Had My Phil of Scotland

Thursday we took the train to Glasgow from Fort William. It took a little under 4 hours making stops along the way. At one point it followed The Way and we could see some hikers on the trail.

In Glasgow we got our NEGATIVE quick rapid test at an esthetician place that Liz found. They do offer it at the airport but wanted to give ourselves some breathing room. Quick cab ride to a hotel and when we got to the room there was a birthday card and treats from the hotel. I can not say enough wonderful things about the people we met in Scotland. By far one of the nicest places I have been too.

Genesis Concert

I have always been a fan of Genesis and Phil Collins. Another bucket list checked off on the trip with 8th row seats at the Hydro.

The SSE Hydro

It was incredible and just the perfect ending to an amazing trip. We found out later that they canceled the rest of the UK leg due to band members having COVID. We lucked out for sure.

Phil singing Fading Lights.

So you know that these are the days of our lives,
So remember

Yes, I will.

Thank you all for coming along with us on this journey of inspirational sites and sounds , and people and places. Until next time…..🙏

Fort William a dhà

Ahhhhhh. We slept in had breakfast and toured this lovely town. Fort William is rich in history dating back to 1600’s. For us it was time for slow walking and shopping.

The B&Bs along Loch Etive are just beautiful and only a 5 minute walk into town. It was also a sunny day which made the day even more special.

This is our B&B and the hostess could not have been nicer and our rooms beautiful.

Our B&B
View from the front of our B&B

COVID Update: we need to get another test amd be negative to get back on the plane to US. We made an appointment at a pharmacy in Fort William but turns out that the kind of antigen test we need was not offered. We know they offer them at the airport but did not want to take the risk of a long line so we decided to take the earlier train tomorrow morning to Glasgow and find one there.

Fort William

We started out extra early since we knew we had a long 15+mile day ahead of us. We are tired, sore and blistered but eager to get this last leg of our journey done. The first 4 were up and up and up out of Kinlochleven.

The next 8 were a wonderful hike through a pass. The sun was out the whole time and we would stop to chat with the fellow hikers who we had been with for the last week. Some were heading home, some were spending the next day climbing Ben Nevis and some continuing on The Great Glen Way to Inverness.

We stopped for a picnic lunch when Ben Nevis started to come into view. Ben Nevis is the Mt Marcy of the UK standing at 4,413 feet. Though a bit smaller it looks massive without trees.

Ben Nevis

With 3 miles to go it was all down hill.

A birthday call

We never have our phones on and keep them in airplane mode when a minute after this picture was taken my phone rang. How? I have no idea. It was my Mom and Dad singing Happy Birthday to me. It was the best present.

Liz captured the moment of me talking
Fort William in site!

Of course, the last 2 miles it rained to remind us where we were but we pushed on until we saw the official line and a statue.

“Man With Sore Feet”
The official pic
How we feel

We went out for a wee dram to celebrate our accomplishment. What an amazing journey and could not have spent my birthday any better. It was a bonnie one for sure. Thank you to all of you who sent messages along the Way. Love to you all.

We had not seen a thistle the whole trip and just as we were ending our journey we spotted one. It is the country’s national emblem as if the WHW was saying “brilliant, Karen and Liz well done”

Kingshouse to Kinlochleven

9 miles_23000 steps

We finally saw one of the big 5. Liz got a bit friendly with it.

Giddy up and take me to Kinlochleven.

Ok so did I…..

Hi there, I’m stag are you?

After another wonderful breakfast we headed off to Kinlochleven on a trail promising spectacular views. It didn’t start out that way…..here is what we were supposed to see at the start and what we saw.

A couple miles down the road and across from Buachaille we had a small mountain to climb ourselves with the name of the devil’s staircase. The pictures don’t do it justice of the ascent and the amount of serpentine turns we had to take to get to the top. With every turn the mountain behind us became more visible – sort of.

Think Stid Hill!
Yippee – made it, and now what?

Well as we know what goes up must come down. The next 5 miles was walking through a combination of Machu Picchu/Andes and Pyrenees with a little bit of Jurassic Park thrown in. We did not have rain for most of it – but there was a lot of fog so we did not see as much as we could, but what we did was spectacular.

We ended up with the last 2 miles in the rain coming into a darling little town, I believe, known for aluminum smelting. Unfortunately, the aluminum museum was closed- Liz was disappointed.

We called it an early night (it is 9pm as I write this and turning in) to get ready for our 15 mile birthday last day hike. See you in Fort William.

Inveroran to Kingshouse and Outlander Alert

10 miles, 24000 steps

We hated to leave the Inveroran Hotel but had to get on our way. There are a variety of ways that “walkers” can walk “The Way”. You can what they call wild camping where you can set up your tent along the way. You can also make a reservation at a camp site which are typically near an Inn and offer a separate sheltered area to sit, dry off and have your meals. What we did was book through a company called MacsAdventures.com. They made our reservations at bed and breakfasts and even offered a service to transport our luggage from place to place. This way we only had to carry a daypack. Each location has been different but all of them offer a hot shower, a comfy bed and hot tea and Scottish shortbread (not to mention adult beverages).

