Drumnadrochit to Inverness
I didn’t feel too bad when I got up this morning except for a minor niggle in my left leg. It wasn’t anything major and I hoped it’d sort itself out over the course of today’s walk as it only felt like a bit of cramp, the first I’ve suffered since starting the walk if you can believe that?
I got to breakfast for 8am sharp, wanting to get off as early as possible knowing there was a long day ahead of me. I was the first one there so settled down in a chair by the window and had some juice and a yoghurt to start with.
Even though there was nobody else in the restaurant the service was pretty terrible, having to wait a ridiculous amount of time before someone came over to ask whether I wanted a cooked breakfast or not. After that wait it didn’t take too long to arrive so I wolfed it down with some toast, got back to my room and was all done and checked out by 8:35am. Not bad going even if I do say so myself.
Unlike yesterday, with the immediate shock of a rather steep climb, I had a good mile or so along the A82 before the path started to head up through the woods. This was good as it gave me a little time to try and ease out the aches and pains before putting them through the trauma of yet another major hill climb.
The route through the woods, although very pleasant first thing this morning, was extremely tiring. By the time I reached the top of the steepest bit I was absolutely shattered and the sweat was coming off me in waves. I really was quite concerned how I was going to manage the remaining sixteen or so miles I had left but there was no point in standing there worrying about it too much as they had to be walked.
Once at the top of the woods there were a couple of decent view points over Loch Ness but that was about it. The rest was a wonderful view of trees and path and not a lot else. So, with nothing to really take my attention away from walking I pressed on.
I was feeling pretty good and my feet were holding up ok to the walking so I pushed on for nearly three hours before taking a little breather and having some chocolate to keep me going. I’d covered a good few miles in that time, even with the slow hill climb so after only five minutes I put my pack back on and headed up the track again.
The route was all wood paths or minor roads so there still wasn’t anything much to look at or photograph, which saved considerable time compared to other days.
I managed to put my head down and walk for the best part of another three hours before my stomach started to complain that I’d not had any lunch yet. I’d not really been checking my maps or GPS to see how far I’d gone, or more importantly how far I had left to go, so I was pretty surprised when I found a bench to sit on and looked out to see Inverness below! I knew I’d been walking at a pretty good pace but I was seriously surprised to be sat at the top of the hill, looking down on my destination for the day after only having been walking for a little over five hours – shocking!
I had my lunch, pleased as punch that I’d done so well after two very bad days, and not wanting to waste too much time for fear of everything giving up for the day, like my feet, I picked up my gear and headed down the path towards Inverness. As expected everything had started to seize up but it wasn’t long before my legs and feet started to play ball again.
At the bottom of the hill the Great Glen Way headed through some houses and over a small park area. Walking through it I passed two lads on the swings who were most intrigued in where I’d come from and how far I’d walked. You can imagine their amazement when I told them how far I’d walked since leaving Land’s End. They were really nice – compared to some of the oiks out there – and after we’d chatted for a little bit they both wished me luck for the rest of my walk.
Almost in to Inverness I was crossing a bridge and stopped to chat to another walker, a young American girl, who was walking towards me. She too was amazed to hear how far I’d walked with the now almost stereotypical “awesome!”.
She was heading for Fort William but was carrying an awful lot of gear, including a guitar?! I don’t think she really knew how far it was so I told her that the sign post up the road said it was 64 miles to Fort William to which she said “Maybe I’ll get a ride there and do some walking when I get there?” – a wise choice, especially considering some of the terrain of the last few days. She thanked me for my help, wished me luck and we went our separate ways.
The path from there went along the Caledonian Canal and then headed over Ness Islands. This was by far the best part of the walk as the islands, small as they were, were really well kept with lovely paths and bridges and some very interesting wood-carved seats. There were people waist-deep in the river fishing and lots of people walking round. I was beginning to warm to Inverness, never having actually been before even though I’d been near on business a few times when I worked at GEC.
I found and checked in at the Waterside Hotel and went to my room to sort myself out. The first thing I noticed when I got in the room was the main bathroom light didn’t work and a bulb in the main bedroom light needed replacing. Not a good sign but I could live with that seeing as there was another light in the bathroom so I could at least have a shower.
