377 (eve)

I’m driving back towards Ardgour, along the quiet road, when the sun finally decides to make an appearance. Hello sun. Nice of you to show up. Where have you been all day?

Over a bridge and round a bend and – oh no – cattle! Three cows are walking down the middle of the road and they have a couple of tiny calves with them. Thank goodness I’m safely inside my camper van.

I stop my vehicle and take some photos through the windscreen.

The cows calmly walk around my van, and continue meandering down the road. Where have they come from? Where do they belong? There is no farm in sight. The road is narrow and, in this section, hemmed in by a stone wall on one side and a rocky cliff on the other.

I’m so glad I didn’t meet the cows earlier when I was on foot.

A mile or so further on, and I find a layby wide enough to park my Beast and set up camp for the night. It’s close to the water of Loch Linnhe, and not too close to the road. Time for a cup of tea, and then something to eat.

What a wonderful place to camp. The sun is playing games, in and out of the clouds, but the view across the water is spectacular. Ben Nevis looks regal in the evening light.

I take numerous photos. Every minute or so the light changes, and the view looks different. I’m so glad I decided to walk along this road – (sorry, road, for moaning about you all day)- because it led me to this beautiful spot.

At times like this, I used to wish my husband was with me to share the wonderful moment. But not any more. Last year I discovered he’d had some sexual adventures 20 years ago, and I’ve been struggling to come to terms with this new knowledge. In fact, I asked for a separation and we’ve been living apart for ten months.  It’s been a very difficult time for me. I’ve been unable to sleep, unable to eat properly, and the slightest task has taken a marathon effort.

(This is a walking blog, not a personal diary, and I only mention all this now because I know many of my walking friends, and the nice people who follow this blog, have suspected something was wrong. It’s why these walks have taken so long to write up, and why I’ve often mentioned feeling sad, or talked about finding things a struggle.)

In all the misery of this past year, I’ve taken comfort in the amazing landscapes of Scotland. They’re so vast and so ancient, they make my life and all my troubles seem really tiny and insignificant.

Loch Linnhe at sunset, Ruth Livingstone hiking through the Highlands of ScotlandThe sun sinks lower and the light begins to dim. And, with the fading light, out come the midges. Pesky things! I shut myself inside the Beast and prepare to settle down for the night. I’ve learnt that June nights are never really dark in Scotland, and this one is particularly bright, because the moon is rising. Nearly a full moon.

I risk midge bites, and hop out of the Beast to take one last photograph.

Good night.


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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26 Responses to 377 (eve)

  1. Rita Bower says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your separation Ruth & that life has understandably been very difficult for you. Your photos of Scotland are absolutely stunning & I do hope that you’re able to enjoy much more wonderful scenery & walking this year. I find it’s a great escape from life’s stresses…even on the bad days of cows, nettles & brambles!! Happy (& cow-free) walking!

  2. Sally Jordan says:

    I was really sorry to hear of your difficulties Ruth. Strangely I have been wondering about you recently for two reasons: (1) I’d noticed from Twitter that you are somewhat further on in your walking than you’ve written up; (2) Just over a week ago we walked the Peter Scott Walk, which I think may be the final leg of your walk back to King’s Lynn, though we did it the other way round. I suspect your comments boxes may not accept a link, but I’ll try – see https://sites.google.com/site/jordanwalks/home/peter-scott-walk. I do enjoy reading about your walk and look forward to continuing to do so.

  3. Pam Ley says:

    I’m also sorry to hear of your troubles Ruth. Hopefully with the summer ahead things will begin to look brighter, and you’ll come out the other side stronger than ever! Nothing like open countryside to get you back on track! Literally!

  4. Paul Watts says:

    It’s good to see you’re rising above the torment you’ve been through Ruth and I’m sure still going through but as life trudges on new horizons present themselves and things will soon look lighter and brighter. We all love your posts, your trials, tribulations and adventures. Keep on shining, keep on writing and keep on taking those fab photos. You have your health and you still have The Beast! xx

  5. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth, I am sorry to hear of your separation. Not knowing, or wishing to know any details I can only assume that the repercussions of this revelation is permanent. All marriages, including mine, go through a ‘rough’ patch. My wife and I managed to repair ours.
    I am afraid I have no ‘pearls’ of wisdom to offer you other than to continue to love and support your children and grandchildren and persevere in the challenge that you set yourself just 9 years ago.
    The next 200 – 300 miles of your challenge will probably be the toughest part yet, so stay focused, get the logistics right and prepare well.
    I look forward to hear more of your adventures, particularly, up the North West Coast.
    Best regards Alan

  6. h says:

    How brave of you to share this with your followers. I wish you well and hope you are able to continue with your travels.

  7. chuckles4th says:

    Ruth, we’ve never met but I really enjoy reading your blog and looking at your fabulous photos .. especially today’s. I’ve even bought your book! And please know that you’re part of my inspiration to walk the coast of England next year. I’m so sorry you’ve been having difficult times. Walking will salve the hurt, I’m sure. Keep going .. there are many of us in the ether at your side. Jules Forth

  8. I’m also sorry to read about your sadness and it’s cause. I hope you find some healing soon.

  9. Eunice says:

    I’m so sorry to read about your troubles and the sadness you feel – it’s very brave of you to share something so personal on your blog. I hope the problems can be resolved in time one way or another and things look brighter for you. The evening photos are gorgeous by the way 🙂

  10. Cheryl says:

    So good to read about your walking adventures again, Ruth. I’m sorry to hear of your heartbreak this last year. Life can be so disappointing sometimes but somehow time helps heal the wounds. I find walking is such a healing process for the soul. Thank you for sharing.

