14.4 miles – cloudy with token sunny blobs, rain towards evening
We had stayed up late, the hostel receptionist and I, because we feared the man who had slept in the bed next to mine might be lost on Ben Nevis. At midnight he and two sidekicks sloshed their way out of a taxi, absolutely hammered: the mystery had been solved.
But at 7:00 I was awakened by said bloke’s graphic description of his recent visit to the toilet and his repeated assertions, peppered with expletives, that he could not locate his glasses. I was so glad when they left.
This should have been the fine day, the brave new start, on which the hamperings of the foregoing days fell from me, and I marched forth, free of spirit; it was not to be. For a start my trusty GPS wouldn’t work: despite checking all the settings and switching it off and on again half a dozen time, it was convinced that we were still at the hostel.
More significant were the pains in my left shoulder and right ankle; the latter were new, and I just hoped they were the result of two days’ rest and not something more serious.
Pain tends to focus the attention inwards, and I would have missed it had the softly spoken Dutchman not pointed it out to me. It was a large dragonfly emerging from its larval skin and drying itself in the breeze. A rare and wonderful sight.
And then suddenly, within sight of Kinlochleven, my GPS started to work again.
The town reminds me of a number of small industrial settlements in Russia I have seen; it’s spirit seems locked in the labour-intensive and labour-conscious 70s – except the Ice Factor, a new development in the town centre, formerly a large industrial plant, now the National Ice Climbing Centre.
My ankle was in deep pain now, so after a couple of pints at the Tailchase Inn, I repaired to a flat piece of woodland I had passed to pitch my tent. I can but hope for better things tomorrow.