That’s how many miles a day I’ve walked for the past few weeks – not including rest days, of course – which is a pretty good average, I believe, especially considering the varied terrain I’ve been on recenlty. In simple terms, that’s 318 miles over 19 days.
So, where am I now? Well, there’s the story…
Monday saw me heading from Rowardennan to Drymen (pronounced drummen) and just glad to be away from the tough route down the side of Loch Lomond and onto proper paths, that actually gave you some time to admire the views around you and not spend all the time looking down at your feet, checking for tree roots theatening to ensnare and trip you. I even got a chance to take a break on a little beach by the loch that had lots of flat stones so I could practice my skimming technique, though four bounces was the best I managed.
I actually skipped out on part of the West Highland Way that afternoon, taking the road from Balmaha to Drymen rather than the path over Conic Hill and through the forest because my shoulder was hurting and I wanted to get the rucksack off sooner rather than later. Drymen iss a nice little town, and I was able to get a room in the Clachan Inn, which is the oldest pub in Scotland, apparently. Really, though, why be concerned about age when they have Budvar on tap?
The next day I did a few more miles on the Way, but had to leave it before the end (or the beginning as it is for most people) in Milngavie, as I was heading for Edinburgh, not Glasgow, so got to follow a dismantled railway down towards Strathblane and then on through the Kelvin Valley through Lennoxtown and Milton of Campsie to Kirkintilloch which was a very pleasant day’s walking across mostly flat land, surrounded by farmland and with the Campsie Fells rising up to my left. The rather peaceful day was only marred by the interruption from overhead as jets heading into Glasgow Airport were passing by at regular intervals.
Having had great success in finding nice B&Bs by just turning up in a town and looking for one – the nice places in Helmsdale and Drymen had been ones I’d just turned up at, whereas the not as good ones in Drumnadrochit and Fort William had been booked in advance, I backed myself and my zen-like accomodation finding skills to find somewhere good in Kirkintillioch…and failed miserably, as if the town had any B&Bs they were either hiding away, or not in the places I looked, so I ended up in Smith’s Hotel, which cost about twice as much as a B&B but was very pleasant.
And then from there it was a very easy day’s walking from there to Falkirk today, as I was following the Forth and Clyde Canal just about the entire day, and only needed to consult the map to discover just where I was and just what the various towns in the distance might be. There’s not much to say about canal path walking on a sunny day that doesn’t involve around various words that all mean ‘pleasant’, though it was nice to meet other walkers who were just people out for a stroll and not all other long-distance walkers as I’ve been encountering on the Ways recently. I even got my first spontaneous donation to the BRT from two women I chatted to for a while which gave a good feeeling to the day. If you want to follow in their footsteps, it’s easily done by clicking here.
Falkirk came up rather quickly, even if the Falkirk Wheel is a couple of miles outside the town. It’s quite fascinating to see in action, as you’re sure moving something that size must make an enormous amount of noise, yet it’s almost entirely silent as it rotates.
It was a nice place to take a break before heading into Falkirk itself, and as I’d made good progress during the day, I was actually able to get there while the tourist information centre was open…who saved me a wander round the town by telling me that just every bed in the town (and every one available for less than a ridiculous amount) was taken. I think my Zen method may need some refinement here…
Luckily though, I have friends, and a quick call to Doug in Edinburgh was able to find his spare room still free and not yet turned into a Fringe venue – a strange quirk of physics does mean that all unoccupied space in Edinburgh in August eventually becomes part of the Fringe either as a venue or as a piece of conceptual/performance art – and so I jumped on a train and got here, even if my footprints are still in the centre of Falkirk.
So, that’s the last three days in a nutshell, and one other piece of interesting news is that I’ve worked out how to email from my phone (I’d call myself a LUddite, but it’s not wilful ignorance) and thus I should be able to get photos up on Flickr much more regularly now.
So, tomorrow I’ll be hopping on a train in the morning and doing the stretch from Falkirk to Linlithgow, this time down the Union Canal, then it’s two days off, followed by completing the journey to Edinburgh from Linlithgow on Sunday, just in time to leave the city for Peebles and the border country on Monday morning.
In short, my legs still work, my feet haven’t turned into a blistered mess, I can still manage to carry my rucksack, I haven’t gone mad from the routine of walking, I’m in Edinburgh and I must be close to being a third of the way through this. Life’s good. And with fate duly tempted, expect a thunderstorm and flash floods in the Falkirk and Linlithgow areas tomorrow, with Friday’s newspapers including headlines about ‘walker’s mystery injury’.