Tuesday, October 16, 2007

West Highland Way (Part Four).

I reached Rowardennan at 3:40pm. This is the end of the road for public motor cars. At Rowardennan was a sign which informed me Inversnaid was seven miles further on, and my target for today – Doune Bothy was another two and a half miles beyond this. I reckoned that at my present rate of travel I still had nearly six hours walking in front of me. This would mean at least an hours walking in the dark then there would be the camp chores to be attended too. With this in mind I decided to fill my water bottles at the toilet block in Rowardennan car park. Four pints adds quite a bit of weight to the already heavy pack but I figured it would be better than stumbling around looking for water in the dark if I ever reached Doune Bothy which was by no means certain the way things were going.

When the time came to leave Rowardennan I was still coming to terms with the fact that I’d only covered half the distance for the days walk. What a daunting prospect to think I’d still got as much to do again, and in less time if I was to make it before nightfall. But it was like the song in my head was once again saying,

“No one else can get you through,
Right or wrong win or lose,
It’s all up to you.”

Looking back down Loch Lomond.

The first five mile of the way after Rowardennan was along a good forestry road. I made good time on this part of the journey which lifted my spirits no end. Even with a stop for a ‘Mars Bar’ I averaged 2.7 miles per hour. This was one of the parts of the West Highland way that I’d walked earlier in the year, it was easy to see how I’d been fooled in to thinking the way up the side of Loch Lomond would be a walkover, not that its any excuse. You can see on the map if you care to look that this stretch is an exception.
The way after Rowardennan - the good bit!
Once the forestry road came to an end my pace over the rest of the distance was a dismal 1.4 miles per hour. I was once again back on a switchback of a trackwinding its way through forest. It was the sort of path to amble along at a slow pace. It consisted more often than not of rocks, not the nice flat sort but the kind designed to trip, sprain and break human bodies – and minds in this instance. There were also fallen trees to overcome, or undercome, sometimes on hands and knees.
A fallen tree on the way to Inversnaid.

I was never allowed to get in to a rhythm, so even under full sail as I was one could never manage more than an ambling pace. Every step was a tiresome balancing act.

Shortly before reaching Inversnaid I passed three action men laid flat out in the grass. It was a case of the tortoise and the hare as earlier in the day they’d stormed past leaving me looking like the cripple I was feeling. But now the boot seemed to be on the other foot. I straightened my bowing legs and arched back, put the tongue back in my mouth and strode up to them like Clint Eastwood on a good day.

‘Now then lads, are you okay’? I asked.

Above the whimpering I heard one of them say they were staying at Inversnaid and asked was I.

I dauntlessly said, ‘no, I think I will press on to Doune Bothy’.

With that I said goodbye and breezed off in to the sunset to resume my tortured gait just around the next corner. This was not to say that there was any sort of contest going on between us, you just like to think you can hold your own with the young guys.

It was 6:55pm when I walked over the bridge by the waterfall at Inversnaid. By now I was hoping for a miracle because I knew that even under average conditions I was not going to make it to the bothy by nightfall and the circumstances were well below average and would become more so as the light failed…


Blogger Jeanette said...

Me Again Bob,I bet you felt good passing the younger men taking a rest, Lol till you got out of site, Dont you get lonely out there alone with out your trusty dog to keep you company?.. looking forward to next episode.... Jen

2:46 AM  
Blogger UKBob said...

Hi Jen, thats a good question actually. The West Highalnd Way walk was undertaken back in 1990 and during every long walk I did I experienced just about every emotion going during the walk but basically speaking I didn't get to feeling lonely or miss anything back home but for some reason these past few years have been without long walks for that very reason. The last couple of long walks that I did I missed my family and everything really badly which is a shame as I really used to enjoy getting away walking for weeks at a time. Bob.

9:46 AM  

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