I am sitting here, biding time to start the trip back to home, drinking the two Brit classics together because I am too late for afternoon and too early for evening—tea, and gin and tonic. Inversnaid, it turns out, is the final destination for this leg. Oh, well, that is what a detour into the Lake District will do. I am sad that I couldn't have done any more walking but as it was I nearly cried when I saw the chemist and the promise it carried for a possibly good nights sleep. To get to the chemist, and that sleep, was a kilometre walk down the hill to the ferry, a half hour ferry ride, a three hour train ride to Fort William, a half hour wait for the train back and a two hour train ride to Crianlarich. Mind you, it was a stunning train journey to watch while I reclined against the immanently useful Wesley. Coughing my lungs out, regardless of my hard won cough medicine, stumbling along Main Street and cursing the lack of numbers in street addresses because it means you never know whether you turned the right way when you got to the intersection,I saw a man come running out of his house calling my name. I had turned the right way and this was Charlie. Same-as-me Charlie. He was starting to think that he would have to call out mountain rescue for me, thinking the reason I was late was because I had been walking in the weather. Then he heard my cough. 'I had that cough', he said. 'It lasted three weeks.' It better bloody not. (I have since Dr Googled it and what I am going to do tonight is put Vicks Vaporub on the bottom of my feet, put socks over them and put them up—this, I am reliably(?) advised will stop the coughing.) The B&B was beautiful. Such a divine doona. Charlie went to a lot of trouble to show me how the television works and turn it on to the Riverdance of ball games for me (soccer). He brought me some mints which he swore by as part of his own recovery from the coughing fits and he left me to luxuriate in doona swathered junk TV (replaced the soccer with Lewis, which, I didn't know but you may, is a spin-off series staring Inspector Morse's left-hand man). I told the coughing that I had had enough and I somehow managed to get a few hours sleep—even managing to sleep through the alarm.
Now I am in a little B&B in Banavie, a suburb of sorts of Fort William, home of the famous Neptune's Staircase (series of canal locks). My room is built into the roof so that if I want to do something upright I pretty much need to go to the door. Its decor is circa nineteen seventy and at first I thought, ergh, and, it's so small, but I have now reigned in the spoiled brat expectations and realised I am paying the same for bed and breakfast in a time-machine of my very own as I would at a youth hostel. There was no point trying to go back and try a couple more days walking. Everytime I exert myself my lungs bubble up in a disturbingly gurgling way and I can't breath. Think my body has decided for me what the mind refused to. I have two days to wait for my train back to Edinburgh so I will catch the train to Mallaig tomorrow—it follows the 'Road to the Isles', heading to the coast off which stand alluringly named islands such as Eigg, Rum and Muck. It is also the rail journey they film for the trip to Hogwarts. You can take a steam train, or you can take the regular train on the same tracks for less dosh. And on Sunday, weather permitting, I will try to climb Ben Nevis and bag the biggest Munro. The sun came out at one stage today and cleared all the clouds from the mountain—mountains like to hold onto weather like a stole around their shoulders, only reluctantly allowing it to be removed. There was snow up there!
And then, it will just be a matter of making my way down south for my flight. Can't believe it is all over. Thank you to everyone I met, everyone who indulged in conversations with me, made me laugh, told me interesting things about themselves and let me tell them about my journey. Thanks for all the kindnesses. And thanks to everyone who read my blog and to my special commenter who replied without fail to everything I posted. I'll be back to Inversnaid sometime in the future and then let us see if we can finally wrap this thing up! Ciao.