CC – Dunvegan to Portree

Hasteful MammalBREAKFAST in my Dunvegan B&B was a communal affair that could have easily been an awkward occasion as the mostly English guests avoided talking to each other. We were saved from silent discomfort by two things — firstly the rampant idiosyncrasy of our landlady, which prompted remark (from me at least as she decided I was sat in the wrong seat and made me move) and secondly that amongst our number were a couple from New York, for whom embarrassed reticence was quite literally something that only happened to other people. Panicked by their attempts to chat with total strangers, we took refuge in non-committal answers and trying to hide behind the marmalade…

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CXCVII – Broadford to Elgol

Hasteful MammalTWO days into July 2018 and three days into a walking trip, I arose bright and early to find that outside it was brighter (though no earlier) than I was. The grey skies and rain of the previous evening — which had added a level of meteorological mockery after searing heat had prompted route revisions — had dissipated overnight and the air temperature was back to feeling like the inside of an oven. This was brought home to me as I stood on the shoreline, looking across to the harbour pier where I’d stood in the rain twelve hours earlier.

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CXCVI – Isleornsay to Broadford

I AWOKE oHasteful Mammaln the first of July with some alarm and trepidation. Not just because it heralded the second half of 2018, meaning six months had passed and I’d so far achieved almost none of the goals I’d set myself for the year but also because it was once again oppressively hot and my plan for that day would have been doubtful whatever the weather. There was a very real chance that I’d fail to achieve my goals for that day alone and it was more tempting than it should have been to sit in the shade all morning and relax and enjoy the view.

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CXCV – Armadale to Isleornsay

Hasteful MammalIT’S been a month since my last walking trip, which occurred at the end of June 2018 but which I hadn’t gotten around to writing up until now. I had more success in returning to Scotland than I’d enjoyed on the previous trip, though a bus terminating unexpectedly at London Bridge due to roadworks did have me jogging across central London in the small hours of the morning in order to catch the first train out. I travelled up to Mallaig and stayed the night there, ready to take the ferry back to Armadale in the morning. Which I did.

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CXCIV – Isleornsay to Armadale

Hasteful MammalWHEN I planned my May 2018 walking trip, I never actually intended to have a sixth walking day but that was okay because I hadn’t originally planned to have a fifth one either. I had expected to reach Kyle of Lochalsh (Caol Loch Aillse) on day four and from there take a train home the next morning. This plan, which on the face of it seemed reasonable, fell apart when circumstances demanded that I reach Kyle on a Saturday. With next to no trains home on a Sunday, I elected to extend my trip and thus day five took me to Isleornsay (Eilean Iarmain).

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CXCIII – Kyle of Lochalsh to Isleornsay

Hasteful MammalI AWOKE on the fifth day of my May ’18 walking trip serenaded by the patter of rain. This made the day relatively simple as I had a wet weather plan and a dry weather plan and now I didn’t need to agonise over how dry ‘dry’ actually was. Thus, when I emerged from my hotel, full of cheer and hearty breakfast, I knew what route I would take. It began with the A87, which would carry me off the British mainland and onto the Isle of Skye (An t-Eilean Sgitheanach).

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CXCII – Invershiel to Kyle of Lochalsh

Hasteful MammalDAY four of my May ’18 trip began with a surprising absence of shuffling discomfort. My legs, feet and dodgy knee all appeared to have forgiven me for the 28-miler I’d inflicted on them the day before. Hurrying, lest they change their tune, I fuelled myself up with a hearty breakfast in advance of this day’s efforts. Fully fed, I then took stock of the weather conditions.

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CXCI – Kinlochhourn to Invershiel

Hasteful MammalTHE third day of my May ’18 trip began with a hearty breakfast and a reconsideration of my plans. I aimed to set off from Kinlochhourn along an old drove road, which would lead me to Arnisdale and Glenelg. From there, I intended to head inland on the Old Military Road — when can I ever resist one of those? — to Shiel Bridge and Invershiel. This was, I had reckoned, about twenty-four miles.

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CXC – Mallaig to Kinlochhourn

Hasteful MammalMY PLAN for day two of my May ’18 walking trip involved placing one foot in front of the other a lot until I got somewhere else. Well, nothing unusual there. Except this time, I planned to do that in the Knoydart Peninsula, a rather remote sticky-out bit of Great Britain. So much so that, while I can’t say that it doesn’t have roads, I can say that they’re not connected to the rest of the roads on GB. So, if you want to visit the village of Inverie, for instance, you need to do so on foot or by boat.

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CLXXXIX – Lochailort to Mallaig

Hasteful MammalMY PLAN for this walk, as originally envisioned, had been that I would travel up to Lochailort on the 9th of May and spend the night at Lochailort Inn, ready to set off for Mallaig in the morning. That did not happen. Thanks to something of a travel nightmare, I awoke in Glasgow instead. There, I had a hearty breakfast and boarded a train that left at 8 am, the same time I’d hoped to start walking. The rail journey from Glasgow to Lochailort takes approximately five hours, which meant that I didn’t even reach my starting point until lunchtime. This did give me an excuse to nip into the Lochailort inn for a sneaky lunchtime G&T to kick my walk off, but it also meant I only had half a day to complete a walk of about 18 miles. Would that even be possible?

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