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The EAST Highland Way - Carrot Soup for the Soul

The EAST Highland Way - Carrot Soup for the Soul


Postby walk aboot » Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:19 pm

Route description: East Highland Way

Date walked: 18/07/2011

Time taken: 6

Distance: 125 km

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The day before starting the East Highland Way, Mr and Mrs Mountainstar (Alan and Ele) gave me a lift to Fort William. They were actually doing the Great Glen Way, starting from Inverness, but dropping their food parcels and other supplies for the week off en route.

‘Do you think you’ll manage to drive by your favourite pub without stopping then, Alan?’ I commented as we neared Glencoe.

Four minutes later the three of us were stood at the bar in the Clachaig Inn ordering a round of drinks :lol: .

‘Seeing as we’ll be doing different walks at the same time,’ I said ‘why don’t we have a wee competition?’

‘Okay.’

‘Best rainbow photo?’

‘And best sunset photo.’

‘Deal’ we chimed in unison.


I waved goodbye to Alan and Ele on the steps of my hostel, booked in, and then made my way towards the Loch shore. I took a £10 boat cruise to kill time for a couple hours (saw lots of seals and porpoises, recommended), and then treated myself to a bean burger in the Grog and Gruel :) .


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Seals on Loch Linnhe



Day One: Fort William to Spean Bridge (taking the A82 at Tighnacollie Farm), 9.75 miles

I started my walk from Fort William and found the going easy, even with my 40L pack. In an effort to lighten the load I was to be carrying for the week, I had arrived in Fort William wearing old threadbare clothes which I had every intention of dumping after a couple of days wear. My trousers for example, had a hole in them :shock: (from too many hill descents on my rear), which I had patched up with some quick-fix bright green insulation tape I found in a kitchen cupboard.


The path through Leanachan Forest towards the Nevis Range was lined with wild raspberries and strawberries :) .

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Wild Raspberries



The path crosses the road to the Nevis Range, so I stopped in a lay-by there for a refreshment break, and so began the jokes from Alan and Ele for the remainder of the week, about ‘the day I nearly got murdered’...


A white van driver parked in the lay-by just ahead of me for about fifteen minutes, only to take off and park his van again in the half-hidden forest track directly across the road where I was to be walking next. I found this a bit odd, as I had noticed a sign in the lay-by stating that anyone could park there for up to three hours, so there was no immediate rush for him to move his van or anything. I didn’t fancy walking into the next stage of the forest track on my own at that point, so I decided to visit the nearby Lochaber farm shop for a coffee instead, to allow time for him to drive off.

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Lochaber Farm Shop and Cafe



Whilst sitting in the farm shop cafe (cakes look lovely, recommended), I decided that if the white van driver was still parked where he was when I walked back down, I would just have to forget the route and walk on the roadside to Spean Bridge instead. I did walk back down to find that he was still there, so I made a point of letting him see me walk past his van towards the roadside. A few minutes later he did drive off. And a few minutes after that I turned back around and continued my walk via the forest path as planned.


Apologies to any delivery van drivers who are reading this and do have a tendency to park in forest tracks for the purposes of fly tipping or dog walking or a rendezvous with a girlfriend or even just hiding from the boss, but as I’m sure you can appreciate, the mind of a woman walking solo can race sometimes. And on the subject of racing, I ended up sprinting through that particular stretch of the forest track!


Needless to say, I had been acting out this wee drama to Alan and Ele as it was happening. I had to send them a text every 30 minutes for a few hours after that, to let them know I was safe. They returned the favour by sending me a text every day for the remainder of the week, joking about it in their best Taggart-style text speak (because I live in Glasgow). White van man in text-speak, as it turns out, is WVM.


Before my final stretch to Spean Bridge on the A82 roadside (straightforward, there is grass verge to walk on), I decided to saunter half a mile up a minor road to see the Jacobite memorial at Highbridge. One of the locals, Sam and his daughter were doing a bit of gardening, and we got chatting as I walked past. They invited me into their garden for some lemonade and biscuits 8) :D .

