The West Highland Way – not an Absinthe in sight

Normally, this Blog is all about our adventures with Absinthe but I’ve recently completed the WHW with my daughter, Jodie and I wanted to put something on here about our trip. It’s 96 miles of up and down and we didn’t have the best of weather but it’s another long distance walk we’ve ticked off, after last year’s Coast to Coast adventure.

Each day I wrote a report for friends and colleagues so I thought I’d put them up here with some pics.

Day One – Trains and trails – 14 miles

Awake since 5 and up at 6 to catch the 7.14 from Preston to Glasgow.

After some trouble finding our seats because I’d forgotten I’d treated us to First Class we set off to Glasgow in beautiful sunshine. It disappeared at Carlisle!

Free breakfast on the train was a little disappointing – it mainly consisted of an ice puck made of brioche, some flapjacky thing and a bag of cranberries and cherries. What, no meat? We’re Northern you know!

The sun was back later and we arrived in Scottyville at 9.45. The train to Milngavie wasn’t until 9.58 so we had bags of time. Except…

…no sign on the departure board of trains going to Milngavie and certainly nothing leaving at 9.58. We stood around for a while, puzzled, then asked someone who told us there’s a lower Glasgow Central station. We scurried down escalators into Hades Central and caught the train by the skin of our teeth.

Glasgow Central (Lower)
Jodie at the start

The ticket man engaged us in conversation in a foreign language – apparently Jodie gleaned that he is doing the Hampden to Loch Lomond kilt walk tomorrow. 26 miles of Donald where’s your troosers.

The walk itself was fairly flat today but was made difficult because there was a Trailquest event (remember them, Mr W?) taking place and we had to keep stopping to dodge participants. Bloody cyclists!

It was after about 7 miles that it occurred to me that some training might have been a good idea. Apparently at some point I’ve had my hip joints replaced by some battered rusty hinges and the soles of my feet tenderised like a fine fillet steak. The last 5 miles were tough, but we made it. We’ve got a 19 miler one day – I can’t wait!

Bridie McTavish, the ginger guest house operative and part time girder thrower, was very welcoming and even made us tea and biscuits. When I enquired about a packed lunch for tomorrow she told me it would be cheaper to pop to the Spar across the road and get our own. Maybe she’s one of your Caledonian cousins Mr W, although she didn’t ask if I had a voucher.

More to follow tomorrow, signal and wifi willing.

Day Two (14 miles) – Rain, routes and broken routers

We woke to heavy rain and despair..

Still, there’s always breakfast, and a question I’ve never been able to answer. Why can’t the Scotties make a round sausage-shaped sausage? The clues in the name for flip’s sake. Instead, they compress it and flatten it to make it look like road kill. Odd people, the kilties and why do they name it after Lorne Green?

We shared our table with another father and daughter combination. “This is my daughter”, he said. “No sh*t Sherlock”, we’d worked out that you’d never have a girlfriend/wife 30 years younger than you. We trumped them with tales of last year’s C2C and set off in the pouring rain.

We avoided Conic Hill by skirting it on the road through the tiny village of Milton of Buchanan where I felt strangely at home…

By 10 we were having coffee on a picnic table outside a village shop – the rain stopped long enough for me to go and buy them from the Eastern European assistant who could easily have been Miss Gdansk, 2013. I’ll bet the local foresters don’t have any problem delivering wood to that shop.

Of course, as soon as we sat down, the heavens opened again and we finished the drinks and set off along the shores of Loch Lomond.

After 7 miles we came to a water sports centre and stopped to admire the view. Half way there, the sun had come out and we were looking out at one of the most beautiful lakes in Britain. What’s not to like?

The next 4 miles were tough and with wet weather gear on, pretty hot. Finally we saw a sign saying 3 miles to our hotel. Brilliant, nearly there.

Back along the shore we were passed by two fit young studenty types, out running from the Glasgow Uni field centre. A bit further along the path then, bang, a right turn and a set of rock steps apparently heading into the clouds.

From then on it got tougher and tougher. Up, then down, then, guess what? Yep, up again. We finally got to a bridge across a lovely stream with a sign saying Rowerdannan 2km.  Phew, nearly there, but not before, once again, climbing that stairway to heaven.

By the time we got to the Hotel I was really quite fatigued and felt the need for a pint of Bellhaven’s Best. And then another one…

The good news was that our rooms were on the ground floor and, more importantly, we had baths. An hour’s soak (I may have closed my eyes for maybe a minute or two) and I was ready for food.

