Remember after that great trip you just wanted to keep walking, well this couple decided not to do that but to change their lives forever. Moved to Skye and started a web based business about walking in the Scottish Highlands. Paul and Helen Websters own story. Food for thought.
Inspired by Nicolas Crane’s watershed walk across Europe we set off with a pair of Rohan Essential trousers (no longer made I think – although mine still have plenty of wear in them) and not very much else, to walk 4000 miles from west to east. Starting at Cape Finisterre in Galicia we were treated to three days of non-stop rain and then what seemed like 40 days of hot sun as we hurried to reach Pamplona in time for the running of the Bulls. The Spanish totally understood our need to get to the fiesta and would shake our hands, ply us with homemade wine and wish us on our way. The Pyrenees provided a fantastic mountain playground as we wound our way alternating between Spain and France and eventually across southern France to Italy where we made it to Rome, dodging fast cars on the approach roads, in time to hear the Pope’s Christmas address. After a ferry ride from Italy’s heal to northern Greece we spent an idyllic time hiking through the snow-bound passes of the Pindos mountains before the sun returned through the Peloponese; our year’s walk ended with a jump in the sea at the eastern end of Crete.
After such a trip, it proved impossible to go back to the 9 ’till 5. We would have kept on walking, but did the next best thing by setting up Walkhighlands.co.uk . The aim was to fill a gap with a website that would provide all the information needed when planning a walking holiday in the Scotland, including detailed walks to suit everyone. We moved to the beautiful Isle of Skye and the site was born in 2007; two years later it features over 800 walks with detailed descriptions, photos, large scale OS mapping, Google Earth fly-throughs, Gaelic mountain pronunciations, down loadable GPS routes and the comedy ‘bog factor’. 4,000 people now visit the site each day, many posting their own reports of their walking trips, photos, logging the Munros and other hills they’ve climbed, chatting to new friends and swapping stories. Of course, we now work dawn to dusk but its worth it!
We wanted to stick to the principle that everything on Walkhighlands should be free to use, and so the site is funded through accommodation and other advertisers as well as sponsorship from Quo mapping software and prizes for users’ reports from Tiso. We have also teamed up with Pocket Mountains to produce a series of walking guidebooks to some of the areas featured on Walkhighlands. The site is expanding rapidly with more routes, and we are trying to respond to all the ideas for the future provided by our users. Even though we are usually either up (separate!) hills, walking with GPS recording device in one hand and camera in the other, or spending long hours on the computers, our users are always in touch and its great to feel part of something that has become a community. Even on the days when we are stuck behind the computer we get to read loads of reports of people’s adventures in the fabulous Scottish Highlands.
Paul and Helen Webster Walkhighlands