Dear Bloggers, a week's worth of adventures for you to catch up on. Love Gill x
Day 13: 17th April
Good progress made today. The boys covered 18 miles in freezing weather. Made camp by the banks of Lock Lochy. Snow capped mountains made a chilly backdrop as they went off to sleep. Not much information passed on today as phone reception was almost non-existent.
Day 14: 18th April
The way became much more hilly today. A not too encouraging start when the boys couldn't find anywhere for breakfast. They had to walk on for 8 miles before they came to Gairlochy where they were finally able to buy food. Fort William was reached by the afternoon and a steak pie (from the cheap bin!) was purchased at a local supermarket, to be eaten for the evening meal. Yum, those boys certainly know how to live it up!! They made camp south of Fort Willliam with a fine view of snow capped Ben Nevis from their tents. The contstant patroling of rescue helicopters told the boys that someone had not managed to make a safe camp for the night and was probably lost in the mountains. The 200 mile mark was reached today.
Day 15: 19th April
The two Johns walked on to Kinlochlieven today. Their route took them round the lower regions of Ben Nevis, then continued on high ground in windy conditions with some snow lying underfoot. More helicopter activity during the day - perhaps someone still missing? The boys have begun to meet lots of other walkers, heading in the opposite direction, now as their route has taken them onto the 'West Hihgland Way'. John S has just about worn out his walking trousers (the ones he calls his comedy leggings because of their similarity to the tight trousers worn by comedian Max Wall). Fortunately he has 'standby' trousers in his bag, just in case! They managed to get onto a proper campsite, at last, at the end of the day and enjoyed another shower - luxury!
Day 16: 20th April
As the boys set off this morning, they were quite disturbed to see the owner of the campsite pursuing them on his quad bike! It turned out he had found out about their fund raising walk and only wanted to give them their campsite fee back. They spent the day following a fairly mountainous route, following the West Highland Way. The weather was bitterly cold and windy on the higher paths but it became glorious and sunny as they descended into the valley to make camp. They put up their tents near the only building in sight - The Kings House - a sort of hostel/hotel near to Glencoe ski resort. Fortunately it was open for evening meals and they were able to enjoy a traditional feast of Haggis and Tatties. They boys' only regret was that the Scots don't go in for gravy on their haggis, which made it a little dry to the English palate.
Day 17: 21st April
Walked on all day in cold, overcast conditions. The mountain tops were not visible because of the low cloud. The two John's met up with a group of young German lads today, who had decided to walk the West Highland Way to prove that they were real men! They were very tired and had sore feet. They had come to the conclusion that they weren't too bothered about being real men any more and just wanted to get back to their comfortable computer jobs. In contrast, they also met a lady from Seattle, (probably in her 70s) who was doing the West Highland Way for the sixth time. She seemed to be taking it all in her stride!
The boys have now heard a number of rumours about a tall, breaded man who is also walking from John O'Groats to Land's End. He is somewhere ahead of them! They made camp, at the end of the day, at Bridge of Orchy - which is, 'exactly what it says on the tin', a place with a bridge and not much else!! The party never stops for some people!
Day 18: 22nd April
Very little to report today because of non-existent phone reception due to the hilly landscape. I later found out that the boys had made camp near to Crianlarich and prepared themselves a fabulous meal of Bacon Grill and onion on a bed of microwaveable rice, Mmmmm! (They don't have access to a microwave of course.)
Day 19: 23rd April
John Dickinson's birthday today! The boys celebrated by walking first in rain and then in sunny conditions for several hours, but stopped earlier than usual because they had reached the 'Drovers' pub (near Loch Lomond). This had been recommended to them, by several walkers they'd met, as a good place to have John D's birthday tea. They were able to pitch up on a proper campsite, with showers, before going to check out the Drovers. It turned out to be quite an ancient building, complete with stuffed bears and the like, and looking like it might not have been dusted for a couple of hundred years!! However, the food was good and it had a real fire, not to mention the fact that it was completely staffed by Australians wearing kilts (of course!). The Drovers' other claim to fame is that Rob Roy once stayed there; and if that doesn't persuade you to pay it a visit sometime, then nothing will.
By the way, the tall bearded man is apparently only 26 hours ahead of them now.
Day 20: 24th April
A day of rain, rain and more rain. The boys walked along the hilly banks of Loch Lomond and put in a very hard day. A little respite came when they found a 'bothy'. (Apparently it is some kind of Scottish shelter that is open for any walkers to take shelter in.) There was a tin of' 'All Day Breakfast' inside and a note inviting them to eat it if they wished; which of course they did wish!! Because of the terrain, they had to walk much later than usual (after 7.00 p.m.) to find somewhere flat enough to make camp. They eventually spend a very wet night, soaked to the skin (and, in John S's case, muddy because he had fallen down several times!) in a 'spooky' wood.
Day 21: 25th April
The boys finally left the West Highland Way behind today. They know that the urban sprawl of Glasgow is not too far away from them and so have decided to head east for a while, to skirt around the edge of it. They spent the night in Drymen. Perhaps not aptly named because, judging by the weather experienced all day, there wouldn't be too many dry men to be found there! Never mind, being soaked through two days in a row does not bother our boys! They simply whipped up a treat of mince, onion, mushroom and packet-mix cheesey pasta to cheer themselves up.
Day 22: 26th April (Gill's birthday, by the way.)
During the morning, the rain had one last attempt at dampening the two Johns' spirits, but without success. It dried up as the day went on and they made good progress on rather flatter terrain than they have been used to lately. The boys made camp, in a field, on the edge of Lennox Town (the very outskirts of Glasgow). Lennox Town is not particularly picuresque but does have a Co-op, which is all important if, like the two Johns, you want to purchase ham, blackbean sauce, rice and Iron Bru to make your evening meal. I do hope the boys are going to produce a 'John O'Groats to Lands' End cook book at the end of the walk!!!