|The West Highland Way|
By Mark Walford|
Goodbye and all that ....
There was only a smidgeon of a hang over to cope with in the morning. Breakfast was a subdued affair as we were all packed and ready to leave but this time of course it would be by taxi and not on foot. The other people seated at their tables were of an entirely different species to what we had grown accustomed to. They were tourists rather than walkers, older people dressed in beige slacks and loafers or tailored twin sets. We felt a bit out of place.
I had a chance to nip down to the Highland Crafts centre and grab some gifts. I also succumbed to the inevitable and bought myself a West Highland Way commemorative tee-shirt - basically a white tee-shirt with a small logo of the WHW route stitched on the chest - very tasteful and understated. And I bought a bottle of decent single malt from the Whisky Shop as well (which had been my primary reason for visiting if the truth be known). The taxi, driven by an AMS guy, arrived on cue to take us back to Glasgow with Kath already on board and so we loaded our bags and set off for the long journey home. Only later did I discover that my camcorder stayed in the taxi and never made it back to Birmingham with me. It was to be nearly a fortnight before we were re-united. I had the chance to snap a few more photos of mountains, this time from the vantage point of the main road, and to enjoy a drive-by of Glen Coe.
Colin, seated behind me, had an attack of motion sickness which lasted for most of the journey. I felt for him, there's nothing worse than being travel sick, but hoped fervently that he wouldn't chunder in the car (and consequently over the back of my head).
The journey back to Glasgow was like a review of the previous week. We time-travelled rapidly backwards into the last seven days and the landmarks flew by in reverse order - Fort William, Glen Coe, Tyndrum, Crianlarich, Loch Lomond (the Inversnaid Hotel peeping out from the forested shoreline opposite and Balmaha ,with its flotilla of boats, winking in the morning sun), the knobbly crown of Conic Hill, and suddenly we were back in the suburbs of Glasgow. The trip had taken us less than two hours.
We unpacked our belongings at the long stay car park and thanked the ever helpful AMS guy before he left us. Kath was leaving with him as her flat lay just around the corner and he had offered her a lift. So that's where we said goodbye to her, with all the usual promises to keep in touch, and, with a final hug and a wave, she was gone.
In a tearing hurry.
"It's sad isn't it," said Colin. And whether he referred to saying goodbye to our friends or just that the holiday was over I had to agree. It was a little sad.
We drove home without incident, threading our way out of Glasgow, and onto the long drag home down the M6. We stopped for dinner at a service station near the Lake District and viewed the distant fells with envy, knowing that people were up on their summits, perhaps enjoying a walking holiday.
I was thinking about home, and a bottle or two of chilled wine, treating my legs to the luxury of being draped over a sofa. I was thinking of Sue and wondering whether she had missed me.
"What about next year?" said Colin tearing his gaze away from the hills.
"What about it?" I asked.
"Shall we do this again, maybe get cousin Jo and Bod to come along?"
I considered the pain and the tiredness and the hard work involved for a few seconds and then I nodded.