After meeting my good friend Sam in Glasgow we head out to Milngavie to walk the first stretch of the West Highland Way. I’m used to covering reasonable distances carrying my backpack, but I must admit, after 13 kilometers I’m pretty beat. And hitchhiking to Stirling feels more my pace.
I was supposed to have a place to spend the night, but I can’t get in touch with my host. My ride into town rents out a spare room on Airbnb and gives me her number telling me that today it’s occupied but maybe tomorrow she can help me. I find a hostel in town but it’s full. I go outside the door and slump down on the sidewalk to check my phone for options. I could walk to the outskirts of town and camp for the night, but that would mean walking down, and tomorrow morning walking back up, a steep hill. Just as I’m getting desperate the hostel worker opens the door and tells me that they’ve opened up an unused room and I get a eight-bed dorm room to myself.
I reach out to my cousin in the Highlands who invited me to stay with her a few weeks ago and ask her if I can come a bit early. Due to some family stuff I’ve never had much contact with her, and the last time I actually saw her was at her wedding. So I was pretty happy with her invitation. In the morning I visit the castle, a central place for Scottish history, before meeting my cousin’s husband.
It’s nice to be with family – somehow things just feel more natural. There are things we don’t have to explain to each other and it’s always interesting to recall shared memories. I stay at their place for four days, but it seems much shorter as we take trips through the countryside, watch TV together and have long conversations.