"For serious walkers" Scotland Local Custom Tip by thinking

Scotland Local Customs: 117 reviews and 163 photos

What brings this group here is the Scottish Borders Festival of Walking, a weeklong event in its 10th year. Most of the 200-plus participants come from Scotland and England, with a few from the Netherlands and Denmark.

Some have been lifelong walkers. Others began in midlife, when the nest emptied out. Still others took up long-distance walking only after they retired. Whatever their timetable, one thing is clear: For most, this annual festival counts as only part of their walking routine. Again and again during the week, festival participants talk about their local walking clubs back home.

They speak proudly of the Pentland Ramblers, the Zed Club, the Over-50 Club, and the Hymooth Hikers. Some groups hike eight or nine miles on weekends. Others meet on weekdays for two- or three-mile walks, ending with tea or a pub lunch. In the Scottish Highlands, a church-based club, the High Kirk of Dunoon, goes for short walks after Sunday services.

"Do you belong to a walking club at home?" festivalgoers often ask the only American attending the event. "No," is her standard reply. "We don't have many of those in the States."

As if to underscore the difference between the two countries, an Englishwoman attending the festival tells a funny story about a friend who visited the US, eager to explore on foot. After much searching, she heard about an organized walk. On the appointed morning, she eagerly pulled on her hiking boots and showed up, only to discover that it was simply a mall walk - indoors, around stores and the food court. No hiking boots needed. Talk about disappointment.

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  • Written Sep 22, 2004
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