Shore leave

I’ve made it to Fort William, just short of 200 miles down the road from John O’Groats, which means I’m around 20% of the way through the walk and in need of a little break, which is what I’m having as I’m going to be doing nothing more strenuous than strolling around town for the next couple of days, giving my body a chance to recover from the strains of recent days, most notably the 20-odd miles I walked from Laggan to here yesterday. The good thing about doing the Great Glen Way from north to south is that you get the flatter stages – when you’re mostly walking either lochside or along the Caledonian Canal – at the end, though even then the people who laid out the route seem to think that they occasionally have to throw in the odd steep incline just to show you some trees you might otherwise not have noticed amongst the several million that surround them.

Anyway, it was nice to get to Fort William yesterday evening and see the big granite slab that marks the end, if only because I’ve realised this is likely to be the only long-distance trail I’m going to do from start to finish during this trip (though even here I did skip a bit near Invermoriston where taking the road instead cut about an hour out of what would have been a long day) – I’ll be leaving the West Highland Way before the end, skipping the top and bottom ends of the Pennine Way, and even missing out the very northern end of the Cotswold Way. Still, it’s not as if I’m giving them up in favour of an easier option – just a slightly shorter one than slavishly following them the whole way would entail.

Anyway, I’m still well, if somewhat tired after all the walking and two nights in youth hostels – is there a World Snoring Championships happening near here at the moment? Both Friday and Saturday night saw me sharing dorms with people who could have competed very strongly in that – but all will be fine once I’ve had a chance to rest my muscles and replenish my energy levels ready for the West Highland Way. So, here’s the provisional schedule for the next week or so, after tomorrow’s second rest day:

Wednesday 9th: Fort William to Kinlochleven
Thursday 10th: Kinlochleven to Kingshouse
Friday 11th: Kingshouse to Bridge of Orchy
Saturday 12th: Bridge of Orchy to Crianlarich
Sunday 13th: Crianlarich to Rowardennan
Monday 14th: Rowardennan to Drymen
Tuesday 15th: Drymen to Kilsyth – I’ll be leaving the WHW slightly before the end at Strathblane to follow the canal path to Kilsyth. I could finish the Way, but then I’d effectively have to double back on myself to head to Edinburgh.
Wednesday 16th: Kilsyth to Falkirk or Linlithgow – basically, it depends on how I feel when I get to Falkirk. If I feel up to it, I’ll complete that section on that day, otherwise I’ll do it the day after.

And then I get the train into Edinburgh for another nice rest period before starting off again by completing the final section along the canal from Linlithgow into Edinburgh on Sunday 20th, and anyone who fancies joining me for a day is more than welcome to come along. I’ll havfe more details of times etc nearer the date, but I’ll likely be on a train from Edinburgh out to Linlithgow sometime around 9 in the morning, and we’ll get back to Edinburgh that evening.

Right, I have some important lazing around and doing nothing to get to, so I’ll leave you with a reminder to donate if you haven’t already and a thankyou to all of you who have.