Wednesday 15th August
[A walk undertaken in 2018 but written up during the Coronavirus lockdown in 2020]
A good night’s sleep and I felt better. I had thought a lot about today’s walk and planned ot push on but take a good rest every couple of hours to go the distance without flagging. I was also conscious that the B&B wanted me to check in at a fairly specific time (I can’t now remember what it was – between 4 and 5?).
It was raining, and during breakfast you could see it begin to pour and people running across from the cabins. Ah well, the forecast wasn’t good at all – heavy showers all day. I put on a thin fleece under my waterproof as I had felt damp yesterday and thought that would be more comfortable. I carried my overtrousers outside as put the bag in the baggage store (with only half a dozen goes to get the code to work ! I mustn’ have been pushing the buttons firmly enough). It only seemed to be spitting,, and as there was blue sky overhead, I shoved the overtrousers in an outside pocket and hoped for the best.
The Way zig-zags uphill on a well-made stony path, immediately opposite the hotel, and it gives views of Loch Leven and the Pap of Glencoe. The landscape then opens out into bare hillside. There was a good access road for a while, and you could see and hear construction on the next hillside – hydro scheme.
The Way is then the military road – well made, bumpy in places. I caught up with Anna from Denmark, who I had last met by Loch Lomond. she is solo walking and camping. I think she wanted to walk with someone for a while as she said she hadn’t liked Rannoch Moor as there was nobody around (which was why I had liked it!). We walked and talked for about 10 minutes then I took a break to sit on a bridge and have a drink and snack.
it wasn’t too long before I go to the old buildings at Lairig Mor which felt good as they are a landmark on the map and I knew I was making progress.
The rain held off. There were a few heavy spots, enough to make me put my hood up once, but nothing more. It was pretty windy here so no midges either. I was a bit amused to see someone wearing a cape – it blew about a bit in the gusts.
The Way goes through a wide valley with big hills on either side. The clouds were just on the hill tops, grey but not too threatening.
I got to the half-way point where you can take a quicker alternative down a road. I met Penny just after ths, having lunch on a tree stump with a view of a loch. funnily enough, she had felt exactly the same as me yesterday and had been psyching herself up for today’s walk, setting off in good time and promising herself rest stops in just the same way I had done!
A little further on came the only tricky route-finding section. A farm track/access road led one way and a small path went straight on, with no waymarkers in sight. Several walkers met here and consulted maps/GPS etc before agreeing it was straight on. The path was narrow and poorly defined and I had a slight misgiving, but then it widened again, and Ben Nevis came into view. It all fitted.
I pointed out Ben Nevis (peak under a cloud) to Penny and some Americans who passed as I sat down for lunch, enjoying the view.
The Way went up and down a few small hills rather more than I expected and a lot of the upland area of forest had been cleared, so it was hard to know quite where you were along the map. The view across to Ben Nevis gavea good sense of progress though as originally we had seemed level with the saddle, but you could see how we were losing height. Also the flowers reappeared. I don’t know if that was an indication of the height drop, or if they had sprung up once the forest was cleared.
Onto a forest road so it was easy walking all the way down to Glen Nevis. I didn’t look at the vitrified fort at Dun Deardail – I was tempted but decided to go on. I wanted to get to Fort William, and also to get there before the rain if I could as there were very black clouds and some spots of rain.
A level pavement in Glen Nevis was very strange. I had to stop and get my balance to feel how to walk on it! It was pavement all the way then, although I had thought there was a footpath – my memory must have been of one further up the valley by the visitor centre.
I had a sit down on a low wall, ate a muesli bar and took my boots off to air my feet before the final push. It’s a bit of a walk into town. I caught up with a couple that had passed me when I was having the break. They were walking with the bearded American I had seen on the first day and occasionally since. I told them to keep going through the town to get to the statue of the Weary Hiker. I was quite glad to be with them as I wanted someone to take my photo.
After worrying about getting here in good time, I was a bit early for my 4 p.m. check in – I think it had only taken me about 7 hours. I treated myself to coffee and a huge slice of millionaire’s shortbread in Wetherspoons – and then it started to rain! Well, it is Fort William!
For my last night, I had treated myself to a really nice B&B – Myrtle Bank – on the edge of town overlooking the loch. My room was in the attic up all the stairs again. No view of the loch but a lovely place to stay. I also treated myself to dinner at the Lime Tree – this did give me a view. Both highly recommended.
I woke in the night with my legs aching for the first time. Do they know it’s over and they’ve given up? Or had I pushed myself a bit for the long final day? I did ache a bit over the next week and I really should have done some gentle walks and had a hot bath.
Go Haggis collected me in good time the following morning and dropped me off at Glasgow Central Station. Again, I would recommend them also as a friendly, efficient and reasonably-priced bag carrying service.
Writing this up has been great. Enough time has elapsed for me to have forgotten little things that I put in my diary at the time, and I have really enjoyed looking back at the photos. Now I want to do it all over again and maybe tag the Great Glen Way on too!