Day 11. The Great Glen Hostel to Fort William. 23 miles.
With another marathon of a day ahead of me I awoke at my deserted hostel to find the sun shining behind the curtains. Needing no further invitation I slid out of my bunk bed (yes I took top bunk) and got straight on the trail, conscious of 3 things. Firstly, I was very low on food and knew there were limited places to stock up until Fort William where I had already decided I would be finding the largest steak in town upon my arrival. Secondly, I had allotted a rest day in Fort William and could hardly wait to hang up my boots for 24 hours and take a breather. Finally my ears were on fire. Not in the good way either. A cursory check in the mirror before I left revealed a curved line of blisters along each ear which, frankly, looked ridiculous and were exceptionally itchy. I will not include images here for those browsing this while they should be working, but rest assured, they were grim.
The trail today was largely forgettable as my main concern was just reaching Fort William with my ears intact. However the sun was glorious and the wind surprisingly fierce as I strode through the man made pine forests which marked the first 10 or so miles of my day.
I arrived at Gairlochy around 1.30 having made excellent time along the familiar scenery. I had half hoped to find some pub, cafe or old man selling magic beans (which I would keep separate from any magic eggs I might find...) but alas there was nothing here, save a canal lock and more hard miles. Fortunately I had a Leyton Orient game to listen to online, which kept me busy for around 45 minutes until we went a goal down, causing me to rip my headphones off on frustration and sulkily stomp down the path. It really hurt my feet but my god nothing feels as good as a proper, old fashioned sulk, does it? Still, the views were pretty stunning.
After those glorious snow capped mountains passed me by to the south, my vistas of clean, cold water and tall, still stone were replaced with the dull grey concrete of outer suburbia. Don't get me wrong, they were good, quick miles, but after 4 days of wondrous scenery I felt a little flattened by my arrival into Fort William. I eventually found my lodgings for the next 2 days, discovered that Orient had turned it around scoring the winner in the last minute, and went out hunting for that steak. Burning ears aside I was content, I had an entire day to rest up, followed by the West Highland Way, 96 miles of wondrous scenery that I had walked, from south to north, back in 2016, I was looking forward to seeing it in reverse.