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English West Country
North of England
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Time of departure: 8.30 am
Time of arrival: 3.30 pm
Place departed: Tomatin, Highland
Place arrived: Inverness, Highland
Cum miles: 800.3
Percent complete: 86.3
Inverness Youth Hostel *****
Cost for bed and breakfast: £18 ($36)
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What others say
was Jenny's birthday. I had left her present hidden in the house, but
told her about it on April 9, exactly a month earlier. She was
delighted then, but I felt guilty today on her actual
birthday. All I could offer, when I talked to her on the
phone, was news that I could finish as early as a week from now.
Tonight’s destination of Inverness was the last large town on my hike. Yesterday, I checked that my boots didn't need another cobbler visit (or replacing altogether), because Inverness might be the last chance for that. Today I needed to check that my cellphone was topped up in case I didn't pass top-up places later - not that they weren't there, just that hiking with a pack means that you don't skip around chasing down such places in rural areas. During the day, I also wanted to see if the Inverness youth hostel had space, in case I did not find anywhere I liked better. Yet another job was to look into transportation from Inverness south for when I had finished the hike.
Talking to Lynne Stephens at her Tomatin B&B, I learned that she and husband Peter had plans to move to Canada, having fond memories of a recent visit to Golden, British Columbia. At breakfast this morning, which was a memorable one - smoked salmon with lemon and wild green onion accompanied by scrambled egg on a muffin - I immediately picked up on the Canadian accents of two other guests. It turned out they were from Kamloops, British Columbia. Golden and Kamloops are both hinterland towns in the Okanagan Valley west of the Rockies and east of the coastal range, and have much in common though they're not physically very close. I brought this interesting coincidence to Lynne's attention and took my leave.
The weather and the walk were pretty pleasant and unremarkable until about 1.30 pm when I dropped in on the Inverness Tourist Information Centre (TIC) outside the town. It should have been open, but it wasn't - and maddeningly had a much-used sign on the door saying "Gone for 30 minutes" - without saying when the 30 minutes began or would end.
I recognized this as one of those artfully created signs actually indicating that the office may well be closed for an hour or perhaps the whole afternoon - as happens all the time (judging by the much-used notice). I decided not to wait.
There had been storm clouds around all day, but they had missed me. I had begun to feel I had it made until about 2.30 pm when I was in Inverness itself and the heavens opened. It was a severe storm - big drops of hard rain with sleet mixed in - which lasted about 45 minutes, leaving really large puddles for the traffic to splash me from. Thanks to the closed TIC, I hadn't yet found accommodation, and now it was urgent. I ducked into the Thistle Hotel to see what they could offer, by this time soaked by the rain, only to learn that the Thistle wanted to soak me financially. Eventually I booked into the Inverness Youth Hostel, which is modern and nice. I micro-waved my cheese on pumpernickel bread in the kitchen . . .
I tried to access my email on the youth hostel computer, but the service was down. Since it was early enough, I made my way to the Inverness main public library, where the system was up but the password generator was down, so the system wasn’t actually up. Then I asked the receptionist where the toilet was. Usually the answer to a question like that is “down the aisle, first on the left” – but not this time. The receptionist had noted my backpack and probably remembered the last time she’d let a backpacker use the library toilets. She’d no doubt discovered him washing his underwear and wanting to hang it out to dry on the magazine racks while he ate his sardine sandwich in the reference section where he hoped no one would discover his state of undress.
“There are no public toilets in the library,” she said. “The law does not require them.” I wonder what she told little old ladies who asked where the toilet was.
Back in the youth hostel, I would have felt better if I didn't have a top bunk, because that makes for a tricky descent for an aching-limb old codger in the middle of the night with an enlarged prostate. But I was dry and warm. As always, I had no trouble sleeping.
|Day N48 © 2007 and 2008 Daryl May Day N50|