What my average day looks like when walking around Scotland as part of Hay's Way

Sitting in Sulwath Brewers in Castle Douglas with locals and visitors to the town Sitting in Sulwath Brewers in Castle Douglas with locals and visitors to the town
Sitting in Sulwath Brewers in Castle Douglas with locals and visitors to the town | Katharine Hay
The short answer is it’s never the same on any given day walking around Scotland

This week I found myself scrambling around in the dark trying to pitch my tent in the shadows of the CCTV cameras dotted around Donald Trump’s hotel at his golf course in Turnberry.

The area surrounding the incongruous pile was the only spot that provided shelter from the wind battering the Ayrshire coast. I kept moving until about 10pm to keep warm as the weather had decided to stick a middle finger up to summer just round the corner and temperatures have plummeted.

Trump Turnberry on a drizzly, cold day on the Ayrshire coast Trump Turnberry on a drizzly, cold day on the Ayrshire coast
Trump Turnberry on a drizzly, cold day on the Ayrshire coast | Katharine Hay

Yet the same time last week, I was eating a bowl of Weetabix and strawberries in the living room of Charlie Parks, an 87-year-old from Gatehouse of Fleet, who offered up his spare room after spotting me looking a bit lost.

Charlie, otherwise known as Chas, from Gatehouse of Fleet and who offered up his spare bed Charlie, otherwise known as Chas, from Gatehouse of Fleet and who offered up his spare bed
Charlie, otherwise known as Chas, from Gatehouse of Fleet and who offered up his spare bed | Katharine Hay

I have been asked several times what a typical day is like when walking around the country. The short answer is: it’s never the same.

Different places throw up different experiences, and often when I have a plan for the day ahead, it’s constantly redrawn and coloured in by the ongoing chain of characters I meet. I check into a hotel roughly once a week, and every now and then someone offers up a spare bed. But for the most part, it’s just a canvas between me and the elements at night.

Morning routine:

I get up about 7.30am, depending on how the night has been. If I am camped near a town or village, I wait until I am packed up to get a coffee from a nearby cafe. When I have been in more remote places, I boil water for some tea bags first thing and pack up while sipping on a warm drink. Though, in the past few weeks, the latter hasn’t been an option as I strapped my stove to the outside of my bag and while lost walking through a forest, one branch clearly fancied it and whipped it off. I plan to replace it when walking through Glasgow in the next few weeks.

During the day:

Once my bag is packed, I walk to the nearest place where I can sit with my laptop to check in with colleagues. This can be anything from a cafe to a public library to a laundrette. If I find a good spot, I will get as much work as I can done until about 3pm. Then, I will set off and walk between ten or 15 miles to the next place.

If I am in an area where there are limited workspace options, I walk in the day and tend to make sure I arrive somewhere with a pub so I can have a hot meal and catch up on writing in the evening.

The evening:

I have snacks on me for the day, but in the evening, I aim to find a cooked meal at either a pub or a takeaway. Pubs are usually my preferred option so I can charge batteries while having a meal and meet people to get a feel for the area.

Chatting to locals and visitors to Castle Douglas in the town's Sulwath Brewery Chatting to locals and visitors to Castle Douglas in the town's Sulwath Brewery
Chatting to locals and visitors to Castle Douglas in the town's Sulwath Brewery | Katharine Hay

If there are no services where I plan camp, I make sure to eat something substantial in the day, or, if it’s several days in remote areas I will pack food for the stove. If I am not in a pub chatting to locals, I spend my evenings going on a walk, weirdly, doing a bit of bird watching, or reading and drifting off to the sound of my inflatable mat hissing at me because it has a puncture. I need to get that replaced some time too.

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