Day 6: The Final 20 Miles - Drumnadrochit to Inverness
OMG! 20 miles? Seriously!!! Lady Wheezy and I agreed we are very glad Ginger is with us as we would have hitched a ride to Inverness with how insanely tired we feel today. We have no access to Smiley Sunshine Sue's puppy to help motivate us so we are on our own to wake up and get going. We actually did really well according to our plan. We were down to breakfast, practically packed and ready at 8:15. We left there at 9:20, walked into town, bought our packed lunches and used the restroom and were on the road at 10:00. Not exactly what we planned, but not too bad. The delay could have been that it was pouring rain outside and we took as much time as possible in hopes of sunny skies, but no such luck.
According to everyone, we were in for a long day but not a bad day as far as hills are concerned. Again...a lie! We, well two of us, were huffing up some long inclines, our hearts racing while we chugged along. Man, it was a slow
start to a long day. Ginger had a moment of brilliance as she commented "This trip has made me realize how fast an hour can go by and how long a mile is".
If you will remember, back on day two, my hiking boots inflamed my tendons on both ankles, so I abandoned them for my running shoes. Didn't even think about it as we got ready for the day, until about a block into the walk and my feet were already getting soaked. At the store where we got lunch, the kind lady behind the register gave me a couple of plastic bags which I tied my feet in. You might laugh, but they lasted and were effective for about 5 miles before I had to take them off. Even soaking wet, my rocking socks (0 blisters in 5 days), caused but one small blister on my heel.
As we were leaving town walking along the side of the road, Lady Wheezy gets drenched by a passing bus and a few minutes later she turns around to say something to Ginger and gets blasted in the face by a passing car! At least with all the rain
no one can tell we are practically peeing our pants with laughter, right? The rain is relentless, our spirits are treading water and the miles are getting longer and longer. All of the sudden, Lady Wheezy gets a burst of crazy in her and entertains us with a "soldier boy white girl dance" that we lovingly compared to Elaine's on Seinfeld. view the video at [ That definitely got our energy back! We laughed so hard we couldn't tell the tears from the rain!
One of the coolest things about today's walk is that we saw so many different landscapes. Towns, hillside, forest, farms, neighborhoods, castles, hobbit holes, you name it. We would walk out of a forest onto rolling plains, turn a corner and we're back in the thick of the woods. It was crazy, mystifying, enchanting yet sometimes frustrating.
One of the worst parts of being in a rural, farmland type of area is that when you have to go to the bathroom, there is nowhere to take cover. Ginger and Lady Wheezy are taking care of business in some tall grass, I am on to my pushups in the road, when a car come sour
of nowhere! I shoot up and those two start scrambling and screaming! Lady Wheezy's pants are up around her boobs in about a second flat. Ginger's got stuck on her ass and she just sits there, flashing the driver. I'm sure he told that story over a beer or two. Unfortunately I was scrambling out of the road and laughing so hard I didn't take a picture. Trust me, it was f.u.n.n.y.!
At one point, while climbing what seemed to be Mt. Kilimanjaro, we come across a Great Glen Way sign that states we are at the highest point of the footpath. There are stacked stones marking past visitors, so we contribute, take some pics and head out. This is our first big feeling of accomplishment today.
A few minutes later, we are in the middle of rolling hills with 5 foot high grass, heather and weeds and we run across our Canadian friends coming the other way. They had divided the last day into 2, so they got a ride to the 10 mile mark and walked back to Drumnadrochit, then tomorrow, ride back to the 10 mile mark and walk into Inverness. It was cool seeing
A couple miles later we start seeing fence posts advertising "hot chocolate and ovaltine" at a Cafe. Now remember, we are smack dab in the woods/grassy areas. It isn't possible that a cafe of any standards could possibly be situated nearby... We were so wrong! Kind of. There is definitely a cafe but what standards they go by remains to be seen. Let's just say that from American standards they would be sporting an "D" in the window on a good day. But wow, what an experience! We walk up this path laid out with tree bark so you don't slide in the mud to find a rickety shack that they literally nailed together kind of crooked. There is a French couple on the porch having tea and we are greeted by Howie and shown to the back porch. That's it, the whole cafe, really it is more like a 'lean to' consists of two porches and can accommodate maybe 8 at most. But we are thankful for a plastic awning over our heads and somewhere dry to sit.
