July 31st, 2008
I have filled in missing days from my paper journal and have added photos to earlier postings. Be sure to check in to see if you have missed anything.
I will post more from other parts of the trip after I have finished with the walk part. I will also add a photo gallery to the Walkingforprojectafrica.org website.
I have also added the ability to post comments if you register. I will not sell, give, loan, or otherwise make your information available to anyone. It will only be used to allow you to comment on the postings on the blog.
Thanks for all the interest and support.
July 24th, 2008
We are home and finally have internet and some time to post.
I have been writing in my paper journal and will begin to transfer my writings and photos to the journal. Thanks for all the support that we have received and for the donations that have come in since we began to walk. We even got one cash contribution of £10 (about $20.00) along the way.
We finished the walk at 4:45 pm Thursday, 17 July in mixed weather. The final mile was in sunshine on the road through beautiful Glen Nevis and into Fort William.
Chard and Connie at the end of the walk in Fort William, mile 95!
Look for more posts soon.
July 17th, 2008
We left on our last section of the walk today heading toward the end in Fort William. As we started up out of town visibility was poor, a shame because the guidebooks all say that the best views of the walk are here. Trailblazer Publications has this note on the map for the beginning of this segment. “Possibly the best views of the whole walk. The toothy ridge of Anoach Eagach due south is particular spectacular from here.” We could only imagine what vistas were obscured by the clouds and rain.
Last look at Kinlochleven
“Best view of the whole walk”
As we entered “The Lairigmor ” a wide pass that “can be exposed in bad weather” the weather deteriorated and then improved again. Most of the day was spent crossing the hundreds of small streams and rivulets that crossed the old military road.
Water rushes along the Old Military Road
By mid day, we passed the first of several ruins and Connie surveyed them. This one was called Tigh-na-sleubhaich.
We stopped for a quick lunch at the next ruin called Lairigmor and watched the sheep mill about in the rain and then continued on toward Glen Nevis.
more to come…
July 16th, 2008
Today we walked from Kings House up the Devils Staircase and down in into Kinlochleven. The Staircase was not as tough as expected. I had a hard time going up due to rain and a sore back, but no worse than other days. Once we made it over the top, it was ups and downs for a few miles and then a long descent into town. It rained pretty hard at first and I put rain pants on for the first time. Connie stayed with just gaiters and we both dried out between showers.
Kinlochleven was built to support an aluminum smelter and there are six huge pipes that bring water down the mountain, through a hydroelectric generating plant and the now defunct smelter, and into Loch Leven. The houses and buildings all look the same and are the largest collection of modern buildings we have seen since we started the walk.
The old smelter has been converted into an indoor climbing gym called the Ice Factors and offers rock and ice climbing areas. It is the largest articulated climbing wall in the UK. The ice chamber is a giant freezer, 45 feet tall and is the largest indoor ice climbing wall in the world. I found it fascinating, but we didn’t have much time to check it out as it closed soon after we arrived and we needed to eat anyway.
We ate at The Tailrace, an average pub and met a man and his son who were walking together. Chris was interesting and knew a lot about the part of Wales that Connie had walked in several years ago so conversation was lively. Chris and his son are planning on climbing Ben Nevis when they finished as many do.
The River Leven
The Ice Factors
Water from the pipes doubles the river flow!
July 15th, 2008
We planned to catch the bus into Glencoe this morning but it arrived ten minutes early so we missed it. The manager at Kings House was kind enough to give us a ride so we did not have to wait two hours for the next bus. The ride into town was amazing, passing beneath the Buachaille Etive Mor and Buachaille Etive Beag – ‘The great’ and ‘The little’ Shepherds of Etive, ‘The Three Sisters of Glencoe”, and Ossian’s Cave, a dark slash up the side of Aonach Dubh, one of the three sisters.
Buachaille Etive Mor
Three Sisters of Glencoe
We were dropped off at the visitors center 1 1/2 miles out of town and found it to be filled with information about the area. The museum includes exhibits on early mountaineering and climbing history, the Glencoe Massacre, current environmental concerns. We found it delightful. We also received a donation of £10.00 ($20.00) for Project Africa. Once again we were reminded that it is small steps that accomplish the most.
After investigating the shops and a short 3/4 mile trail around the center, we walked a mile and a half to town in intermittent rain. We wandered around and had lunch in a small cafe and then visited various shops and a folk museum. The museum consisted of a hodge-podge collection of items from random sources. It had such things as toy railroad engines and cars, a display of dresses, daggers, knives, and a scian dubh that was said to have been used by the royal family in Edinburgh. Many of the items noted the claims of the donor along with the research done by the staff of the museum that confirmed or refuted the claims. It was an interesting collection and well worth the £2.00 admission.
