I woke up to a beautiful winter morning. It was still cold, but the sun was shining and I was looking forward to the last leg of the journey. I was eager to get going, so I swapped my usual porridge breakfast for a quick breakfast bar and set off with a huge smile on my face.
The path climbed steeply out of Kinlochleven and offered stunning panoramic views over the mountains.
After a few minutes I reached Lairgimor (The Big Pass) which is where the Campbells clan fled from the McDonalds on 2nd February 1645, during the battle of Inverlochy. The pass continued through the mountains for what seems like days. It was bitterly cold; the hills rising on either side of the path ensured I was shaded form the low winter sun and the chilling wind funnelled down the valley, making me reach for winter mitts.
Eventually I emerged from the pass and reached the Lundavra and Glen Nevis path, but frustratingly it was closed due to forestry work being carried out. I looked at the map, and the diversion that was put in place was a low level walk along the tarmac road, which looked like a rather dull and underwhelming way to finish the trip. Since it was a Sunday, I decided that no one from the Forestry Commission would be working and impetuously continued on my intended route…. but it didn’t take long for me to discover why the path was closed.
I was in two minds whether to turn back or not; the trees alongside the path creaked and cracked menacing in the wind, but I had committed to the route and continued on, nervously negotiating and climbing my way over the trees.
After several miles – and some sketchy moments – the Forrest gave way to a gravel path which twisted and turned down the hillside towards the iconic figure of Ben Nevis.
Eventually the track wound its way down to Fort William towards and onto the “finish line”.
I walked down the derelict high street and got the standard “I’ve just done the West Highland Way” photograph next to the Sore Feet statue. Whilst I was posing for my photo, a woman approached me and asked me if I had just finished the West Highland Way. It turned out she had been just hours behind me the whole journey. She had read my entry in the bothy book and seen my footprints in the fresh snow, so she knew I wasn’t far ahead. It was strange knowing that she was so close behind me. Over the five days, I never met a signal person doing the WHW until I met her. I felt isolated, alone and like I was finally on a proper adventure.