Day 9. Drumnadrochit to Alltsigh. 9 miles
With my achilles flaring up like an unignorable bout of flatulence before an intimate moment I decided to keep today as short as possible and found the nearest hostel I could find on Loch Ness, a mere 9 miles to the south west of the pleasant village of Drumnadrochit. However, as I had opted to stay in an actual B&B last night, I had a cooked breakfast to first meticulously evaluate, then eat, before I could set off.
What the Springburn Bed and Breakfast lacked in quality (and sadly it did a little), it more than made up for in baked bean seclusion. I'm not just talking about a meaty breakwater, I'm talking about an entirely separate container, specifically for the beans being included on my plate. This was some next level stuff, my 8.15 am brain could hardly take it all in so I sat and mechanically ate my meal, only truly realising the significance of what I had just witnessed many hours and miles later.
Aside from the beans it was a pretty mediocre breakfast, though I have been spoilt in recent mornings so perhaps I'm being a little too judgemental. Anyway, today's walk was largely a slow and painful limp as the climb out of Drumnadrochit is unnecessarily steep and winding. I thought I would be clever and try to keep the weight off my creaking left Achilles tendon and so kept my foot as flat as possible so as not to antagonise the inflamed connective tissue. I could hardly wait to see what kind of exciting compensating injuries I would receive, maybe an ear infection or a severe case of dyslexia.
As the day drew onwards, walking through the relentlessly boring man made pine forests of the southern Highlands, I met a man called Mark, who was also doing the end to end walk, although he had started in Cornwall and was very nearly done. We talked for a good 30 minutes about the ups and down of the trail before parting ways, after which I realised that my ill-timed break had caused my left calf to all but seize up, concerning. Mark has a much more famous blog and a larger online presence than me (I don't even have twitter) and we each implied that we would link each others sites on our own pages for mutual benefit. Well I just checked his blog right this second and whilst he does mention me (I was impressed at his extensive range of synonyms for handsome and rugged) he did not link this page. I've half a mind to chase him up to John O'Groats but have realised that despite being in his 50s, Mark covers what I consider a full day's hike of 20 miles in-between second breakfast and elevenses.
As I limped closer to my hostel, I realised two things. 1: the hostel wouldn't be open for another 2 1/2 hours, and 2: the forests had finally cleared revealing the stunning beauty of Loch Ness which, by the way, can hold all the water of all the lakes in Engla... I'm only kidding (but seriously, it can).
In case you were wondering I spent the 2 1/2 hours outside the hostel stretching and massaging my spasming calf muscle, and receiving odd looks from passers by. I finally got into the hostel feeling cold, itchy and a little deflated, the Achilles issue was on my mind and though I spent the rest of the evening stretching and massaging (and eating a whole big bag of salted peanuts), I was becoming truly concerned for the future of this challenge.