15.6 miles – dry, overcast, humid, some sunshine later
The first eight miles today retraced my steps of the last eight miles yesterday, so you see, you didn’t miss anything!
After the wilderness of the North and the wild beauty of Loch Lomond, the landscape now struck me as simple, homely, almost mundane. This was a gently rural landscape of farms and cows and sheep, of neatly clipped beech hedges, of red-brown sandstone walls; and the paw prints by the roadside were of pet dogs, not deer. The cows, sheep, and birds got on with what they had to do, and so did I. My attention was on the hedgerows, and the wild dog roses were the best I have ever seen.
A good part of the day’s walk was along disused railway lines, which have always held a painful place in my imagination: it has always felt as if some artery of life has been ripped out brutally. That’s how it seemed in my childhood, in the immediate post-Beeching era. However, the old lines today seemed at peace, having sunk back into the land from which they were wrought, and now they have a new and useful purpose – to carry West Highland Way walkers and cyclists.
How lovely to lie back in one’s tent, sip sublime whiskey, listen to the birds singing, and watch the sun move westward, through the trees, illuminating the midges which are safely the other side of the tent’s mesh. Peace.
My sleeping bag smells of damp dogs.