Hike Southbound through Britain with Daryl May
Click for Northbound hike
Kings House Hotel close-up
DS19 Kings House sign
DS19 River and mountain
Days S1 - S20                                                                    Scottish Highlands
Day S19 - Kings House to Bridge of Orchy 
Day S18                     A day on Rannoch Moor                     Day S20
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Scottish Highlands
Central Scotland
    Southern Scotland
North of England
English Midlands
    English West Country

Northbound Home
Monday, March 10, 2008

Time of departure: 9.00 am
Time of arrival: 2.15 pm
Place departed: Kings House, Highland
Place arrived: Bridge of Orchy, Argyll and Bute

Miles: 13
Cum miles: 250.2
Percent complete: 25.8

Bed sign Bridge of Orchy Hotel, Bridge of Orchy ***
Cost for bed and breakfast: 40 ($80)
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DS19 Lake and mountain
DS19 Rough lake and mountain
"Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor hail" shall stop old Hobson hiking. Nor, I should add, gale force winds.

But I walked on the road, which made things easier. It was a walk across Rannoch Moor, after having climbed up Glen Coe yesterday. Along the way, I left Highland, and specifically its Lochaber region, and crossed into Argyll and Bute.

The bad weather is the tail end of the weather system that caused lots of damage in England and Wales and has now affected Scotland. But there was a glimpse of sun in the afternoon, and the forecast for the next two days is good.

There is a touch of snobbery in the hiking world. "Good" hiking is on trails in the remote mountains. "Bad" hiking is on flat roads in cities. The West Highland Way (WHW) took me to my limits on Sunday, when it epitomized "mountain trail", but it's left me with a very sore ankle. Roads amidst the same beautiful environment will just have to do.

There's a safety element in this choice which I mentioned on the Great Glen Way last week. On the WHW on Sunday, I met two hiking groups, both headed north and both gone from my life by 1 pm. If I had sprained my ankle after that time, and if my mobile phone signal had been too weak, I would now be dead. It's that cold on these mountain trails at night. And I'm headed to other places where the same danger exists, though
the proximity of roads in many of these places makes mobile phone service more likely, reducing the risk.
The Scottish Daily Record on Monday reported that six people have died on Scottish mountains just this year, some of hypothermia. Of course, these are generally mountains far higher than those in my plans.

I was in a chipper mood, and made good time on the A82 for a geriatric hiker. I'm actually heading south again, after my dog's leg to and from Glencoe. My new waterproof jacket is more waterproof than the old waterproof one, and raising the hood at the first sign of rain helps stop water ingress from the neck down. My boots are comfortable enough, and pretty-well waterproof except on days of continuous wet. My blisters are under control, though not totally healed. My only prominent ailment is an aching right ankle. I am treating it with Gavin's Albutrol ointment in the morning, and my doctor's anti-inflammatory pill at night. It's a worry. Maybe I need an ankle support?

You may have noticed that I'm spending more on accommodation on the southbound hike, and getting more creature comforts. With wet boots at the end of the day, it's nice to go to the bar in the same building in one's socks. Yesterday, I met four bikers from Hull, and enjoyed their company in the Kings House lounge. When they left before me this morning, I told them I'd soon catch them up on the road. They had a 350-mile ride to Hull, and I had a 13-mile hike to Bridge of Orchy, so that wasn't too likely.

I'm getting internet access with ease this trip. I get phone access by GPRS for 1 ($2) a day. But sometimes I can get free wifi access instead, as it's fairly common even at B&Bs now. A major issue in 2007 has become a non-issue in 2008.

Whilst hiking, my mind sometimes turns to time-to-destination calculations. I'm wondering whether I can finish before my May 14 flight home. But I've decided to wait until I'm in the Glasgow area, with the unknowns of the WHW behind me, before I really take a look at that.

Day S18                                   2007 and 2008 Daryl May                                    Day S20