When I first walked the West Highland Way in 2008, I could have not imagined that I would be doing it again nine years later. This week it will be more difficult than the first time but only part of that is due to having Parkinson’s. The bigger part is because I am about three stone heavier than I was the first time. My knees and feet will thank me for that, I’m sure. I was on Scottish television on Friday night with Jennifer Reoch, one of our patrons, talking about the West Highland Way walk. If I have been on my own, I would have consoled myself that it was the television making me look fatter. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to have the same effect on her.
Today we walk from Drymen to Rowardennan. The stretch includes Chronic Hill and under first encounter with the Bonnie Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond. It’s a long day but with a nice place to stop for lunch. It isn’t all bad.
There are 13 of us walking the whole way with others joining for odd days. The workers include some of my oldest friends, some people I have met through Parkinson’s and some people who I have never met at all.
In the order which I met them they are…
Edward Quigg – best friend from schooldays, best man, long time drinking chum, West Highland Way Walker 2008, Kilimanjaro climber.
Jane Quigg – the first of the sisters who haven’t really seen since I was at school.
John Bundy – work colleague from my Southampton days, West Highland Way Walker 2008, Kilimanjaro climber, grumpy bastard.
Judy Quigg – the second of Eddie’s sisters. The veterinary. The first time I met her was the day before I got married.
Karen McCartney – colleague, office manager, trusted adviser because she is always right, runner of 19 marathons and 7 marathons together, West Highland Way Walker 2008, Kilimanjaro climber, my right-hand woman.
Matt Howick – met at the nursery gates, trustee of the charity, roommate on these adventures, West Highland Way Walker 2008, Kilimanjaro climber.
Tony Hamill – former client, the person who makes me laugh most in the world, West Highland Way Walker 2008, Kilimanjaro climber.
Sharon Kane – former client, now the head of the charity, superstar.
Alan Oliver – the can-do man of the group. Met him in a park near where I live wearing a Prince William facemask. This time last year we were at the Hazletine Ryder Cup together.
Michele Hunter – Eddie’s girlfriend.
Liz & Mary – people I have yet to meet.
Let the walking begin.