LEJOG56: Fort William to South Laggan

In the morning I went over to the Ben Nevis Inn bunkhouse to pick up my mum. I found her in the kitchen surrounded by a group of Essex firemen who were about to start a national three peaks walk. It turned out there were so many firemen taking part in this race that it had to be spread out over an entire week.

On the way out we bumped into a group of people hudded around a couple of range rivers looking slighty bored. Turns out they were support staff for teams doing the national three peaks yacht race. This involves teams running up and down the first peak, then getting to the nearest bit of coast on bicycles, then sailing (or rowing if there was no wind such as today) to the second peak, then running up and down it and then doing the same for the third one. It sounded mental, like somebody tried to work out the most difficult method of doing the three peaks as a form of masochism. And then when I told the support teams what I was doing their jaws dropped to the floor in astonishment, which I thought was hilarious and unworthy in comparison with what their teams had to endure. It seems like sometimes the grass is always rougher on the other side of the fence.

We then had to walk for an hour or so through Fort William’s considerable industrial landscape to join up with the Great Glen Way at Neptunes Staircase, a series of locks at the west end of the Caledonian canal. This would have been pretty rubbish walking were it not for the amazing view of Ben Nevis’ craggy North side that overlooked everything. The view was incredibly clear and we could see the patches of snow that splattered it’s upper reaches and the big strip of cloud that now sat astride it’s summit like a big white naval hat of the kind worn by nelson. The two days of cloud-free summit were over and it was now back to the real world.

The Great Glen way stretches from coast to coast diagonally (SW to NE) and follows the route of the canal linking up a series of massively long lakes that run along a geological fault line which separates the highlands from the rest of Scotland. All I knew about the route was that it was flat and boring, but I didn’t mind at this point because flat meant easier.

We meandered along the canal for a couple hours until we got to the lock that connected it to the first big lake of loch lochy. At this point my mum took a diversion via the bus stop as she didn’t have the legs to complete the second half of the 22+ miles that I had planned for today. I powered on alongside lochy on a track that was mostly either within or to one side of pone plantation the entire way.

Although there were points where the view across the lake to the other side was obscured, in geneal the view was so samey that I didn’t feel I was missing much.

After a while I stopped being bored by this repetition and started being impressed. The monumental scale of the valley became a bit more apparent and I became less critical. Additionally the sense of peace and solitude was more accute and I really felt like I was wandering away from civilisation. I started to notice the difference in geology between the two sides. On the other bank the hills were softer and more curved, with series of eroded gullies that made it lppl like a scrunched up green duvet (limestone maybe?). From what I could see of this side over the trees it was rocky, less curved and more spikey (gritstone?).

Eventually I got to the end of the lake, and after another mile down the canal i got to the hostel we were staying at. I had made good time, 13 miles in about 4 hours, and while I didn’t feel completely shattered the soles of my feet were sore from the hard tracks I had been pounding. The hostel was lovely and mum made us a protein-fest of a dinner: sausage, bacon, beans and pototoes. I wolfed it down then raided the tuck shop for additional chocolate goodness (dairy milk, Jaffa cakes and salted McCoy’s crinkle cut crisps). Yum yum! I will really miss the guilt-free gluttony when I get back home. I will also miss the sense of satisfaction which comes from going to bed early with your body still humming from the exertation of the day. Oh well, best enjoy it while it lasts.

Sent from my iPhone

 

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1 Response to “LEJOG56: Fort William to South Laggan”


  1. 1 Bangerlang June 28, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Hey mate, almost there then! What an amazing journey. Your posts are starting to read more like Basho, that famous zen haiku master, so the scenery, the quiet and the culmination of so much shear momentum has obviously begun to have an effect. I expect a full zen dharma talk (thats if your capable of stopping moving)when u get back (which is what? Like less than two weeks away?) really sorry I couldn’t join u on this epic adventure. Malaysia and this 10 part mini sci-fi drama (its starting to look amazing BTW)kinda got in the way. That and looking after Ella whilst Tinge edits, which has been nice just the same. Just finished watching Blur at Glasto, and it takes me back to our first Glasto where they headlined in 94. They (and Bat for Lashes) came as a welcome relief after a pretty terrible (head)line up. Bruce Springsteen, Status Quo? Tom Jones Pendulum What the hell! Anyway finally joined the IPhone owners club (which is what I’m writting this on)and can’t understand what took me so long. They’re amazing!

    Anyway, hope you enjoy the last section of your journey and look forward to catching up when u get back to London.

    Lots of love,

    Chris


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