The lack of communication with my adoring public is because the hotel’s router is down. Jo offered to fix it but they didn’t seem keen so you’re almost certainly receiving this ATE.

Tomorrow (Monday) is described in the guide as being the roughest day of the whole route, so goodness knows what we’re in for. There are no shops on the way, so we’ve ordered a packed lunch. Having seen the weather forecast on Clundyfile, we may be having wet sandwiches.

More tomorrow, if we survive.

Day Three – Rain, pain, no gain?

Good news this morning – breakfast came with a sausage shaped sausage. Ok, the breakfast was cold but small steps, small steps…

As I was waiting for Jo in reception I entered conversation with a fellow walker and his wife. “Toughest day today”, says I. “Nope”, says he, “I’ve looked at Tracklogs and the ascent is no more than yesterday. I could show you if you want”

That want be necessary, I thought. Not much you can teach me about Tracklogs. I am the Tracklogs meister. Instead, I changed the subject to the weather, another subject on which I’m a renowned expert. “Bit too hot in the afternoon yesterday, wasn’t it?” “No”‘ retorts his po-faced wife.

When he says, “It’ll be wet today, but what can you expect if you come up North?” I, less than tactfully, reply, “Why not stay down South then?”

We agreed to leave it there, best for all concerned I think…

So, out in to the world and a light missle (autocorrect tried to change that to missile – that would have been a cracking start to the day) had descended. We walked down to the shore and stood for 10 minutes watching an otter in the Loch. I say Otter, but it turned out it was a partially submerged rock, playing Stars in their Eyes. “Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be, Tarka”

Onwards then through the Loch side woodland. Quite a good start, enthusiasm fizzing from us like a recently opened can of Irn Bru.

The first 7 miles were quite pleasant and we spotted some wildlife: a tree creeper, a dipper, some feral goats. I blame the last ones on Scotland’s nanny state.

Unfortunately, the rain increased after about 5 miles and Jo was starting to have trouble getting her ever expanding hair through narrow gaps. Eventually, we came to a hotel and stopped for refreshments.

We were greeted by a Geordie member of staff (never a good start) who showed us into the walkers’ baggage room to stow our wet coats, rucksacks, etc. He also asked us if we were walking the WHW and had we read up on the route. Thinks <Why no man, I diven’t think wor have done, like> I didn’t say it, didn’t want to waste the irony on the poor soul.

“It’s really tough for the next 7.5 miles to the end today” he says, “and there’s only 3 ways to get there. Ye can take a taxi but it’ll cost ya £100, there’s the ferry or ye can walk”

Hmmm, a ferry, you say? Turns out the hotel has its own Ferry and it was running today, doing lunches on board. A possibility then.

We went into the bar, ordered 2 pints of Bellhaven Best and settled down at a table near a group of pensioners from Norwich. What a joy it was to eavesdrop on their conversation, particularly the one that had had two drink driving bans and been on a speed awareness course. They seemed like lovely, harmless, racist bigots and it was a pleasure to enter their tiny flat world for a short time. They were also going on the Ferry so that ruled that option out.

After lunch we got our kit on and set off, pleased to see that the weather had brightened a bit. What followed was a nightmare.

Imagine if you will, taking a tall but overweight 57 year old into the basement of our three storey office and telling him his task for the next 4.5 hours was to walk up all the flights of stairs and when he got to the top to walk down again. Oh, and to repeat until his lungs popped out of his mouth. Make sure though, that before he starts, you adjust the stairs so that they’re all different sizes, have streams running down them and are often covered in mud.

When he seems to be tiring (believe me, he’ll soon be tiring) I suggest you get a giant fan and attempt to blow him off the side of the track for a bit of a laugh.

Still we did it and got to the hotel just before 6. What a place The Drovers Inn is! Google it for more info. Reception contains a selection of stuffed creatures including a bear, a wolf and a lamb with two heads. Oh, and it’s supposed to be haunted.

I’m sharing a bathroom and managed to get in first – no shower just a 1970s bath. No problem, a bath will be good if I can lift my aching legs high enough to get in. I turned the hot water tap on, waited a while, then added some cold. That should be ok I thought and put a foot in. If you’ve never seen a naked Yorkshireman leap 4 feet in the air with a burning foot then you’re probably lucky. They must have a direct water feed from Hell to get it that hot. By the time I’d got enough cold in to stop my skin peeling off, the water was almost lapping over the top.

