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West Highland Way anniversary celebrates 40 years of memories and looks ahead to bright future

40 years of memories and stories from Scotland’s most popular long-distance walking route from Milngavie to Fort William will be celebrated in an online anniversary exhibition.

The West Highland Way celebrates its 40th anniversary today (6th October 2020) with the launch of this specially created online exhibition as part of a wider project drawing in investment to support the future of the route for years to come.

The route is completed by over 40,000 walkers every year and the figure is more than doubled by those that also enjoy walking short sections.  To celebrate its milestone birthday, the public has been contributing to the content of the exhibition by sending in stories, photos, videos and heart-felt moments from their time spent on Scotland’s most popular long-distance route.

The virtual exhibition will cover the 96 mile route, looking at milestone moments over the last 40 years.  Walkers, runners, cyclists, charity fundraisers and the route’s fans from across the world have contributed their stories.  There will be memories from those who walked the route in the early 1980s and adventurers who have tried to beat time and speed records right through to children as young as seven who have walked it this year.

Jimmie Macgregor, now in his 90th year and who inspired many people to walk the West Highland Way through his radio and TV programmes, plus spin-off books, during the 1980s and 1990s has given an exclusive interview and provides the welcome to the exhibition.

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Jimmie Macgregor (Photo: Paul Saunders)

Features also include stories of marriage proposals, charity events in memory of loved ones and people who have enjoyed the route multiple times.  The West Highland Way has attracted painters, poets and musicians too and the exhibition attempts to capture a flavour from all those who have found it inspirational.

The celebration is part of a wider West Highland Way project, funded by the Scottish Government’s LEADER programme, to support the future upkeep of the popular route by drawing in further investment and exploring income generation opportunities.  The project aims to ensure the long-term economic sustainability of the West Highland Way, in its anniversary year, and the rural businesses and communities that depend on it.

Kenny Auld, National Park Recreation, Access and Health Manager and Chair of the West Highland Way Management Group, said: “The online exhibition and film captures the spirit of 40 years of the West Highland Way.  You can sit back and enjoy the show from the comfort of your home and be inspired by the many people who have walked the 96-mile route. See the changing weather, enjoy the stunning scenery and wildlife, read the personal stories behind the walk and hear about the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into individual experiences, from the early 1980s to the present day.

“The exhibition may encourage you to plan your own West Highland Way adventure. Some people start by walking short sections and develop the confidence to walk the entire route to feel the exhilaration of completing a challenge. The health and well-being benefits that the Way has brought many over 40 years cannot be over-estimated and the quality and variety of the landscape brings people back year after year.

“As well as celebrating its popularity over the year, the 40th anniversary is also a chance to draw in future support and investment in Scotland’s first long-distance route and ensure it remains an experience that can be enjoyed by future generations.”

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Kenny Auld celebrating the 40th anniversary with local piper Murray O’May (Photo: Paul Saunders)

The online exhibition, also featuring a short 40th anniversary film, will be accessible via the website from 6th October.  Later this year, a few touring exhibits will be shown at various locations along the West Highland Way between Milngavie and Fort William until spring 2021 to enable even more people to be inspired by this iconic route.

For further details and access to the 40th anniversary exhibition, please visit the official West Highland Way website.

WHW-marker-at-Loch-Lomond

(Photo: Paul Saunders)

Notes to editors: 

For further information or photos, please contact Jane McGeary, WHW Business Development Manager on 01389 722008 or whw@lochlomond-trossachs.org.

The West Highland Way (WHW) is managed by the Highland, Stirling, Argyll & Bute and East Dunbartonshire Councils plus Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, which is the group’s lead body.

The West Highland Way, Scotland’s much loved long distance route, is celebrating its 40th anniversary on 6th October this year backed by funding from the LEADER programme.

The West Highland Way project is funded by the LEADER programmes of Forth Valley and Lomond, Argyll and the Islands, and Highland. LEADER is funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Scottish Government.

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