Into the Wild

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Adam Boggon takes his body on an adrenaline adventure through the cold and windy Scottish Highlands.

Sweet Lord that was painful.” – I staggered across my room, slumped heavily onto my bed, and slept like a log for thirteen hours. A word of general advice, reader: it is probably not a good idea to try and cover ninety-five miles on foot in three days. It is too far and impossible to walk properly for a week afterwards. The West Highland Way is a long-distance footpath that snakes its way across moor and mountain from Milngavie, just north of Glasgow, up to Fort William, the largest town in the Highlands. My friend, Richard, and I tried to run it. An endeavor, which turned out to be roughly as psychotic and difficult as it sounds.

Setting out from Milngavie in the early morning rain, clad only in a pair of my dad’s old running leggings and a couple of base-layers, I must have looked like something between Bear Grylls and a really lost ballet dancer. Fortunately, we quickly made our way out of the town and into the wilderness, where at least there was no one to laugh at us. Within an hour, we found ourselves crossing a vast, desolate heath, reminiscent of something from Macbeth, and by lunchtime, we had made it to the shore of Loch Lomond. However, November days are short and we were still making our way up the eastern edge of the Loch after night had fallen. In the darkness, I lost the path, stepped knee-deep into mud, and trudged my way to the hostel, through the bracken in such an exhausted state, that I began rolling under fallen trees, rather than trying to climb over them. I managed to injure my right knee within a couple of miles of the day’s finish, which left me unable to run and meant that I spent the rest of the trip dosed up on about enough Ibuprofen to anaesthetize a small elephant.

The next day began with much aching and groaning, but with every passing mile, I was distracted from my complaints by the whole ragged beauty of the countryside stretching out before us. We passed from rolling lowlands, through thick forests, onto the high mountain passes near Ben Nevis. Many believe that you can only find adventure in far-off corners of the world. However, heading across the Rannoch Moor as night falls around you, or finding yourself at dawn, climbing out of Glen Coe over the ‘Devil’s Staircase’ in a snowstorm was a wild enough adventure for me.

On the third day, we walked through snow and wind for ten hours, until at last we limped over the crest of a small hill and saw the sea. We had made it. My feet were cut and badly swollen, my muscles ached; there were pains in parts of my body I barely knew existed. But we had made it.

All things considered, it had been a lot of real pain for an entirely artificial achievement. And still, I felt quite proud of myself. It had been a long way, and far more demanding than my physiology could handle. It had been cold and lonely; some might say rash and pointless. But it had been an adventure, and I loved it.

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