I relaxed for a while, my feet draping over the end of the bath, until I accidentally touched the hot tap with my ankle and gave myself third degree burns. Worried that I might fall asleep and repeat the burn I draped my outgoing underpants over the hot tap for the remainder of the bath.

An uneventful day then, finished off with a thermo-nuclear chilli to eat in the bar. I asked about packed lunches for tomorrow and they gave us a menu. The usual sandwich options, a bag of crisps, a drink, mars bar and a piece of fruit. Thing is, we only ever eat the sandwiches and drink the drink so I asked if we could just have a sandwich. Turns out we could, but only off the bar menu, they’re more expensive than the whole packed lunch, but, they do come with a side salad. Which was nice.

So, packed lunch it is, and I’ll carry more fruit in my bag for another few days and then throw it away in Fort William. Still, it just adds to the pain and discomfort.

More tomorrow if I survive the night.

Day Four – 14 miles – Noisy neighbours and things that go bump in the night

After a sleepless night, caused partly by the number of people using the shared bathroom right next to my bedroom, and partly by my charming daughter putting the willies up me with tales of ghosts and spirits in the hotel, we enjoyed a sausage shaped breakfast, albeit they forgot my toast and grilled tomato. No biggie that, although there was a chance I’d waste away during the day.

The ghost thing wasn’t helped by me shooting upright when my room suddenly filled with light about 11.30pm. Turned out it was a car driving by and headlights shining through the three hundred year old curtains.

We set off optimistically in dry weather gear. Foolish, as it turned out, as the morning was one of mainly rain and a little bit of brightness. The wind was at our backs so we dried out very quickly and were making really good progress compared with Tuesday. We passed a number of people who were struggling and a few who didn’t look like they’d make it.

The start was mainly flat over a decent surface with spectacular waterfalls on both sides but that changed after we squeezed though a sheep creep and onto farm land. The stock has really churned the ground up and walking was both tricky and messy. Two guys walking in kilts passed us and said that when it was dry in summer this was the best section of the day. I know they were lying. Summer? In Scotland? As if!

Eventually, we came out of the mud and to a cross roads in the trail. Turn right to go down into a village and food, but add another 30 minutes walking, or turn left up a steep hill on the official route. Now food is always an enormous draw for me, but still we were good and carried on.

At the top of the hill there was an abandoned hiking boot – presumably somewhere there’s a hopping rambler or someone’s ambitious plan to form a Rolf Harris /Jake the Peg tribute act has been scuppered by recent developments. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know.

By now the sun was out and the path went though lovely forest tracks, climbing, then falling, over streams glinting in the sunshine. The track side water channels were full of frog spawn, whilst in the trees avian summer visitors trilled their uplifting songs, welcoming the arrival of spring. Through the trees you could glimpse signs of life stirring on the forest floor and from every hilltop there were magnificent panoramas to gladden the eye. It was almost enjoyable.

Das Boot

Finally, we left the forest, passed under a railway viaduct and stopped for lunch beside the river. We crossed the main road and passed close to the ancient Priory of Saint Fillan. The walking was easy along good paths and we only had about 2 hours to go.

Once in the open landscape, with new born lambs in the adjacent fields, we were suddenly hit in the face by a really strong wind. It was hard to walk and didn’t auger well for the 19 mile trek across Rannoch Moor tomorrow.

Once back over the main road we were more sheltered and the last few miles were fairly pleasant. One of the worse things about the WHW compared with the C2C is the absence of villages to pass through. Not only does that make coffee stops almost impossible on most days, it also makes it difficult to work out where exactly you are on the route.

On this occasion, this worked in our favour, because we suddenly found ourselves only half an hour from the hotel. Bonus!

We arrived at the Tyndrum Inn before 3, giving us plenty of time to chill before the epic day tomorrow. Wish us luck!

Day Five – 19 miles – A ghost, dry toast, bad joke.

I know you’re all waiting for a breakfast update, so here goes. We were down early because its a long day and both ordered the full breakfast. Given it was the only choice we were offered, it’s a good job we did. Xavier, the Spanish waiter brought us a tea and a coffee. No pots just a tea bag in a cup for me. Any milk? “Ithz on ze bar, señor”. Strangely, the tea tasted of antiseptic.

After 25 minutes he brought our meals, which were actually very good, although I’d have preferred some butter for my toast. To be fair to Xavier he’d had a traumatic night. Apparently when he locked the main door at 3am he felt a “presence” following him to the reception area, then, when he looked up the stairs to the left, he “saw ze lady”. It seems they have a resident ghost who doesn’t normally come down from the third floor. She may have come down and taken all the Lurpak.

