Day 25 – 31 on the Scottish National Trail

Day 25

Another pretty easy day through some nice countryside, glens and small lochs.
I’m following the Spey river for a while, a river that I’ll be following after I’m done with the SNT, on the Speyside Way.
This trail follows the river all the way to the coast and goes from distillery to distillery.
You can’t go wrong with that.

I stop at a café in a small village to get a drink and the owner tells me that I’m the first person he sees this year doing the SNT.
Now that I think of it, considering I’m now going Sobo, which would be against the flow, I haven’t seen another hiker doing it.
So I guess it’s not that popular of a trail after all…

I now enter the Cairngorms, where I should get some snow, but nothing yet.

Day 26

Going through some beautiful forest in the morning, which is a nice change from the exposed/baren landscape of the Cape Wrath Trail.

I see one summit covered with fresh snow, but it’s not (yet?) as bad as I thought it’d be.
Then it changes radically in the afternoon and it looks a lot like what I imagine Mongolia looks like.
No more trees and a desolate but beautiful landscape.

It seems like the closer to summer I get, the colder it is…
It’s really cold today, though I don’t really mind.
Cold, you can fix with gear.
Unlike heat, wind or rain.
And the rain hasn’t been that bad so far to be honest.
I’m out of the Cairngorms without being snowed on after all.

Day 27

A pretty boring day.
There’s no way around it on a long distance hike, some days are just…meh…
I’m walking along a river all morning before arriving at Blair Atholl in the afternoon.

There’s finally some nice forest before reaching Pitlochry, a nice little town that seems to cater for rich tourists.
Having issues with my French Sim card, I need to stop in a bar/restaurant and use the Internet for some time.
But it’s late already and I still need to find a camping spot out of town, so I’ll do that tomorrow morning in the next town.

There’s a forest right after town, but there’s a bit of a climb before I can find a spot.
Somehow the big climbs always seem to happen when you filled your water…

Day 28

I start the day with a nice forest on my way to Aberfeldy.
Just before town, there’s the Dewar’s distillery, the first on trail!
It’s 10.30am, but when in Rome…
I treat myself to a beautiful 25 years old single malt and it’s amazing.
Truth to be told I actually don’t know much about whisky and just drink some from time to time, even if I really like it.
I thought there wouldn’t be that many distilleries on the SNT and that’s probably the only one, as I have only 3 days before finishing.

That’s why I also planned to do the Speyside Way, where there’s a ton of them.
I was thinking of doing it as a side trip on the SNT, but will do it in a few weeks, for logistical reasons and also that will be cool to have that trail being the last one I hike in Scotland before leaving.

After the distillery, I stop in town and get some lunch in a pub so I can charge my electronics and do some Internet.
The curry is horrible, but that’s OK, I’m still riding on that whisky.

I’m not sure why (especially after a 4 hours break in town), but I’m feeling pretty tired and sore today.
I’m thinking of stopping early, but strong hail, heavy rain and lack of camping spot decide otherwise.

Day 29

Another pretty easy day, apart from one horrible section of the classic combo of tussock/swamp with no trail.
And uphill.
It’s absolutely exhausting and after an hour and half, I can see on the map that I barely walked a kilometer!
Luckily the rest of the day is easier and it’s probably one of the warmest day I had so far and with just little showers.

I get a bit carried away in the evening where I end up walking on a very long dirt road with absolutely no possible camp spot.
At 9.30pm I finally find a flat-ish spot that will do just fine.

Day 30

For the first time, I wake up and it’s not cold. It’s even pretty warm, which definitely makes a huge difference in the motivation to get out of the sleeping bag.
It’s mostly roads and forestry roads today but it’s still pretty around.

I go through Callander where I contemplate hitching to Doune Castle, 20km away.
I’m a big Monty Python fan and it’s the castle from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (aka one of the greatest comedies ever made)
Though I’ve been before, it’s a cool spot and I wouldn’t mind going back.
But it’s been a while since the last shower/laundry, so I decide to move on towards Aberfoyle, where I have way too much food for lunch.

In the evening I reach Drymen, where I’ll actually be coming back to tomorrow.
My finishing point tomorrow will be Milngavie, where I flipped to hike with Gil and Peter. It’s also the Southern terminus for the West Highland Way, a trail I had planned to do with some others after the SNT.
So I will be just turning around and hike this trail.
Actually the first 20km coincide with the SNT, so I’ll just hitch to Drymen rather than doing the same section twice the same day.
Only 16km to go!

Day 31

It’s pretty easy going this morning.
I walk passed the Glengoyne distillery. Peter recommended it to me but I didn’t realise it was actually right on the trail.
What a treat for my last day!
It’s 9.30am, so I have to wait half an hour that it opens.
They have some crazy expensive bottles in there. One is 3500£…
After calling my banker I decide to go for another one and get myself a 20cl bottle.

As I’m now walking against the flow on the West Highland Way, which is one of the most popular trails in the UK, I’m seeing a hiker nearly every minute, which is a bit strange after not seeing that many for a while.

I arrive in Milngavie where I get a few sips of that delicious whisky, get a pizza and a beer, and try to grasp the fact that I finished my 10th long distance trail.
Though to be honest it’s doesn’t really feel like the end, as I have another month where I’ll be hiking some shorter trails.
Starting right now and turning around to hike the West Highland Way.

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