Sunday, 1 January 2012

LEJOG 2004 - My Notes of a trip of a lifetime - Part 6

Scotland is Nirvana!

23 May 2004 Sunday To Fort William (day 60 - 56 walking): Another great day. Started with full breakfast in the pub. Great walk across to Fort William. Fantastic views. Stayed in guest house for £30 and had good drink in Grog and Gruel plus excellent curry next door-ish.

24 May 2004 To Loch Lochy SYHA (day 61 - 57 walking): Rain before I left, but cleared up for another great day. The views were superb over to Nevis etc., Walked to Loch Lochy SYHA. Got here just before 1700. Rang up and booked the Eagle - Inn on the Water. A beautifully converted barge. real beer and seats max of 14!
Gordon, the host, did not show me a menu. Just asked what I liked. Did me Tuna, Swordfish, Langoustines with potatoes and asparaus and a hugh bowl of salad. Meal plus drinks plus whisky were £26.50! Max and Paula were the only others in that night. With Gordon they made superb company. Gordon is "as mad as a hatter!" He has very political views - hates the USA and Isreal (Nb - he's left The Eagle - nice new couple there now! I'm going there in May on the TGO!)

25 May 2004 To Invermoriston (day 62 - 58 walking): Cool wind blowing from the north, but, another dry day. And, it warmed up in the afternoon. Had mussels and a couple of pints in Fort Augustus - the Loch Inn. Trevor came in to the same pub (LEJOG too). I walked the afternoon with him to Invermoriston. Nice B & B next to Hotel - handy. had shower and rinsed clothes. Hotel was a rip off on prices!

26 May 2004 To Drumnadrochit (day 63 - 59 walking): Cool start but sun was warm - yet another dry day!. Got to Drumnadrochit and a good little B & B at 1400. Had lunch at Fiddlers - Black Isle porter + venison pate. I heard Runrig's Recovery on the MP3, playing in the bar. I got talking to John, the host,  about his good choice in music.
In the evening trevor came in and we had a good chat. Had steak and some great Talisker  whisky. John later gave me some 8 year old Talisker malt - much smoother and clear. Gratis! back to B & B at 2200 after saying goodbye to Trevor, unless we met in JOG.

I should put here that I was not really aware of how I could go up the west side and cut across to JOG - ie the Cape Wrath Trail. Naive in those days!

27 May 2004 To Beauly (day 64 - 60 walking): Another warm dry, sunny day. Left Great Glen Way and took roads to Beauly. B & B is about 2 miles out but ok and I've been offered a lift into town where there is a tandoori restaurant. Good curry, although I got the distinct impression that single folk were not so welcome.
Not much choice of pubs, but I did meet David and his wife from Orkney and had a good chat. It was a long walk back to the B & B.

28 May 2004 To Alness (day 65 - 61 walking): A good breakfast. Still dry - not so sunny and just a few spots of very light rain. No waterproofs required. All road walking, but ok in trainers. Got to Alness and B & B in hotel. £28 en suite with Sky TV! Arrived at 1500 - quick progress on roads. Had a good meal and got back to room around 2000 to watch Have I got News for You.

29 May 2004 To Dornoch (day 66 - 62 walking): Had a self-service breakfast. Then had to phone the hotel owner in order to pay my bill. i could have left without paying! On way by 0815. Walked along the coast, crossed A9 and took back roads to tain. Then A9 over bridge to Cuthill. Then along back road to Dornoch. Very busy place. Camp site right on beach. brief light rain, but otherwise dry all day. There was a pipe band in town at 2000! Good entertainment. Slept until 0700 after bed by 2130 - I needed it!

30 May 2004 To Brora (day 67 - 63 walking): A mixture of sun and mist which kept drifting in. Road walking all the way to Brora where I had pre-booked a B & B "about a mile out from the main road". It was much further! After ages walking out from town I rang the B & B and got a very frosty reception. When I explained where I was I was told it was about another mile further on. Too far. I told her I was going to cancel my stay there. I got a very nasty goodbye!
I came back into town and found a little hotel right on the main road. £25 en suite with bath and TV. I hung my tent around the room to dry it out. had a good meal.

31 May 2004 To Helmsdale (day 68 - 64 walking): Yet another dry day - I can't believe the way it has stayed so dry. Mist lifted for another sunny day. Left Brora at 0915 and got to Helmsdale at 1300. Quick walking along the road. B & B is just out of town and has a sea view and a massive bath! Road walking is not much fun, but, there is no choice.
Had meal in La Mirage. Excellent cod and chips. Run by Nancy and a transvestite!

