CCII – Flodigarry to Sligachan

Hasteful MammalON THE second day of September 2018, I awoke on the Isle of Skye in the cottage once lived in by Flora MacDonald (1722-1790), a heroine to the Jacobites and, even more so, to misty-eyed Victorians later wallowing in the romance of a bygone age. Though I’m neither, I could hardly help but appreciate her association with the place, though her cottage played no role in her famous escapade — rowing the fugitive Bonnie Prince Charlie from Benbecula to Skye — as it was her marital home five years after the event.

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CCI – Portree to Flodigarry

Hasteful MammalTHE first day of September 2018 saw me back in Portree, wondering what had happened to the blazing sunshine in which I’d travelled the day before. A band of low cloud had swept in overnight and was filling the air with the sort of misty drizzle that isn’t so much rain as floaty dampness.

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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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CXCIX – Carbost to Dunvegan

Hasteful MammalTHE fifth morning of my most recent walking trip brought me slight nausea and no desire whatsoever to eat breakfast, a situation I ascribed to insufficient sun hat discipline the day before. My desire to walk multiple miles under what promised to be another day of blazing sunshine was also somewhat eroded but, in that matter, I had little choice. I had a room booked in Dunvegan that evening and my vast array of transport options amounted to Shanks’s pony or begging a lift.

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CXCVIII – Elgol to Carbost

Hasteful MammalMY PLAN for day four of my 2018 June/July trip was thrown into doubt before I even went to bed the previous night. I had originally had a lengthy, roundabout route in mind but was considering making it longer by including a part of the day before’s walk I’d cut out. Further complications were added when breakfast, which I didn’t want to skip — the days being way too hot to eat any kind of substantial lunch — was announced to be at a later hour than I’d hoped for. As it was, the announcement turned out to be a blatant lie; breakfast wouldn’t appear until much, much later than that.

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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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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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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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CLXXXVIII – Mingarry to Lochailort

Hasteful MammalTHE FIFTH day of my first walking trip of 2018 was also its last, a slightly-frustrating state of affairs that would see me reach Lochailort but not Mallaig. This had not been my original plan, which had included a sixth day, but ominous meteorological forecasts had promised that a Mini-Beast from the East would bring bad weather and likely heavy snow. I didn’t want to get to Mallaig only to find myself trapped there and so my plans had been curtailed.

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