  11. coastieash says:

    I had been wondering about the delay in your write ups as in the past you had been so prompt with them but it did not occur to me that you were having such a hard time. As you say walking helps with so much and I hope you continue to enjoy Scotland which looks incredibly daunting. Take care of yourself and enjoy your family. xx

  12. Joyce Morgan says:

    Hi Ruth,
    I’m so sorry to hear of the personal challenges you have been going through, I hope you get the solace you need from walking in such beautiful places. I really enjoy reading your blogs and always look forward to the next episode appearing in my inbox. Sending you my very best wishes.

  13. Allan McMillan says:

    You are a very courageous person, and an inspiration to walkers everywhere. May your journey continue through the beauty you behold.

  14. jglondon415 says:

    Despite the weather you were very fortunate to see the top of Ben Nevis at all! I am interested to hear how you got on with the section coming up from Kingairloch to Lochaline. Taking local advice I decided not to attempt the track through the Glensanda Granite quarry around the coast, opting for the inland road route. I later discovered that the track was useable and would quite like to go back and do it again – maybe things have changed in the past decade since I was there.

  15. Liinda Jackson says:

    Along with everyone else I am so sorry to hear about troubles you are going through. Having been there myself I know how it feels. I hope walking provides the salve your heart needs. Onward Ruth.

  16. Jacquie says:

    Such beautiful evening light over the water. Thank you for sharing your worries – not easy to do. As you often say – onwards ……….. so much is yet to be enjoyed.

  17. Ingrid says:

    I have been reading your walking blog for a very long time and admire your adventurous spirit.
    I’m so sorry you’re going through this trauma. I experienced similar agony 8 years ago and found that my mind kept revisiting the pain over and over. It was debilitating. A “mantra” helped me move on when the pain and helplessness reasserted itself: “I know and it has hurt me very much, but I have felt it and now I am letting it pass.” Please accept my best wishes.

  18. 5000milewalk says:

    These photographs are truly spectacular Ruth! So sorry to hear what happened to you, it explains a lot of the melancholy in your blog in recent times, and I know the feelings you’ve been through well. Best wishes, you’re an inspiration to us all.

  19. Margaret Wyatt says:

    I was so sorry Ruth to hear what you have been going through. You have been so inspirational to me as I walk the England coast with the mantra “what did Ruth do’ running through my head. In fact some sections I have not yet been able to do as you haven’t done them yet!.
    Off to Barrow in Furness at the end of May for 8 days of walking following in your footsteps.
    Life is so like a long distance walk with its ups and downs (in my case it was breast cancer closely followed by endometrial cancer) and often it seems to be head down and put one foot of another,
    Keep on keeping on Ruth.
    Much love.

  20. jcombe says:

    I did wonder if you were OK as I noticed you had stopped posting many updates. What happened is none of our business so I’m that despite that you were able to share with us what happened and I’m very sorry for you.

    I had noticed you had not mentioned your husband much on recent posts and has moved to Manchester so I guess that now I know why. Still I’m glad you have been able to continue your walks and hope they give you something to focus on and take your mind off what happened.

  21. Thank you, everyone, for your sympathy and kind wishes. I almost didn’t put this personal stuff up on the blog, but I’m glad I did. I’ve tried to be very honest about the challenges and difficulties of my walking trips, and it seemed dishonest not to mention the most important challenge in my life at the time. It’s somehow comforting to know that many of you have gone through similar dark patches and emerged safely on the other side. Forgive me for not answering everyone individually, but all your comments have been much appreciated.

  22. A looong time ago you stayed with us at Pen Llyn B&B on your route around the Llyn Peninsula, and we still follow your adventures; so so so impressed with your unstinting “get up and go”. You are doing possibly the exact thing to take your mind away from those horrible thoughts. You are someone so very special and yes we may well be somebody small and insignificant but you are certainly doing way more than anybody I know to leave your gentle footprint all oaround our coast and with your blog and books etc will remain a long time testimony to your courage and perseverance Tis no small thing that you are doing!!.

    Take care and all the best for the future x x x Jane and Brian

  23. Debbie says:

    You are an inspiration to many people Ruth, you always have been, but even more so now. Life will get better, stay strong and keep walking. You have many people with you. Best wishes Debbie

  24. Jayne Hill says:

    I have read all of your walks so far and came to the conclusion that you were a tough and strong woman. Your personal story absolutely confirms my suspicions, and shows you are also courageous and brave and amazing. And don’t let anyone or anything ever make you think otherwise.

    Take care. xx

  25. Karen White says:

    I hope your continuing walking adventures are helping you heal from that very large ‘bump in the road’. What a horrid shock fro you discover or be told of this years after it happened. Very difficult for you. I wish you strength and peace of mind.
    The photos of Loch Linnhe in the glow of evening light are wonderful. The muted colours and soft reflections are perfect. Worthy of printing large and hanging on your wall.

  26. So sorry to hear of the emotional mountains that you have had to scale recently! Most people would find the physical climbs of your mammoth walking adventure quite enough to cope with! I hope the continued perseverance and determination you have shown on your incredible walk shows you that you have the strength to scale and conquer the craggiest and rockiest of emotional traumas.

    It came as a shock to have such a personal entry in your walking blog, but as you rightly say, such a major life event, colours and shades every other facet of your life, including the things that hitherto gave you such joy. Although we have never met, those of us that have followed you along your journey from day one, do feel that we have come to know you to some degree! I hope that as I continue to catch up with your progress I can detect a lightning of your heart over the coming months and years! Climbing mountains is quite heard enough without the extra weight of a heavy heart!! 🙂 Hugs, Matthew

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