After sorting myself out I went to put the TV on to find it not working. I tried plugging it in another socket but still nothing. I then got my battery charger out and went round every single socket in the room to see if they worked…none of them did. Oh dear. I went to the front desk to let them know and left it with them while I popped out to get some supplies in before all the shops closed.
I walked up the road and took a photo of Inverness Castle, the end point of the Great Glen Way, and wandered up the high street to see what was about. As I was wandering aimlessly I just couldn’t resist the draw of KFC and so I had a large three piece meal for my dinner. Talk about slumming it after some of the food I’ve eaten on this journey. I enjoyed it though which I guess is the main thing?
When I got back to my room I tried the TV again but still nothing, so I went back to see what was being done to be told that “there was nothing they could do about it”. For the size of the room, this is the most expensive room I’ve stayed in so far and for them to not be able to do anything about the electrics is just pathetic. So be warned, don’t stay at the Waterside Hotel in Inverness as you might just end up with a room that you can’t actually do anything in!
As it happens, after telling me that there was nothing they could do, while sat on my bed relaxing there was a knock at the door. It was another member of the hotel staff who asked me whether the sockets had ever worked since I checked in, to which I answered “no”. He said he’d found the circuit breaker but every time he went to switch it on it immediately tripped out again. He unplugged everything in the room and then went round the other affected rooms doing the same. Clearly it wasn’t just a problem with my room so I wonder how many other people had complained? Maybe it was just me?
Fortunately, my netbook had over half its charge left so I could type up the day’s walk and also charge up my phone, putting it in airplane mode immediately afterwards to save the battery in case they didn’t get the electrics working again. I’d switched my GPS off to save the remaining battery but as tomorrow’s walk was along roads all the way I wasn’t too worried if it ran out of juice along the way.
My iPod on the other hand was running pretty low on battery life and I’d not risked connecting it to my netbook for fear of losing everything on it, charging it up with the plug and iPhone cable I had with me. Not knowing if they’d ever get the electrics working again though I plugged it in to my netbook and hoped and prayed it wouldn’t wipe everything off it. I’m not sure I could handle having the final eight days without any music to listen to.
Fortunately, iTunes asked me if I wanted to “Erase and sync” and I hit the “cancel” button, stopping it from wiping off all the music on it, leaving it happily charging for tomorrow’s walk. I only hoped the netbook had enough juice left to cope with all this extra work.
As the evening went on the chap came in and out of my room numerous times and I could hear him knocking on the other doors but still no joy with the electrics. He said he’d phoned an electrician who said he would have done exactly the same as he’d been doing so I guess the chap wasn’t called out?
With nothing else to do I took myself out and found a little bit of heaven: a pub just up the road from where I was staying that had seven real ales on! It’s a shame I hadn’t planned a day off here as I could certainly do with a good few pints after the days I’ve had recently but alas no, walking again tomorrow. I enjoyed a couple of pints though, Cuillin and Three Sisters, both of which were delicious.
I had to force myself to leave after that otherwise I know I would have sat there and got pleasantly intoxicated; damn this walking! Still, two decent pints made for a pleasant time compared to some of the pubs I’ve been in lately.
Getting back to my room I started to sort myself out, rubbing some deep heat in to the bottom of my left leg and left shoulder, both of which were beginning to give me a little bit of trouble.
As I was sorting that out there was a knock at the door and being less than bashful I opened the door – top off – instantly embarrassing the young girl hotel worker stood outside my room. Oops! She wanted me to try the TV again and hey presto, it worked! Clearly they’d finally gotten to the bottom of the electricity supply problem while I was out? I guess there’s nothing left for me to complain about in the morning now damn it?!
Surprisingly, after a very hard day’s walking, covering nineteen miles in under seven hours, I wasn’t feeling too tired, even after two pints of ale, so I put the TV on and chilled out for a bit.
One more day of walking before a day off, which will be very welcome. Hopefully tomorrow will go as well as today’s and I’ve finally gotten over the last few days. We’ll see tomorrow won’t we?