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The West Highland Way revisited (north)

On Sunday, I resumed my West Highland Way hike, starting from Crianlarich with the goal of hiking the 48+ miles to Fort William by Tuesday afternoon, taking the train back to the car back to Dunblane. Logistically, it all worked perfectly, with overnights at the Inveroran Hotel and in Kinlochleven. The weather, however, was something else. Remember that great forecast for August? Well, it didn't apply to those three days, at least not in the Western Highlands. Apart from the fact that trudging through soaking ground in horizontal rain isn't much fun, it certainly thwarted my hopes of getting photographs for the new edition of my book. Of course I could and did check the validity of the directions, but I suspect I'll end up having to go back in better weather. It's really frustrating, having climbed the Devil's Staircase, knowing that you are looking north over the splendid scenery of the Mamores, to see nothing but cloud, rain and mist!

On Monday morning I had walked from Inveroran to the King's House, where a nice thing happened over my lunchtime bowl of soup. Being in the business, I always look to see which guidebooks and maps people are using, and had been talking to some Danes with a really old Footprint map that they had used 9 years ago and were still finding good this time around. A guy from Paisley then told me about this neat guidebook he had, with drop-down map and signpost graphics and all waterproof. I waited until he got it out before producing mine and saying "snap", revealing myself as author and publisher. Even better, he too was using it second time around, it having rained both times, and although it wasn't pristine, it certainly didn't owe him anything. He thought this was an amazing coincidence. It certainly made my day.

On arrival in Kinlochleven, I fell into conversation with a fellow guest who clearly knew the Way rather well. I asked how often he had done it, but he couldn't remember "about 15 or 16 times" he thought. This underlines the fact that this walk has something special.

After my last hike, I took up the issue of how the official website recommends maps, by the way, and I am delighted to report that as a direct result it no longer lists the 10 OS Explorer maps. So if my friends Bees, Brad and Marc are reading, they can see that I listened, learned and acted - even though they had bought the wrong guidebook!


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 9, 2007 5:11 PM.

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