Going wild on the West Highland Way: Day Five

20151007_123751Day Five – Wednesday – 14 miles
8am – (Change of plans) Walk 8 miles to Crianlarich
12/1pm – Lunch at Crianlarich and walk 6 miles to Tyndrum
6pm – Camp at ‘By the Way’.

Breakfast: Porridge
Lunch: At the tea rooms on the train station platform.
Dinner: Pizza at Green Wellie Café (open until 9pm)

Yesterday’s short walk meant I had a super long one today. I woke up at 6am, and made tea in the dark. Something was scratching at my tent in the night, and slugs slithered over everything. My hair keeps getting caught in the zip, and I found a tiny slug in my hair. Then it started to rain. Oh how I hate packing up the tent in the rain. I skipped breakfast, ate a snack bar, and started to walk. It rained and rained some more. But it was too hot for the waterproof coat and trousers – so they came off quickly. Thank heavens for the brolly!

This is for the camera: 20151007_105250

How I actually felt:20151007_105253

I felt incredibly lonely and depressed in the rain. But the trail was easier and listening to music took the edge off. I made 5 miles in 2.5 hours – not bad. Fear and loneliness was the hardest part. It didn’t feel brave to be doing this, I just felt a constant fear as if I was made of it. But maybe that’s what bravery is. There is no bravery without fear. You have to walk with it. I couldn’t quite believe I was actually doing it. My feet felt a little better – perhaps there’s a walkers wall and I was over it now?

I looked back for Bothy Pete but there was no sign of him. I arrived in Crianlarich at 12.30 pm. Not bad at all. Eight miles in a morning. I was desperate for somewhere dry with warm food so I went into the tea rooms on the train station platform and it was perfect. There was no one there, and it was big with plastic chairs so I didn’t feel guilty about bringing my wet-self and The Burden in. I bought a tea and a juicy bacon, brie and cranberry toasty, but then I couldn’t find my wallet…

I took my bag to one side and unpacked everything. Still no sign. Then I had a sinking feeling and started to unpack my tent. Sure enough – it was inside. That would explain why I had such a hard time packing it away and managed to split the tent bag with it. Sigh. Note to other campers: don’t rush packing, even in the rain.

Boots off. Socks off. Feet up on the chair. I stayed for an hour. I hobbled about like an old lady and wrote a postcard. I had a stamp with me already. And I was excited to find a toilet too! Just as I was reassembling my bag to leave, I caught sight of someone on the other side of the track looking a little miserable – it was Bothy Pete. I shouted out to him and he came over to the tea rooms, but was keen to go to the shop nearby. Just as we were leaving, a man stopped and ask if one of us had just been to the toilets. I was confused until he held up my wallet! Whaaaat?? Stupid woman. I had a million thank-yous for him.

The Londis at Crianlarich has a haven of goods. It’s definitely one of the better/bigger towns and worth the slight detour off the route if you need to restock etc. There’s even a working Public telephone box, which was useful because I had no phone reception here. I left Pete eating lunch on a picnic table – the sky was brightening but he was threatening to catch a train. I had another 6 miles to go and it was getting late.

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Lunch gave me a boost of energy and the sun cheered my spirit. 20151007_163341I trekked up through a pine forest, their trunks and roots still black from the rain. Mud still glooped, and the path still dripped with streams. It didn’t smell like pine – the air was sweet, sickly-sweet like sugar. I’d witnessed a fellow hiker yesterday whistling cheerfully and decided to do the same. But it was tricky to keep tune while keeping up pace, so I slid into singing instead.

I sang my granddad’s favourite: ‘Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-A, My oh my, what a wonderful day, Plenty of sunshine heading my way, Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-A’. Followed by a few ‘Oh brother where are thou,’ tracks. The last four miles were super hard – I’m not ashamed to say I whimpered a lot in the last mile. (Just the beginning of actual whimpering to come.) But the views were glorious and I had reached half-way! I did a dance – hands only of course because who would actually ADD unnecessary steps. Each step is precious.

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A lady chased after me with my map –  I’d left it behind on a bench. Doh! What an idiot. A day for leaving things behind, clearly. It was a miracle nothing had actually been left behind. Ferns became heather in Tyndrum woodland and I finally arrived at the ‘On the way’ campsite. I washed my socks, set up my tent, sat in the drying room for a while, then set off for the Green Wellie stop for dinner. I had Pizza and gallons of Diet Coke. Mum messaged me to tell me there might be Northern Lights. So I set my alarm read, excited, hoping to tick it off the top of my bucket list.

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