Tyndrum - Inversnaid - Tyndrum Sunday 28 March 2010
I met a group of 3 guys at Inversnaid on Sunday who were walking the West Highland Way. We had arrived there at the same time: me from Tyndrum and them from Balmaha. I obliged by taking a few photos of them and paused for a welcome chat in what had sometimes been a lonely 5 hours. So impressed were they by my efforts that day they have dubbed me their new hero, their previous hero being Eddie Izzard. I don't know about that but it lifted my spirits.
It was perhaps not the best day for a long run on the WHW with the clocks going forward, David unable to make it at the last minute and the absence of my waterproof trousers (I sacrificed the space in my bag for food) but for the day's purposes I was going on GMT, BST can wait til later. Fortunately the Green Welly was operating on BST and I was able to buy some waterproof trousers. The weather had said fair - it lied.
I set off looking, not like an athelete, but rather, like I had borrowed my granda's old fishing gear. Someone ought to sex up waterproof running clobber. It was a bad start which wasn't going to get better when I went the wrong way. I crossed the railway and headed through the forest. Well I didn't see the sign so I thought I'd make up my own route. At least it brought me back onto the correct path after a 4 mile meander and by now I was well on my way towards Auchtertyre. I even know where that is!
I take ultra training seriously (no I do...). I train with the very best in ultra running and listen carefully to everything they say. They say to walk the hills so I do so without guilt. When climbing up Ewich Forest I'm glad these "rules" are in place. It's a trek. 2 smiling girls pass coming downhill - I'm jealous. I finally reach the top and head towards Crainlarich. From here to the road it's a mud bath with many a cow pat disguised as stones. Nice!
I passed through Bein Glas, found out what the crack yer heid tunnel was, and reached the edge of Loch Lomond in what seemed like record time. I fantasised about stopping at Inversnaid with a cup of tea and glass of coke, clearly underestimating how long it would take to negotiate my way round the rocks and gnarly trees. Inversnaid was beginning to look like a mirage. I arrived eventually but 10 minutes behind schedule. Well I had done an extra 4 miles! I got the coke but there was no time for tea. I ditched my granda's fishing breeks since the rain had been off a while and set off looking every bit the athelete pumped full of caffeine, sugar and banter. By the time I got to the Bothy it was teeming down. Back on with the breeks and by now I was glad to see the back of the loch. I headed towards Bein Glas where I stopped in a sheltered spot for some soggy-free grub. My useless garmin had by now run of off puff (lightweight) so it was on with the real watch so at least I knew the time of day if nothing else.
I was feeling good heading back towards Crainlarich despite various livestock issues along the way but as I slogged my way back through the cow crap and mud I came across about a hundred cows who had congregated on the path to terrorise me. It worked. Trying not to be outdone, I tricked them by climbing over the wall to bypass them. It was only pissing me off though as I trudged through bogs and clamboured back over the wall leaving me with more moss on my gloves than in a hanging basket. I was now in a pretty foul mood and heading towards my new nemisis, Ewich Forest. I climbed and climbed and struggled on resorting to music, with Guy Garvey helping through a rough patch, before finally reaching the road. It was becoming rather harder work that in should have been from here despite knowing Auchtertyre wasn't far away. I was out of food (well I had some mouldy tasting oatcakes left) and down at heart.
I passed through Auchtertyre and crossed the road to the community woodland, finding the actual real way back to Tyndrum. Ah, so that's where the By The Way is. I hadn't been able to run at all the last couple of miles because I was feeling so sick. I could keep a good pace walking but my stomach couldn't handle running. And even though it only took me an extra 5 minutes coming back the way (I blame the cows....) I felt as though I'd been out forever. Not because my feet or my legs were sore, but because I was absolutely ravenous. I shuffled around in the car to change before heading off to the Real Food Cafe for probably the most deserved fish & chips, tea and coke of anyone in there, maybe, before beginning the lonely dark journey home. Job done, down but not out.
1. Today's food was 1.5l watery juice, can of coke, lots of water slurps from waterfalls, piece of ginger cake, piece of fruit cake, 1 apple, wee tub boiled tatties, single twix, single time out bar. Not nearly enough! Oh and 4 paracetamol (with caffeine of course).
2. Road shoes all the way today seemed to do the trick. Think I'll be wearing these come race day as my feet survived better than when I've used trail shoes.