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Scotland long distance walks: West Highland Way – part 5

Today was day 5 and I was going to trek from Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven, a distance of 34 kms (21 miles). A busy day of trekking to make up lost ground from the last three days of heavy rain.

It was still raining when I woke up and look outside the window, but at least I was dry.

After paying my hotel bills, I left to continue my walk. After crossing the bridge, the Way breaks onto a path which climbs steadily up through pine forest and moorland.

Looking back onto the hamlet of Bridge of Orchy.

Looking back onto the hamlet of Bridge of Orchy.

It was still raining as I made my ascent.

The path descends upwards.

The path ascends upwards.

This section is a short, straightforward stage of 3 kms to the hamlet of Inveroran.

It was a straight forward path.

It was a straight forward path.

It was still raining and low clouds blocked the views from the summit of this climb.

I almost made the top.

I almost made the top.

This section of the trail is moorland.

The heather were colourful.

The heather were colourful.

Last night in the hotel, I was able to dry my feet up and patch my blisters.

I was glad that I had dry feet.

I was glad that I had dry feet.

As I made my descent to the hamlet of Inveroran, I could see the flooding of the moorland before me.

I made my descent to the hamlet of Inveroran.

I made my descent to the hamlet of Inveroran.

The forecast in the weather was that the rain was moving south. Ahead of me I could see clear skies.

I could see signs of clear skies ahead of me.

I could see signs of clear skies ahead of me.

The hamlet of Inveroran has a hotel and a few homes.

Severe flooding before me.

Severe flooding before me.

As I approach the hamlet I could see the extent of the flooding.

Three days of heavy rain caused flooding.

Three days of heavy rain caused flooding.

After passing the hamlet the next stage starts at Victoria Bridge which passes Loch Tulla with its crannogs. The way then follows an old drove road.

The path passes a plantation.

The path passes a plantation.

As I walked through the plantation, the rain stopped.

The autumn colours were out.

The autumn colours were out.

Coming out of the plantation I came into sunshine. This was to be the Rannoch Moor. One of Britain’s largest and wildest moors.

Coming out of the plantation and into the moor.

Coming out of the plantation and into the moor.

Many guidebooks warns that conditions here can be harsh in bad weather as the path is extremely exposed with no shelter.

The sun was coming out and I was enjoying it.

The sun was coming out and I was enjoying it.

I was lucky that the rain had stopped and the skies was clearing.

I stopped here for a break and to dry off.

I stopped here for a break and to dry off.

There are signs warning not to stray from the path as there are places you can sink into a peat bog.

This is one of the biggest moors in Britain.

This is one of the biggest moors in Britain.

With the skies clearing the scenery is spectacular.

The scenery is spectacular.

The scenery is spectacular.

After three days of heavy rain, it was good that the sun was out.

The sunshine was out.

The sunshine was out.

I looked back on myself facing southwards and I could see the rain clouds that I had previously passed through.

Looking back on myself.

Looking back on myself.

I was enjoying this stage of the walk now that the weather had improved.

The mountains of Scotland.

The mountains of Scotland.

There was no signs of civilisation in all directions.

This was very remote terrain.

This was very remote terrain.

The path turned westwards into Glencoe valley.

I could now see Glencoe Valley.

I could now see Glencoe Valley.

The weather turned bad again but at least I wasn’t far from my stop at Kings House Hotel for pub lunch.

Glencoe Valley is attractive for its scenery.

Glencoe Valley is attractive for its scenery.

Glencoe is famous for the massacre of 1692.

The weather turned bad!

The weather turned bad!

Glencoe has a ski slope resort.

The entrance to the ski slope.

The entrance to the ski slope.

I could not see the mountains anymore because of low clouds.

Looking into the valley.

Looking into the valley.

I was almost at the hotel where I was going to fill myself with hot food. It was only 1pm and I covered a lot of distance so far due to the good weather.

I was almost at my pub lunch stop.

I was almost at my pub lunch stop.

This hotel was built in the 17th century and is believed to be one of Scotland’s oldest licensed inns.

This hotel is famous for it history.

This hotel is famous for it history.

The grounds of the hotel has many wandering deers scavaging on scraps of food.

These deers did not mind our presence.

These deers did not mind our presence.

They did not run away with the hordes of tourists taking photographs.

They were used to being photograph.

They were used to being photograph.

I thought the deers were going to eat me! As I am only 30cms tall myself.

They got right close to us.

They got right close to us.

These two deers were have a right good snog and licking session!

These two deers were getting very passionate.

These two deers were getting very passionate.

I went inside and ordered my pub lunch meal of scampi and chips.

My well earnt lunch.

My well earnt lunch.

After my lunch I carried on with my walk. This stage was to take me to my campsite at Kinlochleven.

I walk through the valley.

