One of the nice things about being on the trail with other walkers is that none of them think you are particularly crazy. Nobody seems surprised by my journey, there’s just a matter of fact response along the lines of “well dearie, if you’re going to be walking that far then make sure you take a dry pair of socks” or something. Nobody out here really cares what I’m doing or how far I’m going. Out here I get to just hike my own hike.
The day started brightly, someone from one of the other huts wished me luck as I yomped off site and back onto the path.
I soon bumped into a lovely young lady walking south. God knows why she chose to walk south, the sun would be in her eyes all day, but we briefly chatted about where each of us was going and she recommended a few camping spots depending on how far I would get. Then we went out separate ways, our paths never to cross again.
At Tyndrum I met two ladies who were just starting day five of their journey. They made their way north; I stopped for breakfast. I had a sausage and bacon sandwich which had five layers of bacon. It was amazing. If my canteen at work stocked such things I’d become a big fatty. It’s probably a good thing I don’t come across such things too often.
Fed and filled with water I sped off on a bacon powered stretch. I soon encountered a wee lass pushing a bike uphill. She asked if I was doing the West Highland Way, I told her I was, but it looked more fun to be doing it on a bike. She declared flatly that no it wasn’t, before asking about my walking poles and the hose for my platypus which allowed me to both walk and drink at the same time.
At the top of the hill we came across her dad who encouraged her to get back on the bike and start cycling. They were aiming to get to Kings House that night – the same place I hoped to be camping that night. It was quite nice to think that out there ahead of me somewhere is a ten year old girl peddling furiously to raise money for the Make a Wish foundation.
On I walked until I found that I only had ten miles left to go that day so I stopped for a haggis and cheese panini. I spent the next hour chatting to a couple of groups of people in the Inveroran Hotel bar. One couple were halfway through their sixth day of walking. They were hoping to stop at the cottage ruins that my southerly walking friend had advised me to camp at. The other group were acting as a support crew for a group of people on their fourth day of travels. I quietly gave encouragement and words of advice regarding what lay ahead. We chatted for a wee while and I told them how far I was going before darting out to fill my water bottle. Inside I heard one of the girls remarking on how amazing my journey was, a good reminder that I am doing something a bit special and that I should enjoy it. With that encouragement I took to the trail and back underneath the afternoon sun.
Sixty miles down and ahead of schedule I continued on over the moor and towards Kings House. The heat was oppressive at times, and no matter what your religious views, each breeze felt as though it had been sent from heaven by God himself.
The heat I was getting used to, or at least today may have been cooler. Now it was the insects who were becoming the bane of my life. Not just the midges mind you, those hills are full of a wide variety of flying bitey things.
I came across another southerly walker. She was carrying lightweight gear and had a total pack-out weight of 30lbs. That put my 16 kg to shame. We chatted briefly and I pointed out a few good wild camping spots I had passed, and after wishing her well I continued on.
As I descended towards Kings House I met an old Scotsman on a two day trip. He’d got some nifty lightweight gear, so I walked with him down the hill to the Hotel (and strongly resisting the urge to run down the hill.) We were overtaken by two familiar cyclists who briefly stopped and chatted, we wished each other luck, before they cycled ahead of us. I must have overtaken them when they stopped for lunch at Bridge of Orchy. It was good to see them again and know they are doing well. The girl was excited at the prospect of going up a hill on a ski lift, and when you’ve got that to look forward to who cares how hot and tired you’ve been. As they cycled, myself and the old man plodded, passing some deer and heading into the bar.
I seem to have spent a lot of time in eating establishments today, enjoying myself immensely. I’m potentially three or four days away from my next proper resupply, so I’m taking advantage of it while I can. I sat in the walkers’ bar talking to people on their various travels, eating a venison burger and waiting for the sun to set before I wandered out to camp for the night.
It was still beautiful out when I left, the sun had set and a cool breeze swept by as I made my way through the campers and back onto the trail in search of a more secluded spot. I’m not good enough with words to describe how serene this place is, with the moor behind me and the glen ahead, all I can say is if I were to be stuck in a Groundhog Day, destined to repeat the same day again and again, I wouldn’t mind it being this one. You could have shot me then and I’d have died happy.
Aside from the stunning scenery, I’ve come across some wonderful folk today, from those who think I’m off my head to those that consider me a free spirit – if only because I stop when I want to and my only care for the time is based on where in the sky the sun happens to be. I’ve been told I’m still looking fresh, I may not be feeling it and perhaps I’m being lied to, but nobody is backing away from me just yet. I guess so far so good and I must say, apart from the insects, I’m thoroughly enjoying myself.