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Jacobite Memorial at Highbridge


Sam recently found both local and national fame in the press, when his daughter granted his unusual 80th birthday wish, and bought him a cattle grid for his garden (there are a lot of sheep and cows roaming free in Highbridge). He was a fun person to chat away to, and our conversation ranged from his remark that no one seems to whistle anymore, to him being born and bred in Inverlochy, and he and his schoolboy friends being responsible for the further ruin of one of the arches at the castle (they stole the stones to do all the things that little throwing, hammering, skimming, catapulting boys usually do with them).

‘Where did you stay in Fort William?’ he asked.

‘I stayed in one of the hostels. I usually stay with a Mrs Kerr who runs a B&B but she was away on holiday when I phoned to book.’

‘Oh I know Mrs Kerr,’ he said, and so he did (he told me where she lived and what her husband used to do for a living).


After I had booked into my Spean Bridge B&B, I went for a wander and I couldn’t resist buying four bars of soap in the Highland Soap Company shop (bog myrtle, recommended), despite knowing full well I’d have to carry it 70 miles home :?. I sat for a while watching some sparrows having a dust bath on a sandy, gravel path. Two of the sparrows were nesting in a hole in the stone wall beneath the sign at the Whisky Centre. I then popped into the Little Chef for something to eat.

‘What’s the soup of the day?’

‘It’s carrot and coriander.’

‘That’s fine. I’ll have a bowl of that.’


Before bed, I took an evening walk to see the Commando monument via Highbridge (the actual bridge, highly recommended and best seen from this direction, rather than the Jacobite memorial which is on the opposite side of the river). On my return, I did put my top and socks in the rubbish bin, but I wasn’t ready to part with my threadbare trousers just yet.

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Commando Memorial and Ben Nevis


Day 2: Spean Bridge to Tulloch, 11.6 miles

Next morning, I enjoyed my B&B breakfast and then collected my walking companion for the day. Fellow guest, Carsten was with a group of friends who were more interested in car touring than walking, and he had been in two minds as to whether he should do Ben Nevis, or get the train to Corrour and walk back, on his own. I suggested he join me on my walk to Tulloch instead.


Carsten turned out to be a perfect walking companion. He whistled a lot (this made me chuckle to myself, remembering Sam’s remark), and he took sole charge of opening and closing all of the gates we encountered en route (in fact I missed him the next day, when I had to open and close all of the gates myself).

‘Do you mind if we go up that hill and have a look at the old crofter’s hut, Carsten?’

‘Why do you want to do that?’

‘It’s in my guide book.’

And then,

‘Do you mind if we go and see Cille Choirill across the Monessie gorge bridge?’

‘Is it in your guide book?’

‘Yes.’

‘Okay. I thought it might be.’

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Crofter's Hut in Glen Spean


I knocked on the door of the house at the foot of the hill to Cille Choirill (Church of St. Cairell), and explained to the woman when she answered, that a man in Highbridge had told me to call and ask for the key to the church.

‘Oh Sam, yes, I know him well. The key, of course, it’s over there.’

The key to the church is hung on a wooden post in her driveway, for visitors to gain entry to the church building (highly recommended), although some prefer to just wander around the headstones in the church yard.

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Cille Choirill Key on Post


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Cille Choirill



On the way back from the church, Carsten and I popped into a nearby hotel for a welcome cup of coffee :) (this is the last place to stop for refreshments as far as I know, before reaching Tulloch).


Just before Tulloch we passed Inverlair Lodge, where, according to hearsay, Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess was jailed.

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Inverlair Lodge



At Tulloch Station Bunkhouse, I booked in for the night, and Carsten made his way back up the road to hitch a lift back to Spean Bridge. I heard from him later that a fourth car to pass stopped and gave him a lift :thumbup: .

284093_10150241794852562_742657561_7476000_3899340_n.jpg
Tulloch Station Bunkhouse



The only other guest in the bunkhouse that night was Terry from Sheffield, who was good company and a welcome dinner companion (the meals at the bunkhouse are Desperate Dan-sized, far too much for one person). Terry is a two times Munros’ compleater, and an avid follower of Munros, Corbetts, and Marilyns lists. He said he’d pop in and have a look on the Walk Highlands site once he got home, so hopefully he’ll join and say hello to everyone soon :) .