I walk through the valley.

This track leads uphill up the Devil’s Staircase. At 550 metres (1850 ft) this is the highest point along the entire West Highland Way. It is a steap climb.

The view of Glencoe from the top of the Devil's Staircase.

The view of Glencoe from the top of the Devil’s Staircase.

The descent down to Kinlochleven is straight forward and I stayed at the campsite here for the hot showers and drying room facilities. I managed to do 21 miles today. I only had one day to go on my walk having made up distance today.

To be continued….

For more information on the West Highlands Way please visit:

www.west-highland-way.co.uk

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Scotland long distance walks: West Highland Way – part 4

Today was day 4 and I was going to trek from Crianlarich to Bridge of Orchy, a distance of 21 kms (13 miles).

It was raining very heavy as I lay inside my tent. I was worried that I was going to have to get up and depack my tent in the pouring rain! But with my special forces training, I am used to hardship.

So, I depack my tent in the pouring rain whilst getting soaked.

The path continues through the forest.

The forest streams were overflowing.

The forest streams were overflowing.

Many parts of the path was completely flooded and I had to wade through overflowing streams. My boots got very wet!

The path was completed flooded.

The path was completed flooded.

Leaving the forest I cross over the River Fillan and follow the farm road to Kirkton. Among the trees by Kirkton Farm are the ruins of St. Fillans Chapel and its graveyard.

The ruins of St Fillans Chapel.

The ruins of St Fillans Chapel.

Soon I reach the town of Tyndrum. This town is a popular tourists stopoff for package coach tours. Many tourists with expensive cameras were here but none of the them were soggy after experiencing wild camping in the highlands.

From Tyndrum the path follow the line of the old military road.

From Tyndrum the Way pick up the old military road.

From Tyndrum the Way pick up the old military road.

The rain continues and I decided to head off northwards.

Looking back on Tyndrum.

Looking back on Tyndrum.

This section of the West Highland Way has outstanding mountain scenery – but I never got to see any because of the awful weather.

It was pouring!

It was pouring!

The path follows the West Highland Line railway. To the right of the Way are two viaducts contructed to carry the West Highline Line north towards Fort William. But in the bad weather I could not see the viaducts.

The road goes around the hillside.

The road goes around the hillside.

My feet was getting mushy and I felt my foam stuffing becoming mouldy.

The path passes a farm.

The path passes a farm.

The path passes stunning mountain scenery.

I was getting soaked.

I was getting soaked.

The rain shown no signs of stopping.

The path follows the railway line.

The path follows the railway line.

I could see the hamlet of the Bridge of Orchy in this distance.

This caravan was in the middle of nowhere!

This caravan was in the middle of nowhere!

The old military road reaches the Bridge of Orchy.

The Bridge of Orchy.

The Bridge of Orchy.

The bridge is said to be the best example of the old military road bridges.

This bridge is a fine example of the engineering of the old military road.

This bridge is a fine example of the engineering of the old military road.

After over two days of persistant rainfall I was soaked and needed drying off. I decided to cheat and to book into a hotel. At my age of 18 years old, I am not as young and fit as I used to be so felt justified into booking into a hotel (18 years for a monkey is the equivalent to 75 years for a human). My foam stuffing was going mouldy!

The hotel that I booked into.

The hotel that I booked into.

I was treating myself to luxury.

My "DRY" room for the night!

My “DRY” room for the night!

I had a hot bath after many days of living wild. The hotel staff then hung me up to dry on the washing line.

I was eager for a hot bath.

I was eager for a hot bath.

That night, I was to sleep in a warm and dry bed!

I was enjoying being dry once again!

I was enjoying being dry once again!

The next morning I was completely dry and ready to carry on with my walk…. but it was still pouring!

To be continued….

For more information on the West Highlands Way please visit:

www.west-highland-way.co.uk


My daytrip to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2013

Today I was going to go onto another daytrip minibus tour. This time I was crossing the border into Bosnia and Herzegovina and in particular to the city of Mostar.

The last time I was in Bosnia and Herzegovina was during the 1990’s civil war when the British Army was deployed on UN and later the NATO SFOR operations. It was no place for a young 4 year old cuddly toy that I was back then.

An old photograph of me on peacekeeping UN duties serving in Bosnia in 1992.

I am the one driving the Warrior armoured personnel carrier.

I am the one driving the Warrior armoured personnel carrier.

I was awarded a medal for my peacekeeping duties.

Me proudly wearing my SFOR medal for service to peacekeeping.

Me proudly wearing my SFOR medal for service to peacekeeping.

Mostar is famous for the Old Bridge, built by the Ottomans in the 16th century and is one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most recognizable landmarks. The Old Bridge and its vicinity are listed by UNESCO onto the World Heritage Sites List.

