I took it pretty easy this morning. I wasn’t hung over or anything, just tired, and didn’t make it to breakfast, instead deciding to lounge around in bed a little longer. I had yesterday’s blog update to write so I wasn’t exactly in a rush to go anywhere. As ever, it took longer to write up a relatively quiet day than it should have done but I got there in the end. After that I sorted myself out and headed out the door. My stomach was beginning to tell me that it was maybe a little too long since I last ate, the biscuits I had for “breakfast” not really doing the job properly. It had been raining on and off throughout the morning but as I walked to the shops it’d stopped and it was actually nice and fresh out. First things first: food. I headed to Pret, got a baguette and a drink and sat in the gardens again on Princes Street. There weren’t as many people there compared to yesterday but that was quite nice.
The Queens Guest House was a great place to have spent the last few nights and will certainly be top of the list of where to stay the next time I find myself in Edinburgh. The room was great. The staff were great. The breakfast was pretty good. The location was excellent. What else could I have wanted while taking some well earned time off? The weather forecast yesterday said it’d be raining today and they weren’t wrong. Still, if it’s raining when I get up then all the waterproofs go on straight away which saves a lot of messing around if I have to put them all on later. All dolled up for the rain I headed out the door onto the almost empty Edinburgh streets. The only problem with picking a place to stay right in the thick of it in Edinburgh was that it meant that there was a bit of a stroll before I could pick up the canal that would take me out of the city and all the way to Linlithgow. It was the best part of an hour, walking out past Haymarket and Slateford stations before I managed to get on to the canal towpath. This was frustratingly slow, mainly down to the number of bloomin’ pedestrian crossings I had to wait for.
I managed to get a good six hours asleep last night, helped by my ear plugs – staying in a pub on a Saturday night might not have been the best idea I’ve ever had. Still, I slept which is the main thing. The body was just about working as I pottered around getting myself ready but my head was still not on straight. The tough day and other things were still playing on my mind and I just couldn’t shake the black cloud that was hanging over me. Not good when there’s another long day ahead.
I patched up my right foot as best I could and got down to breakfast as early as they could sort it out. But, once it was in front of me I just didn’t fancy it at all. I ate as much of it as I could, knowing that I’d regret walking on an empty stomach, but it was a struggle. I headed out the door and picked up the canal again up the road from the hotel.
After dropping off a little earlier than normal last night, without fail I woke up early! Why oh why can’t I have more sleep instead of just waking up after the usual five and a half hours? Very frustrating. I dozed for a bit longer but knowing I had a long day’s walking ahead – almost twenty three miles – I got up and started to get myself ready even before my alarm went off. Everything was ready and I was sat eating breakfast before 8am, almost unheard of! Full to the brim with a rather large breakfast I grabbed my gear and checked out. It wasn’t raining but it wasn’t too hot either, which was great. I just hoped that it lasted like this for the rest of the day as it would make the walking a lot more comfortable.
One thing that still amazes me on this walk is the amount of punishment and pain I can put my body through just for it to pick itself up and do it all again the next day. I was so worried that the pain in my right heel from yesterday was going to be a problem this morning, but I was amazed and pleased to find that I could walk around the room ok. I wasn’t in a rush to get out and about this morning as it was a relatively short day ahead, so I had a little lie-in, eventually getting myself down to breakfast half an hour later than normal. I know it doesn’t sound like much of an extra test but trust me, it was great.
David and I had a good chat in the dormitory about his next day’s walking, i.e. mine after my rest day, and supposedly this is described as possibly the toughest section of the West Highland Way with lots of roots and boulders on the path to deal with. I’m glad I decided to take a day off before tackling that section, especially with my right heel the way it is at the moment. I slept ok last night making sure I put my ear plugs in – we had another snorer – and woke up at my usual time. The bed wasn’t exactly the most comfortable and the mattress was all springs, leaving a few aches and pains. All in all though not really any worse or better than any other night on this walk so far.
I slept as well as ever and as some of the guys in the hostel room were moving about early I got myself up and had breakfast nice and early. I wasn’t in the biggest of rushes but I knew that the section ahead has the reputation for being the hardest part of the West Highland Way so I didn’t want to hang around too long.
After breakfast I got my stuff ready and as I was getting set to leave John came in to the room and we had another little chat – really nice guy and I really do wish him all the best for his walk. Even though I was up early I left the hostel at 8:40am which wasn’t too much of a problem. Even if the terrain was harder than normal, with just under fourteen miles to go I was confident I’d get there within seven hours plus breaks. It wasn’t raining when I left the hostel so I had my fingers firmly crossed that it would stay like that for the rest of the day. One can hope can’t one?