Tuesday, October 16, 2007

West Highland Way (Part Five).

Two miles from the bothy the sun disappeared behind the mountains on the far side of the loch. It soon grew quite dark under the trees and the light took with it any thoughts of reaching Doune bothy this day.

Sunset over Loch Lomond.

My thoughts turned instead to finding a pitch while there was still a little bit of light left. Within minutes my prayers were answered as I emerged from the trees in to a beautiful clearing overlooking the loch. It was idyllic, it was also lighter once out from under the trees and with the light returned thoughts of Doune Bothy, perhaps I could get there after all. I stood there in the clearing for what seemed like ages debating with myself whether to press on or stay. The place was heavenly and normally that alone would have decided things for me, especially as it had been an absolutely murderous day. I was on my last legs and my hips felt like they were cut to the bone by the hip belt of my rucksack. But I just couldn’t give in, not when I was so close. The thing that eventually made my mind up was the knowledge that if I stopped here it would me having to add another one and a half miles to the next days walk. For sure the going would probably going to be easier tomorrow but I didn’t know that for sure, there was nothing to say that it wouldn’t be even harder than today. So in the end the thought of staying here in the clearing and so making my walk tomorrow over twenty miles was too much so with this in mind I hauled up my sack on to my weary back and pressed on, back in to the forest, back in to the darkness, back to slipping and stumbling over the rough path. Within a quarter of a mile I was once again stopped, this time contemplating returning to the clearing I’d just passed, the going now in the dark was even more pitifully slow. There was to be no turning back though, I’d made my decision so I would abide by it whatever the outcome. The outcome was that after another half mile of stumbling along in almost complete darkness I stopped again, this time to get the torch from my rucksack. To have continued without it would have been very dangerous.
Now with the torch lighting the way I was able to place my feet with more confidence and it was reassuring to know that barring battery failure I would eventually reach my destination. But because of my now limited vision I was unable to pick out any landmarks so was not able to judge where I was on the map. There was no sense of travelling, like walking in the fog. I kept on putting on foot in front of the other and hoping I was going in the right direction, I could see the path okay so I just hoped it was the right path and it was taking me to Doune Bothy which must be getting close by now. Occasionally something would dark across my path, I think I saw a fox, and somewhere to my right there was a hoot of an owl away in to the forest. It was quite spooky with lots of noises noticeable that you don’t hear during the day. Somewhere close by there was for a short while some considerable amount of fluttering of wings, I have no idea what it was, I just kept on walking. I walked for what seemed like hours although it wasn’t maybe only one hour before I eventually brole free of the forest. The torch picked out something quite large up ahead. Was it a building or just another large rock? As I got closer I could see that sure enough it was a building, two buildings in fact. One was off to my left but it was the one directly in front of me that I was most interested in. The door was wide open and as I passed through I could see with great relief that this was it. The whole of one end was taken up by a raised area, at the opposite end there was a fireplace with a raise area to each side of it. I chose the end with the large raised area to dump off my rucksack for the last time that day. I chose the larger sleeping platform because I fancied doing some lying down in a big way! With this in mind I went over to the corner of the sleeping platform to fetch the two sleeping mats that some kind soul had left. I pick up the first one to find there was something on it, a closer inspection with the torch revealed that someone had been sick on it. It took all my self control to stop myself from adding to it. I realised that this was not turning out to be one of my better days. I would have moved to the other end of the bothy by the fireplace but by now I was having trouble standing up never mind doing anything complicated like walking. I knew I should have packed my grans wheelchair.

Night time at Doune Bothy (9:15pm).

Before going any further I will just explain that a bothy is some kind of a building, more common in Scotland than in other parts of the UK. They can be any sort of old building from say a shepherds hut to an old railway truck. If you want more information please visit http://www.mountainbothies.org.uk/


Blogger Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I enjoyed reading about your trek. Better you than me. Wilderness canoeing in my preferred adventure.

The link to the Bothe site was interesting. There are lots of pictures of th highland area.

1:42 AM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Bob ~~ Great post, but is this what you call FUN ? It sounds more
like torture to me. Well done, on
surviving!! Thanks for your comments and you would be welcome to share some roast lamb. Olive is an Aussie blogger, the oldest in the world and was 108 yesterday. She lives in a Nursing Home and has a helper who does all the typing and makes videos of her singing or talking about her early life. She is very alert and witty. Take care, Regards, Merle.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Jeanette said...

Gday Bob,Wheww that was a long hike, your hips must have got very sore carrying your heavy pack all those miles.very interesting reading about about your shelter for the night.
OOOppps Nearly forgot to say love the sunset over Loch Lomond

10:52 AM  
Blogger UKBob said...

Yes for sure it was a hard day back in those days though I sort of relished the challenge for some reason so even though it was hard work it was enjoyable afterwards, I'm not so sure I would take on so much these days though. About the hips Jeanette, there was a reason for why they were huring so much at the start of this walk and the reason will eventually be disclosed. Loch Lomond and many of the other lochs are popular with boating people and I was actually thinking of getting a canoe but then we went and left the area so I never got to enjoy that. I will just point out at this point just to save any confusion, Loch Ness is where the monster lives, Loch Lomond is where the song is written about 'you take the high road and I'll take the low road' Maybe you will have heard it at sometime. Bob.

1:54 PM  

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