Linda Thomson from Findhorn walked the Great Glen Way from Fort William to Inverness to raise funds for the Foundation.
In choosing May to do my charity walk I had expected fine, dry and warmish weather. Instead, I walked in sleet, rain and gale force winds with just a few blinks of sunshine – this was more physically challenging than I had ever anticipated.
The steep climb out of Fort Augustus through a forest of birch and pine provided little shelter from the torrential rain and gale force winds. Fortunately, from time to time breaks in the weather gave me glimpses of the dramatic views across Loch Ness – I was grateful that I was not on one of the pleasure vessels being tossed on its waters! This was the day that my waterproof jacket decided to leak and it was with great relief that I arrived somewhat bedraggled at my B&B in Invermoriston for a welcome hot shower and a dram.
My walk was along canal towpaths, old railway track-bed, an old military road, forest paths and moorland tracks – all with spectacular views, despite the rain. The plant life was fascinating particularly the striking colour of the blue bells which made me glad to be alive to appreciate the natural beauty of Scotland. Along the forest paths we were accompanied by many small birds, mostly finches, and in the more open spaces we saw three majestic eagles. However, the highlight for me was to see my first ever cuckoo.
Originally, I was planning to walk with a friend and three of her friends but unfortunately due to illness she was unable to come. I was therefore walking with strangers, providing me with another challenge. Fortunatel,y having a common goal and interest provided a good basis for forming new friendships, which we did during the seven days.
Drumnadrochit to Inverness proved to be the most challenging section of the Way – the bonus being the spectacular views, especially glimpsing the Beauly Firth for the first time. It indicated that our destination was close. I was delighted and relieved when I crossed the Infirmary Footbridge and completed the final section to arrive at the finish – Inverness Castle.
I would like to thank the local organisations who each sponsored a day: Bartec Fire & Security; Royal Findhorn Yacht Club; AMT Motors; Fit4Less; Thomson’s Bodyshop; Thomson Tyres and Fettes Sawmill have been so encouraging and generous.
My friends have been exceptionally supportive helping me to prepare for the walk, encouraging me when I felt out of my depth and overwhelmingly generous in their donations. Without everyone’s help I would not have been able to successfully complete this challenge. So far, I have raised a little over £2,000, proving that together we can and will make a difference.
I can recommend that anyone wishing to do a long distance walk for the first time should consider the Great Glen Way – despite the weather, it was spectacular, fun and refreshing.
I’ll do it again sometime, despite my two blisters and black toe nail.
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