Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Day 4 - Wildcats of the Glen

The Rumblie Guesthouse feels more like a hotel. I have a wonderful twin room with an ensuite bathroom (boasting a shower with two shower heads that make the water rain down on me from all directions) and even a little TV. This morning, I'm having smoked haddock and poached eggs - after that I am so full of energy that I can't wait to start today's walk.
Just after 10am, the men in kilts arrive. Just outside Laggan, we pass Cluny Castle, which - according to the owner of last night's accommodation - is now owned by a Norwegian businessman, who only lives there a few weeks a year.
Behind the castle, a track leads up into the hills. The route follows the (way marked) Glen Banchor trail, so this time the chances of us taking a wrong turn are fairly slim (and we actually manage to follow the official EHW route all day). Today, there are almost as many men walking as on the day I first met them.

The path is much nicer than the tracks yesterday, and the route is the best so far: It takes us high into the glen, sporting a rugged, beautiful landscape.

After crossing a shallow stream (oh, how I missed all the stream crossing), we arrive at a lonely stalker's bothy. Sitting on the ruins of some former dwellings, we have lunch (and meet a German couple walking the EHW there - in the Highlands, all people you meet seem to be either Scottish or German), before proceeding over more and more boggy ground.

There are more streams to cross (after some time you develop a tactic that works most of the time), but all of them shallow enough to cross without much effort. We come across several frogs and toads, some very interesting birds, some of which I have never seen/heard before, and even a pheasant.

But we are probably too loud to see any deer or wildcats. After about three hours of walking through beautiful Glen Banchor, the path becomes a more sturdy trail which leads down towards Newtonmore.

But some of us decide to take the slightly longer, but much more beautiful wildcat-trail into the village. This area is known for its wildcat population, and there is not only a way marked trail through this cat territory, but there are also dozens of painted wildcat statues to be found all over Newtonmore.

Newtonmore is a nice little place, with my hostel in the middle of it. I'm in a private twin room, because the owners didn't want to out me into an all-male dorm.
Later, I go to the pub opposite, where I meet the German couple I saw near the ruins earlier today. With a delicious haggis and some local Dalwhinnie whisky, we get talking. It's strange speaking German...

Read more about my East Highland Way trip here.

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