In which my knees terrify some WHW walkers…
Up at 6.30am, away before 8am…after washing some of my smellier smellies. The sun, even at this time, shone hotly – my soggy laundry would dry fairly quickly in this heat.
Water tap by Lundavra – no water though
The day’s route was very straight-forward and *mostly* easy underfoot: north by Lundavra, then following the West Highland Way, south and east, to Kinlochleven.
Lots of walkers encountered – all going the other way (to Fort Bill, the end of the WHW). Many took delight in telling me I was going the wrong way (this is not news to me, I usually go the wrong way), others wanted to know whether I was doing the WHW in the ‘other’ direction – North to South.
I think the WHW must be marketed quite heavily overseas, a very substantial proportion of walkers were from overseas: many Americans, a large Japanes party and and goodly number of Dutch and Germans. The Way must provide an important source of revenue for businesses on the route.
Walking in a kilt
American ladies swooned. Japanese photographers clicked away, English walkers blushed, German walkers politely averted their gaze….
I had to pose for so many photographs that day that it added a good hour to my walk – great fun though!
My Sports Kilt was generating a lot of interest. In all seriousness, this is the best of walking kit I’ve bought in a long while. It’s extremely comfortable, lightweight and very practical. At 330gms it’s not exactly heavy and because it’s made from microfibre it dries very quickly.
It helped that the weather was so good of course, but even in moderate rain it did it’s stuff well.
The risk of ticks was uppermost in my mind when I was walking through undergrowth. I’d treated my kilt (and my undies) with Permethrin before setting out and this gave me some peace of mind. There was only one day where I didn’t wear the kilt all day, that was my Day 3 through Glen Gour where it just *looked* like good tick-breeding ground. As it happened I didn’t encounter one tick on my entire crossing.
Sports Kilt is an American company, I ordered mine (and Mike’s) whilst I was in USA earlier in the year – perhaps a Scottish manufacturer could take up the reigns and produce them over here.
Back to the walk…
I’ve walked the WHW a couple of times, always South to North, going the other way transorms it into a completely different walk – no better or worse, just different.
The route was mostly but not always easy underfoot, some of the path was covered in loose rocks and stones which slowed my progress from time-to-time. The absolute worst bit was the final steep-ish descent to Kinlochleven – I nearly ended up on my bum a couple of times.
I’d booked into the campsite at the back of the MacDonald Hotel, it was very quiet when I arrived, but within a couple of hours it was rammed. It’s a reasonable commercial site, £10 a night and good facilities – the ground was stony under a couple of inches of grassy soil though.
The Kilted Pieman was refused permission to camp, apparently the site was full – although he could have squeezed on quite easily.
The hotel served decent food and very excellent beer (Cairngorm Trade Winds). I’d hardly eaten all day so I ordered a decent lunch but I struggled to finish it.
I’d sent a food parcel to the hotel, it *should* have contained maps for the next section of my walk….but it didn’t. What the hell happened there then? I had my route description with me of course, I also had my Garmin Etrex20 so I had a fall back, it wasn’t ideal though. (I since found the maps….at home, in a box. A different box.)
A couple of other Challengers appeared, notably John Jacklin and Scott – good blokes, the pair of them.
Mike ended up camping at the Blackwater campsite, we met up for nosh and beer at the Tail Race, decent food but no proper beer – just fizz.
Mike’s route wasn’t too dissimilar to mine so we decided to team up for a few days (he had his maps!), certainly until my next food parcel which would hopefully contain some maps.
In bed by 11pm, nicely relaxed and ready for a good night’s kip. It wasn’t to be though, noise from adjacent tents and the camping pods kept me awake until the early hours…then it was coming light at 4.30am. Ho hum.
Cuckoo count 4
Other wildlife encountered: Norralot, not even any Challengers on the route.