This picture was taken on Thursday, 29th September, on the last day of walking with The Engineer. The Engineer, an old friend from Somerset, has been putting one foot in front of the other for several years now with the intention of walking from Abbotsbury on the Dorset coast to Cape Wrath, his own version of an end-to-end walk. Two years ago he and I walked from Milngavie near Glasgow (the start of the West Highland Way) to Kirk Yetholm (the end of the Pennine Way), last year we walked the West Highland Way to Fort William and this year The Engineer walked most of the Cape Wrath Trail from Fort William. I was unable to join him on that walk, which was a pity because he had two weeks of excellent May weather in some of the best mountains in Scotland. The problem was that the walk, being guided, missed out some sections which had to be filled in, hence this expedition.
The first day was the Saturday, the day after I was diagnosed as a diabetic and still adjusting to a life that no longer contained chocolate or large quantities of beer. For the next few days we did loads of road walking, with the occasional cross-country section. The weather was appalling and even good waterproofs didn’t seem capable of keeping out the water. At least we were in hotels and could dry out overnight before the next section. It was so wet that I didn’t risk my cameras on most days.
The last day was the Thursday, when The Engineer joined up his bootprints at a bridge north of Elphin. He went back to the hotel in Ullapool and I went off to walk up Stac Pollaidh (pronounced “Polly”). This is an isolated hill just over 2000′ high, but with a very complex ridge involving scrambling up and down gullies, over boulders with large drops adjacent and suchlike acrobatics. I got most of the way along the ridge, but decided to save the conquest for another day when I came across a rather nasty sloping ledge with poor footholds to get to the final pillar – the ledge sloped outwards over a 200′ drop and I was not feeling at my strongest nor most agile at the time. Still, a cracking little hill and one to spend some time on in the future sorting out the difficulties.
That evening we went down to the very excellent Ferry Boat Inn in Ullapool for a celebratory whisky and some food. I indulged myself in another pint and stayed to sup that up after The Engineer had retired back to the hotel. Shortly afterwards, a few people wandered in with guitars and fiddle and a small session started, which was a delightful was to spend an evening. Star turn was a local girl of about ten years who played some very competent fiddle and was duly appreciated. Just to introduce some contemporary culture into the evening, there was at one point a community rendition of American Pie.