SALLOCHY CAMPSITE TO ROWARDENNAN (2.75 miles) and KINLOCHLEVEN TO LAIRIGMOR (7 miles) On our third day on the West Highland Way, M and I decided to make our way north via foot, ferry, and bus, so that we could spend at least a day in the true Scottish Highlands. We set an alarm for the first time on our trip, and woke during that magic time when the sky is starting to lighten. We packed up our things and made our way to Rowardennan to catch the 9:30 am ferry to the town of Luss, passing this amazing Juniper along the way… Luss is a “conservation” village. (We would say “historic preservation” here in the US.) It is full of beautiful stone cottages, and there is a sheep pasture just on the edge of town, where a shepherd was working his collie. We bought toasted scones with butter and jam (I could not get enough of these scones!) at a small cafe with incredibly friendly staff, and then made our way to the bus station on A82. It would have been nice to spend an afternoon in the town, but we needed to catch the next ride north to Glencoe, where we connected with a second bus to Kinlochleven. (Incredibly grateful for the wonderful public transportation available to these small towns!) From Kinlochleven, we were able to get back on the Way and continue our walk toward Fort William. Here I am at the western, Glencoe side of Loch Leven. Our guidebook claimed that Kinlochleven- a planned town built up around a now-closed aluminum smelting factory- was one of the ugliest towns in the region. M and I could not disagree more! Clearly the author has never visited any rust belt towns in the US… Kinlochleven was made up of white town houses, each with a well cared for garden. We would have stayed the afternoon, perhaps eaten some fish and chips, but we were also eager to get back on the trail and into The Mountains. Up the Devil’s Staircase – our first real hill- and through the birch forest, there were views back to Kinlochleven……and back toward Glencoe… There were lovely little streams… and there were sheep! (Cheesy photo for my benefit.) Just before Kinlochleven passed out of sight behind us, M posed for these photos with her Hansel Half Hap (Ravelry link)…The colors of the yarn blended with last season’s dried grasses and the red-brown heather stems.
(I knit this small version from Gudrun Johnston’s pattern just for our trip. My intention was to complete one for myself as well, but other projects got in the way. Perhaps mine will be done before next winter…) We spent the late afternoon walking west with the sun on our cheeks. There was a gentle breeze, the air smelled fresh, and we couldn’t have been more content. We paused at the ruins of an old croft house…and then set up camp at Lairigmor – the big pass.M and I have camped together and with our dad in a lot of spectactular places. This site, however, felt special. We were alone, but for a few sheep, and the world was quiet, but a sense of history hung in the valley. It was easy to imagine armies, shepherds, and hikers passing through this land- their footsteps on the road, their voices in the air.