If you have ever seen the X-Files, you will appreciate this description
of Howie, who by the way, was quite smitten with Ms. Ginger! Howie reminded us of the X-Files episode where the guy and his Father keep the wife/Mom under the bed in the house, she has no arms or legs but she controls everything they do. I think it's the one where they put any visitors that happen into their farm in the wood chipper, very creepy and quite a memorable episode. Anyway, THAT is Howie! He has such a quite, polite demeanor that even that is a little freaky. His voice is so soft and even keeled that it creeps you out, but in a good way, kind of. We end up ordering 2 hot chocolates and a tea and ask if we can eat our packed lunches.Having a bad case of the Ginger's, Howie is quick to oblidge. Off Howie goes up a path and disappears into the woods. I swear he is coming back with a machete or drugs in our drinks or something! We take off our shoes so my feet can dry out and the girls can tend to their blisters and we start our lunch. Howie comes walking out of the forest with a
tray filled with a silver tea pot; it is such a weird scene. But wow, some of the best hot chocolate I've ever had! There are two chickens roaming around and I am feeding them potato chips, next thing you know, a cock fight ensures! Whoops... When Howie returns to present us with our check, he asks us for a picture and tells us to check his Facebook page, because he'll be posting the pic. Facebook, in the woods, really? Yep, he has satellite up the path somewhere. I swear it was an X-Files just waiting to be written!
Off we go again, the rain has stopped somewhat and we discard a wet layer, change to lighter jackets and head out. The sun is actually starting to show and even more layers come off and the trails continue, and continue. To say day 6 was the hardest would be correct but the reasons vary. It was uphill until we reached "The Highest Point", however, while the climb was challenging, it was the altitude that made you huff and puff. We were tired, exhausted, our feet were sore, our bodies even more so and I'm not sure what was going
on in our psyches. It was a day of mental challenge after mental challenge. The trails seemed to get longer and longer. Several times we wondered if we were on the right path, yet we never got lost.
At one of our breaks, we run across the Belgium group that we met on day 1 or 2 or 3, not really sure, but we all chat for a bit, take pictures and move on. For me, personally, this is where the day got long and sad. After the Belgium group left and we got going, it became a time for reflection. I miss my husband something terrible, he would have loved the journey, just not the walk. He would love Scotland!! Then I start thinking of all the people we have met, how some of them will stick in my head for years, some I will never really think about again, but all of them have touched my life. It is weird that you spend every night with the same people for a week and you will probably never see them again. It was a very melancholy reflection for me. I started a journey with two friends whom I
have never traveled with. By the time the trip ends, we will have been constantly together for about 250 hours. There has not been one fight, argument or disagreement. We jumped in feet first and went for it! It has been awesome!
So back to the walk, we are heading up this mountain and as we blaze through another trail, we are rewarded with our first sighting of Inverness! This was an amazing moment! As each of us walked into the view you heard a "Wow"! The end was just around the corner!! (or so we thought). Now we are reenergized and there is a spring in our step. This is about where the music box runs out of juice. It was weird, this whole journey we had music to keep us moving along then to end it in silence, no music to motivate us to the end. It really made me appreciate the power of music.