01 June 2004 To Dunbeath (day 69 - 65 walking): Had a good breakfast. No rain to start. It got very foggy as the road twisted up higher. Stayed foggy most of the way to Dunbeath -rained lightly. . Not much here. One hotel - it doesn't do food at luch time. The Spar shop next door was closed, but the hotel guy opened up so I could buy a sandwich and scotch egg to keep me going - and a couple of cans of beer. rain now coming down steadily - at 1500. Bar, in hotel doesn't open until 2000! The B & B I booked is on the A9 some way out of Dunbeath - very old fashioned but ok. It gets remote in Scotland. Rang home but Barbara was out. Spoke to Terry (brother in law) on his mobile. Can't wait to get home!
Watched TV and read paper. Dutch couple came in with their two year old son. We had a good chat. I set out for the hotel, but found that a pub nearer to the B & B had opened at 1700. I got there at 2015. Dry evening. Had a good meal. Could see North sea oil rig way out.

02 June 2004 To Wick (day 70 - 66 walking): Dry day and sunny in afternoon. Got to B & B at 1500. Ok for £25.
On way met man who stopped his van at the end of a side road. He had a brief chat. Then asked me if I liked crab meat? Yes. So, he gave me a pot of fresh crab meat. Later, the same man stopped his van on the main road, near Wick. He was called Canadian Jock, and was aged 70. He left canada aged 16 and lived in Scotland ever since. It was a busy main road and traffic was held up trying to get past us. We chatted on. Then he asked me whether I liked the crab meat. Yes, it was delicious, I replied. So, he gave me another pot of fresh crab meat! Delicious! An old lady called out to wish me well.
Then I met Gordon Campbell who was campaigning for MP. I got an electioneering tirade and he was running down some prominant politicians. His speil was all fruit and Nuts! Bonkers!

03 June 2004 To John O Groats (day 71 - 67 walking): Started with rain for all morning, but stopped as i entered JOG. Found the hotel to sign in - it was being repaired but the register was available. Not much here. Had photo taken at the finish post.
Walked back to my B & B where I had dinner with Fritz and Ina from Holland.
After dinner I walked to Duncansby Head and back - the real finish!

04 June 2004 Orkney

Really rough crossing to Orkney. Strong winds and rain. Stayed windy and cold all day. Had a guided trip which included Seara Brae and a chapel built by Italian prisoners of  war. Had coffee in room next to Cathederal. Was given another £7.


Cash raised on route was £174.35. I ended up giving a cheque for £800 to St. Giles Hospice.
I sent postcards to a few people I met on route. Les got his card, but, I've not been back to see him and the card.
I made a special point of driving up to see the farmer who let me stay in his field - fenced off from the cows.

I got home to Tamworth station where I was met by Barbara, my grandchildren and a little family crowd. We had a party a few days later - in our back patio area.


Gear used:

+ Karrimor Jaguar 65 rucksack.
+ ME Makalu waterproof
+ Buffalo windshirt
+ Lowe Alpine 100 weight fleece
+ Rab down gillet
+ ME zip off trousers
+ Berghaus waterproof trousers
+ Scarpa SL leather boots (Virtually new when I started. For about 3 weeks I had terrible blisters on my heels. They were re-soled and ended up in Nepal after trekking around Everest in 2009)
+ Trainers
+ Terra Nova Solar 2 - two hoop tent (still in use car camping!)
+ ME synthetic sleeping bag (1500 grms)
+ NO cookset.  I met someone who suggested - just eat out. Not always the best idea, but, I didn't starve.

Well, I had said when I finished the walk that I would write it up. I didn't.
I guess having a Blog has made it easier to apply myself, albeit 7.5 years later!
This has been mainly for me and my family - a bit of indulgence.

If you have even tried to read this - well done!

LEJOG is a fantastic walk. I would recommend it to anyone. There is no set route and there are much better ways of getting through Scotland than the way I went.

I would love to do it again - maybe JOGLE.

Gear used would be somewhat different.

LEJOG 2004 - My Notes of a trip of a lifetime - Part 5

Hats off to anyone who has read so far! ..... it is, after all, mainly for my own benefit.

09 May 2004 To Bellingham (day 46 - 43 walking): Misty start to the day - it had rained overnight. Cleared up but remained cloudy. At least it stayed dry. Met and had along chat with Ian who was on JOGL - 20 days so far, but came straight down East side. Got to Bellingham. A fairly easy day compared to the last two. camp fees waived again. Barbara not well, it lots of pain - don't like it!
Had good meal - steak in ale pie - again.

10 May 2004 To Byrness (day 47 - 44 walking): Misty start but got warm and bright quickly. Dry day. saw first adder on path near Paddon Hill. Decided to B & B at Byness campsite - £23.
Barbara had steroid injection at hospital. If not improvement, then will go in Thursday. Had good meal and good night's sleep. Thundery on way to Hotel and heavy rain when inside - but was dry for return.

11 May 2004 To Jedburgh (day 48 - 45 walking): Damp, misty start with fine drizzle - but got dry as day went on. Left Pennine Way at Dere Street and got to Jedburgh campsite at 1730. They waived fees. Did not meet or speak to anyone until campsite - walk was so remote. Long walk to pub, but had good meal.

12 May 2004 To Melrose (day 49 - 46 walking): Dry start and tent was dry. Good warm day with some sun. Over to Melrose. A caravan park, but I was allowed to camp here. Some rich pensioners! Washing in - looking forward to a shower and clean clothes.

