I created this website, a wee walk, in 2014 to document a backpacking trip I took across Scotland as part of an event called The Great Outdoors Challenge. I did the walk–from the west coast to the east coast on a route of the walker’s design–three more times. Accounts of these crossings can be found under the headings “Scotland 1,” “Scotland 2,” “Scotland 3,” and “Scotland 4.” The “Where” page describes the location of the second walk, although the maps there may be useful in understanding the routes of the other two, should the reader be interested.
I have kept this website alive to document other outings. In the “Journalism” category I have reprinted stories I’ve written for the Sunday Travel section of The Washington Post, where I once worked. The stories appear by permission of The Post, which owns the copyright.
This is a low-tech site. Here are a few words about how it works.
The stories and posts are added in reverse chronological order, with the most recent appearing first when you click on a category (e.g., “Scotland 1” and “Italy”). However, except for the “Journalism” category, if you hover the cursor over a category on the home page, a list of the posts will appear in chronological order. The name of the earliest post from the trip in question will be at the top of the list; the last will be at the bottom. This will allow you to read the posts in the order in which they were written should you want to.
The graphics are still photographs and maps, except for one piece of video.
The video can be found at the bottom of the post called “Jim Taylor’s story” in “Scotland 1,” which is about my first walk. (It’s also here.) It’s a five-minute clip from a 20-minute interview I did with a 91-year-old man while we were taking a tea break. Mr. Taylor was doing The Great Outdoors Challenge for the last time. He died less than a year later.
The story is funny, and revealing.
Released from the peonage of farm labor and able to eat enough food for nearly the first time in his life, the young Jim Taylor rapidly outgrew the clothing issued to him when he joined the Royal Air Force at the start or World War II. In the video he describes the trouble he encountered getting a larger shirt. It is a voice out of deep history and I recommend it to you.
I’m already addicted and am waiting to hear about day 1 and 2. xo
My Day One: We paddled 12 miles in glorious weather, then retired to Fox Island for the night. Dinner was fresh crab cakes and a rare fresh-fig Smith Island cake. I thought of your baggies of freeze-dried and had a second helping. Tante grazie for letting me use your kayak — and for persuading Don Baugh it was safe to let me come.
Eileen: I am envious you are out with the gang tonite. A little less envious now that the rain has started here. But I’m sure you are well fed and well nourished on paddling war stories–don’t believe anything the Baughman tells you. He has a secret propeller under that beaten up boat of us, and it’s the only reason he arrives first every time.
Mr. David. I can hear your voice in your writing. So I’m right beside you, although I suspect a little drier and warmer. Michael and I last week returned from a far less demanding 4 weeks and Belgium and the Netherlands. We prefer the former nation–more laid back, better food, less insistence on being so damn efficient, and fewer bikers who rule the walkways. But both nations are lovely, and both Flanders and the Netherlands are sadder because their fine medieval churches were scoured of original Catholic iconography. Yours ,Scott
Hi David. I found your blog! I enjoyed your view of the challenge and am delighted you got across. Bit mean to photo me making a totally unnecessary river crossing, however I’ll live it down eventually (maybe). Liz
First and foremost, it was a great pleasure meeting you and spending time with you. It’s one of the many things that make the Challenge so special.
Second, nobody but a few in the know know that it was an unnecessary river crossing. And maybe you were just practicing. And it was such a good view, I couldn’t pass it up.
Nice one Sir…
Greatly enjoyed your blog, your take on the Challenge, and …
MOST OF ALL … Your Company during the event.
Been a pleasure meeting you…
2015 entries come out in September…
You Soooo. know you are going to be tempted just a smidgin :-))
Hi Brown Boy:
Great to see you. I am looking forward to your posts!!
Thanks for the lovely blog! Just read your article about Bahlil in the Post. Looking forward to more.
David, I liked your Post piece on kayaking the sea islands of Georgia,andit lead to your website, which is terrific. Keep travelingandkeepwriting.
Dr. Brown, we greatly enjoyed your piece in the the January 8, 2021 Washington Post. We have a summer place on Stony Creek Ponds, just at the south end of Upper Saranac Lake, and we know well the area you explored. We have through the locks on the Saranac River in our canoe, and our grandchildren run up and down Ampersand Mountain with great enthusiasm. I published a novel a few months ago that is set in that area. The novel is titled “Six Spies in Saranac” and it begins in a canoe on the Stony Creek Ponds. Here is a link to the Amazon site for the book: https://www.amazon.com/Six-Spies-Saranac-Jack-Heinz-ebook/dp/B08DP4Q6KR/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&qid=1610318594&refinements=p_27%3AJack++Heinz&s=digital-text&sr=1-2&text=Jack++Heinz.
When I (Jack) worked in Washington many years ago I had friends at the Post – Ward Just, Lon Tuck, and Lee Lescaze – all now deceased, unfortunately. I stayed in touch with Ward until his death a year ago.
With thanks for reminding us of the pleasures of the region, Jack and Anne Heinz
Just read your piece in the WaPo in floating the Missouri Breaks – many thanks!
Thank you for writing. We were lucky to have the river to ourselves!