Sunday 10 January 2016

Hitch hiking again - You need optimism, stoicism, wet weather gear and a shave.

If I travel home from England to Kilchoan on Saturday by public transport I have to hitch hike the last leg on Sunday as there isn't a bus. Today the 53 miles from Fort William to Kilchoan took five hours, two lifts and three hours standing at the roadside.

Corran Ferry -
possibly Scotland's coldest, wettest, rawest place today.
I am always optimistic; surveys show that 91% of drivers in England do not pick up hitch hikers but in the Highlands this drops to 80%, so 1 in 5 will give you a lift. Once you are over the Corran Ferry to Ardgour it's 4 out of 5 locals who stop. Hence my optimism.

Stoicism is essential but natural to most Scots. The weather can be appalling, the people who do not stop may look smug but they are not necessarily over anxious, Daily Mail readers on their way to Church, give them a wave.

Today I was wearing five layers of  warm, wind proof, waterproof clothing the value of which when totalled by Dormouse comes to nearly £900, the price of a small second-hand car. I could have done with another layer.

When you are standing by the road with your thumb out and a crudely lettered destination notice many motorists and their passengers think you are strange, but not necessarily a psychopath, because you do not own a car. Beards add to this impression.

After an hour and a half on the " golden mile" Fort William's, B&B quarter, Susie pulled up in  her little blue van. We had a good discussion about food in alpine mountain huts, walking in Corsica and why women rarely pick up male hitch hikers, She went out of her way to drop me at the ferry.

Shaun, another local,  gave me a lift from Ardgour all the way home. Again an animated discussion; this time on deer management, hydro-electric schemes, firewood and quality Scottish beef. You see it's not just about getting from A to B you meet interesting, entertaining, kind people who reinforce that optimism.

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