Inversnaid, Scotland

Unexpectedly I have internet access tonight – at the Inversnaid Bunkhouse. We are camping in the grounds tonight, but I am currently sitting in the gorgeous living room of this converted chapel, feeling clean and refreshed after my first shower in 2 days, and looking forward to a hot dinner.

My sister and I are two days into the West Highland Way, a 95-mile hike through some of Scotland’s most gorgeous scenery. Not that you’d have known that this morning – we woke up after a night of rain and wind, to a view of… the inside of a cloud. We struck the tent and made ready to depart. This included the ritual of the foot repair.

I stared in horror at my left foot. I had just tried to remove the blister patch I had applied yesterday lunchtime, and in the process had apparently pulled away most of my heel. A gaping hole, about 2 inches across, had opened up in my tender skin as I pulled away the patch. Feeling a bit queasy, I stuck it back down with sticky tape. But this was not what I wanted to see on the second morning of a one-week hike.

I poked tentatively at the matching blister patch on my right heel. It had the consistency of bubble wrap, and I suspected that a similar blister lurked beneath. I decided it was better to burst it than to leave it intact, spreading ever wider beneath my tortured skin. I screwed up my eyes, took a deep breath, and pulled. Bleurgh. Another gaping hole.

But the theory worked – especially aided by a couple of painkillers. My feet have been sore today, but not as bad as yesterday.

And I have been pleasantly distracted by the spectacular scenery along the shore of Loch Lomond. The weather forecast for today had been for showers, but we seem to have dodged most of them, and have been rewarded with gorgeous views of patches of sunshine mottling the Scottish hills, golden bracken, lush moss, and pretty woodland. This is exactly the kind of place that I used to imagine in mid-Atlantic when I needed to be in my ‘happy place’.

It’s the best of British scenery – and suddenly I am glad to be back again on this little island I used to call home.

P.S. If anybody would like to run a hostel in one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland on the shores of Loch Lomond, the Inversnaid Bunkhouse is for sale at �300,000. Ideal for someone who loves hiking or water sports (you’d be free to do whatever you want from 10am to 4pm every day) but doesn’t mind giving up their evenings to minister to the needs of footsore hikers….

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