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Travellers' Tales: The Great Glen Way with Becky Witt

 
Becky Witt from Colorado walked Scotland's Great Glen Way in May this year. She shared the story of her walk with us, including a rather surprising method of permanently marking her achievement!
 

What is your walking history? 

I am from Colorado and love hiking in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. I also enjoy walking in my suburban neighborhood. I have done one long-distance hike several years ago on the Colorado Trail. The hike was a guided hike which consisted of ascending and descending mountain passes for six days which was about 90 miles. We camped at the end of each day and I had to carry a day-pack. Our tent/luggage was transported for us. 
 

Why did you choose to walk where you did?

My hairstylist walked The Great Glen Way a couple of years ago and loved the walk. She told me about how beautiful the highlands are, the flavourful food and the friendly Scots. Also, she said if I didn’t find anyone to walk it with me, then she would. This didn’t make sense  to me because there are so many countries to explore. But now, I get it. I, too, would walk it again!
 
 
Becky Witt and her travelling companion on the Great Glen Way
 

How did you prepare?

I started physically preparing for the hike five months in advance. I started walking about four miles a day, five days a week. I did one long walk on the weekend. I started at four miles and worked up to 14 miles, which was about two weeks before the walk. I started upper body weights five months in advance, once a week. On occasion I missed daily walks, the long weekly walk and lifting weights. I also started carrying my backpack on my last four long walks. I felt physically prepared for the walk and I was able to complete each day, feeling tired, but not exhausted. I did not have any blisters or injuries during the walk. At the end of each day, I did stretch. Mentally, I prepared by reading literature on The Great Glen Way, listening to podcasts about travel in Scotland and watching a couple of documentaries on Scotland. 
 
 
Becky Witt on the Great Glen Way
 

What was your favorite destination?

Truly, I had several favourite destinations. I loved walking in the big northern woods. The elms, oaks, maples and pines were majestic. I loved walking through the meadows seeing sheep and so many wildflowers blooming: foxgloves, thistles, bluebells, broom, gorse and poppies were a feast for the eyes. Also, there are so many unbelievable waterfalls and all different types of bridges. Of course, coming into Inverness and seeing the end trail marker was bittersweet, but a favourite.
 
 
The Great Glen Way
 
 
Great Glen Way waterfall
 
 

Best food & drink?

I had a variety of fish twice a day and sometimes three times a day. Whether it was salmon, haddock, or herring, and whether it was smoked, poached, fried or fresh, it was delicious. The salmon was so flavourful, creamy and rich tasting. I never tired of eating fish. Cullen Skink chowder was phenomenal. Also, I had the sticky toffee pudding close to every night, which was amazingly rich and sweet. 

I was not a Scotch drinker before I went, and actually did not like it at all. We went to the Ben Nevis Distillery in Fort William, where The Great Glen Way begins, and I learned how to drink it with one to two drops of water in the Scotch. I can now say, I like Scotch.

Also, every morning we asked our hosts to fill our thermos with hot tea and then we added Ben Nevis whisky honey, and that tasted wonderful during our mid-morning break!
 
 
Kippers on the Great Glen Way
 
 

Biggest surprise?

I had a couple of surprises. First, I had no idea how much self-care long distance walking gave me. I did not have headphones in for the walk and I was not on my phone at night. I truly was present in each and every moment. I read Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfections every night which gave me food for thought the next day. I had time to self-reflect about my career, family, friends and future travel for my wanderlust! I definitely had some insights which led to personal intentions.  

The second surprise was that you can walk in Scottish rain. It did rain most days, but a gentle rain and not for long. We were able to do whatever that day’s walk held in the rain and we did not get one midgie bite!
 
 
Walking in the rain on the Great Glen Way

Another surprise was that I tried haggis, kippers with eggs, bircher muesli and Scotch and that I loved them all. I wasn’t brave enough to try blood pudding - perhaps next time!

The last surprise was getting The Great Glen Way trail marker tattoo on my forearm!
 
 
Great Glen Way tattoo
 

What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?

The day we were walking into Spean Bridge during a heavy downpour, we missed the path and ended up walking on the paved road, which was a challenge. We did not read our route notes carefully the night before and took a wrong turn. We looked at the route notes later that night and yes, there it was very clearly spelled out, how to take the path and not the road. So, definitely read the route notes every night!
 
 
The end of the Great Glen Way
 
 
 

Travellers' Tales: Walking the Amalfi Coast

Amy and John from Minnesota are regular visitors to Europe's walking trails. This spring they decided to walk along Italy’s beautiful Amalfi Coast with Sherpa Expeditions. Here, Amy tells us a little about their trip.

 

What is your walking history?

My husband and I have been hikers and campers  in the mountains of the western US for many years, but after completing our first Sherpa Expeditions self-guided Tour of Mont Blanc in 2014, we have become ‘addicted’ to self-guided exploration in Europe . We return each year, this year twice, to travel in this fashion . When not traveling, I can be found regularly with our dog Lila on the trails of Minnesota’s county and state parks, and my husband can be found running them.

