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The Cowal Way guidebook is launched

Glendaruel Village Hall was the centre of an amazing range of activities yesterday: guided walks, primary children's displays, walking theatre, home baking and a very generous launch for our Cowal Way guidebook by government Minister Mike Russell.

He congratulated the authors and the whole community on the completion of this project, and it is remarkable how strong is the sense of community in Cowal, where he also lives. He spoke of the power of a long-distance route to funnel people into the peninsula, to provide a shop window on Cowal's scenery and wildlife, and to form a building block in the development of local tourism. I was pleased at how enthusiastic he seemed about the route, including its role as the missing link that joins the Kintyre Way to the West Highland Way.

The event was well supported by local residents, who not only attended but also bought books. Some of us went on the Walking Theatre event, in which actors appeared in costume and involved the walkers in various activities. It almost worked, I felt, but our "willing suspension of disbelief" was pole-axed at the start by standing around while one of those daft Health and Safety ticklists had to be completed. However, I was delighted and amazed to find that a fellow-walker was someone I hadn't seen since schooldays in London (over 40 years ago) where I knew her as Julia Martin. Since she lives in Western Australia and was in Cowal only temporarily, it seemed quite a coincidence.

Yesterday was the culmination of months of work at Rucksack Readers, but that's nothing compared with co-author Jim McLuckie's decade of work in developing and waymarking the route. My own contribution had gone somewhat beyond the normal role of publisher: see my blog entry for 6 February. However, that trip proved that even I could hike the Cowal Way in deep snow, over sodden ground, inside 4-5 days in January. So I'm fairly confident that it's feasible for normal walkers over that schedule year-round.

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