There’s a lot of catching up to do. So I’ll try to make it quick. But given the source, you might want to make yourself a spot of tea.
So today, Thursday, Day 7 (hard to believe) here’s what happened.
I spent last night in Newtonmore, or a couple of miles outside it, at an exceptional B&B called Crubenbeg House, run by a couple, Irene and John. Exceptional because it was perfectly clean and well appointed, with wonderful food and continuously running stand-up comedy act of John, who has a particular soft spot for Kim Jong-un.
I staggered into Newtonmore from Garva Bridge, a fine spot on the River Spey (along which “Speyside whisky” is made, although I did not pass a distillery). It had been a flat 16 or so miles, past fields full of ewes and their lambs, curious, cute but shy. I have many pictures of the hind ends of mother and child. Most of the ewes have one lamb, a few have twins. However I passed one field in which nearly every offspring were twins, and there were even triplets.
On the way I passed Cluny Castle, which is important in a complicated way to the Clan Macpherson, which has a museum in Newtonmore . (Alas, I was only able to visit for half an hour before it closed). All I know is that there are Macphersons all over the world, and that some important ones lived in Cluny Castle.
To satisfy a request, here is a picture of me taking a snack break at the entrance to the castle, whose gates have the locks on the inside (the side of the occupants) not the outside (the side of the public).
The hostel in Newtonmore was serving tea and cakes to Challengers. I stopped, of course. As I have lost my list of B&Bs I’ve booked with, I asked a woman named Allie who was serving the names of some local establishments. He mentioned Crubenbeg House; I remembered this was the one that was a couple of miles out of town. She kindly called there and John came out and picked me up.
As it turned out, a Challenger named Pete Little, who had come over to my tent the night before–I was the last one in–to greet me was staying at the B&B with his parents. They are from Cumbria, in England, and are meeting him a couple of places along the way. They hiked up to a part of his route and hid behind a rock to greet him that day, an experience that he found surreal. Pete manages a coffee shop in England and is training to be an outdoor guide. He’s an extremely nice fellow.
I was hoping to write and upload, but when I turned on the iPad it said it was disabled. What happened is mysterious, but I clearly put it away still on, by mistake, and that enroute it got the idea I was trying to unlock it, so many times it shut down permanently. No amount of hitting buttons in different order, or turning on iTunes on the phone did anything. Another guest kindly lent me his laptop and I went on the Apple Support forum. It was clear I needed to connect the iPad to a computer to set things right.
Pete’s father, Phil, drove Pete and me to Newtonmore in the morning. We were both heading to Kingussie (silent “g”), the village to the east. I said goodbye to Pete as he headed on his route and I farther into town to the computer store. It turned out to be closed for two weeks, proprietor’s father ill. The next nearest shop was in Aviemore, 10 miles at least down the road.
That was in the right direction–east–and I considered rerouting myself for the next three days. But after consultation with maps in the bookstore I decided to just take the bus to Aviemore. A worker in the store, Aiden, gave computer advice and kindly called the computer shop to confirm it could do the work.
I boarded the bus, dropped the iPad mini off, had lunch, looked around, had coffee, and two hours and 50 pounds later the thing was fixed, although scrubbed of the unposted posts, which I am reconstructing,
I got back to Kingussie and began my day’s walk at 3.40 p.m.
No time to stop at Ruthven Barracks, an 18th century installation, to look around,
I caught up with Tony and Jackie, people roughly my age, who went on their honeymoon last year on the Challenge. Jackie’s parents, whose combined age is 167 years, were attempting their final crossing but had recently “retired.” It was a bridge and a bog too far.
I eventually caught up to a woman named Liz Robertson, who had been walking with a friend who had also retired, because of sore feet. Badly sore; they have to be to quit in this crowd. Liz had done the last two days a couple of years ago with a torn tendon in her foot.
We walked along and talked. She told me about her family, her parents (both conscripted in World War II, her father into the Army Signal Corps, her mother to work in a munitions factory), and here life as a Jehovah’s Witness. For the next three hours I learned almost all I know about the beliefs and history of the Jehovah’s Witness movement.
We were both aiming for the same destination, but at 7.30 (“half seven”) Liz said she was stopping, a few kilometers short. It was all I needed to hear. We crossed the River Feshie at Stronetoper Bridge.
Who came out to greet us but Pete Little. He seemed happy to see us. He’d been there for many hours, driven to whittling a stick to pass the time.