Zero (rest day) in Fort William, Scotland, UK

Zero (rest day) in Fort William, Scotland, UK

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So taking a zero day today between the West Highland and Great Glen Ways. I head out in the morning, a relatively flat 10 mile hike.

So today I relaxed, ate, relaxed, did some errands, ate, relaxed, ate and dodged rain showers.

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Fort William is sort of an outdoor jumping off point for the highlands. Had the best chicken vindaloo I’ve ever had, got my shopping done and gave my legs a break.

Ran into some of the hikers I spent time with on the trail.  I spent the most time with couples from Tennessee, Denmark and London. A couple of cool girls living in England, one from Lithuania and the other “Rocket” from Poland. That girl seriously flies up hill.

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Nice to have a rest day today I can’t deny, but back to smiles and miles in the morning. Because a bad day on a trail is still almost always better than a good day at work. Have a happy day my friends. – Rev Kane

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Day 7 (final day) West Highland Way – Kinlochleven to Fort Williams

Day 7 (final day) West Highland Way – Kinlochleven to Fort Williams

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This would be one of those weather days you just can’t bring yourself to trust.  Windy, chilly, some minor rain early that let up. All day it seemed on the edge of rain but it never came. I didn’t buy into it though til the last downhill four mile run.

Right out of the gate we had to climb out of the valley and it was a long climb. My legs were a bit dead so the climb was really slow.  It’s been a long week.

The profile was essentially a big climb, a relatively flat run then two climbs that dipped back down between, and then a final downhill run in the last four miles.

One cool thing that happened was that apparently it was mating day for a species of black, what I believe to be damselflies. There were hoards of them everywhere when I stopped for lunch. Little sex crazed monsters were so distracted they kept flying into my head.

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The weary hiker statue in Fort William

The last day of a long week made the day feel longer than it seemed. The last climb was flat out disheartening.  But on the flipside I met an environmental grad student and had a great chat that made the last few miles fly by.

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The walk through town to the final end monument took forever. But it allowed reflection on a really good week. Hiking here in Scotland is beautiful and i got lucky with both weather and the midges so far. Tomorrow I start the Great Glen Way, 5 more days in the highlands. Hope you’re having a happy day my friends. – Rev Kane

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Day 6 West Highland Way – Kingshouse to Kinlochleven

Day 6 West Highland Way – Kingshouse to Kinlochleven

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A “short” run on this day, only 8.5 miles but of course it involved both the highest climb and point on the trail, the Devil’s staircase.

The morning started with a lot of wind which made us all happy because it meant no midges.  It also was a pretty good indicator that we’d get rained on and before the climb started it was coming down pretty good.  It meant a long climb in the rain but although the climb was challenging it was a good climb.

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Overall because of the weather, the hike wasn’t all that exciting but the weather improved steadily and the midges never appeared.

One thing is that trail community has finally developed over the hike and we all have our little bubble of people we’re pacing with and then see again at dinner in town.  It’s my favorite part of long distance hiking.

The descent into Kinlochleven was very steep and long, but contrary to my kid I didn’t find it terribly ugly of a town. The place I stayed and ate, the Highland Getaway Inn was my favorite so far. The Glencoe chicken I had for dinner was fantastic.

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A yard in Kinlochleven

Tomorrow is the final the final push to Fort William. – Rev Kane

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Day 5 West Highland Way – Tyndrum to Kingshouse

Day 5 West Highland Way – Tyndrum to Kingshouse

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This was the day that had been on my mind. A combination of a 20 mile hike 10 of it mostly uphill and a need to make a 5:30 shuttle deadline to get to my hotel meant I was a bit uptight about the day.

My kind BnB host agreed to have breakfast ready at 6AM, so I ate as was out the door at 6:20.

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The first 7 miles of the hike were slightly downhill miles and so I pushed a bit on the trail. Honestly it was a generally boring hike. The whole way was in a grey foggy valley and the scenery really didn’t change. This however did help me get into a rhythm as the trail was the old military road to Kingshouse.

