Tom Hunter – the inspiration for the West Highland Way

March 13, 2016 Nick Kempe No comments exist

In the last week I have come across a couple of obituaries of Tom Hunter, who died in February, and whose idea of a long distance walking route from Glasgow north led to the creation of the West Highland Way  and    

Its worth quoting an extract from the Herald   “In those days, there were no quangos or lobbyists for lovers of the countryside and there were battles to be fought with the likes of the Forestry Commission who would indulge in blanket planting over traditional walkways. One day when the Hunters were walking on Ben Lomond, Mr Hunter looked down and saw the side of the loch that was earmarked for a ribbon of development and became determined to do something. That was the first seed of the idea that became the West Highland Way and, with several associates, he went on to develop the idea and attract support for it. At the opening ceremony of the Kelvin Way in Glasgow, he and a group of walkers arrived having walked form Fort William to deliver a letter from the Provost calling for the route. The seed was beginning to sprout. Asked by the publisher Constable to write a book to coincide with the launch, Mr Hunter did just that. Afterwards he said: “The book was easy compared with fighting the bureaucrats to get the route established.”

I never met Tom Hunter but I believe  his life and achievements illustrate why our National Parks and Forestry Commission Scotland should be listening to outdoor recreationists.    A primary purpose of Parkswatchscotland is to challenge the bureacracies of our National Parks when they get things wrong and push them to be realise visions –  such as those of Tom Hunter.  This should be inherent in everything our National Parks do.


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