Wednesday 27 July 2011

Day three, Kinlochleven to Achintee Farm (foot of Ben Nevis)

Woke up to another scorching blue sky day, the difference this morning though was the famous Scottish midges! At the Macdonald Cabins the shower block is a short walk over a stream and without direct sunlight this is a perfect place for the little midges. Whilst waiting my turn in the shower I went from one bite to several!

Anyway, on to the walking... The start was a sharp ascent through some pretty woodland, crossing streams either by bridge or just walking through the shallow water. The uphill seemed to last for ever but after about an hour we looked back to stunning views across Loch Leven and the valley.

The next few hours followed a valley, or Glen, that can only be reached by footpath and feels hidden from the real world. Again there were streams to cross by fording them and they were so clear it was tempting just to stop and drink from them. We came across a couple of ruins, sad reminders that someone used to live in this special piece of wilderness. Although the ruins were too dangerous to camp inside, there were several spots we saw and decided next time we would wild camp there, beautiful, isolated, fresh mountain springs and enough shelter.

We finally reached the first 'forest' marked on the map, although most of it had been cut down, there was still a small patch to give shade from the midday sun. Shortly after lunch, Sarah managed to twist her ankle again and whilst distant sight of a Golden Eagle gave some respite, it was nothing compared to the 'tea' station at the information board!

Imagine being hot, sweaty, have a painful ankle and know there's still at least another 3 hours to walk. Then out of nowhere a friendly bloke asks if you would like tea or coffee and chocolate biscuits. He may have been an angel, but I think he actually worked for the people who maintain the West Highland Way and our cuppa only cost a donation and answering a few questions!

The next few hours were basically walking along not very interesting forest commission paths with a breathtaking (and slightly scary as we'll be doing it in 2 days) view of Ben Nevis. The last hour or so felt never ending but finally the Visitor Centre was in sight with diet coke and Achintee Hostel just a minutes walk across the foot bridge.

We've just had a great dinner at the Ben Nevis Inn with plenty to drink to celebrate our Not Walking Day tomorrow and an early night with the hope of catching the Harry Potter train tomorrow!

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