Hike Southbound through Britain with Daryl May
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DS12 Invermoriston sign
Loch Ness
Above: Loch Ness from the Great Glen Way. Below:The River Moriston at Invermoriston
DS12 River Moriston
Days S1 - S20                                                                Scottish Highlands
Day S12 - Invermoriston to Fort Augustus
Day S11                  Thoughts about Wimpy                     Day S13
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Scottish Highlands
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Northbound Home
Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Time of departure: 9.45 am
Time of arrival: 12.45 pm
Place departed: Invermoriston, Highland
Place arrived: Fort Augustus, Highland

Miles: 7.5
Cum miles: 165.7
Percent complete: 17.1

Bed sign Bank B&B, Fort Augustus ****
Cost for bed and breakfast: £22 ($44)
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DS12 Lochs at Fort Augustus
Part of the ladder of locks at Fort Augustus, with Loch Ness beyond

I'm about halfway between the Moray Firth (on the east coast) and Loch Linnhe (on the west), indicating steady-enough progress since my layover in Tain.

My original plan for today was a short, seven-miles - partly to fall into step with the next three days that would involve normal-distance hikes to Fort William with overnights at the accommodation centers of South Laggan and Spean Bridge. Today I stuck to the plan for other reasons: rain, headwinds, and aching feet. So I reached Fort Augustus at lunchtime, and found The Bothy for a 70-shillings beer at lunchtime, and the Bank B&B for a bed, bath and (tomorrow's) breakfast.

The Bank B&B shares an old house with a bank, occupying the upper floors while the bank occupies the lower. I don't have an ensuite room, but I'm learning that "ensuite" very often means "shower conversion" whereas non-ensuite more likely mean a bath. The bathwater is distinctively green in color here, not quite the same as the brown I've seen hitherto. But the host here also attributes it to Pete. I'm starting to get more interested in Pete. He seems to wield a lot of influence on Scottish water.

My ankles are swollen, and the underfoot blister areas hurt. If this continues, it'll take a lifetime of seven mile days to reach Land's End, but the alternative based just on today's walk seemed to be an injury and a premature flight home. I have to hope that I'm still adapting to the new boots. My friends have warned me to expect the pain as a result of postural changes.

The route started on the A82 to avoid a 300 ft climb on the Great Glen Way (GGW). I transitioned to the GGW before arriving in Fort Augustus. Fort Augustus is a distinctive town. It's not only at the end of the very long Loch Ness, but also the beginning of the Caledonian Canal which, with a string of lochs, links the west and east coasts of Scotland. The start of the canal at Fort Augustus is marked by a swing bridge for the A82, and a chain of locks. The canal is a step up in size from those I've previously seen in Britain. I'll walk along it tomorrow as the GGW transitions from a woodland trail to a canalside one.
There are a few pubs and restaurants each side of the canal in Fort Augustus, the locks serving also as pedestrian bridges. The Bothy pub had a super fire, and it's also a recommended restaurant.

Back in Dingwall, I took a photo of another restaurant, familiar from the 1960's, called Wimpy. I am not sure how many Wimpy's there are these days [a good few, as I've since learned], but this was the first I'd seen for 25 years. It used to be the British equivalent of McDonald's, which was starting up in that era also. But McDonald's went on to feed the world, while Wimpy went on to feed Dingwall. Wimpy food and service were never good, but its debut was perfectly-timed as young folks (and others) started to have the means to eat out and nowhere inexpensive to go except to Lyons and similar places which catered to oldies who liked old-fashioned food served in dull surroundings by dowdy waitresses. Wimpy was all about "with-it" food, fast counter service, and bright plastic surroundings.

As I said, Wimpy's food wasn't anything special. Or original. Except, that is, for the Bender. Just as the world was increasingly into hamburgers and hot dogs, Wimpy came up with the Bender. The Bender was a hotdog sausage that fitted neatly in a round hamburger bun. This feat of topography was made possible by inventing a "circular" hotdog sausage, seemingly created from straight hotdogs by cutting a series of notches to enable the dog to be bent into this shape. (I assume this was done in the factory.) With a dollop of relish or pickle in the center of this curvacious delicacy, the Bender seemed all set to change the gastronomic character of Britain. Except that Wimpy's food as a whole, and its service standards, were decaying along with the décor. And McDonald's was arriving in the local high street.

I approached the Wimpy in Dingwall like an old man rediscovering his first car. It looked bright and clean, and a good sprinkling of Dingwall's citizenry seemed to enjoy being there. I did not enter, even though I was in search of dinner. You see, in my youth I had been to one Wimpy too many.

But I did read the menu displayed brightly in the window. And my heart beat a little faster when I saw that they still sell the Bender.

Day S11                             © 2007 and 2008 Daryl May                               Day S13