 

 

Why did you choose to walk where you did?

We chose to sign up for the 11-day Amalfi Coast trip for a variety of reasons. We love the sea and the mountains, it’s in a part of Italy to which we had never been, and we’re used to mountain hiking so we like to challenge ourselves. Also, spring options are somewhat limited for hiking where it is green and lush. 

 

 

How did you prepare?

We didn’t prepare specifically as we tend to work out on regular basis throughout the year - Nordic skiing in the winter, bicycling in warmer weather, hiking or running (ever so slowly) throughout the year. I have found regular yoga practice to be a great addition in helping my body to be ready. 

 

 

Your favourite destination?

I am not so sure I had a favourite destination, as I truly loved it all. Each town had its own personality, and each day of hiking offered different sights and sounds . We never tired of the ongoing sweeping views of the sea and of the towns nestled in the mountain-sides. From walking through, and by, the terraces of lemon groves on our first day, to finding our way through the forest above Praino to Boomerano and Path of the Gods, to our final day of hiking on Capri up to the villa where Emperor Tiberius indulged in his lascivious lifestyle, was all a delight. 

 

 

Best food and drink?

The best food was the incredibly tasty tomatoes, accompanied by what seemed to be freshly made mozzarella cheese. The swordfish I had three times was delicious, as was the lasagne in a bustling but casual small restaurant on a side street in Sorrento. I also can’t forget about the slice of cake from the coffee bakery / restaurant in Ravello that I carried in my pack for 3 days. 

 

 

Biggest surprise?

The biggest surprise to me is always the people I encounter along the way and the joy and pleasure these encounters bring me. I hope to again see Joan and Bob from Vermont who we initially met while hiking in the pouring rain, and will always remember the so very happy and friendly waitress at the restaurant adjacent to one of the hiking paths. 

 

Unique to this trip, my biggest surprise was just how many steps there could be to navigate, the incredible beauty of the area, and my amazement, given the terrain, that this area was settled in and developed in ancient times. 

 

 

What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?

My biggest challenge was my ‘failed’ rain jacket and getting soaking wet, mainly on day 3 of the hike. But of course, the day will always be remembered, especially the restaurant owner who gave us hair dryers with which to dry our boots.  Although this was a ‘really good’ jacket, I hadn’t re-tested it to see whether it was still water proof . 

 

 

Do you have any other advice for travellers thinking about travelling on this trip?

Test your rain gear, even the previously reliable apparel! 

 

Find out more about walking holidays along the Amalfi Coast with Sherpa Expeditions.

 

If you’ve been on a holiday with Sherpa Expeditions and would like to share your experience in a Traveller’s Tale, please email us. Or if you prefer, you can also leave a review of your trip on Google or Facebook.

 

 

Travelled with Sherpa? We want to hear from you!

Travellers' Tales

 

Have you been on a trip with Sherpa Expeditions over the past year? If the answer’s yes, then we’d love you to tell us, and the world, about your trip.

 

Here at Sherpa Expeditions we believe that our customers are at the heart of everything we do, and the best way to get a flavour of one of our trips is to read about the experience of someone who’s already travelled with us.

 

write a review

The easiest way to give feedback on your trip is to write a review on Google or leave a recommendation on Facebook. Either way, we'd love to hear your feedback.

 

Travellers' Tales

If you'd like to write about your trip in a little more detail, you could write a short account of your holiday - we call them Travellers' Tales. We’re not looking for a straightforward review of your experience like you'd write on a feedback form – we’d love you to include things like your reasons for booking on to a particular trip, your highlights, your lowlights and what sort of effect did the walk (or cycle) have on you, and your feet!

 

You could base your tale around the following questions:

 

1. What is your walking/cycling history?
2. Why did you choose to walk/cycle where you did?
3. How did you prepare?
4. What was your favourite destination?
5. Best food & drink?
6. Biggest surprise?
7. What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?

 

Your contribution will be published in the Travellers’ Tales section of our blog, and you’ll receive £50 off the next trip you book with us.

 

Not a writer? No problem!

We’re not looking for Shakespearean perfection – what’s important is that your tale comes from your heart, using your own voice. And if you’d like, you can always send us rough notes and we’ll help to turn them into a rounded article.

 

We can also send you a list of ‘interview’ questions to help you shape your story – have a look at this recent one by Jan from Australia and you’ll get the idea.

 

Travellers' Tales

 

Pictures paint a thousand words

Online blogs work best when there are some great photos alongside them, so please include your photos from the trip when you send us your story.

 

If you’d prefer to go down a more visual route, your tale could even take the form of a photo gallery with a caption accompanying each shot. Videos are great as well – we’re always looking for more video content so if you have anything suitable that you’re happy to share, please send it on to us.

 

Travellers' Tales

 

How to get involved

Please email [email protected] if you have something you’d like to send us, if you have any questions, or if you’d like us to send you a list of interview questions. We’re here to help, and we’re very happy to have a chat before you head to your keyboard.