Retornar a la ciutat
on vas deixar-hi els anys
dins els records de l’altra
que és el pedaç de tu
que no viatja.
A trip to Scotland cannot end without stepping on Edinburgh. At least, if I make the trip. And if you are the one who travels, you would do well to follow my example.
The train left Fort William at 11:40, heading for Glasgow. The previous one happened at 7:40, and the truth is that I really wanted to sleep, so I preferred to wander around the city for an hour long, almost two, than not having to get up early and do everything rushing.
Certainly, It hasn’t been a good day to wander around Fort William. It has been raining all morning, and at times with a lot of intensity, so again, I ended up very wet. But the truth is that it has been a good farewell, the rain. Is there anything more Scottish than rain? Whisky, maybe, but it’s more expensive.
Farewell Fort William…
I’ve arrived at the station shortly after 10am, check out of the hotel was at 10am, and with the rain falling I haven’t entertained too much. With a backpack in front and one in the back, it’s not too much fun to go into stores crammed with souvenirs, specially those crammed with mountaineering gear that I don’t need either. But once at the station, and seeing that I had to be there for more than an hour, I preferred to get wet again, and go look for the point of information I had not seen, to at least have the seal of the end point of the West Highland Way.
So, I found it, the information office. And good luck because at that moment a good pot of water was falling. But, in a moment of confusion of mine, and after reviewing the store from top to bottom, I left with a T-shirt of these from “I’ve finished the West Highland Way,” but without the stamp. What will we do…
After that, I arrived at the station ten minutes before the train arrived, and it looked like most of the passengers had made their way. There were many familiar faces: the Englishman and his wife, who in the last stage decided not to do it because of the rain; Luna, the dog who had accompanied me during Mother Carraigh’s descent to Inveroran, with her owner and her mother; the two German girls, who ended up on the road under the storm; the couple who were right behind me on arrival, and who were also staying at the same hotel as me; and other people with whom we had not exchanged a word but a gesture of complicity.
… and undoing the West Highland Way by train
And inside the wagon, by chance, I had sat, on the other side of the hallway, the Dutchman and his friend from Crianlarich. They had finished the West Highland Way also the day before, and in fact they were the ones who had just overtaken me just starting the stage. His friend seemed calmer. We’ve been talking for a while about the road, the beauty, the harshness, the weather, the rain, the people … The friend wants to come back, this summer, to do it with his wife, in five days.
I was sitting with my back to the direction of the train, so I said goodbye to them and looked for a seat that would allow me to travel face to face. This four-hour train ride is fantastic, and much of the journey undoes the way it’s done. First it pulls inland, to the east, bordering Ben Nevis on the north, two stations later, it turns south, to Corrour, which is a station with a bar and a hostel two kilometres on foot or by bike, but never by car, where I had to spend the next two nights, but which I had to cancel due to my physical problems.
Soon, the train enters Rannoch Moor, and finds its way back to Bridge of Orchy. From here, follow it north of Loch Lomond, where it is again separated from the road to skirt the lake on the west shore, to separate when it widens, and follow the east side of Loch Long. Eventually, this lake becomes the River Clyde, the landscape becomes monotonous, and the train arrives at Glasgow Queen Street Station, which is obviously in Glasgow. There it was time to change trains and buy the ticket to Edinburgh, which we arrived in about 40 minutes.
The last farewells, in Edinburgh
At Waverley Station, on the way down, I matched the Dutch again. I told him about some recommended visits to the city, and we said goodbye, hoping to meet again on Tuesday watching Bayer Münich – Barça. Reunion that eventually will not happen.
In Edinburgh, the rain has continued, and not just on arrival. Of the five days I’ve been there, I think it has rained every day, even if it’s only been four drops. And it has been windy, this element as much or more typical in Edinburgh than the rain. And I decided that I will cut my hair, fed up with being put in my eyes.
The stay has been different. I took the accommodation in Newington, south of the city, about 35 minutes from downtown, on foot and at a good pace. It’s a fantastic area, one I didn’t know too much about: full of Victorian-looking buildings, residential, quiet, no tourists, and lots of buses that take you downtown when you don’t want to walk. Ten minutes away you have the Meadows, a magnificent park, right next to the university. And also ten minutes away you have Holyrood Park, 260 acres of a parkland, with hills, lakes, basaltic cliffs, Arthur Seat, the Queen’s Palace, and the Scottish Parliament where they will soon proclaim independence.
And there begins The Royal Mile, which is the artery of the Old Town, the medieval and historic centre of Edinburgh, where walking calmly becomes a delight: entering the closes, discovering what is hidden behind the names of the pubs, contemplating the views that some alley hides from the city … I tried to get lost in the New Town, and I accidentally arrived at the Royal Botanic Garden, which is one of my favourite corners (28 hectares) of Edinburgh.
I’ve only approached the Castle one day, without entering it. Do you know who I met? The German couple !! Ina and Sebastien. You can’t imagine how happy we got !! They couldn’t finish the Way. The last stage we met on they spent the night in Tyndrum, and the next day they continued on to Bridge of Orchy. During that day, Sebastien’s other knee started to hurt, so they decided to return to Glasgow. They had been to Aberdeen, visited Edinburgh, and also wanted to go to Stirling. We said our names, gave each other our Facebook, and said goodbye, without closing the door to another casual reunion. This time, however, it was the last.
And also, the last whipping of the West Highland Way.