13 May 2004 To Peebles (day 50 - 47 walking): Mainly sunny, very good visability coming over Minchmuir drove road. Long road walk in to Peebles. Camped at Rosetta campsite - fees waived. brief shower as I entered Peebles, but still warm. Had good Indian curry. Back to bar at campsite. Matthew and Kate had a chat. Matthew bought me 2 pints and George, who ran the site gave me £3. Total to date £77.35. rained overnight, but stopped in the morning.

14 May 2004 To Carlops (day 51 - 48 walking): Packed and off by 0820. Route finding was easy and I took a forest track to avoid lots of road walking - there was still a lot! Got to Alan Ramsey Hotel in carlops. £30 B & B - but v good - menu looks good. Arrived at 1400.
Stayed dry although the air was damp.
Met Trevor who is also on LEJOG but B & B all the way - ouch! He got talking to folk in the bar and they pointed me out to him. He left LE on 26 March but came up through the centre rather than the coast start I had. Got talking to Ray who gave me £10. Total to date £87.35. Meal was great. Ray, Jim Mike and Rainbow were great company. The landlord was David.
A good night.

15 May 2004 To Linlithgow (day 52 - 49 walking): Dry, mainly sunny day. Over Pentland Hills and down Union canal - then along to Linlithgow. Camped between two caravans - no one in them. Long day - about 24 miles. Fantastic evening in the Four Marys pub. I'd had an Indian - good. Then met Gordon and Rosemary + Eric and Margaret. had a great chat with them. They gave me £10. Gordon was a Rugby club secretary and undertaker. Eric was into amatuer dramatics and was ex-police - 41 club too (??).

16 May 2004 Sunday To Kilsyth (day 53 - 50 walking): Beautiful clear blue sky morning. I do not like the canal side tracks. On thru Falkirk and saw the Falkirk Wheel - superb! trudge to Kilsyth where Colin picked me up. (Colin was a friend from college days in Aberdeen. I thought he was living nearby - but he'd driven well over an hour to pick me up! My geography was a bit lacking here!). Had a great lamb meal at his house. Good to see him and Rosellen. Weather stayed sunny and dry. Over to the pub until midnight.

17 may 2004 To Blanefield (day 54 - 51 walking): Firstly, back to Kilsyth. A long way! A light weight day. Kilsyth to Blanefield along old railway from Kirkintiloch. Brief shower in morning. Windy, but the rest of the day was dry. Took wrong turning at Strathblaine, but, got to Blanefield ok. Route is only just up th eroad. Rosellen picked me up and I had a great evening with Colin as his guest at his Rotary club meeting - then drinks in pub.

18 May 2004 Rest day (day 55 - 51 walking): Total rest day at Colin and Rosellen's. Superb meal - pasta. In pub, met David Smith - a headteacher and Mike, from Canada. Gave me £20 for Hospice. I booked my return train from Wick to Tamworth + hotel in JOG.

19 May 2004 To Rowardennan (day 56 - 52 walking): Colin dropped me back to Blanefield. Then a bit of road walking until I joined the West Highland Way. Excellent views. Had a good dry day - but for one brief shower. Camp spot at Rowardennan has no facilities. Had meal in Hotel. Prices hiked up! Later got talking to a group of soldiers from N. Ireland. Glen, Neil, Jim, Mike. They invited me to join them for a chilli tomorrow night. Rained overnight. Woke up to midges - the little bastards! Packed up in a cloud of them!

20 May 2004 To Beinglas Farm (day 57 - 53 walking): Midges don't like it when you pack up. They die! - when tent is packed up. There is something satisfying about emptying them out when unpacking the tent! Few brief showers in morning - no need for waterproofs. otherwise mainly sunny and superb views. Got to Beinglas Farm campsite. had shower and washed clothes. Got here at 1345!
Met the Army guys and had chilli with them. It was very good. Although they were walking the WHW they had a support van. Massive cook pots etc., The site has a bar and I drank with them until 2230 - then bed. Good nights sleep. No midges!

21 May 2004 Friday To Bridge of Orchy (day 58 - 54 walking): Dry night and morning. A few midges around in the morning. A couple of showers - no waterproofs needed. Otherwise dry, sunnyish. Great walk thru Tyndrum and on to Bridge of Orchy. Stayed in the Hotel bunkhouse - £10. Shared a room with Kim from Denmark who said he was going to get up at 0500!
Had six oysters to start meal. Then Cumberland sausage - excellent. Good beer.
Then Trevor - the other LEJOG guy I met, days ago,  turned up. He was in another bunkhouse sharing with 5 others. We chatted and it was a late night.

22 May 2004 To Kinlochleven (day 59 - 55 walking): Kim was gone when I woke up. Didn't hear him go! Had full English breakfast in hotel for £6. V good!. Beautiful day - sunny and warm and had fantastic walk over Rannoch Mor and thru Glencoe. Devil's staircase and down to Kinlochleven. V good campsite £4. Pub not too far. had shower. Also changed hostel booking from Tuesday to Monday (??) Good pub - Tailrace - good beer and food.