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Sam Heughan - Waypoints and the West Highland Way

Best known for his leading role as Jamie Fraser in the hit drama series Outlander, Sam Heughan is an award winning Scottish actor, originally from Dumfries and Galloway.

In his first memoir, Waypoints, the Outlander star takes us on a journey of self-discovery through the Scottish Highlands, traversing along the West Highland Way which stretches 96 miles from Milngavie to Fort William. Although this is one of the most popular walking routes in the UK, it comes with its challenges, both mental and physical. The rugged yet beautiful terrain of this long distance route becomes the perfect environment for Sam to explore his heritage, values and interests, and reflect on the personal waypoints that define who he is today.

In celebration of the launch of the Waypoints paperback version on 22nd June 2023, we asked Sam to tell us more about his inspiration for walking the West Highland Way, and how important the journey was for him.

Your first memoir, Waypoints, was released on 25th October 2022 in hardback, with the paperback edition also out now. What inspired you to write this book?
The hike was a great place to reflect and gave me some time for introspection. I had recently been digging into my family history and had wanted to discover more about who I am and where my family is from. That's why the book has two parts, the journey and the memoir, it really was all about timing and how the walking process also lent itself to some introspection.

Why did you choose the West Highland Way?
It's a route that was literally on my doorstep that I've always wanted to do. It also passes by some famous spots on the west coast that I have visited on numerous occasions. We shot Outlander in Glencoe and I always thought it'd be a great personal challenge. I just never thought I'd find the time.

What was the most memorable moment from your journey along the West Highland Way?
There are countless moments, from setting out, to camping on the shores of Loch Lomond, getting lost in the dark, the warm fire at the Drovers Arms, meeting my unexpected travel companions Graeme and Lucy, seeing Ben Nevis for the first time etc. Each day brought new sights and mini chapters to the journey.

How long were you out on the West Highland Way for?
It took me 5 days plus an extra morning to climb Ben Nevis. I can't believe people do it in less time, it's possible but I think you need that extra time to take in the views and scenery along the way.

With all that time to yourself on a solo hike, did you discover anything about yourself?
The whole book was about introspection and I thought I wanted to be alone. I quickly realised it's the people along the way who made the trips more memorable. To share your achievements with others is way more rewarding. I also realised I'm perhaps not as good an "adventurer" as I thought!

Who or what has been your main inspiration for your love of the outdoors?
Scotland is my inspiration. It's so accessible without being too intimidating. We have some of the best scenery in the world. Great history and hidden gems around every bend. But you have to respect the mountains, it's easy to find yourself in trouble, always be prepared and enjoy each step.

How often do you manage to get out into the Scottish Hills?
Not as often as I like. We shoot Outlander all over Scotland so I do see some great locations and I always yearn to put on my boots and get up a Munro!

Other than the West Highland Way, what is your favourite walking route or Munro?
Schiehallion is special, we shoot near its base for Outlander and the standing stones. It's a special peak with a unique history.

Can you tell us a route or mountain that you would love to tick off your bucket list?
Everest Base Camp and the Himalayan Plateau, I'd love to see it - even from a distance would be enough!

Do you use a map to navigate your way around the hills, or when planning a route?
I should, I normally take photos on my phone of the route map but a hard copy is always a good idea, in case your battery dies. Plus, maps give a lot of insight into place names and unique landmarks.

What message would you like to give to others to encourage them to get outdoors?
It's good for your health, not just physically but mentally too. Get a good map and get outdoors!

We couldn't agree more!
Check out the HARVEY West Highland Way Trail Map and start planning your own Waypoints journey.

If you're feeling inspired by our Q&A with Sam Heughan, find out where you can pick up a copy of Waypoints by visiting www.waypointsbook.com.

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