Xavier’s colleague, said, “I dinnae ken what’s wrong with ye, do you no have ghosts in Spain?” ” Si” he said, “but not as many as you have over here. It’s like ze dogs, everyone’s got one of them too, but you’ve all got at least two ghosts at home” Iberian humour – eez good, no?
Heartened that the special relationship in Europe is thriving as ever, we left the hotel in driving rain and stopped at the Green Welly Stop for some drinks. We’d bought packed lunches from the hotel. I was given a can o’ can’t, a bag of crisps, a drifter, an apple and strangest of all, a raspberry yoghurt. Not sure how I was supposed to eat it.  Maybe all Spaniards have 6 inch tongues – I didn’t like to ask.

The Coke was an odd choice too. Concerned that I’d be irrevocably committed to drinking it all, once I’d opened it, I cleverly poured the contents into an empty lucozade sport bottle. You know lucozade sport, it’s what Becks and I drink. It turned out not to be one of my best ideas, as we’ll see later.

So, off we set from Tyndrum, initially to The Bridge of Orchy and eventually across Rannoch Moor to Kingshouse, a distance of 19 miles, some 5 miles further than the other days. The path was one of Telfords Scottish Military roads and, despite the driving rain we were flying.

We got to The Bridge of Orchy Hotel 6.5 miles away by 11.15 and ordered some hot chocolates, happy to be out of the rain. Of course, as soon as we sat down the sun came out. Hey ho.

After 10 minutes, 3 old boys came in, dressed in tweed jackets and upper class cords. The ones with no back pockets. The didn’t acknowledge me, which surprised me, maybe they didn’t notice the cut of my jib. Later, I went to use the toilet. The Gents was being refurbished, so we had to use the Ladies.  One of them (I like to think his name was Binky) stood behind me in the queue. ” Bah”, he exhaled, in best Stephen Fry, Melchett tones, “queuing for the Ladies, what?” I imagine he’d recognised me as the First Earl of Battersby Junction, Lord Milton Schafenaker, but maybe I’m fooling myself.

Back out into the sunshine then and over a hill to Inveron (sp?). We walked straight past the Hotel and its red deer, walked towards the Forest Lodge and then stopped for our packed lunch.

I had (yet) another tuna mayo sandwich (yesterday’s had grated cheese as well, yummy) and then opened my lucozade bottle of coke. I felt it start to fizz as I unscrewed the lid but was a bit perturbed when the blue cap flew past my face, up into the air and landed 30 feet behind us. It could have had my eye out.

A bit further up the path we found a dead red deer. All of its vital organs had gone from its head and if you asked me what all that was about, I’d have to say “no idea”. (I apologise for that – I tried to resist but I’m quite tired and my guard is down).

Fenton, you’ve gone too far this time!

The walk across Rannoch Moor was awe inspiring. The sun was out, there wasn’t a building in sight and it felt like we were on top of the world. On a day like this I feel glad to be alive.

We still had quite a way to go and even though the path was great it was quite a trek. We stopped for a short break near the River Ba, which was swollen with snow melt, just before we reached the highest point of the whole walk.

Finally, we dropped down towards Glencoe and past what is claimed to the most photographed cottage in Scotland. I imagine that record will only last until they put a blue plaque on the Crankies’ house. Anyway, it’s a small climbers hut used by the lady climbers of Glasgow. I remember seeing La Bradbury there on Clundyfile.

We could actually see our hotel now and walked down the track towards it. Jodie suddenly pointed upwards and we watched a Golden Eagle soar overhead and off towards the mountains.

A brilliant end to a fantastic day.

Day Six – 9 miles – Rain, rain, rain, rain. Beautiful rain!

An interesting evening on Wed night in the bar. A Danish couple who we’d seen off and on all week were chatting to two of our Caledonian cousins.  The subject was whisky and the lady Dane was giving the McScotties a master class in distilleries and types of single malt. They’re great Danes aren’t they?  The younger kiltie had never tried whisky (he’s frae Glasgae for flip’s sake) so off he went to the bar to buy some. Now, we used to have an M.D. who embarrassed us once in a pub in Manchester by asking the barman for a pint of their most popular bitter, so I felt for the young fella when he tried to get the antipodean cheeky chappie to recommend a wee dram. After a list of questions about phenolics, peat and smoke he settled on an Oban. A fine choice young McTavish and an excellent start to your alcoholic career.  I had a Ben Nevis, half a Bruchladdich Waves (they’d almost run out so he gave us what was left for free – you can take the Tyke out of Yorkshire, etc) and a MacCallan Sherry and very nice they all were too. I also had a couple of G & Ts as well, so sleep should have been guaranteed. I made the mistake of having a coffee though so that ruined that plan.

