Now that I've had a few days to reflect on my walk here are some of my thoughts:
I'm glad I've walked a long distance path in one go and in the recommended amount of time as I feel like I've proved something to myself. I know I can do it, so now I can walk paths any way I like without feeling like I have something to prove.
At the start of my walk I met a group of young guys sitting under the start/finish sign in Fort William celebrating the end of their walk with a crate of beers. They'd walked it the other way round to me. When I asked them about it and how long they'd taken I wouldn't have been surprised if they'd said less than the usual amount of days. Instead they said, "Well most people take five or six days, but we took about two weeks". They went on to say how much they'd enjoyed just walking however far they felt like and camping in nice places. As I did the walk I really appreciated what they meant by this and felt that their way was a great way to do it. I did feel like I was missing out on enjoying the wonderful places I was passing through because I was always aware that I had to keep walking to make that day's target. I also felt like I spent far too much time looking at my feet and the ground and not enough at the wonderful views. So next time I do a one week walk, I'm going to allow 2 weeks. If I finish in one week, then I'll have a week in hand to do something else. But I'll know I have plenty of time to really enjoy my walk.
The path was much harder than I thought it was going to be. And I mean that literally. I don't mean it was a more difficult walk, but that it was very, very hard underfoot. Chunks of it were on roads (mainly very minor roads, with only the odd car) and most of the rest of it was on paths and tracks that were not only hard but often stony as well. By the end of each day the soles of my feet were really sore. It took a lot of lying down before the throbbing started to wear off. By the end of the week I was resorting to painkillers. If I was to do the walk again I would seriously consider getting some air cushioned trainers and walking in those. The stones would still hurt through the soles, but the overall impact would be a lot less that it was with my heavy, rigid-soled walking boots. Even though it's been a wet summer, the path was never particularly muddy, so trainers would have been fine.
All along the path there were items of discarded clothing hanging on fences and trees. Was someone walking ahead of me trying to lighten their load? Or do lots of people lose random items of clothing on the walk and other people come along behind and hang them up?
I need a lighter tent. My tent is quite light for it's size. It's small, but I can sit up in it and have room to spread my stuff out and cook. I bought this one because it is light enough to carry, but also it's good for spending long rainy days in. I didn't want to be stuck in a tent that I can only lie down in and can only cook if I go outside. However, to carry it for this distance I really could have done with something ultra light. I will seriously have to look at bivvy bags too.