Low Road To The Isles

Oh, listen, all ye walkers

And harken to my tale

Of what befell two brave young lads

Who travelled North by rail

 

The trip began at Temple Meads

With biscuits and a drink

Their train arrived at Platform Three

Within an eyelid’s blink

 

The cabin staff were first class

The sleeper berths a dream

They breakfasted on salmon smoked

And coffee laced with cream

 

Beyond the window laid displayed

A sunlit Scottish scene

With snow-capped mountains far away

And lochs and burns between

 

At Glasgow Central they’d arranged

A driver with a car

So off they set with bags and boots

To start at Balmaha

 

It was their third walk to complete

The long West Highland Way

They strolled along those bonnie banks

And sunshine blessed the day

 

The route took them past vistas

That were each rambler’s joy

As they trekked gaily onwards

In footsteps of Rob Roy

 

Their goal it was Fort William

But in their path there laid

An ill-starred hotel monster

Put Fawlty in the shade

 

‘Twas sited on Loch Lomond

Alongside sparkling falls

But bedroom farce awaited them

Within its white-washed walls

 

They should have got an inkling

When through its doors they strode

A porter there to greet them

Who said: “Well, I’ll be blowed.

 

“Will you hang on a minute/”

And as they tried to pass

Said: “Let me have your walking stick.

I want to hit this lass.”

 

It worsened at Reception

A girlie blonde, not warm,

Paid them no attention

As she filled in a form

 

It wasn’t an improvement

When then she took their names

It seems there’d been a mix-up

And she knew who to blame

 

Instead of two booked singles

She offered one instead

Not only did it have no bath

It had a double bed

 

The girl said: “Wait a second

“While I check with my boss

“And you can have a drink on us.”

The boys were at a loss

 

They wandered over to the bar

And sought a pot of tea

Amusing two young barmen

Who reacted with some glee

 

They provided the said beverage

And threw in some sliced cake

Unfortunately for our two chaps

When cake is thrown it breaks

 

There then arrived upon the scene

The hotel manageress

Who said the booking was all wrong

In fact it was a mess

 

It seems the problem had been caused

By two men who surveyed

And had enjoyed themselves so much

They’d gone and overstayed

 

She said she’d try to find a room

Before the night was out

Coach driver would be forced to move

She’d soon give them a shout

 

They then inquired ‘bout dinner

At what time they might eat

For they’d been up since early

Were dead upon their feet

 

She said there were two sittings

Yet not a table free

But when they remonstrated

She said: “OK, we’ll see”

 

They took their gear up many stairs

And found the one small room

While one went off to find a bath

The other sat in gloom

 

Eventually the blonde girl came

And said: “Just follow me.

“We have now found another room.”

She’d just forgot the key

 

And so instead of getting changed

One went back down more flights

And then returned to have a shower

And muse upon their plight

 

At 7.30 both met up

The boss had kept her word

But said: “You’d better hurry up

“We’re waiting for the herd.”

 

Their table it was rather small

The dining room quite large

And yet they did get seated

Before the mighty charge

 

Of parties from the coaches

They’d seen drawn up outside

Raring to get eating

At end of scenic ride

 

The starter was just fruit juice

Or mystery packet broth

Ladled out of tureens

With residue of froth

 

The house white wine was proferred

Of grapes a sorry waste

The waiter even snickered

When they ventured it to taste

 

But worse was then to follow

With chosen second course

A whiting that was greying

With mournful Mornay sauce

 

Upon the plate at three o’clock

A dozen lonely peas

Four carrots and two croquette spuds

Not high in calories

 

“Is that the veg?” they asked themselves

“Oh, no” there came the cry

And soggy greens were dolloped on

No sight to please the eye

 

The sweets were all too much that word

The pudding portion mean

It took just two scoops of a spoon

For it to pass unseen

 

The coffee was served in the lounge

 But our two kept their seats

They didn’t want to be mown down

Beneath those milling feet

 

So they sat quietly where they were

While others did their thing

They wondered if they’d sleep at all

And what the morn might bring

 

At breakfast there was porridge

Yet not as one might wish

It was no good advertisement

For Scotland’s national dish

 

Egg and bacon followed

Though coffee was one cup

And toast was rather soggy

At least it filled them up

 

And then at last there came the bill

For once a nice surprise

In view of all the upset

The boss had thought it wise

 

To mark some items on the list

As complimentary

There were so many of that type

It worked out almost free

 

And so it was with lifting hearts

The two chaps finally paid

And knew they never would forget –

Such memories would not fade

 

A ferry took them ‘cross the loch

And they picked up the road

For Ardlui and all points North

Relief their faces showed

 

They looked back o’er the water

To where they’d spent the night

Then yomped on boldly forward

‘Til it was lost from sight

 

They didn’t mind the traffic

They just shrugged off the rain

They knew that at that fearsome place

They ne’er would meet again.