural system. Sometimes we’re prompted to hunker, and sometimes to dance…
When we did make the decision to stop we were somewhere pretty remote. Stumbling back down the trail to a little closed hotel (everything’s closed this time of year) we were greeted by a magic human who welcomed us in, and promptly set about driving us all the way back to where we’d left our car! A special example of the kindness that exists among humans in these wild places - and we experienced all the time. It’s always something I’ve treasured about adventure around the world - the kindness of strangers - and here it was all over the place on our little island. What a tonic.
While overseas expeditions have been and will hopefully remain an important part of my life, and the lives of others (what a privileged way to explore the magic of difference and universal humanity), this experience was yet another reminder that we don’t need to adventure overseas for these valuable lessons - Wild nature, adventure, and learnings from ourselves and other humans exist here on these islands. My January adventure to disconnect and re-connect while remaining on this Island has inspired my continued commitment to empowering others on these valuable adventures. It’s what we’re all about at The Living Project, and our supportive approach aims to enable you to explore the magic that awaits. I hope you’ll join us in the Wild this year and inspire yourself through adventure.