Walking to Cape Wrath, Day 7 May 17, 2022
As much as I enjoy wandering Edinburgh, today felt as if I was fleeing the city. The entire trek was on a paved canal path so the kilometers clipped by and the sounds of the highway diminished with each step. On a long trek, there are always those nice moment when you spend more than one night in a place. I returned to the Snax Cafe for my breakfast before departure—the person who took my order recognized me, so we talked a bit. Then it was off to the trailhead. The day’s walk was uneventful. The path was narrow and crowded, particularly with bicyclists, so I had to listen hard for the ting of a bell to jump off the path in time, and once was brushed back by kids on-off road motorcycles. But by and large the walk was pure peace.
By midday the canal was populated by long boats— mostly from a vacation rental company, so the pilots were anxious but clearly enjoying the process. Reminded me of afternoons in Oxford watching the boats pass by, though here the canal (the Union Canal) has no locks, quite an engineering feat, as are the aquaducts that carry the boats high above fast flowing river valleys.
On the approach to Linlithgow, I passed on the path a man in dress pants, white shirt and a sweater, who turned after we passed and said I looked to be someone on a great journey. I explained what I was doing and then noted that my day’s journey was almost over because I was right next to the town. He proceeded to tell me about Saint Michael’s church where Mary Queen of Scots was baptized and then directed me to the best old pubs in town. Love this place. Wandered through Linlithgow, finding a campground on a working farm (Loch House Farm) set my tent up in the corner of a field, walked back to the Black Bitch Tavern for a pint. Outside the town, the pub’s name is a bit controversial, but it refers to a local legend—the story of a black female greyhound who would swim the loch, taking food to her master who was imprisoned on an island in the loch. The Greene King corporation acquired the Black Bitch and was planning to change the name, a move that caused quite a controversy. (I wish someone would make an app to identify all Greene King pubs— while the local ambiance of the pubs they acquire can remain, the standardized menu always disappoints).
Had fish pie at the West Port, then a pint at the Crown Arms before heading to the tent before the rains came in.
T. Hugh Crawford