This was the long day that I was kind of dreading on my trek along the West Highland Way. If I had chosen to do this in 8 days, I could have avoided this long day.
But I kept telling myself I could do it.
And I’m glad I did.
19 miles in 7 1/2 hours.
I’m pretty damn proud of myself.
And I did take my time, simply keeping a steady pace.
I started early than usual out of Tyndrum at 8am. I just wanted to be finished no later than 5pm and that gave me a good 9 hours.
So I’m along the wide trail that stays close to the main road with the mountains to my right. It’s shaded yet, so a little brisk as I walk by the sheep with all the babies hovering near their moms.
I come up on the guy that many of us have encountered along the West Highland Way. This is a guy I saw back on Day 2, but wasn’t sure what his deal was. Well he’s German but now lives in the UK and he has a huge pack he’s been carrying PLUS about 4 canvas grocery bags — as in carryng them like you’d carry them to your car. He tells me they’re not heavy, but he’s carrying like everything and the kitchen sink in my opinion. But I give him credit as it can’t be easy to walk with all that weight.
Anyway, the trail then goes under the road and you come out onto a beautiful farm with sheep and cows, including the Highland Cows which I just love. I was making great time as the trail was a wide gravely road. I hit the Bridge of Orchy (6 1/2 miles) by 10:20 or so.
The next section of the West Highland Way is where you climb a bit and get some great mountains and loch views. It’s just a couple of miles or so to Inveroran but the scenery is really beautiful.
I knew the next section was going to be my favorite of the day though.
Once you walk along a road and then slog up a relentless hill along a forest — it’s not steep, but it simply goes on for a while — you begin to enter Rannoch Moor. And it’s stunning. It’s stark and beautiful. And I was alone there (from what I could see) for a while.
And I lost it.
I’ve been talking to Mom so much along the way. In fact, each day I set out and thank her for giving me life. For encouraging me to follow my dreams. For understanding me and knowing what made me tick. I’m different from my siblings and my mom always “got me.” And I’ve teared up a bit each day.
So as I walked through this heathered land, filled with little lochs and mountains all around all alone (which I was fine with) I just felt her and I simply missed her. I told her, “I miss you, Mom. I miss you so much.” And then I cried. I walked and cried as the wind blew my tears into the breeze. That was Mom, wiping my tears away.
And as I walked further, the scenery became more stunning, with the Beinns (mountains) all around me. I came upon some people then.
As I started walking up again, I thought, “Well at 2 I’ll stop for a bit to eat.” So I found a nice rock, took in the views and ate for the final few hours.
Only I found out on the decent on the other side that I was almost to Kings House.
I had no idea I was that close when I stopped.
So an hour and a half after that stop, I was at Kings House, having a half pint and waiting on the taxi to take me into Glencoe where I was staying for the night.
It was a tough day in some ways with the 19 miles. But the beauty of the landscape helped so much.
And knowing Little Mama was there with me definitely made it easier.
Love you, Mom!