Today took us on old military roads (constructed in the Scottish during the middle part of the 18th century as part of an attempt by the British Government to bring order to a part of the country which had risen up in the Jacobite rebellion of 1715) through the Rannoch Moor – 50 square miles of boggy moor. It started out pouring rain and then:

Hello sunshine.

The sun came in an out for most of the trip through the moor with sites of rainbows along the way.

We got to the Kingshouse Hotel at the base of Buachaille Etive Mor. It was rainy like sideways rain that we could not get a good shot of the mountain. We will try in the morning.

From our restaurant site – why would they put conifers and sitting in front of the view?
Ho Hum

Outlander Alert:

For all you fans this is where they filmed the beginning scenes. Glencoe appears in the opening credits of every Outlander episode. With stunning mountainous scenery, it provides a perfect example of the rugged beauty of the Scottish highlands. … Having defeated the Jacobite uprising of 1689-90, the British Government had to police the Scottish highlands.

Ok, well they do have WiFi

Today’s hike was short compared to the days before – only 9 miles and it was a breath of fresh air on our feet and legs. We had mostly military road to walk on and the sites were glorious

All along the trail our friends would be there encouraging us on or asking: why?

The rain held off for most of the day. We stopped many times in amazement on where we were and what we were doing.

With every hardship there is a side that we don’t always see. I try to look at the positive side of everything and believe that our lord shows it to us if we choose to see it.

We came across a little village called Bridge or Orchy. It was the first time we saw a sign in Gaelic. It had a train stop a hotel, community center and yes, a bridge.

The bridge.

We loved that this town was so concerned for our safety.

The last mile or so is always the hardest especially when you can see your hot shower in the distance.

Inveronan Hotel

It is a bed and breakfast in the middle of the highlands and a little place of heaven. It is run by a couple and a bartender from Hungary. They have been working everyday since the beginning of the season in April and will be shutting down in two weeks for the winter.

When we arrived we were asked to bring down our wet clothes for the drying room and what we would like to have for dinner and our packed lunch the next day.

There are only 9 rooms and booked a season in advance. We were able to get in because of our late season booking.

Having dinner like this on a long distance hike is incredible and we enjoyed every bit of it from the Haggis to the steak and Guiness pie to the sticky toffee cake and ice cream.

Good night deer .

Inverarnan to Tyndrum

12 miles, 31,000 steps, 1/2 way done

Hey, guess what the weather was today? You won’t guess….yup, RAIN. And not only rain, but some wind thrown in just to make it more interesting. We are a bit sick of the rain but today’s hike was a good one with lots of interesting sites.

The sun did come out to tease us in the beginning for about, Oh – 2 minutes. So we know it exists.

At one point we had to use a sheep creep to continue our our path.

The best part of today’s hike was when we reached Crianlarich crossroads. It meant that we have officially completed 1/2 of the WHW.

48 miles done and 48 more to go.

We stopped for a quick, and I mean quick, picnic lunch before heading off fo the next half of the day. A beautiful view greeted us – with the sun.

Our hotel packed us a wonderful lunch with a sandwich, chips, and lots of chocolate treats.

The next half of the hike started as we entered a very thick conifer plantation. I learned that Scotland did not have any trees because of the quality of the soil for over 3000 years. Conifers are planted since they can thrive in the thin soil and later used for energy – meaning less reliance on foreign sources. You can see in the above picture areas of these trees.

Carpet of moss covered the floor of the plantation.

We were inside the forest for at least an 1 1/2 hours which gave us a wonderful refuge from the rain.

After passing an old viaduct we had only 3 more miles to go and our dogs were howling and needed a pick-me-up to get us to go the last bit.

When we crossed into a farmers field and were greeted by some onlookers that just made us laugh.

What are you looking at?

We passed the ruins of St. Fillan’s Chapel and its graveyard that dates back to the 8th Century and is protected today.

We also passed areas of great battles. One of them was the Battle of Dalrigh

We are staying tonight at the Tyndrum Lodges which provided us a wonderful treat – laundry and a drying room for all of our wet clothes and gear. We are looking forward to a short 10 miles hike tomorrow which we are grateful for since it is going to be —- what? Yes, you guessed it RAINING.

Drymen to Rowardennan

It was a tough day – not gonna lie. At bed time my Iwatch says 16 miles and 36000+ feet. We started out a bit later then we wanted to because of the comfy accommodations and promise of a big Scottish breakfast before we left.

Last night we stayed at a traditional bed and breakfast. We had our own room and a private bathroom. The place was homey and spotless and run by a wonderful women named Adele who shared stories of her grandchildren and how she got into the B&B business. The breakfast did not disappoint:

The day started out in sunshine and took us through the most beautiful pasture.

Through fields of fern and across creeks.

We then hit our first challenge of the day: Conic Hill. The views will be worth it they said- and so we began to climb.

We had a quick lunch and then headed off for another 7 miles mostly along the shoreline of Loch Lomond and over wooded hills. What should of been a 7 hour day turned into 9 when we reached Rowardennan Hotel.

Weather update: even when they say no rain-it rains- often. It will be sunny and then a cloud comes over and pack comes off rain gear goes on. 20 minutes later pack comes off rain gear gets stowed. This happened at least 5 times on a day that was supposed to have no rain.

We have another tough 14 miles today with what is described as the toughest terrain. We are pushing and supporting each other every step with tough love and of course laughter

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