We were joined by two lady OAPs that we’d seen on the trail and I really enjoyed their company. There was a glint in their eyes and humour in their speech. I hope I’m as sprightly as them when I’m their age (in about 8 years time!). They’d got the bus to Tyndrum that morning (“We’ve got free bus passes you know; the driver knows us quite well now” – take note Cameron/Osbourne, small perks like these are extremely valuable) and were walking 3 days of the WHW.

I’d been looking forward to venison casserole all week. I know it’s a little dear but, hey, I’m on holiday. For the first time, it was on the menu but, typically, they’d run out by the time we’d ordered. C’est la vie, there’ll be other nights.

And so to breakfast and this morning’s had no sausage at all, neither flat nor round. Why you ask? Well, there’s a surcharge of £2 each for a cooked breakfast and we decided to stick it to the man by going all continental. Croissant filled with a cheese slice anyone? I wouldn’t care, it’s not as if we’re short of £4, but everyone has to have principals.

There was some very strange behaviour from the two young people who caught our train up from Preston. We’ve exchanged pleasantries over the course of the week but as they’ve generally been using hostels we haven’t had the pleasure of their company for breakfast before.

They were on a table facing me, so I was intrigued when the girl grabbed the tea pot as soon as it arrived and fished all the tea bags out. She then proceeded to pour the spare hot water from the other pot into her cup for her own drink, whilst her boyfriend drunk the “tea” from the pot. Maybe it’s a religious thing. He is very, very intensive (Jodie used the word “slow”, but I’m not sure that’s PC any more) and chats to everyone, without actually saying anything.

On the subject of tea, why do I carry my own weight in Kendal Mintcake, Mars Bars and medication but never pack any Yorkshire Gold tea bags? They don’t weigh anything and take up little space but would be lifesavers when you get back to your room.  Those Tetley tea-dust bags just don’t compare.

So I’d better tell you about the walking today. Only 9 miles but up and over a mountain (o.k., maybe a large hill).  We set off in pouring rain and things gradually got worse. The first hour was relatively easy on a decent track but we were getting wet. The hills were covered in clouds with no sign of any brightness.

We turned right off the track onto a boulder strewn uphill path which got steeper and steeper. We coped by setting short term goals such as “to the next bend in the path” or “that big boulder” and then having a breather. The route went up the Devil’s Staircase (I don’t think the name is meant as a euphemism) whilst we looked out for Judas’s Tallboy* and Saint Rocco’s Knee Support* on the way.

Halfway up, the rain turned to sleet and then to hail.  By the top it was snowing quite heavily! Once at the summit we thought it would be plain sailing but the long downhill section (my poor toes) led to a gradual climb again. The path alternated between compressed granite which was quite pleasant to walk on, and large granite boulders, many with sharp pointy bits on top. (Stop me if I’m getting too technical here!)

Eventually, we spotted our destination, the village of Kinlochleven, in the distance and briefly the sun came out. We laughed about sitting outside a pub quaffing a pint of Otter’s Crutch* and feeling sorry for those who’d set off after us.

Then the heaven’s opened again, this time with a vengeance. At one point, I’m sure I saw a bearded chap herding deer, sheep, pine martens, etc into twos and taking them into his strange shaped boat.

On and on we went, downhill.  Down and down fell the rain, whilst all the time the village seemed to get no closer. We passed a hydro electric dam with huge fall pipes heading down the hill. As we got nearer to the village these were carrying so much water that large jets of spray were shooting from the joints. Imagine the set of Blade Runner, but he’s in a kilt.

Of course, as soon as we got into the village, the sun came out. We got lost and had to ask the way to our accommodation, The Highland Getaway. It wasn’t far away and we were looking forward to soup and a sandwich, then to our warm rooms to get into some dry clothes.

I suppose one out of two ain’t bad. The lentil soup and ham and cheese sandwich were good, as was the hot chocolate.  We’d walked there in 4 hours so it was 1pm as we entered the bar. Unfortunately, our bags weren’t due until 3pm!