I arrived at the 7 mile mark in Bridge of Orchy at 8:40 which meant I’d been averaging 3 miles an hour. This was awesome for me as I normally walk about 2.6 miles an hour on a similar section.

I got my water topped off at the hotel in Orchy and hit the trail again. There’s a trail saying, it’s about the smiles not about the miles. However this day for me, was about the miles. The Kingshouse Road which was uphill for almost 10 miles and was also very cobbly for the first 4 miles.  My feet were not happy.

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Near the end of the hike the midges, little blood sucking gnat-like creatures, emerged with a vengeance. These little critters are the scourge of Scottish hiking and the reason I was carrying a bug head net and spray. For some insane reason on this day I’d left my net in my transfer bag. So the midges were driving me nuts which actually probably made me faster up the last couple of climbs.  Not the best hike, at least the last couple of miles were downhill.

I ended up reaching Kingshouse at 2:30, meaning my overall speed, including stops, was 2.5 miles per hour. Normally it’s 2.0.

I’ve set up a more ambitious schedule on my Scottish hikes than was probably prudent to maximize my enjoyment,  and I’m carrying more weight than necessary each day, but this is also training for the Camino Primitivo in Spain which is up next.

I did however get to have a lovely piece of chocolate cake at a cafe at the end of the hike. – Rev Kane

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Day 4 West Highland Way – Ardlui to Tyndrum

Day 4 West Highland Way – Ardlui to Tyndrum

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This day was a hard one to get my head around as I was very focused on my long hike the next day. That makes for hard work, hiking is at least as much mental as it is physical.

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It was a grey and misty morning, there’s a lot of that in Scotland. But the lake was calm and it was a quiet day.

There was some really pretty trail on my 14 miles and weather-wise it was a perfect walking day.  It was right around 60 degrees, a nice breeze, which keeps the midges away, and not a lot of sun.

There was also a lot of history on the trail today. Some really cool informative signs and then some cool Robert the Bruce connections. Including the pond where his famous lost sword supposedly rests, they checked, it doesn’t. Also some cool battlefield sites as well.  And you know, you’re standard thousand year-old cemetery.

I also got up close with some of the trail inhabitants happily it was the little fellow who was a bit aggressive.

Made it into Tyndrum late, had a terrible meal in town and my first haggis of the trip which was by leaps and bounds the best part of the meal. Twenty miles to Kingshouse in the morning. – Rev Kane

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Day 2 West Highland Way – Drymen to Rowardenan

Day 2 West Highland Way – Drymen to Rowardenan

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View from my room

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Long slow day today, uphill the first 3 hours culminating in our first real climb. Then the rain came, descending is not my strength, doubly so in the rain. The kicker was the mini-rollercoaster in the last mile, designated on the map as tiring undulating trail. Very accurate description, but dinner at the Clansman and an early bed tonight, no Netflix no keep me up.

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A rainbow i looked down on was the most beautiful thing i saw today.

I learned a good bit about how remote I really am today.

What made me happy was the beautiful landscapes i got to look at all day.

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Hard day but soooo beautiful,  enjoy the pics and have a happy day my friends. – Rev Kane

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Day 4 West Highland Way – Ardlui to Tyndrum

Day 4 West Highland Way – Ardlui to Tyndrum

Images when I can, sorry

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This day was a hard one to get my head around as I was very focused on my long hike the next day. That makes for hard work, hiking is at least as much mental as it is physical.

 

It was a grey and misty morning, there’s a lot of that in Scotland. But the lake was calm and it was a quiet day.

There was some really pretty trail on my 14 miles and weather-wise it was a perfect walking day.  It was right around 60 degrees, a nice breeze, which keeps the midges away, and not a lot of sun.

There was also a lot of history on the trail today. Some really cool informative signs and then some cool Robert the Bruce connections. Including the pond where his famous lost sword supposedly rests, they checked, it doesn’t. Also some cool battlefield sites as well.

