South Laggan to Invermoriston
I know I’m setting myself up for a telling off (from Rachel) but upon arriving at the youth hostel last night, and getting myself sorted out, I couldn’t be bothered with sorting any dinner out so I had some crisps, some biscuits and a bottle of Lucozade sport – this was after I wolfed down a pasty upon arrival. I know I should have done some more but I couldn’t be bothered to buy anything from the shop at the hostel and then to fight in the kitchen around everyone else.
I didn’t go to bed hungry before you ask but I knew I’d probably not had enough to eat after the long day I’d just had in the rain and wind.
Now, what is it you’re supposed to do in bed? Sleep! Yes, that’s it. Unfortunately for me I did little of that last night. I tried desperately to have an early night but what with the other seven people in the room coming in and out, switching on lights etc. it just didn’t happen.
If that wasn’t bad enough the phantom snorer of room four tried his best to keep me awake and, if that wasn’t bad enough, the chap on the bunk below me spent all night moving about in his bed, which rocked the entire bunk bed.
I left my iPod on all night to try and drown out the snoring but there wasn’t much I could do about the bunk moving about. All in all I think I managed to snatch about three hours of sleep last night…just what I needed, er, not!
Everyone started to move about and get themselves ready around 7am so I thought I may as well get ready myself and on the road sooner rather than later. I had a marginally shorter day ahead but I didn’t want to rush today as I was still suffering from some of the aches and pains from yesterday, especially my heels, my left heel now causing me some rather concerning pains.
I got up and ready and had planned on having some crumpets, which I’d bought the other day in Fort William, for breakfast. Again though, I just couldn’t be bothered to do battle in the kitchen so I ate one of the crumpets cold (not that nice) got my bits together, said goodbye to the chaps from the room and hit a much nicer morning.
After a brief stretch up the road out the front of the hostel I picked up the Great Glen Way again and followed it along the shoreline of Loch Oich. After all the rain the path was a bit of a mess in places and the backs of my legs started to get a little wet and muddy. As it wasn’t raining I’d opted for shorts today which was just wonderful after being cocooned in my waterproof trousers for what seems like forever.
To make sure I didn’t get eaten alive by the midges I used the trick I was told by Ashley the other day: Avon’s Skin So Soft. It doesn’t stop them from flying around you but it’s supposed to stop them biting you. The weather as of late has meant there hasn’t really been a midge problem but as today was looking on the warmer side I thought I’d put some on and see how it went. Worst case I’d end up with nicely conditioned skin I suppose?
The path followed and old dismantled railway for about four miles, giving glimpses of the loch through the trees. The change in weather made the scenery a pleasure to look at compared to the previous days so I tried to make the most of it as I strolled through the mud and puddles.
Eventually I strolled across a field and A82 to get back on the Caledonian Canal at Cullochy Lock. There, I had a quick chat with Denis – the lock keeper – as he was cutting the grass, the first chance he’d had to do so since all the bad weather. He told me it was like painting the Seventh Bridge: as soon as you finish you’ve got to got right back and start at the beginning again! It was nice to see him keeping the lock looking so good though. He did say that his job would be so much easier if it weren’t for all the boats, of which there were quite a few out on the canal and the loch today, clearly due to the break in the weather?
I took a little rest on a bench by the lock before heading off along the towpath again. I was desperately trying to keep my spirits up so waving to the people on the boats became my favourite pastime, forcing me to smile even when I didn’t really feel like it.
Things were going ok until I reached Kytra Lock, not even half way for the day. My feet started to fall away from me, and this was with me taking a slower pace than yesterday and also taking a five minute break every hour!? I wasn’t happy and to be honest, I didn’t understand why. I was tired yes, after hardly any sleep last night, but I was feeling strong in the majority of my body, just not my feet.
I took another break in the hope that it would at least allow me to make it to Fort Augustus where I’d promised myself I would find a pub and have a nice lunch to make up for missing two meals.
The three miles to Fort Augustus were pretty torturous but I made it to the pub for 12:30pm, ordered a ham sandwich and chips and a refreshing pint of orange juice and lemonade. Ale wasn’t on the cards as it would have been suicide to have a pint with eight or so miles still ahead of me and feeling as bad as I did.
The pub stop and the food seemed to have done a good job and I headed out of Fort Augustus hopeful for a good end to the day’s walk. There was a bit of a climb to get to the woodland trail but I didn’t mind. Well, that was until I got to the trail and it went up, then up some more and just for good measure, up some more. I could have done without that as it immediately depleted my energy reserves which was not good.
If that wasn’t bad enough, as well as almost continually going up, the path also seemed to be heading in every direction, especially back on myself, except the one I wanted: towards Invermoriston, my destination for the day.
My spirits were beginning to ebb away and my feet were hurting more and more. I’d had enough of this walking lark and just wanted it all to end, right there and right then! I know that was stupid because let’s face it, having walked this far there was nothing that was going to stop me reaching the end, but exclaiming I’d had enough felt good at the time.
I tried to ring a few people for a quick chat but nobody seemed to be hearing their phones and I felt completely on my own for probably the first time on this walk. I guess reading that doesn’t make much sense seeing as I’ve spent the vast majority of my adventure on my own, but I’ve always had it in my head that there was someone at the other end of the line if I needed them. Putting that to the test today failed miserably. Just bad luck I guess?
I struggled on for the final miles, swearing lots and shouting at myself – my feet specifically. Even the stunning views over Loch Ness did little to cheer me up, mainly because just when I could have done with some flat walking, the path decided to take me up again!
I made it in to Invermoriston at 4:15pm, which all things considered wasn’t a bad time. My feet on the other hand thought it was way too late and I hobbled to find my bed for the night at the Georgeston B & B, which was a little way up the road from the centre of Invermoriston.
I sorted myself out, had a lovely chat with the girls which put a big smile on my face and then headed back down the road to the hotel for a couple of pints and a nice dinner. I stuffed myself stupid but boy was it nice!
Feeling tired I headed back to my room to chill out in front of the TV and to get ready for tomorrow’s walk. I hope I manage to get a good night’s sleep tonight as I really need it after not much sleep last night.
I think yesterday took more out of me than I first thought, both physically and mentally. I’m clearly not in the right frame of mind for what I need to do and can only be thankful that I’m stubborn enough to carry on regardless, covering the day’s miles whether I want to or not.
I hope this is a minor hiccup and that I snap out of it sooner rather than later. I really would like to finish this walk, strolling happily with a big smile on my face when I cross that finishing line. Only time will tell if my body will allow me to do that!
Oh, in case you were wondering, even after walking through the forest track for what seemed like ages, a haven for midges, I don’t seem to have any bites or itches this evening so maybe the Skin So Soft did work?!