By the fifth, and final, day of my journey on the West Highland Way, mornings had become quite routine. Waking to the sound of birds, doing my breathing practices and few simple stretches, then shower and breakfast, ready to start walking by 9 a.m.. As an intermittent faster, it’s not usual for me to have breakfast but I do love it. I especially love breakfast in Scotland where I can, now an ex-vegetarian, indulge in smoked haddock, Arbroath smokies, haggis and even, on occasion, black pudding.
Over breakfast on that particular morning, my mind was fixated on the rain gently falling outside. After a day of almost torrential rain, half of me was wishing for the rain to become heavier, half (maybe slightly less admittedly) was hoping that the app on my phone was accurate in its (dry) forecast. Having emptied the rivers out of my boots and peeled out of, all, my sodden clothes the night before, I had resolved to walk outside of my accommodation that day and board the bus that would stop right outside its door. But, in reality I knew, my ego most likely would not allow me to be carried away. I had to continue.
So, tightening up my boots and tucking a banana away for later, I set off for the climb up out of Kinlochleven and through Lairigmor. I was well rewarded. The sun gradually burned the clouds I was, for a change, looking down on. There were rainbows all around me, in the sky, in the raindrops clinging to the trees in the grass and, even, on my mind.
‘There’s a rainbow in the sky all the time don’t be blind
There’s a rainbow in the sky all the time don’t be blind don’t be blind.‘
The shortest of my five days walking, Britain’s highest mountain soon formed the backdrop to my final trek. Ben Nevis, I learned, had “grown” by one metre in the last 65 years and now stands at a height of 1,345 metres. Fort William in the valley at its base was a welcoming end as it came into sight. I was, honestly, grateful for the previous day of rain. Otherwise, my four days were miraculous really. And not just the weather. Ninety six miles, or one hundred and fifty four kilometers, covered in five days, with only two or three minor blisters for my pains.
I caught the ferry to the Isle of Skye for two relaxing days with friends. I was doubly and triply rewarded with a sunset that was a fitting end to my sojourn, along with obligatory smoothing malt whisky. There is a heaven.
( Barbara will be reporting on her next walks, in southern and , it is hoped, northern Spain, on The Story Bazaar, so watch the blog page for more walking and breathing. She is currently leading breathing workshops in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Ed. )