Made it into Tyndrum late, had a terrible meal in town and my first haggis of the trip which was by leaps and bounds the best part of the meal. Twenty miles to Kingshouse in the morning.

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Day 3 on the West Highland Way -Rowardennan to Ardlui

Day 3 on the West Highland Way -Rowardennan to Ardlui

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Good day so far, little things have gone wrong. Scraped my leg, barman doubled my order and then gave me all my change in coins. The morning hike was totally mellow.

Afternoon didn’t look bad in the guide. Then I had one person mention it was a bad section and another tell me their book said it was the hardest section on the trail. What it was, was the first technical section on the trail. Lots of little ups and downs over roots and rocky paths. A few small scrambles, a ladder and some exposed trail over the loch. I hate exposed trail however when it’s over water it doesn’t bother me as much.

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This afternoon felt like a section of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, except it wasn’t 40 degrees and pouring. Although I have to admit after the heat of the Mojave, our “hot” afternoon at 66 degrees Farenheit is awesome .

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Cool hotel experience tonight, taking the ferry across Loch Lomond to to the Ardlui hotel.  Writing this offline while sitting in a tree on the banks of the loch waiting for the ferryman to come off lunch, notice the raised ball and come get me.  Also getting my first midge bites, which is amazing.  Normally there are clouds feasting on you. But we’ve been essentially midge free.

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What was the most beautiful thing i saw today, the loch at Ardlui.  I learned that Rob Roy’s cave is nothing more than a cave. And what made me happy was just sitting in a tree waiting on my ferry to come.

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I hope your day has been as happy as my last half hour sitting in a tree by a lake. – Rev Kane

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Day 3 West Highland Way – Rowardennan to Ardlui

Day 3 West Highland Way – Rowardennan to Ardlui

 

Again sorry tonight slow internet means no photos, I have been able to load them to Facebook at the Ministry of Happiness page as well as on Instagram at reverendmichaelkane, I’ll edit when I have more bandwidth

 

Good day so far, little things have gone wrong. Scraped my leg, barman doubled my order and then gave me all my change in coins. The morning hike was totally mellow.

Afternoon didn’t look bad in the guide. Then I had one person mention it was a bad section and another tell me their book said it was the hardest section on the trail. What it was, was the first technical section on the trail. Lots of little ups and downs over roots and rocky paths. A few small scrambles, a ladder and some exposed trail over the loch. I hate exposed trail however when it’s over water it doesn’t bother me as much.

This afternoon felt like a section of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, except it wasn’t 40 degrees and pouring. Although I have to admit after the heat of the Mojave, our “hot” afternoon at 66 degrees Farenheit is awesome .

Cool hotel experience tonight, taking the ferry across Loch Lomond to to the Ardlui hotel.  Writing this offline while sitting in a tree on the banks of the loch waiting for the ferryman to come off lunch, notice the raised ball and come get me.  Also getting my first midge bites, which is amazing.  Normally there are clouds feasting on you. But we’ve been essentially midge free.

I hope your day has been as happy as my last half hour sitting in a tree by a lake. – Rev Kane

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Drymen to Rowardenan

Drymen to Rowardenan

 

Unfortunately images won’t post due to limited wifi. I’ll add when i can but i got a couple up on Instagram earlier at reverendmichaelkane

View from my room

Long slow day today, uphill the first 3 hours culminating in our first real climb. Then the rain came, descending is not my strength, doubly so in the rain. The kicker was the mini-rollercoaster in the last mile, designated on the map as tiring undulating trail. Very accurate description, but dinner at the Clansman and an early bed tonight, no Netflix no keep me up.

A rainbow i looked down on was the most beautiful thing i saw today.

I learned a good bit about how remote i really am today.

What made me happy was the beautiful landscapes i got to look at all day.

Hard day but soooo beautiful,  enjoy the pics and have a happy day my friends. – Rev Kane

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