Before bed, I put my scratchy, starchy shocking pink bra in the bin (unwanted Christmas gift from one of my sisters), but I still couldn’t bring myself to part with my threadbare trousers. In fact, I couldn’t bring myself to part with them at all; I ended up carrying them home in my rucksack, and I fully intend to patch the hole in them soon :roll: :lol: .


Day 3: Tulloch to Laggan, 25 miles

The next day’s walking was absolutely fantastic, a full day ambling along on my own, not meeting another soul for miles and miles. I was staying in B&Bs and hostels for the duration of my trip, but there are loads of gorgeous wild camping spots along this stretch in particular for those of you who are interested. The first one being An Dubh Lochan between Inverlair and Fersit 8) .

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An Dubh Lochan


There is an area of moss land, as you approach Loch Laggan, which the guide book says is often full of deer in the winter. I didn’t see any there, but the thing I loved most about doing the East Highland Way overall, was spotting birds and wildlife; deer, a pine marten, red squirrels, and an osprey nest with two chicks in it. Other birds I frequently saw were wrens, wheatears, collared doves, curlews, and buzzards.

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Moy Lodge on Loch Laggan


There is a sandy beach at the far end of Loch Laggan which again, is gorgeous :D .

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Sandy Beach at Loch Laggan


This is the longest day walking on the route, but it is not difficult or demanding, and you can shorten the first part of it by three miles if you want to (by walking along the A86 roadside), or you can do as I did, and get a cheeky wee lift from the Falls of Pattack direct to booked accommodation in Laggan :shh: . The other days are easy walking miles-wise, with enough time left to do touristy things in the afternoons and evenings, so you can always go back and add the Falls of Pattack to Laggan stretch on to your next day’s walking.

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Falls of Pattack



I stayed in the Monadhliath Hotel, which has an impressive church ruin in its grounds, and the staff there will collect you from the Falls of Pattack if you pre-arrange it. Kingussie taxis will also take you or your bag (or you and your bag for that matter) along any stretch of the route between the Falls of Pattack and Kincraig for a set fare of £15. I walked into the hotel bar for something to eat.

‘What’s the soup of the day?’

‘It’s carrot and coriander.’

‘That’s fine. I’ll have a bowl of that.’


Day 4: Laggan to Newtonmore, 10 miles

The walk from Laggan to Newtonmore was another whereby I was lucky enough to be ambling along on my own, not meeting another soul for miles and miles. I really felt that I had the whole of Glen Banchor, every nook and cranny of it to myself (it was a great feeling :) ).

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Glen Banchor


The second half of the walk through this glen, after the stalker’s bothy (which has toilet facilities – see photo :lol: ), is boggy though, and I found that you are best to walk as near to the river as possible to avoid the worst of the soaking wet feet bits. There are also a couple of river crossings on this walk, but just like the others on the route, they are easy and only require a bit of boulders hopping.

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Stalker's Bothy in Glen Banchor


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Toilet Facilities in the Stalker's Bothy



As I neared the end of my walk through this glen, two herons landed nearby 8) . I thought this was fitting, as I had noticed two herons flying together that morning, when I first started walking.


As you walk into Newtonmore, known for its wildcat trail, you can’t help noticing the really brilliant idea the community has come up with to entertain the tourists; they have placed 110 wildcats in gardens and shop windows throughout the village, and you can have as much fun as you want trying to find them. The wildcats were designed by members of the community, painted by schoolchildren, and sponsored by local businesses. Children can pick up a leaflet in the wildcat shop in the high street, which contains pictures and names of all the cats, and win a prize when they find 20, 50, or 110 of them. I found 25 just walking around in the evening, and I intend to go back there soon to find the other 85 of them!

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Clan MacPherson Wildcat in Newtonmore


There seemed to be a chip fat famine in Newtonmore (see photo :lol: ), but this didn’t affect me at all, as there was evidently still an abundance of carrots on the East Highland Way...

Into one of the high street cafes I went,

‘What’s the soup of the day?’

‘It’s carrot and butternut squash.’

‘That’s fine. I’ll have a bowl of that.’

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No Chips in Newtonmore


Before bed, I took a short stroll around the Loch Imrich (a toll-coire or ‘kettle hole’, more like a pond), which was next to my B&B, and then I enjoyed seeing about 200 crows head home to roost on nearby trees.

