Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The West Highland Way (Aborted)

Date 20.06.05 This is a letter I wrote to the Scottish Sun newspaper.

I've just come back from Scotland

after aborting my attempt at back-packing the West Highland Way. I made it just over halfway to the little village of Tyndrum.

What beat me? Well it wasn't the hills and it wasn't the walking, even with a heavy pack. It wasn't even the scraping of my shin and thigh on a slippery stile in slippery style. It may have been a little to do with my age (65) but only a little. The price of a pint of "black stuff" at £2.80 didn't help none and neither did a bacon and egg sandwich at £4.95, and the £5 I was charged for two square yards of soggy ground for my tent (with full use of filthy toilet and shower facilities).

No, what really got to me was a combination of the foulest of weather imaginable and the ever present midges in their trillions. Setting up camp was like a nightmare of being chewed alive by the little blighters who then made themselves at home in my tent before I had got myself and my gear in out of the drizzle. They were in my eyes and ears all night long, really getting up my...... nose. And de-camping was even worse 'cos they seem to prefer breakfast to supper.

I was alright whilst walking but if I sat to rest for a couple of minutes it was MURDER!!! So I retired hurt, damp and dishevelled. Caught first bus out of Tyndrum that was bound for Glasgow, Mull-Guy and my car. But one day I'll return and have another bash from the beginning.

That will be the day that Scotland has solved the monster midge problem by installing giant Midge-Munchers at twenty yard intervals along the wonderful bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond and the effects of global warming has turned that beautiful land that is Scotland into another Costa.

By the by, I set up my second nights lonely camp on a slug infested level-ish piece of ground about the size of a fireside carpet just a few yards north of Rob Roy's cave, for there was no room at the inn. And do you know? even though I was miles from anywhere the traffic noise from the A82 across the loch kept me from sleeping the sleep of the dead. Mind you, the bloody midges didn'y help none neither.

PS. Please ask the landlady at The Clachan Inn, Drymen, why there was no breakfast for me at the agreed time of 08.00am. I was pissed off with waiting for the cook to arrive at way past the appointed hour and pissed off myself without paying the agreed money for the bed and BREAKFAST! I did leave my name and address for her to send me the amended bill.

NB. I did in fact return to Scotland in September of that year and redid the West Highland Way from start to finish. It took me five days in total and included the climb to the top of Ben Nevis and back. There were nowhere near as many of those pesky midges and the weather was beautiful - with just a little rain shower now and again - from start in Mull-Guy to the finish in Fort William. I heartily recommend it to anyone who feels fit enough to tackle it.

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Mansfield, United Kingdom
I am over 69. Up to a couple of years ago I'd have described myself as fit and decisive. Now I'm not so sure. I am into DIY. If my wife asks me to do something I say; "Do It Yourself".....Click on my Older Posts for more reading. Or try: