The Aftermath

It’s now been 4 days since the walk finished. I’m back in Blackpool and Louise has returned to Holland. So how do I feel about it all?

My first and foremost feeling is pride. It was by far the biggest challenge I’ve undertaken and at certain points I really didn’t think I could do it. Through determination and the support from Louise I made it. I am insanely proud of what I achieved and looking back at pictures, my ropey certificate from the Edinburgh Woolen mill and the medal I have (thanks Lindsey for arranging that) fills me with a real sense that I properly achieved something amazing.

I’m also a little sad it’s over. It was fun to just setting off for the day, not really knowing what or who we would encounter. It was a real break from the norm and definitely a change of pace and I enjoyed that. It’s obviously amazing to see my children again and I guess going back to work will be alright but that real sense of freedom and adventure was something special. To be in the great unknown with the whole world ahead of me (sometimes literally) was a special feeling

Of course another big feeling is pain. The bottom of my right foot has now pretty much peeled away, my calfs have been sore since Wednesday, my Midge bites have only just stopped itching and my little toenail has turned a lovely shade of black and will no doubt fall off soon. Louise has NOTHING! No pain, no injuries, no bites. I hate her. Okay, I don’t hate her but I am insanely jealous!!

I guess the ultimate question is would I do this again?

The answer is a confusing yes and no. I would not do this walk again. I’ve seen the amazing views it has to offer and have experienced the feeling of success here. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t do another similar challenge. I pretty much loved every minute. I’d just need to have a think about what to do next time but rest assured I will be doing a new and demanding challenge. When and where I’ve no idea but I’ll be blogging about it all.

Until then I hope you’ve all enjoyed this. Take care and speak soon xxxx


The REAL Greatest Story ever told

As some of you may be aware (and I’m sure a fair few of you won’t) Louise and I (mainly Lou) have been doing a photographic log of our trip using our friend Wee Lego Dave. You can follow him on Instagram @WeeLegoDave

Anyway, he has kind of become the mascot of this trip and has come literally everywhere with us, taking various pictures of him in a variety of poses along the wayYesterday on our 16 mile hike across the barren mountaintops of Lairigmor Lego Dave sadly fell out of Louise’s pocket. Lost forever. 

We discovered this only when we stopped for refreshments at the middle of nowhere honesty box We had never been happier to see this wee tent in the middle of nowhere but our joy turned to devastation when we realised that Lego Dave had disappeared. The pair of us were genuinely so upset. We walked away from the Honesty tent with a few tears in our eyes.

About 5 minutes later we were walking again, barely talking as we were so choked up about the loss of Dave. I know it sounds stupid but it genuinely felt like someone had died. He had been such a part of this trip and it was hard to come to the realisation he wasn’t there anymore. As is the way when you are walking, when someone else is walking faster than you, you move to the side to let them past. Louise and I, crestfallen at this moment in time had moved aside to allow a younger, fitter and much less pained looking couple overtake. I was slightly in front of Louise when the woman of the couple turned to me.

“Hello, I know this is going to sound like a strange question………but you haven’t lost a little Lego Man have you?”

My brain did not compute what this lady had just asked me. 

“Uhm……yeah” I sheepishly replied.

The man of the couple then said something with genuine delight in his voice “OH MY GOD, WE’VE SAVED LEGO DAVE!”

Louise and I just looked at each other. A mixture of elation and bewilderment.

“We started following him on Instagram yesterday” the lady quickly said to try and explain how this almighty coincidence had happened. “He’s lost his hair I’m afraid, but we were determined to make sure that he finished the West Highland Way” the man said.

Louise and I could have hugged this couple. A pair of angels sent from above to resurrect Dave. Like a Phoenix from the Flames Dave has risen up in order to finish this walk. We were so happy.

The fact that we found this tent which had us so elated, and then the crushing realisation we had lost Dave to then be pulled away from the brink of despair by 2 total strangers who had only come across his Instagram 12 hours previous was just amazing.

We walked for the next couple of miles in emotional shock! 

I’m cold, I’m wet and I’ve rain in ma bum 

The descent was through a forest that had long since been chopped down. It was a little depressing to see the stumps of once glorious trees scattered everywhere. The picturesque tree lined path was soon to become a larger way for cars to traverse through the land. It was quite sad. 

As we reached the bottom of our descent our accommodation came into view. I beautiful little campsite at the base of Ben Nevis. Of course after walking for near 7 hours in the rain made us slightly less than enthusiastic about pitching 2 tents on our arrival before then finishing the WHW. We got to reception and the friendly (but very cross eyed) man asked if it had been raining. I hate people who say that. Like I’ve never heard that joke before. Just like when I take deliveries to people at work and there are changes to their order, if it’s a fella I’m telling then about 8 out of 10 times they will say “I better go and check with the boss” and then chuckle to themselves like they’ve just said the best joke ever. Hearing this 4-5 times a day every day I work does make it lose its humour somewhat. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the cross eyed man.

I kindly asked him (although to be honest I would have got on my knees and begged) if they had any other accommodation before we started to pitch our tents. He spent an age tapping away at his keyboard whilst I dripped all over his floor. “Yes, I have a pod available” Man I nearly hugged him.

We paid the extra money and hobbled over to the pod. The usual wooden hut with a couple of beds in but this “luxury” version had underfloor heating and a sink (or a night-time en-suite as I’d call it)

We set off on the last 2 miles. A trundle down the A82 into Fort William. We hit the “Original” end to the WHW in good time and stopped to take a picture. The place we could collect our free commemoration certificate from had closed 4 minutes previous (baws!) so we headed on to find the new, “official” finish to the walk. The clever people at Fort William had decided that the final resting place is a bench at the other end of the town so you have to walk down the Main Street to get there.

Trees, Hills and amazing views had been replaced by Costas, Sports Direct and a Tesco Metro. To say the last few hundred yards were underwhelming is putting it mildly. I wanted people lining the streets, applauding, a finish line and a tickertape parade in our honour. Instead some See You Jimmy hats blew furiously in the wind outside a novelty shop whilst a couple argued outside a typical Wetherspoons. 

But then the bench came into sight. The rest of our surroundings then melted away. All that mattered was this bench, that statue of a man rubbing his weary feet (I know what that’s been like, although he didn’t have 9 Compeeds on) and the sign, that glorious sign “The End of the West Highland Way”

We had done it 

No more Yum Yums till Fort William (Kinlochleven to Fort William 16 Miles)

This morning was a break from the tradition that has been a huge part of this trip. There was nowhere to sit and eat breakfast and contemplate the day and to be honest we didn’t really have the time even if there was. Today is the last day and the walk is huge. We went to the Co-op that the night before we had stocked up with snacky provisions from and we opted for a Meal Deal for our lunch (£3.25 for a Sandwich, Crisps and a Drink, bargain!) We also chose our breakfast there. Louise opted for the Yum Yum and I went for a Cinnamon Swirl. No-one can say we haven’t been fully prepared for this trip!

The weather this morning was awful. Constant rain and wind made progress slow. The massive hill in front of us didn’t help either. This was going to be a bloody long one. Once at the top of the hill the valley opened up to reveal…….mist. Our best chance of getting to see Ben Nevis and we could barely see the length of ourselves. The rain continued to batter down so we kept our heads down and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. 

I’ve been wearing these walking boots near enough continuously for 8 days now and my sore feet is well documented. However, the amount of people who have walked past us woefully unprepared is astounding. Today we saw 2 women trekking in Sandals! 

As we started the descent we were on the final stretch…..

Sorry, Scotland is closed on a Monday…..

So we checked into our accommodation (a lovely little MicroLodge) and I bagsied the big bed (blaming my sore feet of course)

After finding the Co-Op and filling up on essentials for tomorrow’s big walk (Crisps, Club biscuits, Abernathys etc) we searched out the Chippy. I’ve been dreaming of a proper Scottish supper for this whole walk. About 3 months ago I travelled to Scotland for the weekend to try out my tent and stuff. Whilst there I found a Chip shop that sold Deep Fried Pizza. Jesus it was amazin’ and since then I’ve wanted to try something else unusual covered in that crispy goodness.

We arrived at the Chippy to see a big sign saying “CLOSED MONDAYS” my head dropped. We headed to the nearby Cafe, “SORRY, CLOSED MONDAYS” I mean seriously?!?! What is it with Monday’s in Kinlochleven????

We eventually found a pub (a real “local” pub) where we ordered a drink and 2 Fish and Chips (well, why the hell not??) and when it arrived you’ve never seen a fish so big in your life! I’ve no idea what they do to the fish here but it was like a dolphin!

In the pub was a pool table. This is my time to shine I thought to myself. I’ve always been pretty good at pool. Ever since I was a boy i’d spend hours practising in a hotel my mum worked in. I’d spend literally whole weekends potting balls, setting up trick shots, judging angles etc. I am more than happy to have a frame or two and usually it’s my chance to show off a little bit. Louise agreed to a game and we had some fun playing. Worryingly this game was slightly closer than I’d anticipated. I won but Lou managed to clear a fair few balls. “Fancy Another?” I cockily said. “Aye” came the reply. A bit too quickly for my liking. I should have seen the warning. Within minutes Louise had hustled me and was on the black ball. I still had 2 balls left when she cleared up.

“Fancy Another?” Only this time it was Louise cockily saying it. “Damn right!” I replied. We HAD to have a decider. I’m not ashamed to admit (Okay I am TOTALLY ashamed to admit) Louise wiped the floor with me. I was duped. She went from a “novice” to Hurricane Higgins in 30 seconds (and that was just the alcohol intake!)

After we hurriedly left the pub (me slightly sulking) we hobbled back towards our tiny hut thing. It was in the river that we crossed the bridge of that we saw Firemen throwing buoyancy aids to someone in the water. It turned out they were doing a training thing so we stood and watched that. We decided that we would order packed lunches from our lodgings for tomorrow. When we arrived we were told we couldn’t order them as the fella who makes them was busy tonight, training at the river with buoyancy aids!!!

Turns out that this village has people who do many roles (like Mrs Rabbit in Peppa Pig!)

Anyway, we got back, I sorted my feet out (hopefully for the last time) and we put our television on (Luxury I know!)

I will be sad when this trip is all over. It’s been a challenge and it’s nearly broken me at several points but I’m so proud of what we have achieved. 

Pan Pipe Christmas Tunes on June 5th (Kingshouse to Kinlochleven 8.5 Miles)

We began our usual morning ritual of sitting and eating Black Pudding and accompaniments whilst looking at our guide book for the day ahead. As we talked about how hard “The Devils Staircase” would be today the music playing in the breakfast bar started playing Pan Pipe music. Bad enough I suppose but this was Johnny Mathis’ “When A Child is Born” WTF?!?!

As we left Donna Summer was belting out “I Will Survive” and Lou and I spent maybe the next mile singing it and then the various variations of that song that we knew (mainly Weetabix adverts) and then we sang a fair few more advert songs. Today was pretty misty and the going was tough with a very rocky underfoot. This makes it extremely painful on my blisters. Today I’ve really felt like I’ve let Louise down a bit and I must be annoying her loads because I’m moaning quite a lot. 

We approached the worst bit of the whole WHW, The Devils Staircase. A 250m steep winding climb with big rocks and poor visibility. I found this part nearly impossible but Louise’s optimism helped me through it and eventually we got to the top. And my god I’m glad we did. Even though the clouds were low the views were glorious. No photo I took could do justice to just how truly stunning it was up here the rest of the walk naturally gravitated downwards towards Kinlochleven. I think I find it harder when you can see the finish line. It’s like my body relaxes as I know I’m not far from the end. Realistically we still had a couple of miles to go.

We got here about 2.30pm so that was just over 4 hours to do today’s walk. Not too bad I guess……

There’s a Sanitary Towel in my boot (Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse 13 Miles)

Every morning we wake up, pack the tents away (if needed), have showers (definitely needed) and then sit down to breakfast (whatever that may be, ususally something with Black Pudding) and talk about the day’s events that are to follow. Today was no different but having heard about the sad news emanating from London today’s meal was somewhat subdued. We nevertheless proceeded to look at our route for the day. 

Today is a bloody long one, nowhere to stop en route for some lunch so we made sure we took extra snacks from our rucksacks before the Rucksack Fairies whisked them away to our next destination. 

We set off with very little spring in our step and also very little spring left in our walking poles. We knew today was a steep climb up some winding trails, I’d have loved for us to have had motorcycles. Unfortunately Louise has began a very different kind of cycle this morning. That gave me a great idea though so I “borrowed” one of Louise’s Always and made an insole for my boot. It was padded, absorbent and stuck in place. Could it have been more perfect??

Before long we had soon hit our stride and some of the scenery today was by far the best yet. The sprawling hills and open land made us feel very isolated but also very much at one with nature. I can honestly say I have never heard such silence (well there was that inappropriate joke I made about Harold Shipman one time but…..) The absolute void of any noise is such a lovely thing to behold. Amazing views, lovely weather, absolute stillness and the company was nae bad either. This was turning into a much better day than expected.

The path was like the gravel drive of a big country estate, thousands of stones and pebbles underfoot like we were crunching through snow. The walk didn’t feel as arduous as expected and after about 4 hours we reached the peak of our climb. I’ve never seen anything like it, truly spectacular. This one view, this panoramic before my eyes has made every minute of this trip worth it. We sat and admired the sheer beauty before us. Two girls were lay nearby just soaking in the tranquility, the total quietness. The air suddenly punctuated by Lou ripping open a family size bag of cheese puffs. I couldn’t stop giggling and it must have annoyed the two women nearby. They stayed very restraint though because if they’d have tutted it would have echoed for miles around.

From the top of the mountain (probably a hill in Louise’s eyes but definitely a mountain in mine) we could see our destination. A Bunkhouse in the middle of nowhere. Although we could see where we were heading in the distance it was still about 3 miles. Downhill though we set off at a hell of a pace and a little over an hour later we were nearly there. 

We bumped into a Geordie man who showed us his tiny caravan made from the hulls of 2 boats, he was very proud of his “Tupperware Tardis” (a great name which he had emblazoned on the side) He told us he could easily fit in it to sleep but 2 minutes later proceeded to show us his fake leg. That explained how he would fit!

We arrived at Kingshouse and checked in over a Tin of Juice (Irn Bru, naturally) then proceeded to check out our accommodation. A smallish room with a bunk bed and a lockable wardrobe. It was basic but comfortable and Louise nearly cried when she spotted something she’s been longing for since we set off nearly a week ago, a pillow! 

We meandered across to the “bar area” which was basically a big shed with a counter. Tuna Melt (me) and Venison Burger (Lou) down the hatch we went to see what was around. Nothing was around. 

We noticed that Louise had an admirer, a secret fan that had been following her for a couple of minutes. A baby Red Deer with furry antlers had been stalking Lou from a wee distance. It was so cute. We said goodbye to the Deer and retreated to our separate bunks. From my top bunk I proceeded to medicate my feet as best I could and was soon asleep.

Another successful and beautiful day.