It’s the final day – it’s Sunday 11th July and the prospect of Fort William awaits
Sound sleep is just one benefit of continuous trekking and a sound start like this breakfast is a bonus …… it’s normally a black coffee and baguette stuffed with whatever’s been lurking in your backpack for 3 days. 😳
The backlash of starting a highland trek in a river valley is obvious . To return to the High Land – you have a steep start 😳
To achieve this – I’m delighted that we head into the clouds for the last time this trip.
Through this “prehistoric” , densely green , humid , mist covered landscape.
We make sure that we have time to appreciate the sheer joy of following the long and winding road.
We came across evidence of the ruins of a picturesque Croft in an isolated valley of the heinous actions of the century following 1750 onwards. Known as the “Highland Clearances“. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/civil_war_revolution/scotland_clearances_01.shtml
The forced abandonment of a strongly built Croft and thousands like this , even today , has a significant effect on the highlands and its people – The atmosphere here redolent of those actions.
It’s clear that lunch was required and we stopped as we caught up with Abbi & the Boer – Wild Campers – who we’d seen twice a day , every day 😁 for most of our hike . Each day looking happy but paler and more tired by their authentic camping experience. ⛺️: Lunch on the ancient battlefield where the Campbells were pursued by the MacDonalds had unavoidable fast food overtones. 😉
20Km in we knew we were nearing the end of our adventure- and would have wished for an extra couple of days. We posed beneath Ben Nevis which we would certainly have climbed had we planned more time.
From here it was down hill to Fort William -a quick mid afternoon snack stop for an Enid Blyton moment – washed down with 🍹………….
We took the greener of the 2 options , a little longer by a few minutes , but the original WHW follows the busy main road for a mile of so – too noisy ! …. the Cow Gil route gives you a few more minutes of adventure
Following “Tracker Thom” we go in search of the official finish point .
More than ever I appreciate an energetic distraction and a good laugh – Thom & Luke plus the Highland Way have worked their magic .
Even as we head through the town – 2 local girls say – “Well Done” to us & laughingly say “thought you were just seeing what was up his kilt “ as we take in the history 🤣🤣
Until finally though a lively Main Street with the only decent souvenir shop on the WHW – we spend £8,000,000 on essential tat – and cross the wide steel line set into the pavement near the quayside where the famous “Resting Hiker “ says – “YOU’VE DONE IT !!”
As he’s tend his feet – so do we and take in the sea Loch and the moment of completion 👏🥰👏🥰👏
Giving the moment due consideration- we head off to our B&B – the wayyy too formal , wayyy too luxurious , but super comfortable Buccleuch Guest House .
A beautiful view , a 10 minute walk out of town – we headed along Main Street and tried a few restaurants . Our only stipulation- good basic food – Big TV ! Tonight THE match , THE final was on. After 3 “NO’s “ – we settle on the “Tavern” . And on a million to one – probs more – i.e. Lottery Odds coincidence. ……… Thom meets up with 2 friends who work with him at the Leeds Student Union !!
It was outside this bistro – about half time – I get a phone call . One that brands , Sears that time , that street , that company, that aspect – everything firmly in my mind.
The lovely Katie Cloggs and I talk for a while and while not surprised we measure this moment – and give it the proper weight .
I keep it to myself – It’s not the moment to re-join my “eclectic 💕” expanding table group with that news. Me , Thom , a lovely Gay couple, Leeds Students , 2 tall Sri-Lankan girls ( in tears at penalty time 😊) make this a ever memorable event.
We’ve got an 8 hour train journey tomorrow at 7.44am – time enough for reflection.
MONDAY 12th July We are soo far north that the train journey south the Glasgow takes 4 hours !
The views from the train as our long trek unravelled in reverse were a gentle background to our hugs and talks.
It was the right time to tell Thom then Ciara that our lovely Roddy had passed on . A 12 month prognosis in 7 weeks . Quiet , dignified , peaceful with the best possible company – his 2 daughters Katie and Lydia telling him stories and reminiscing.
In turn on the train , in the far North , a rough wild land he loved so much , we told our own stories , our own reminiscences, our own tears .
Didn’t see it coming – at least on that day – but in that location it felt somehow complete, somehow appropriate.
We’ll send off the boy in a way he’d have to totally appreciated in a week or so . When he and I spoke about this 30 years ago – he definitely wanted the full Valhalla . Flaming arrows , a longboat , a 3 day feast . This far North , This near to Viking country- it’d be a shame not to .