We ended the West Highland Way on a high, literally, we climbed Ben Nevis, and having finished the WHW during March we couldn’t resist the challenge of
a new month, a new Way. Two days ago we left Fort William after one not so restful rest day and two sleeps in the most wonderful BnB (Seafield House) to begin the Great Glen Way. A coast to coast 79 mile walk to Inverness.
The (not so) Great Glen Way was a bit of a dissapointment after the WHW. Stunning weather and views of the Ben Nevis North face did not make up for the lack of challenge in the flat canal side meticulously maintained path. The repetitiveness of the terrain also led to niggles in our ankles, knees and hips. The hours are slow to peel away when your brain is not actively required to interact with its environment. No climbing, no continuously adapting footfalls, no learning how to balance weight as we moved across the landscape. The walking was easy, but it was dull. Mentally 2 days walking here was hard.
There were some lovely things. Wild camping is encouraged, with areas set aside for campers to have fires. A canal ranger lent us his key for the night so we could use the shower blocks and toilet fascilities provided for the moored boats. It was better than a campsite and was free. The outdoors is so accessible here in Scotland. That night another couple rocked up in a canoe to camp alongside us.
After our second day on our new Way, 5 hours in the tree line with no views and the knowledge it would mostly be like this to Inverness, we threw in the towel. Compounded with the exhaustion of 2 weeks hiking with 15+kg packs over 130 miles and the lack of reward we were recieving for our efforts on the Great Glen Way, we had stopped having fun. We found a youth hostel and are now awaiting rescue.
For those of you wondering how we can afford this trip, we actually could not afford not to take it. Max has a new job starting in May, so no pay cheque until the end of May. If we stayed every night in a youth hosel it still costs less than our rent alone in Cambridge. But we are wild camping half the time, have no bills or council tax and probably spend the same on food. I am off work 7 weeks (one week to move house – we are homeless currently), but 4 weeks are paid. Had we stayed in Cambridge we would have been worse off for money had I been working, rather than on holiday. Also we really needed the walk!
Now though we are heading for a wee break with friends on Loch Ness before heading to Edinburgh to catch up with family (and maybe do some running!!!).