Thursday, 17 April 2008

To Wick and beyond

Apart from a brief smokers stop at Keeble Services, we pulled into Glasgow Bus Station at 7.00 am and invited to get out and stretch our legs for 20 minutes, followed by a dire warning from the driver that he wasn't responsible if we weren't back on the bus at 7.20. Did anyone ever really not get back on a bus to a place they had obviously paid to get to? Possibly a tough decision for me today, as I was in one of my favourite haunts, Buchanan Bus Station. I'd loved commuting from my friend Margaret's flat in Glasgow last year. Up & down "The West Highland Way" this bus station was like a familiar friend and since I'd only payed £2 return for the journey from London to Inverness it was tempting to stay awhile.
But no, I had a walk to start tomorrow, and so with my allotted 20 minutes, the first port of call had to be the coffee shop, as I needed caffeine. On "LeJog" last year I'd realised just how much. Following the worst night on the walk in a flea infested Wig Wam outside Tyndrum, I, and fellow addicts were, at 8.00 am shuffling restlessly on the porch of the General Store cum Take-Away, waiting for the doors to open. By 8.15 we were twitching and by 8.30 there was no alternative but to walk the two miles to the "Green Welly Cafe" in Tyndrum. It certainly didn't feel like the same two mile journey made under the influence of alcohol the night before. My head felt as heavy as the pack on my back, but after the first cup... "Zing!" I was back firing on all cylinders.
As half the passengers had disembarked at Glasgow, those of us going on to Inverness had room to spread out and catch up on some sleep. So it was, with one eye half open, that I took in the route I'd be following through the Cairngorms on the next leg. Through a swirl of hail and snow it looked pretty grim, but surely, I thought, it won't be like this in May. I'd also got fond memories of Inverness in the July sunshine but, in a bitingly cold April, it wasn't quite the same. Plans to stroll along the riverside towards "Ness Island" were aborted for a dash through the rain to the Information Centre to pick up bus timetables.
Clutching my "City Link Highland Bus Pass" I was off again. Passing northwards through the familiar towns and villages it was hard to believe I'd be walking backwards along this long route. Finally arriving in Wick, I was looking forward to a good nights sleep. The B & B had sounded promising over the phone, but standing outside a house with boarded up windows, it was with some trepidation that I knocked on the paint flaked door. I'd already got an idea of what it would be like inside. Just imagine student digs without the clutter, and you've got the picture. Led to the attic bedroom I feared the worst, but actually, it had a quaint charm about it. Ok, the shower was circa 1970. but with a new showerhead, proudly demonstrated by the owner, at least it worked and the water was hot. One quick sniff of the sheets confirmed that they, at least, were clean, and that was all I needed to know.