I set off
down Princes Street, rucksack on my back and a walking pole in each hand. The
centre of Edinburgh is not natural hiking territory, but from Haymarket I found
a quiet off-road walking route out of the city - part of the National Cycling
Network, converted from an old railway line. This took me through the leafy suburbs
to Cramond and Queensferry.
It took 20 minutes to walk across the Forth
Road Bridge - a little disconcerting to a vertigo sufferer like me. From North
Queensferry I followed the Fife Coastal Path east. I stayed at a B&B in
Aberdour, spectacularly situated on
the Forth opposite Edinburgh.
Next day was Day 64. It
started well, with fine views over the Forth
from the hills above Aberdour. Then a so-called footpath took me by a hair-raising
crossing of the A92 (almost a motorway) to an ugly housing estate at Cowdenbeath.
For most of the rest of the day the only route was along main roads. I tried an
off-road route across Benarty Hill, but had to beat a retreat when I could find
no way down its precipitous north side. I stayed that night in Kinross.
was raining hard next morning. I made my way along minor roads to Glenfarg, and
for the first time in over 2 months I was offered a lift. A kind thought in that
weather, but no thanks. I dried out in the bar of the Glenfarg Hotel, and, hey,
it stopped raining. I had a fine afternoon's walking, mostly off-road by the Wallace
Road to Bridge of Earn, and then entered Perth by Moncreiffe Hill.
was looking forward to the Highlands, and next day was a 25 mile push from Perth
across the Highland Line to Amulree. The National Cycling Network again gave me
an off-road route out of town, as far as Almondbank. From the Highland
Line at Little Glenshee, a good track led over the hills to Strathbraan. From
the top there was a spectacular view of a storm
across the road ahead, but it missed me.
Day 67 took
me from the small hotel at Amulree by
the Rob Roy Way to Aberfeldy. At least, the website said it was the Rob Roy Way,
but there was no sign of that on the ground. The weather was great, and the scenery
up Glen Quoich and down to Strathtay
was spectacular. The last few miles took me by the Falls
of Moness through the Birks of Aberfeldy.
was fine again. I had originally planned to stay in Pitlochry, followed by a short
day to Blair Atholl before a big day across the mountains. But the forecast was
for the weather to break in two days, so I decided to push on to Blair Atholl
and keep the last fine day for the mountain crossing.
B&B at Blair Atholl was one of the best, with a spectacular view of the next
day's route. The house was shared with two well-behaved children and two less
well behaved ferrets. The walk from there up Glen
Tilt and into Deeside was one of the highlights of the trip - 24 miles, much
of which was far from habitation or roads. From the watershed the path led down
to Geldie Burn. I was relieved to find
that the burn was fordable - the guidebooks say it cannot be crossed when in spate,
and it would have been inconvenient to have to turn back 17 miles. A few miles
further on I reached the road at Linn of
Dee and the spartan youth hostel at Inverey.
predicted, the weather had turned nasty next morning, and on top of that I had
developed shin splints in my other leg. So I decided to stay a second night at
Inverey, and rest up before tackling the Lairig Ghru, the granddaddy of Scottish
The tops were covered in cloud on Day
71, but at least the rain had stopped. By a stroke of luck, one of the guests
at the hostel was driving to Aviemore, and he agreed to take a bag to the youth
hostel at Glenmore. The Lairig Ghru crossing turned out to be the toughest day
of the whole trip, exacerbated by my gammy leg, and with a full pack I would have
I made good progress from Inverey up Glen Lui, Glen Luibeg
and Glen Dee towards the summit of the Lairig Ghru pass. Thankfully the rain kept
away, and the 833 metre high pass was free of mist. But the going got rougher.
The guidebook had warned me to expect a "boulder-strewn" pass, but it
was a surprise
to have to constantly clamber over waist high rocks. At last I reached the pass
and began the descent to Speyside. It was almost 8 pm when I reached Glenmore,
and I had seen only two other people the whole day since leaving Inverey, 21 miles
All this had done my shin splints no good at all.
So I needed a few shorter days. I stayed the next night at Boat of Garten, just
9 miles from Glenmore. The following day I followed the old
Wade Military Road over the hills to
Tomatin. On Day 74 I did just 8 miles through the forests
of Loch Moy to Daviot.
Day 75 I followed the Wade road through the forest, which became the Old Edinburgh
Road into the centre of Inverness.