I trudged into the night. The rain got harder and the darkness pressed in. I could no longer tell how far along on the path I was
Look how far I had come.
The choice lay before me: heaven or the underworld?
The path along the lochside was easy, pleasant, and scenic. It did occasionally see fit to climb over a low hill, but I couldn’t begrudge it this flightiness.
The West Highland Way – even the very name must resonate with all hikers and lovers of the outdoors across the United Kingdom and beyond. It conjures up images of lochs and rivers and misty glens, moors and mountains, high roads, low roads, and blooming heather.
It was strange – through that pain and monotony we quite suddenly found ourselves in a place of exquisite natural beauty. It was like arriving in Rivendell.
The man was drenched in sweat. “You’ve got quite a climb ahead of you,” he told us with a grin and an Eastern European accent. We looked at the high, rolling hills behind him. “Does the path go up there?” we asked. “Yeah, it’s pretty steep.”
On the summit, though, we turned again to take the wind on the broadside. We leaned into it as we walked through a torrent of cloud and sideways rain. There were no features discernible but a lonely line of fence posts.
My feet were in their worst state yet, so I obsessively looked for any patches made softer by a thin layer of mud or gravel to tread on. Often the grass on the verge was long and wet, which would be awkward and annoying to stamp my way through, but there was a strip about four inches wide next to the tarmac where it didn’t grow so thickly, and I followed this, one foot in front of the other like a tightrope walker. Anything that gave my feet fractional relief was worth doing.
My route was not a good one. I did not flow smoothly northwards.