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reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

Walking to Cape Wrath, Day 11, May 21, 2022

May 22nd, 2022

Walking to Cape Wrath, Day 11, May 21, 2022

Drymen to Callander. The night at the Drymen campground was much like many on the American Appalachian Trail, a whole bunch of tents set up pretty close to each other. I could hear the snorers, every word spoken by an anxious woman calling home on a cell phone, and the two German men apparently recounting their day’s walk though my ignorance of the language makes that an open question. I had a muffled phone conversation, head buried deeply in my sleeping bag hoping not to disturb my tent community.

Early morning— which given how early the sun comes up is pretty early—I begin that familiar ritual: put on fleece that was serving as pillow, put all loose items in stuff bag and cinch down clothes compression sack. Stuff sleeping bag and line all the bags up on sleeping pad outside tent. Dress, take down tent, and do that slow careful process of arranging all the bags in the backpack— each in their long-determined spot. Most tents seemed quiet as I made my way out, headed back to Drymen and turned my back on the West Highland Way pilgrims as I set my sights on the Rob Roy Way. Today’s stretch  was, I’m afraid, less than inspiring. It was either a long minor road walk or a lot of industrial forest roads. The only interesting part was a muddy path crossing some pastures but the path was devastated by mountain bikers. I think in the distant future archaeologists will find fossilized tire tracks and wonder what strange species we were. One stretch of the path was on a path over an aqueduct built in Queen Victoria’s reign, to bring water from Loch Katrine to Glasgow, and engineering marvel similar to the Union canal. The best bit of trivia I encountered about that was that after the new water flowed into Glasgow people stopped buying as much soap as they had prior— the clear, soft water cleaned without so much chemical.

Afternoon brought more forest roads, soon descending to the Callander valley, the paths soon crowded with Saturday walkers with their dogs— all were working or hunting dogs (no cutesy parlor breeds in the near highlands). Mid afternoon I wandered Callander on the off chance a room would be available, but of course it is a May Saturday, but also this remains a Trossachs town and so part of the network of holiday destinations for the well to do, effectively crowding out the itinerant hiker, so off to the Keltie Bridge campground for the night, but first some time in the Crags Hotel pub, watching the Scottish Cup final (Rangers/Hearts) and eating chicken curry while the Hearts prevail in OT. Rainy night tenting at the Keltie Bridge campground— good people there.

T. Hugh Crawford