We sat in the bar, as many of the local secondary school kids arrived for lunch. It was strange to see the whole place full of wee bairns, but they were really well behaved and obviously used the cafe/bar every day. They did all order chips of course, some with cheese. Overhearing their conversations is always fun, particularly when one said, “my cat is a tax dodger” At least that’s what I thought he said. Jodie put me right. He actually told his friend that, ” my cat’s harder than your dog, Roger”. Makes slightly more sense, I guess.

We stayed in the bar, wet and cold, until the bags arrived, just before 4pm. We’d been there 3 hours. The barmaid showed us down the road to the accommodation which is fine, but no bath, which is a shame, and Jo and I have our own shared shower room.

So, we reach the last night and who knows what that will bring. We’ve got 14 miles to walk to Fort William tomorrow, where Alison and Simon are meeting us, and the forecast isn’t great but I’m sure we’ll get there.

More tomorrow from the end of the road.

I’ve been Martin Bellamy, good night.

* these, of course, are made up names.

Day Seven – 14 miles – Bearing out…

A quiet night in Kinlochleven – we had Lasagne and chips and retired quite early to get ready for our last day. We didn’t visit the Aluminium Museum, which was a missed opportunity, particularly as it had been raining so much, as it would have given me the chance to use the famous lines from the Wizard of Oz: “I’m smelting, smelting”. Still, we didn’t and I won’t.

Another bad night’s sleep – the bed was too small (or I was too big). Strangely, I’d managed to fall into a deep sleep before Heather Small started to sing Proud to me. She wasn’t there: it’s my alarm call. I like to think of her as one of M’s People.

Back along the road for breakfast. I had the light alternative (1 sausage [round], 2 bacon, an egg and toast). Jo had a sausage and egg roll, again it was a round sausage when a flat one would have fitted better.

Back to the rooms to pack and we’re off. 10 minutes of flat walking in the rain and then, flip me, we’re off uphill again. Now, I suspect my head had already told me we’d virtually finished, so I was really struggling. Jo was very supportive, in her own way, and we set goals again until we got to the top.  Once up there, we could see the trail stretching interminably ahead of us for mile after mile.

We had rain, we had hail, we had sleet. No snow today but the wind was strong and in our faces, making walking tough. On and on we went, in our stride and passing people. We’d stop conversation by now as we dug in to get some miles under our belts.

After what seemed like hours (and was in fact hours) we came across a small gazebo type shelter where a chap was giving out tea and coffee in return for a donation and answering a survey on the WHW. Frankly, I’d have had his kids there and then. One of the downsides of the route are the limited opportunities for refreshment breaks, so to come upon him there was such a surprise.

After the drinks, there was a choice of routes. Uphill, on a rough track to Fort William, or a more level route on a metalled road, which is the option we took for a number of reasons. Firstly, we were ready to finish and whilst there was virtually no difference in distance we didn’t really want to be bunched up with all the walkers who’d stopped to have a brew.  There was another reason but I’ll come to that later.

After a few miles we were really pleased we’d taken the road. The views were amazing, there was no one around and we got to pass some lovely remote farmsteads and holiday cottages.  There were some very steep hills but they were do-able and we stopped beside a stream for a drink and a break.

The road went steeply upwards and suddenly we were at a viewpoint looking down on Fort William, our final destination.

We walked down into the town and along the loch side to the end of the town. We couldn’t find the official end to the WHW and as we were heading into town centre, Alison turned up in the Landrover. Perfect, we could walk Boz to the finish.

After a photo opportunity and a snack in a cafe, Simon turned up as well and Alison and I left to collect our bags. We had to wait an hour for them to arrive but eventually we were able to leave for our hotel.

It’s been a tough week.

Would I do it again? Probably not. I’ve told Alison I’m not doing another long distance walk, but by the end of the year I’ll probably fancy it again.

Oh, I said there was another reason for choosing the deserted road option. If you’re of a prim or sensitive nature, then now is the time to stop reading. I wasn’t going to elaborate but Jo said she’d put something in the comments on FB if I didn’t. You have been warned.

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Those of you who’ve known me for any length of time will know that I’ve always had trouble internally. I had an ulcer at 15 and lived off my first wife’s Zantac for many years. Others will know that, to put it politely, my ablutions tend to be all or nothing. I’ve been know to go 4-5 days without and also to go 4-5 times in an hour. I’ve had friends waiting outside for 45 minutes and I’ve been in and out in 30 secs. It’s an issue, but there’s not much I can do about it.

So why take the lonely road? Let’s just say that it’s not only bears who go in the woods.

There is a full set of pics here: Flickr

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