Day 9 – Tired Legs and Trains

It’s probably a good thing that I’m not walking today. I’ve had five hard walks in a row and more to come. I’ll have extra food and water, plus the addition of a foam sleeping mat and extra pair of trail runners on my back. My pack weight is likely to be around 20 kg. It seems ludicrous to need that much weight for stuff and to take up the full 60 litres of my pack. It looks like fast and light has gone out of the window until I’ve eaten a few days worth of food and my other boots finally die.

My day off involves a ride on The Jacobite steam train. It goes along the route and viaduct made famous by the Harry Potter films. They are quick to capitalise on that.

The train was full. I felt a little uncomfortable being surrounded by tourists. I’ve probably got a little too used to solitude. As we approached the viaduct the tourists flocked to the windows, digital cameras and smartphones in hand, all determined to get the same photo. They seemed happy looking through their lenses, but I was content just looking out the window and enjoying what I could see. If I need a reminder of it I can do a google image search when I get home or sit and re-watch Harry Potter. It was worth seeing despite the hordes.

The train stopped at Glenfinnan. This spot would mark the start of my journey up the Cape Wrath Trail tomorrow. A piper replaced my earworm as everyone piled out of the train to spend 15 minutes photographing Glenfinnan. The train continued on and there were some l great views. Maybe I’m being a bit of a curmudgeon, or perhaps I’d enjoy it more with less tourists or when more awake. I think the main reason I was left less than inspired was the fact I’d spend the last week walking through the hills. The sense of scale was lost on a train and as much as I enjoyed the journey, I’d have rather been on foot (or maybe on a motorbike, the bikers out there look to be having fun).

If I was only in Scotland for a few days, or if I had a family and wanted to see the hills then I think this train journey would have been amazing. After a week I fear I may have become a little desensitised to it all. Instead the highlight of my journey was a proper fish and chips in Mallaig. It was the sort of place that serves all the foods a traditional chippy should; you could have both fish and chips. The additional options included mushy peas, gravy and curry sauce. You’d not find a kebab here. The fish was excellent and the chips were pretty good too.

On the way back I got chatting to someone friendly people from Letchworth, they donated £10. It amazes me how kind some of the strangers I’ve met have been.

Tomorrow I’ll be making my next steps towards earning that donation. The Cape Wrath Trail guides recommend taking two to three weeks to complete it. My challenge is to get to the end in less than two. I’ve been told that you can go days without seeing another soul out there. I’ve got everything I need on my back and it sounds like I really will be out there alone. It feels like here’s where the adventure really starts.