We are thinking the mileage must be off again, because we can see our destination but our endomondo is telling us we still have quite a ways to go. THEN it starts raining, or should I say pouring...again! My feet had
just started drying out, but this time I didn't even care, I just wanted to get there. It seemed that every corner we turned, led us deeper into the forest and farther from our destination. We would glimpse town, then be taken away from it. It was like watching a sexy strip tease that never really reveals itself. We had to stop so I change into a heavier jacket and Ginger spotted a huge tree in a neighborhood we had just walked into. I hunker down under the protection of the canopy and start my change. All of a sudden, Ginger yells out, "I think I found one!". "One" being the elusive 4 leaf clover. Sure as shit, she bends down and plucks one up. This whole walk she has been searching the paths for a 4 leaf clover. It was a very defining moment that the end was near. Then, we hear it again! She has found another, and another! Then I start getting into the game, meanwhile Lady Wheezy is just standing there with this look. You know, the look your Mom gives you when she is saying, "Really" without saying it. She just looks at us and
says, "I'm about ready". No emotion, nothing, just "I'm about ready" and her eyebrow is about 2 inches higher on one side. (you know the look I mean, right). Oops... So we left.
Now we are in a neighborhood and it appears we're walking through people's back yards. We see two boys playing on a swing set who want to know where we come from. "America" I say. One of them shouts back, "Oh, I thought one of you was from China". Now obviously he is not referring to Lady Wheezy and myself, and we all laugh. Then he keeps going, "How do you say hello in Chinese". Ginger yells back, "Hello".At least she was having fun with it.
Given our surroundings, the end must be within reach, right? We follow the signs and paths and next thing you know, we are back in the middle of a forest, really!!! It is still pouring rain, we are getting crazy frustrated and it feels like we are going backwards when all of a sudden we enter a park. Yea baby!! This is where it will all end!!! Or not. The is the longest damned park we have ever seen.
We cross a bridge, only to recross it a mile or so later, we run across some cool wooden benches, however my counterparts didn't think they were picture worthy. We even saw a huge wooden sea serpant with a smile, that we got a picture of!
As we clear the park we see what we think might be the Inverness Castle. The official end to our journey. We are now on a canal bank and according to our dossier, we will be passing right by our hotel for the night. We walk, and walk, and walk...really!!! The more steps we take, the more stretched out the path became, or so it seemed. All of a sudden, there it was, the Glen Mhor Hotel. I can't tell you how tempting it was to just stop, crawl into the shower and pass out, but our goal was within reaching distance and Ginger was having none of it! Up another, very steep road, around a corner, we walk into the beginning of the castle grounds, make our way up the grass hill, to the castle, where Lady Wheezy promptly gives her a kiss, and that was it. We were done. There was
no fanfare, no Congratulations, nothing. I kept saying, no, this can't be it, there has to be something else!!! I circle the castle to no avail. So we set up the tripod for photos and our last set of push ups. As we start to walk away, we see the Great Glen Way sign telling us we have officially reached the end. That was closure for me. I held back my tears; we accomplished a great task. We will never be able to convey to our friends and family how mentally hard of a challenge this was at the same time as it was an incredible journey.
We head back to the hotel, check in and go downstairs for dinner. I go back to the front desk for a spare key and the front desk clerk gives me two mysterious envelopes. One is labeled with all three of our names (our real ones) and the other is for Lady Wheezy to open after we all open the first one. So we sit down to dinner and open the #1 envelope. It is a note from Lord Fartington, Lady Wheezy's betrothed. He is congratulating the three of us on our
journey and has set up full body massages for us the next day. The second envelope is a private message for Lady Wheezy saying how proud he is of her.
We celebrate at dinner with a wee dram of whiskey, or rather 9 wee drams of whiskey, 3 Gaelic Coffees and a bottle of wine. Oh yea, we had dinner too and of course started with dessert. This would be our final 'dessert first' meal.
So until next time Scotland, take care of your gorgeous country, beautiful landscapes and fabulously friendly people. Keep Nessie safe so I might be able to glimpse her again next time. We are heading back to our lives, our loves and reality. Thank you for reading our journey, it has been fun reliving our days in words.
Great Britain, the dominant industrial and maritime power of the 19th century, played a leading role in developing parliamentary democracy and in advancing literature and science. At its zenith, the British Empire stretched over one-fourth of the ear...more info