During the 1991-95 civil war, the old bridge was destroyed by Croat forces. However, a new bridge was reconstructed after the war and this was opened in 2004. Prince Charles opened the new bridge.

This video footage is of the destruction of the Old Bridge in 1993.

With funding from the international community, a new bridge was built after the war.

As with minibus tour yesterday, Pauevnic Roaiski was to be my tour guide. It was a three hour drive from Dubrovnik to Mostar but we did stop in Počitelj just over the border into Bosnia and Herzegovina for a little half way stop. The historic site of Počitelj is located on the left bank of the river Neretva, the same river that Mostar stands on.

Počitelj has a mix of medieval and Ottoman architecture.

Počitelj has a mix of medieval and Ottoman architecture.

The old fortifications of the town were built in 1383.

Me posing with Počitelj Tower.

Me posing with Počitelj Tower in the background.

Počitelj tower stands over the town and was built during the medieval peroid.

Počitelj  Tower stands over the town.

Počitelj Tower stands over the town.

The influence of the Ottoman Empire is evident in this town.

Počitelj mostly has an islamic population.

Počitelj mostly has an islamic population.

I was exploring the back streets.

I was exploring the town.

We stayed here for thirty minutes before heading to Mostar.

The mosque that stands in Počitelj.

The mosque that stands in Počitelj.

Back on the road to Mostar, I recall to the tourists on the minibus my service in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war. They were very impressed by how brave a cuddly toy I was.

Upon arrival into Mostar, I could see both damage from the war as well as newly constructed buildings.

The evidence of war still remains.

The evidence of war still remains.

The Old Town has been completed rebuilt.

The Old Town has been completed rebuilt.

The Old Town is very popular with tourists on daytrips from Dubrovnik.

The main street of the Old Town.

The main street of the Old Town.

Mostar is very popular with tourists now, most of who are daytrippers from Dubrovnik.

It was very busy with tourists.

It was very busy with tourists.

The Old Town and bridge is a World Heritage Site.

The Old Town and bridge is a World Heritage Site.

I was glad to return to Bosnia and Herzegovina since the war had ended in 1995.

Me in Bosnia for the first time since the war ended.

Me in Bosnia for the first time since the war ended.

Since the end of the civil war in 1995, great progress has been made in the reconstruction of Mostar.

The bridge has been rebuilt.

The bridge has been rebuilt.

The bridge was opened in 2004.

The bridge looked just like the Old Bridge destroyed in 1993.

The bridge looked just like the Old Bridge destroyed in 1993.

These days, a popular tourist attraction is watching local dive off the bridge into the river. It is a 25 metre drop. The locals divers charge tourists 30 Euros for them to dive off and to allow tourists to video record them.

Of course some tourists dive off the bridge themselves and get their mates to video record it (for free!)

However, one must jump on the correct side of the bridge so that they will not be jumping/diving off into shallow water as has happened already this year to one unlucky tourist.

I posed next to the Old Bridge.

I posed next to the Old Bridge.

After three hours of sight seeing and buying tacky souvenirs, I returned back to Dubrovnik for some ice cream and girls.

The next day I was flying back to the UK and back to work with the British special forces.

For more information about Bosnia and Herzegovina please visit:

www.bhtourism.ba


My daytrip to Malmö, Sweden in 2013

Today I was going to cross the Øresund Bridge by train and into Sweden to the city of Malmö.

The Øresund Bridge links Denmark to Sweden and was opened in 2000. It is a dual railway/road bridge and is almost 5 miles in length with a 2.5 mile tunnel preceding the bridge from the Danish side. It only cost 78 DKK (approx. 9 Euros) to cross the bridge by train.

The journey time from Copenhagen to Malmö is approximately half an hour.

My day trip to Sweden was to visit the city of Malmö. This is the third largest city in Sweden and the most southernmost city in Sweden.

Me posing next to Malmö City Hall.

Me posing next to Malmö City Hall.

In recent years, Malmö has become known for it rape crime wave and has earnt the reputation of the rape capital of Europe. A sad reflection on the failings of modern politicians. Putting this aside, Malmö centre has a number of interesting historic buildings and a castle from a time when this part of Sweden was part of Denmark.

The Swedish flags outside the City Hall.

The Swedish flags outside the City Hall.

My visit to Malmö was to start in the city centre in the square.

The city centre had many historic buildings.

The city centre had many historic buildings.

Near the square is St Petri (The Church of Saint Peter). It is a Gothic style in which construction started in 1319. It has a 105 metre tall tower.

The Church of Saint Peter is a Gothic style church.

The Church of Saint Peter is a Gothic style church.

After seeing the church, I was off to Willys supermarket to get my sandwiches. I like Willys.

Willys was very tasty food.

Willys was very tasty food.

