The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Day 43 - Tyndrum to beyond Kingshouse

Tuesday 4 May
Distance: 21 miles (Tot: 736 miles)

Last night, over a cup of tea, we sat in the campers' kitchen and considered our options for the next few days and came up with any number of possible plans. One of those plans involved taking a day off today to allow our weary legs to recover, and all of the others involved short days.

None of those plans featured walking more than 20 miles along the WHW, but in view of the weather forecast, which suggested that our high route wasn't the wise choice, that's what we did (I'm likely to sulk about missing that ridge for quite a while yet, even if my legs and achilles are secretly grinning with pleasure).

With the Post Office not opening until 9.30 this morning, it was a leisurely start with a lie-in followed by an absolutely massive cooked breakfast at the Green Welly Stop, before posting my boots and gaiters off. It was gone 10am when we ambled our way out of town.

Actually, it wasn't so much an amble as a trot. The going is so easy on the WHW that we were soon overtaking people. We overtook a lot of people today (popular route!); no-one overtook us, which tells me that they were all maintaining much more sensible paces.

What is it with the walkers we were seeing on the WHW, though? So many of those we passed didn't seem to be enjoying it one little bit (and this is in reasonable weather). With so many walking along glum faced, staring at the ground, it's often been difficult to get even a grunt of greeting.

We did manage to look around, chat and possibly even look quite cheerful as we marched along. How can you not be pleased with the sight of the complete nothing and desolation on Rannoch Moor?

The fact that it's a section of the Way that we've walked before probably helped with our speed (although I seem to recall that we did it at quite a pace previously too).

Pausing at lunchtime (which fell late today, after such a big breakfast, but was of course timed perfectly to coincide with a shower), we considered our options for how far to walk. Initially I was in favour of pushing on and seeing where we got to; Mick was in favour of stopping at Ba Cottage. We weighed up the pros and cons and I was soon convinced that Ba Cottage was indeed the sensible option.

With Ba Cottage being just a mile and a half after our lunch location, it was looking like a short afternoon, except that on getting there Mick unexpectedly declared a willingness to carry on, and so that's what we did.

Kingshouse was reached at just before 5pm (which felt early given our late start and easy walk), but I had no intention of camping there. As lovely as the pitches along the river are (and it was a completely different place today compared to our wash-out there in Oct 2008), it's a popular place at this time of year, there are no places to hide to go to the loo, and the hotel is quite clear that campers cannot use their facilities in the morning.

We didn't just walk on by. The bar was calling, so in we popped for a quick sit down and a drink. It was full of perfectly cheerful walkers, who did seem to be enjoying themselves, which would suggest that the people we've been overtaking aren't a good representation of the whole. Three of those chaps (who may have been called Stuart, Geoff and Gareth, and at least two of whose names I may have misspelt), spotting the panels on our backpacks put their hands in their pockets and made a donation to H4H. Another encounter that put a spring in our steps for the last push of the day.

Having over-heated nicely whilst indoors, we were almost shivering as the cloud started descending and we started making our way towards Devil's Staircase.

We did find a pitch on the way there. It's not going to win any awards for discretion. We're a few paces off the Way, and well within sight of the A82 (should a driver peer up the hillside whilst passing). However, rain was threatening, it seems unlikely that anyone's going to pass this way at this time of day and we'll be off early in the morning, so it will do nicely.

And the plan for tomorrow? Who knows? Based on the forecast it will be the WHW again - it's just a matter of how far we fancy walking.

(Ken - glad we didn't just miss you. As we saw the miriad of paths even on the ridge, we realised how easy it would be to miss even someone you had a firm time and place to meet. As for the way down the spur, we did find a path for a little section, then lost it in a boggy bit. It may have continued, but we were quite happy taking our own line; it was easy enough terrain. We met a chap in the evening who had come down to Dalrigh who was telling us about the horror of the quagmire. We felt quite smug!
Geoff - Easter Drumquhassle is a very small site. The facilities are portacabins (no hot water) in a barn, and you could use the rest of the barn for shelter, but there are no tables/chairs in there. Beinglas, just beyond Loch Lomond has a big, fully equipped corrugated shelter (and grass!).
Chris/Martin - personally, for our current purposes, I like MWIS for its detail - even if it doesn't always tell me what I want to hear. At least with the BBC there's a better chance they'll change their minds from one day to the next!
Martin - the plan out of Kinlochleven had been to go over Am Bodach, Sgurr an lubhair, Stob Ban and Mullach nan Coirean. However, based on where we are tonight, that would have been tomorrow, and given the forecast I think as low as possible is the order of the day - which also rules out Beinn na Caillich.
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1 comment:

  1. This is such a great blog, but I wonder if you are starting to sound a little smug? Having completed all the National Trails, plus LEJOG and a complete UK coastal walk, I too find myself adopting "serious" walker mode and end up criticising my fellow walkers on the so-called less challenging walks, like the WHW. Sometimes however, a touch of humility goes a long way and reminds you where you started.