In 2017 ten of us and two dogs set off on the West Highland Way, walking from Kingshouse to Kinlochleven. This was a section that Elliot had joined Dad and I on in 2013, and he'd also walked with cousins as part of the full walk a few years previously. It was a challenging walk (each time!), but we'd enjoyed each other's company and raised a wee dram to Elliot mid-walk.
In 2018 sixteen of us and two dogs enjoyed a flatter walk on the Water of Leith, from Slateford to Ratho, with a lovely lunch at the end at the Bridge Inn. A walk Elliot had enjoyed with his Dad, and the same restaurant where we had celebrated Elliot's 21st birthday in 2015. Another happy day in good company despite the reasons for our gathering.
This was a new walk in a undiscovered area for me, and I'm already looking forward to going back. It was absolutely beautiful. There's a great path that follows the Gameshope Burn, complete with falls and pools, up to the bothy. It wasn't too far but far enough to feel challenging (especially at 40 weeks pregnant!). The challenges continued with an interesting river crossing to get to the bothy, which tested our brains and our boots.
Once on the other side, a fantastic lunch carried up there by Uncle Colin was enjoyed - I was just sorry not to be able to sample the fizz on offer!
Gradually our numbers dwindled as members of the group had to leave for other commitments, and after a few hours the rest of us began the downhill trek back to the cars. I dipped my feet in the cool water to ease the swelling, and we said our goodbyes with plans already in place for next year's walk.
Although the reason for our gathering and walking like this each year is so very sad, the walks these last three years have been nothing but happy occasions. I'm sure Elliot has been with us each time.