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Loch Imrich


Day 5: Newtonmore to Kincraig, 12.6 miles

The walk on day 5, after Kingussie, follows the Badenoch Way, and there are lots of interesting sights along this route; including Ruthven Barracks, Insh Marshes RSPB reserve, and Tromie Bridge.

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Ruthven Barracks


I passed through the hamlet of Drumguish and met a young lad walking his dog, who couldn’t have been more than 10 or 11 years old. He was going up ‘that hill’ (the one he pointed to) on his own to get another look at a large stag he and his friends had seen there. He sounded impressed when I told him that I was walking from Fort William to Aviemore.

‘How many Munros have you done?’ I asked him.

‘Nine.’

‘Well, that is really impressive too.’

There is a lovely wee picnic bench spot along this route, surrounded by juniper bushes (just beyond Inveruglass).


I arrived in Kincraig with plenty of time left in the day, so I popped across the road (the A9) to see a local shepherd working his sheepdogs (the farm is open to the public for demonstrations at 4pm every day, recommended). The shepherd is a national champion who has eighteen working dogs, and he uses a unique whistle command for each! (Most shepherds only use two or three working dogs at a time).

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Working Sheepdogs


In the evening, I didn’t fancy the hotel’s onion soup of the day (not enough carrots in it! :lol: ), so I settled for fish and chips instead.

Day 6: Kincraig to Aviemore, 10.8 miles

In the morning, I added an additional 3 miles on to my walk, by visiting the Highland Wildlife Park beforehand. The guide book says that the Park is between Kingussie and Kincraig, but it is actually nearer Kincraig and worth visiting at the end of day 5 or beginning of day 6 (opening times 10am – 5pm, £14 entry per person).


I arrived at the Wildlife Park and explained that I didn’t have much time (wasn’t interested in a full escorted tour, which is available), but was there any chance someone could take me up to see the wildcats (being the huge Mike Tomkies’ fan that I am). The staff were extremely helpful; a ranger collected me at the gates in a range rover and took me up to see the wildcats, then took me back to the roadside when I was done, to continue with my walk 8) .


My last day’s walk was very pleasant, and I celebrated at the end with a bowl of soup in Aviemore...carrot (and coriander) soup for the soul, of course!

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Red Squirrel


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Loch Gamnha, Rothiemurchus



The East Highland Way is a great walk, highly recommended.

Oh and about my photos competition with Alan and Ele...

Here’s the rainbow one...

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Rainbow over Newtonmore


And here’s my...nope, sorry, didn’t see any sunsets, was zzzzzzzzzzzzz
Last edited by walk aboot on Tue Jul 26, 2011 3:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The EAST Highland Way - Carrot Soup for the Soul

Postby walk aboot » Tue Jul 26, 2011 2:30 pm

A few more birds and wildlife photos...

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Deer at Fersit


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Robin in Corrour Forest


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Juvenile Wheatear in Glen Banchor


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Scottish Wildcat in the Highland Wildlife Park
Last edited by walk aboot on Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The EAST Highland Way - Carrot Soup for the Soul

Postby iainwatson » Tue Jul 26, 2011 3:54 pm

great report janet,sounds like you really enjoyed your walk and something i may keep in mind for the future :D
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Re: The EAST Highland Way - Carrot Soup for the Soul

Postby magicdin » Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:27 pm

Fine report as usual WA - with all that carrot soup you could have walked in the dark
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Re: The EAST Highland Way - Carrot Soup for the Soul

Postby walk aboot » Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:59 pm

Thanks Iain, it is a good walk :)

Very good point, magicdin :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: The EAST Highland Way - Carrot Soup for the Soul

Postby LeithySuburbs » Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:09 pm

Great report WA :D . I normally skim read these longer reports but your's just dragged me along for the full ride :D . I feel I know this walk already having driven the A86 many times and spent much time around Kingussie and Aviemore. However, at £14 per person, I don't think I'll be visiting the wildlife park :shock: .
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Re: The EAST Highland Way - Carrot Soup for the Soul

Postby malky_c » Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:55 am

Certainly looks very quiet compared to the WHW :)

Was wondering if I would bump into you as I was around Spean Bridge on the 18th and 19th, killing time waiting for busses and trains. Wrong times of the day though I think.

