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Friday, November 2, 2018

Day 4 in Scotland: Walking the West Highland Way

When we woke up on day four, we were ready: ready to start early and avoid being out in the dark, and ready to walk through some very bad weather. A hurricane was skimming the Scottish coast, so the normally wet weather was going to be cold gales.

We set our early, after my sister and I discussed walking speed. She's a naturally slow walker, but that was a problem with the length of our walks! We agreed to pick up the pace. I wore long sleeves, a ball cap, leggings, and a rain coat - but in case I got cold, I also packed a winter hat and an extra long sleeved shirt.

Right away we were in lashing torrents of rain. But we met some lovely walkers, like Charles from Carlisle, who kept us company for a while. He was part of a "rambling club" - love it - and so sweet; we were sad to leave him when we took a few minutes to explore St. Fillan's priory. Some of the graves are estimated to be from 700-800 ad!

very old grave markers

Over the next few hours, temperatures kept dropping; probably low 30's plus rain and wind, and our brisk pace wasn't really keeping us warm. Luckily this walk was not as remote as others, and I stopped for coffee at a camping site. Lo and behold, they also had one pair of gloves left for sale! I bought it, and it probably saved my life...meanwhile, my sister obstinately insisted she wasn't cold.

For two seconds we saw SUN! 

Flooding made parts of the path unpassable

At Tyndrum, we we took a break for lunch, and as it was quite crowded, we ended up at the Green Welly cafe, which is basically a gas station. Oh, the misery. The configuration of the cafe and gas station was such that a bitter cross wind blew through every time a door opened - which was constant. Slowly, my temperature dropped, until I realized I was hypothermic. I was totally white and blue and couldn't stop shaking. Some sweet British fellows we'd run into before checked on me, but they were just as cold, and we had all dressed too lightly. Finally, I had a bright idea: I went to the bathroom and took off all my clothes and dried them under the hand dryer. Once my clothes weren't icy and wet I was immediately more comfortable. And then we set out again.
After fording the stream
Not that you could tell because the paths were all mini-streams by then!
To our chagrin, we forded a nearly knee-high icy stream to get back onto the West Highland Way, only to realize that the path basically intersected with the stupid Green Welly half a mile later. We could have just walked straight out of the cafe onto the path! We actually stopped again and grabbed coffee to go, just to have something warm to hold! We then became rather well known on the path as the crazy ladies battling the wind and the rain, clutching coffee cups for dear life (and underdressed. So very underdressed).

I don't have a lot of pictures from the afternoon, because we were just fighting wind and horizontal rain for most of it! But great was our relief when, from high up on a mountain, we saw the lonely Inveroran Hotel.
I dubbed Inveroran "Soviet Scotland" based on our 1960's Stalingrad bathrooms

Oh, the Inveroran. In the middle of NOWHERE, no wifi, run by Russians with limited English, full of cheery Englishmen happy to have a whiskey with two American gals, and home to more smoked salmon than I've ever seen in my life. It was a weird place to stay. My sister and I were given a "room" that was really an out building, way off across a cold field. In retrospect, our total isolation and room separate from our traveling companions was not so safe, but whatever. We were just happy to be somewhat warm! Our dinner was delicious, and herds of deer were bounding past the windows while we ate. Plus, we felt super accomplished for not freezing to death! So it was a cozy night.


  1. I'm a regular reader, infrequent commenter, and fellow New Orleanian, and I want to say thank you for taking us all along on your Scottish hikes! Great pics and stories.

  2. I've been enjoying following along as well! I guess you needed at least one day that was epic, and look, now you have a good story :) I had a similarly soggy, chilly hike with my husband in NZ a few years ago that was part of a longer trek...definitely type 2 fun!

  3. That sounds brutal! I bet being warm and dry at the end of the day was like heaven.

  4. Oh my gosh, that sounds like an awful awful day. Being cold and wet is the worst! But it makes for a good story, so there's that!! And all's well that ends well!