With a full week free of formal events I decided to first spend a weekend in Glasgow then explore some of the West Highland Way if the weather was reasonable. Uncharacteristically for this part of the country at this time of year the weather remained dry and contrary to the forecasts the sun broke through the cloud to deliver a few pleasant spring days.
I decided to travel a little further north to the town of Tynedrum and then walk the West Highland Way up to Fort William. I parked Bridget safely in the Scottish Tourist Information Centres’ car park and removed my back-pack containing the tent, sleeping bag and other camping items, from behind the seats. It has been over forty years since I carried a 60 pound pack and had quite forgotten what it was like over a period of 3 or 4 days.
I started off with a half day of walking ahead of me. I walked for just over seven miles to Inveroran where I set-up camp by the river. My shoulders were a little chaffed by my pack straps but other wise I was in fine fettle. Camping equipment has improved dramatically since the last time I had used any but you still end up cold and damp by dawn.
I rose at 5:00am and broke camp. Having feasted the previous evening on corned beef hash, I made do with a chocolate bar for breakfast watched by a red stag from on top of one of the mountains. He stood out against the skyline and appeared to be checking to see if the walkers were stirring yet.
Having studied my map I was planning to go just another 10 miles to Kingshouse. Although not particularly far with the combination of the hill climb on route and the weight of the back pack I thought it would be enough. I saw several more red deer crazing on the hillsides and disturbed a brace of black grouse before arriving, quicker than expected, at my destination. I decided to stop for some coffee and a good rest before considering whether to stay for the night or press on to Kinlockleven.
After an hours rest I was feeling reinvigorated and so pressed on. My shoulders and the small of my back was decidedly sore and I realised that carrying tinned food had been unnecessary as there was a hostelry at the end of each section and the weight of the food was a significant factor in the overall weight I was carrying. This particular section also included a fairly high climb. The path for considerable stretches was strewn with hard rough hewn stones that were very tiring on the feet. I finally arrived at Kinlochleven at around 5:00 pm that day. The town was the centre of aluminium production in the UK and is almost twenty miles from Inveroran where I had started my journey that day. My body ached beyond belief and I seriously doubted whether or not I could continue the next day. I must make a note to remind me I’m no longer in my 20’s.
The following morning my back and legs were as stiff as a board when I got out of bed. Following breakfast of sausage and beans I decided to continue to Fort William. As the day wore on my legs improved and my shoulders seemed to be getting accustomed to my load. I returned from Fort William to Tynedrum by train to be reunited with Bridget. From there we drove over to Crieff where having decided not to do any more walking I would endeavour to become incapable of doing so by visiting the Glenturret distillery.
Tomorrow we continue to Whitburn near Livingston in central Scotland for the first event of this final week.