Lunch: From the Green Wellie shop
Camping dinner: Cous cous and baked chilli chickpeas
Last night, sleep was bullied away by the pain in my legs and feet. At 4am I wriggled out of my tent, which is more like a coffin because you can’t sit up in it. I walked around in the dark, avoiding the gravel so that the rustle wouldn’t wake other campers. The cold shook me, but I didn’t see any lights. After a while, I gave up and let the dream rest.
I got up at 7am and had my first warm shower in five days. Smoke from the bothy had scented me and all my clothes, but now the warm oaky smell was being gradually washed away. Just as I was getting myself together, it started to drizzle right in time for me to pack my tent away in it. So I dragged most of my things, including my tent into the drying room that was more like a sauna, and my hair dried in a matter of minutes. Poof!
I quickly topped up my phone battery, and spoke to someone doing the WHW in crazy-time. He planned to do 25miles that day with his backpack on, which made my 14 miles seem piddly. I set off at 9am, picking up lunch from The Green Wellie along the way.
You’d think that being dry and well fed that today would be a hundred times easier. In fact, it made it even harder. I’m not sure whether every day is the same, but the present pain feels worse because it’s the closest to your memory. But despite good weather and stunning views, I wanted to quit. My feet felt like they were going to explode after the first mile, and I felt sick with every hobbling step. I missed home and I never miss home.
I met fellow WHW people who stopped to chat and ask me where I was stopping. They were a quirky pair, on their way to a WHW reunion, and they nodded and agreed at my choice of staying at Ba Bridge for the night. Phew! The selection was an educated guess among the exposed moors.
At lunchtime I made it to the Bridge of Orchy, just about. I stopped to bubble some water and eat lunch. I made a quick call home and James tried to convince me to quit (along with many messages from my parents trying to tempt me home). But I couldn’t – not for any pain. I can’t have spent 5 days walking to quit now. I only had 2.5 days left until the finish.
The day now was big puffy clouds with cracks of blue. The sun would find a gap every now and again. The path led away from the mountainous hills – the ones showing their age with rivers wrinkling their faces. The yellowing grass around their necks was the colour of mustard.
The old military roads that were like rocky popcorn took me though a forest. The smell of pine was so strong and fresh it was like someone had cleaned their teeth in my nose. Golden yellow and green grasses sprang up out of red weed carpeting the sides – all the colours and smells of Christmas. Up and up it went, over Mam Carraigh. The pain in my feet ruined the staggering views. Annoyingly, the route has to go around Loch Tulla, which feels as if you’re going an extra long way around. I counted down to Victoria Bridge where I allowed myself a break and tea.
It was about 4pm and I was keen to arrive at Ba Bridge around six to give me time to set up and eat dinner with daylight. Plus, the quicker I got there, the quicker I could stop walking! 4.5 miles in 2 hours – boy it hurt. Listening to music helped to distract me. Saw the same three German lads a few times – we all complained about the rocky road and how crippling it was.
The skies were bluer now and the sun was getting syrupy. The land, or should I say, moor, was boggy and I was relieved to find Ba Bridge more doable for camping. Equally glad of more than one spot too because someone else had driven down the track from in front and set up camp. I was hidden from them by some birch trees, all flitting with silver petals. It was cold out there and I was desperate not to be on my feet. But the ground gave me a soggy ass. But the sunset was peaches and cream, and the sound of rushing water through crags of rock, lulled me to sleep.