Glencoe Folk Museum
We waited for the bus nearly an hour because I wanted to be sure we did not miss it and arrived back at the Kings House Hotel in time for dinner and conversation with more walkers. Since we had the short day in Crainlarich and this day off hiking, we had lost contact with the people we started the walk with. The group we met this time was 9 men from England who were doing a charity walk part of the way for the Heart Foundation and then climbing Ben Nevis. In conversation they were surprised to learn that we were walking for an international charity also. One man commented that he didn’t think that Americans did that. It was very gratifying that we could show them a different perspective.
Our day ended with this spectacular view from our window.
Dark sky over Glencoe from Kings House Hotel room
July 14th, 2008
We crossed Rannoch Moor today, the wildest part of the Way. The weather could not have been better with rain clouds on either side of us but sunshine across the moor and cool breezes around us. Not too hot or too cold. This was one of the most beautiful places that I have been with munros rising into the mists around us and stunning moorlands spread out below. Many small lochs lie scattered amidst the marshlands in a brilliant display of color. I only hope our photos have captured some of the grandeur of the place. While we shared the trail with other groups, there were many times when all that we could see was empty moorland around us.
Tomorrow we take a day off the trail and take the shuttle into Glencoe where we plan to visit the museum and perhaps hike into the hills surrounding the Glen.
Kings House Hotel
Chard & Connie
July 13th, 2008
What a surprise, they have internet available at the hotel at the Bridge of Orchy. We walked 14 miles again today over fairly gentle terrain. Compared to Loch Lomond, it was easy with only a bit of climbing through beautiful valleys or glens. The scenery is almost indescribable. I had heard so many descriptions of the beauty of the Highlands, but none could capture the feeling of being here. We passed the ruins of St Fillian’s Chapel and visited the graveyard next to it. Many of the stones were old beyond reading. The oldest we could still make out was from 1779. After meandering through beautiful valleys between 3000 ft tall munros and finally seeing the elusive highland coos (long horned and long haired cows) we were both glad to arrive at the hotel with “fourteen mile feet”. Connie is soaking in the bath while I “faff around” on the computer. I still can’t post photos I am afraid, but when I can I will add some here.
Bridge of Orchy Hotel
Bridge of Orchy
July 12th, 2008
Connie and I have completed the first half of the walk and arrived in Crianlarich at around noon today.
We started walking on Wednesday and had an easy day of it, walking 12 miles through gentle country hills from Milngavie to Drymen. Dinner was at the Clacken Inn, claimed to be the oldest registered pub in Scotland. The food was great and we shared a treacle sponge cake with custard for desert. Heavenly!
Our second day was a bit tougher covering 14 miles and climbing over Conic Hill. From the top of the hill we could see all the way back to Glasgow. The day ended with a 6 mile stretch along Loch Lomond to the Rowardennan Inn. We arrived at around five o-clock tired and hungry.
Day three was more ups and downs along the loch and the trail was much tougher than I had expected. Many roots and rocks to clamor over. We finally came to our B&B in Inverarnan at 6 pm. Connie thought it was easier than the day before, but it was harder for me.
We had a lovely salmon dinner at The Drovers Inn, a pub dating back to 1705 and loaded with authentic unspoiled character and stuffed animals. Many of the stuffed animals looked like they had been there since the place opened. After a short nap, we returned to the pub to listen to Friday night music and chat with our fellow hikers. It was an experience not to be missed.
Today we had a short day from Inverarnan to Crianlarich. Only 6.5 miles and we were here by noon. it felt strange to be stopping so early in the day. The next few days are sure to make up for it. With so much time on our hands, the only thing to do was to eat, macaroni and cheese for lunch and curry for dinner. That’s it for now. I will try to post again as soon as internet is available again.
At the start of the walk in Milngavie
The Clachan Inn, end of day 1, Drymen
at the top of Conic Hill, day 2 Drymen to Rowardennan
The Drovers Inn, end of day 3 Inverarnan
July 7th, 2008
We have had a fantastic few days in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Today I went to Edinburgh Castle and Connie walked around and visited the National Trust Museum. Then we went to Hollyrood Palace together.
We travel to Milngave tomorrow to start the walk on Wednesday. Days are part rain and part sun. Better than constant rain!
July 4th, 2008
Congratulations to everyone who has contributed to date, your efforts have brought the total to over $2000 so far.
Every penny is appreciated and even small donations add up.
Remember that all of the money raised is used to feed the kids, every dime!
Thank you all!
Next stop Scotland!