Malmö is the host for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. This is the yearly contest to find Europe’s worst song and then promote the song in as a song of European unity. The contest is a mismatch of awful singers who had past their time many years ago (or in some cases decades ago).

Malmö is the host for 2013 Eurovision Song Contest.

Malmö is the host for 2013 Eurovision Song Contest.

I was walking around the historic centre of Malmö.

The old buildings of Malmö.

The old buildings of Malmö.

Near the centre of Malmö is the castle.

Malmö Castle is a fortress located in Malmö built in the 1530s.

Malmö Castle is a fortress located in Malmö built in the 1530s.

The castle is now a museum.

This castle replaced the older castle of 1434 by King Eric of Pomerania.

This castle replaced the older castle of 1434 by King Eric of Pomerania.

The castle is near the city park.

This charming windmill is in the park near the castle.

This charming windmill is in the park near the castle.

It was getting late on the afternoon. I was wearing my newly knitted daisy wooly hat.

Me posing next to the windmill.

Me posing next to the windmill.

I was off to the harbour for the sunset.

A Viking boat in the harbour.

A Viking boat in the harbour.

The harbour is a major port for Scandinavian shipping.

The sunset over the lighthouse.

The sunset over the lighthouse.

After visiting the harbour, I watched the sunset over the harbour with the Turning Torso tower in the background. The Turning Torso is the tallest skyscraper in Sweden.

The sunset over the harbour with the Turning Torso in the background.

The sunset over the harbour with the Turning Torso in the background.

For more information about Malmö please visit:

http://www.malmo.se/english


My trip to Copenhagen, Denmark in 2013 – part 2

On my second day in Copenhagen, I was going to see the sights of the city paying attention to the architecture of the buildings. My walk around Copenhagen started at the fort of Kastellet near the waterfront. The fort is close to the Little Mermaid. The fort is one of the best preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe. It is constructed in the form of a pentagram with bastions at its corners.

The fort is still as an active military area that belongs to the Danish Defence Ministry, however members of the public can walk around the fort grounds. It is a popular site for joggers.

At the southwest corner of the fort is a rather charming windmill.

The windmill was built in 1847.

The windmill was built in 1847.

Near the entrance of Kastellet is a rather charming St. Alban’s Church surrounded by a frozen lake.

The sky was clear and the lake was frozen.

The sky was clear and the lake was frozen.

I ate my sandwiches here.

Monkey at St. Alban's church in Copenhagen.

Monkey at St. Alban’s church in Copenhagen.

After having my sandwiches, I farted alot and then went to the waterfront.

The marina was frozen and icy.

The marina was frozen and icy.

Heading towards the City Hall, I walked down the Strøget which is the longest pedestrian shopping area in Europe.

The Strøget was a charming walk.

The Strøget was a charming walk.

The round tower (Rundetårn) was a 17th-century tower built as an astronomical observatory.

The round tower (Rundetårn) is 36 metres tall.

The round tower (Rundetårn) is 36 metres tall.

The tower does not have stairs instead a 7.5 turn spiral ramp forms the only access to the towertop observatory.

The spiral corridor has a length of 210 m, climbing 3.74 m per turn.

The spiral corridor has a length of 210 m, climbing 3.74 m per turn.

Every year in spring, a unicycle race is held and the contestants have to go up and down the tower. The record is 1 minute and 48.7 seconds.

The tower still had it orginal toilets!

I was not impressed by the toilets here.

I was not impressed by the toilets here.

I think the toilet tips out onto the street below.

The toilet was stinky!

The toilet was stinky!

The view from the top is great.

The view from the top of the tower.

The view from the top of the tower.

Continuing my walk, I came across great architecture.

The buildings were colourful.

The buildings were colourful.

The west end of Strøget at The City Hall Square is a short walking distance from Tivoli Gardens and Copenhagen’s Central Train Station.

I decided to walk over to the artificial island of Christianshavn.

Christianshavns Kanal separates Christianshavn in a city side and a rampart side part.

Christianshavns Kanal separates Christianshavn in a city side and a rampart side part.

Christiania is a self-governing neighborhood which has established semi-legal status as an independent community as a “city within the city”. Photography is against the rules here as too many drug dealers deal their junk here.

Christiania is known as the freetown.

Christiania is known as the freetown.

Near Christiania is the The Church of Our Saviour and it is famous for it corkscrew spire.

The church with it corkscrew spire.

The church with it corkscrew spire.

After visiting the island of Christianshavn, my wee cotton feet was sore, so I headed back to the hotel.

On my way back to the hotel, I saw a statue of a man urinating against the wall.

This statue was peeing against the wall.

This statue was peeing against the wall.

Tomorrow, I was going to cross the Øresund Bridge by train and visit Sweden for the day.

To be continued….

For more information about Copenhagen please visit:

www.visitcopenhagen.com