Nice report 8)
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Re: The EAST Highland Way - Carrot Soup for the Soul

Postby walk aboot » Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:59 am

LeithySuburbs wrote:Great report WA :D . I normally skim read these longer reports but your's just dragged me along for the full ride :D . I feel I know this walk already having driven the A86 many times and spent much time around Kingussie and Aviemore. However, at £14 per person, I don't think I'll be visiting the wildlife park :shock: .


Thanks for reading through to the end, LeithySuburbs :) , trouble with doing a long-distance route is you feel obliged to write about all 6 days! :?

I think the wildlife park was £14 per person on foot, it works out cheaper for cars full of folk, being a safari park. I'm not a fan of them usually, but I couldn't resist seeing a wildcat 8)
Last edited by walk aboot on Thu Jul 28, 2011 8:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The EAST Highland Way - Carrot Soup for the Soul

Postby walk aboot » Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:05 am

malky_c wrote:Certainly looks very quiet compared to the WHW :)

Was wondering if I would bump into you as I was around Spean Bridge on the 18th and 19th, killing time waiting for busses and trains. Wrong times of the day though I think.

Nice report 8)


Yup, it's a lot quieter than the WHW :)

Glad to hear you were around Spean Bridge too, great walking weather :D
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Re: The EAST Highland Way - Carrot Soup for the Soul

Postby ndhudson » Wed Jul 27, 2011 2:19 pm

:clap: :clap: :clap: Great report, WA! Thoroughly enjoyed every word. I'm sure my mind would have concocted the same storyline about the WVM as yours...when the intuition starts brewin', a girl better listen. ;)

I was just reading about this walk and considering it for our next visit to Scotland. Sounds like it is quite a bit less...traveled...than the West Highland Way. Fewer fellow hikers and a bit more solitude, maybe? May I ask your opinion...If you only had time for one long distance walk in Scotland (say 6-8 days) which one would it be? We can't decide... :wtf:
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Re: The EAST Highland Way - Carrot Soup for the Soul

Postby walk aboot » Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:12 pm

Hey, thanks :D

This walk is quieter than the WHW, and a must-do if you really, really, really like carrots! :lol:
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Re: The EAST Highland Way - Carrot Soup for the Soul

Postby morag1 » Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:50 pm

Well written report and some excellent photos, especially the red squirrel :thumbup:

i went to the wildlife park last year, a bit pricey but like you i wanted to see the wildcats. i think i have a video of them and if i find it i will post it here. the cats were very lively during our visit, a great thing to see. :D

By the way I love carrot soup and make a pot every week !!
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Re: The EAST Highland Way - Carrot Soup for the Soul

Postby gammy leg walker » Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:46 pm

A very entertaining & informative report as always WA,kept me glued to the report right to the end.

PS carrot & coriander ugh
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Re: The EAST Highland Way - Carrot Soup for the Soul

Postby Stretch » Thu Jul 28, 2011 2:22 am

gammy leg walker wrote:PS carrot & coriander ugh


Nevermind this guy, he doesn't like good food, right Willie? :lol:


Really enjoyed this Janet. I read about the EHW in an earlier issue of TGO and it got me thinking about doing it. I won't have 6 days to spare over the next few months, but I'd love to come back and do it. The mere fact that you did not run into loads of people would make me choose this over the WHW. I'm also really glad you did not have any problems with Lester the Molester in that white van. :lol: :lol:
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Re: The EAST Highland Way - Carrot Soup for the Soul

Postby walk aboot » Thu Jul 28, 2011 8:54 am

Thanks, morag1, yes, that would be good if you could post the wildcats vid :) . The Scottish Wildcats Association released a DVD a year or two ago, worth seeing, features an interview with Mike Tomkies 8)


Acht, I am a bit more partial to cullen skink or lentil soup, gammylegwalker, but I felt it was entirely appropriate the cafe in Aviemore was still serving carrot and coriander for my celebratory end of walk bowl of soup! :lol:


Thanks, stretch, it was the EHW link you posted on your Facebook wall that got me interested in doing it :D . If you don't get a chance to do it before you head back to the US (I'd think you'd manage it in fewer days, no problem), then at least have a wander past Lochs Moy and Laggan or through Glen Banchor as day walks, or a wild camp overnighter...you're in for a real treat if you do :D
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