Day 12: Two hobble-its head to Cawdor

A dramatically altered route has seen us head from a campsite near Culloden to Cawdor Castle. Unfortunately we hadn’t been allowed to camp at either the battlefield or the castle, so we had settled for a campsite instead.

An early morning and a quick start meant we were soon eight miles down the road and at the castle for lunch.

Lunch consisted of a solitary tortilla wrap with some humous. Yum. Still, it was better than nowt, and after a quick stop we were on our way again.

Unfortunately, taking a shortcut along the side of roads left us with no detailed maps for this leg of the journey. As such we were forced to plod down minor b-roads hoping that we’d eventually end up back in civilisation.

From Cawdor to Dulsie Bridge was actually quite nice. But, despite battling wind and rain, the trek from the bridge down to Carrbridge was far more enjoyable.

We walked along an empty road, every now and again a vehicle would pass. Other than those few vehicles and the road there was nothing in sight that suggested anyone else existed. Maybe it’s just the hermit in me, but I quite like being in such a remote place.

We decided on a B&B for the night in the hope some bed rest will help us continue. With some much appreciated support from Heley’s mum, who found places and phoned them up for us, we have probably been able to cover the best part of thirty miles today.

At our current pace we could actually make it to Aberdeen within three or four days. It feels to me like we are agonisingly close. At the same time I’m painfully aware of just how far away we still really are.

Tomorrow is another day. We are off once again to find medical advice as to whether it is wise for Heley to continue. Maybe wise is the wrong word, but certainly the question as to whether continuing will cause any lasting damage is critically important.

It seems like we have been out here for an eternity. It’s hard to believe we’ve only been gone for two weeks. It’s easy to believe we’ve spent most days walking at least eight hours a day.

We’ll keep you updated as and when we can, all I know now is that one way or another there’s not long left.

P.S here’s a picture of Heley’s space foot and also a glimpse of where we are walking.



Day 11: Battlefields and battle wounds

We spent the morning walking around Inverness in search of yet another new pair of footwear for Heley. This time we’ve gone for the shoe meets Stanley knife meets duct tape approach. It shall be called the space shoe. Hopefully, when we try it out tomorrow, the tape will keep it firmly attached to her mutilated foot to prevent any further destruction.

Being ahead of schedule meant a short day for us today. We walked out onto Culloden Moor and wandered around the battlefield. Wounded we walked through the paths of an epic battle, and gladly into the visitor centre for tea and tiffin.

Even ten miles along the road has been hard for Heley. I’ve found it tricky at times too. Regardless of any decision to stop or continue we are going to have to alter the route to Aberdeen.

Heley refuses to give up unless I do, and I’m unlikely to give up unless I break, so something else had to give.

The weather forecast indicates treacherous conditions are a possibility up in the Cairngorms, and with our growing list of problems the risks outweigh the benefits.

Even without those risks, after days of dealing with pain it’d be cruel to ask Heley to walk any further than absolutely necessary. We’ll not take the shortest route to Aberdeen, 110 miles along A-road, but we’ll certainly take easier paths than planned.

In some ways the diversions feel like a failure. In reality we’re making sensible and necessary decisions. We’re cutting out some remote scenery and fantastic views for miles of trekking along the roadside.

We’ve made it from Milngavie to Fort William, and from there to Inverness. Now all we have to do is make it to Aberdeen.

From what seemed like such a simple plan and attainable goal we have entered our own little battle. Still, no one can tell us it’s not been an adventure.

Intermission: Half way injury update

Due to the popularity of the photos of Heley’s foot, we thought we’d give you a quick run down of our minor ailments.

– Left shoulder hurts when I carry anything. This is fine, apart from when I’m carrying something.
– Right hip / IT band, at least it makes a satisfying popping noise.
– My knees. I’ve lost both of my knees; I’ll miss them. The left kneecap wasn’t tracking properly to begin with. The specialist at Core Cambridge gave me the all clear to attempt the walk, but warned me that I’d be in pain. He was not wrong.
– All the muscles in my legs now ache. Even ones that I didn’t even know existed.
– Feet… Some minor blisters requiring constant management. They’re too far away for me to feel anymore anyway; my knees are closer.

– Left shin has a big lump growing from it.
– Right knee / hip / IT band went a while ago.
– Left foot blistered and sore.

Heley’s right foot:
– Big blister on heel.
– Toes on rest of foot now mangled by shoes / shandals.
– Swollen ball of foot / top of foot with creaky tendons.

Heley’s foot deserves it’s own part in a horror movie. Sometimes I wonder whether the only reason she’s continuing is out of some morbid curiosity about how it’ll turn out. Well, that and it’d be hard to hop to Aberdeen.

Her foot will dictate how we approach the next leg of the journey. We’ll see how it holds up tomorrow.




Day 10: Caveman and Limpy go to Inverness

If yesterday was the long dark teatime of the soul, then today was brunch. It took a little longer than expected, but made for a pleasant surprise.

We woke up early to a brisk, sunny morning. Off we wandered to see Urquhart Castle. Like us the castle was in ruins. Heley chose to use her baseball cap for the first time, she also wore seven layers of clothing to keep warm; I set off in a t-shirt.

The castle ruins were nice enough to look at, and worth the detour, but we were keen to get back on the road and finish the 79 miles that make up the Great Glen Way in only three days.

We took our time over those last twenty miles. Partly to enjoy the scenery, partly because we couldn’t hobble any faster. We managed to get to Inverness for 17.30, giving us plenty of time to wash our stinky kit.

We are two days ahead of schedule and have now completed over half the distance. Some of the stretches have been very tough, both mentally and physically. It’d be so easy to quit in Inverness right now, so easy to just get on a train and head home.

The hills have a way of wearing you down. Days with wind or rain, sleepless nights and the in-between hours filled with midges. Every step hurts. Some steps it’s the knee, others the hip, then you notice the blisters.

Even our kit is finding the going hard. We’d bought some expensive, good-quality kit to ensure that we didn’t have reliability issues along the way. Having zips and rucksacks failing us is just another thing on top of another thing. Perhaps we’ve just been unlucky.

The worst thing to deal with is the damp. The weather has been good to us overall, just not good enough to dry anything out. Did you know that water seems to hold it’s temperature well overnight? Do you know what that temperature is? It’s bloody cold!

As strange as it sounds, as perverse as it seems, we are still strangely enjoying the trip. Despite it all we still have the drive to carry on, to make it all the way to Aberdeen.

Injuries permitting we’ll get to Aberdeen in the end, but more on that later.

Day 9: Nothing to report

Today we are not having any fun. I don’t want to talk about it.

P.S. It rained, we saw Loch Ness, have travelled sixty miles in two days and have decided to launch a board game about out travels. -5 points for being eaten alive by midges +5 caveman points for surviving the day.