Tuesday, October 16, 2007

West Highland Way (Part Nine).

Since Tyndrum I’d been walking on General Wades military road. The going was excellent, it was 3:30pm and I’d only another three miles to go, things were going well.
Looking back from Rannoch Moor, (63.5 miles - 4:01pm).
The only problem I had was the same one I’d had since the start of my journey and that was the problem concerning my hips that were still as sore as ever. I make no apologies for keep mentioning this as it was a major source of discomfort. I felt sure the basis of the problem lay with the new trousers I bought for this walk in particular the zips on the pockets. I tried adjusting them this way and that without much relief, after all there is only really one position for a pair of trousers to be worn, other than that they are either to far up or too far down or you end up with your knickers in a twist. A man can only take so much though and I’d put up with it until the 64th mile. At that point I threw off the rucksack at the same time uttering a few choice words in frustration. I’d decided new trousers or not something had to be done. I whipped out my pocket knife – its okay I’m not about to slit my wrists or anything. I set too and hacked off all the teeth on the zip to the right hand pocket threatening the left zip that if this experiment proved a success it would be receiving the same treatment. Successful it certainly was, so much so I was attacking left hand zip like a mad axe man one mile later. The difference it made was unbelievable, I cursed myself for not thinking to do it 63 miles ago.
Looking forward, the way goes over the hill in centre of picture, (65 miles).
Tonight’s pitch was to be a wild pitch, that’s if things had gone to plan, unfortunately they didn’t. my problems started shortly before I reached my intended site. In the distance I could see something white, I jokingly said to myself, because by this point in the journey I was talking to anything that would listen, that looks like a 4x4. I didn’t believe it for one minute, I was in the middle of nowhere, why would it be a 4x4, let alone a 4x4 right where I’d planned to pitch my tent for the night, plans that were made 300 miles away at least 6 months before hand, it couldn’t be. As I got closer I could see to my disbelief that it was a 4x4 and worse still the owner was standing by the side of it, someone must have ratted on me! There was no way I was going to be pitching my tent there that night. I stopped for a minute trying to think what to do next.

‘No matter which way the wind blows,
Its always cold when you’re alone’.

Is what the song was saying. In the end I decided to go on past him now resigned to making the rest of the day up as I went along. Maybe there would be a decent place to pitch my tent around the corner, maybe there wouldn’t – who knows, the plans were out the window and blowing away across the wilderness they call Rannoch Moor. I’m sure there are many plans running free in that remoteness.
As I got level with the man who was scanning the wilderness intently he lowered his binoculars and said good afternoon. I replied likewise thinking it was a great afternoon until you went and spoilt it but you can’t hold that sort of thing against a guy, not when he wishes you well so I stopped and started talking to him, as I said earlier I was into conversation with who or whatever, it had become a new found passion of mine. I asked him if he was a shepherd, he said not and went on to inform me that he was stalking deer. Now these guys are not far removed from gamekeepers so not the sort of person you would ask to move their vehicle a little so you can pitch your tent. I was scrabbling around in my brain trying to find a plan that involved soft soaping deer stalkers when he asked if I was going to Kingshouse for the night. I thought, this is my chance, he seems a decent sort of chap, I’ll ask if it would be okay for me to pitch my tent somewhere along the way. So I opened my mouth and said, ‘YES that’s right’. Now I can see how to you that might not make much sense, to fully understand it you would need to be a coward like me.
Views of Rannoch Moor.

Its not all easy being a coward, I’d just landed myself an extra 5 miles to the days walk. There was only one thing to do now so I set about knocking off the miles to Kinghouse Hotel. It was 5pm so with a good track underfoot and the wind behind me I should be there between 7 and half past. I could just make out the action men on the horizon 2 miles in front of me. This encouraged me to set a cracking pace. I never expected to catch them up but to my surprise on rounding a bend at the 4th mile in to my extension to the days walk I came upon them a few hundred yards in front of me. I eased my pace as I didn’t really want to catch them, it was getting embarrassing. So I followed them down the track to the Kingshouse Hotel, which is Scotland’s oldest inn. I never saw them again. That is just about the saddest part of being a long distance walker, no matter whether they are good, bad or ugly they are only ever passing ships. I’ve met hundreds of people, I can count the bad ones on just one hand, all the rest were great guys and gals, the best I’ve ever known yet they only belong to that moment in time – it’s so sad.

Approaching Kingshouse and Glen Coe.

4 Comments:

Blogger Lois Billingham Currie said...

Bob, I knew this ongoing post was here in the same way as one has a good book tucked away in their night table for a future read, when one has time. Tonight with my tea in my favorite china mug, I have finally read all nine posts.
Your writing style reminds me of Paul Theroux, have you read any of his books? 'Riding the Iron Rooster' is wonderful. Keep on, I will be back!

4:51 AM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Bob ~~ Another interesting chapter of your big walk. And I see you put the map on the top. I think this was a good idea and I am sure others would be happy to follow your tracks. Especially, folks who know the area. Thanks Bob.
Take care, Regards, Merle.

5:28 AM  
Blogger Jeanette said...

Hi Bob another very interesting walk and more beautifull scenery, Ohh why didnt you cut the zippers earlier, At least you got a little relief after doing soo...

12:37 PM  
Blogger UKBob said...

Ha ha - I know! Those darn zippers were a challenge for sure. Yes Merle I put the maps on in the end, I just hope no one starts moaning about them being copyrighted or something.

10:16 PM  

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