West Highland Way - day 3

Inversnaid to Crainlarich

The one with the boulder fields, the dangerous river crossing and the rain!

Distance: 18.3 miles
Weather: It was beautiful weather until 3pm and then the heavens opened. As I type it’s 6pm and it’s still raining!
* Health: All good. My front big toe is numb which is weird, but I feel great apart from that (just tired).

SUMMARY: Today has been the most challenging day so far. You would think that walking beside a Loch would be a walk in the park, but it was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done! Having to concentrate on where to put each step, on cliff edges, going down on my bum, slipping on angled flat rocks with the waves far below you was scary but exhilarating! The scenery on the section following was alongside a river with waterfalls, lots of wildlife and goats! Then the last part of the day is mountains and a forest trail. I’m in a Youth Hostel garden, camped in my tent.

The Long Winded Version

From last night…..Finally crept into my tent at 10.20pm after a good evening in the bar with new friends. Georgie from New Zealand, Liv from Oz, Catrina & Mark from Leicester and Kit from London. The wine flowed and so did the chatter and giggles. They have all been added to my little book of hikers. I have my Polaroid Zip printer with me and I print photos of the people I meet along the way. It’s a great memento of the journey and a tradition of mine on the trail.

11.06pm – Bloody owl 🦉 is keeping me awake!

💤 4.46 am – gentle snoring from the tent next door and a cuckoo woke me up. I had broken sleep as it was raining all night. But as I pop my head out of the tent I see that it has stopped and it looks like a promising day!

🫖 6am – Let’s have a brew. What’s that? A black toggle has fallen off my tent into the vestibule! I pick it up and to my horror I realise it’s a black slug, not a toggle from my tent! Yuck!! Where’s that sanitizer?

🐌. Next time put your glasses on Julia!

☔️ Breakfast and coffee done it’s time to pack up. Oh, did I mention that it’s now raining? Raining hard!! Best get a move on!

👋 7.25 I’m off! Let the walk begin! I head down the hill, and stop at Inversnaid Hotel for a stamp in my passport. I also chatted briefly to Lou & Angie who were just about to grab their breakfast. “See you at Benglais Cafe” I said. “Yep, see you later”. They replied. They’ve become good friends.

🪨 8am – OMG! I’m 1.5 mile in and these rocks are starting to make my feet feel like a chicken filet that is being bashed by a tenderising hammer! It’s not fun!

😱 8.28am – I declare to the world that this torture is NOT walking, it’s frigging rock climbing! Having to watch every single step, the steep climbs and holding on for dear life at time was bloody scary!

🎒 9am – I hear footsteps and I think to myself “oh, that must be Huge Rucksack Lady”. But it wasn’t . It was Jesus! A man passes me who looks like Jesus from The Walking Dead. He has piercing blue eyes, long hair and a Deuter rucksack (isn’t it weird the things you notice on trail!)

😓 9.10am – Ouch! I knew it would happen at some stage today as these rock climbs are relentless, but I rolled my left ankle which just gave way on a small loose rock. I instantly loose confidence and the walking is now very slow.

🧄 9.16am – Wow! The bluebells are now intermingled with the white flower of wild garlic. It not only looks wonderful but it also smells divine.

🏖 9.20am – Whoo hoo! I emerge onto the beach! I remember Brian saying it’s all plain sailing from here! I take five minutes and remove my shoes and socks. I take tentative steps into the Loch and let the cold water massage my feet. This is heaven! I then sit down with my back resting against the tree soaking up the peacefulness. I then spot a 🐧 penguin! A little penguin has been painted on a stone and set into the tree directly in front of me. I jump up and take a photo. There is a little message on the back of the stone saying “please don’t take me, leave me where I am”. I oblige and put the penguin stone back where I found it.

🍊 9.30am – I’m just getting ready to leave and a man turns up in a bright orange jumper. “Is it ok with you if I have a fag?” He says. “Of course” I replied. We got chatting and he has a big day ahead of him. Apparently his wife has only allowed him out to play for 5 days so he is on a mission! He also tells me that we still have a mile or so until the rock fields have completely finished! Oh joy!

☎️ 9.35am – I’m just about to leave the little beach when our Direct line Insurance peeps (a group of Scott’s who all work for Direct Line ) turn up. Brian, who I met this morning at the hostel is a fountain of knowledge. Apparently there are 50 painted stone all along The West Highland Way in memory of someone who died. I need to Google it!

🤛 9.40am- whoo hoo! I emerge from the 2nd stage of rock fields to an open pasture. I scream aloud and fist pump! I did it! It’s all over.10 mins later – 💩 I’m back in the rock field! The concentration is exhausting but I soldier on. I can’t see a soul.

🪜 9.48am – Whats this? It’s a very tall ladder with no hand rails. (See photos!).

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 10.46 – I’m now walking with the Direct Line Crew and enjoy their company (even though I can’t understand a word they are saying as their Scottish accent is so strong!)

🏔 11.30am – wow! As I turned the corner it’s as if I’m walking into another world. The mountains and valleys lie ahead of me in and the sun is capturing the peaks and the sight is ??? Insert another word for amazing, wow, beautiful, all of the above!

🦶 12.18pm – My feet are starting to ache and the smell of burgers and chips from Beniglas Camping is too much! I sit in the bar, plug in my power charger and order lunch & coffee. My feet thank me as I remove my boots! the Direct Line peeps do the same. We stay there for over an hour!

2.08pm – I leave with the DL clan. We walk to the falls of Falloch. The river and the waterfalls are yet another change of scenery. Today has been brilliant weather so far!

🐐 2.14pm – We see brown goats with huge horns!

😂 3.05pm – I’m feeling tired now. I arrive at a diversion sign. The sign says “don’t cross the river, follow this path, the bridge is down”. I’m not liking the diversion route as it leads you up a huge hill then circles back down. DL clan are behind me so I wait for them. There is a log 🪵 in the river and I’m sure they will try and cross it. Yep! That’s what they did, but they also threw sticks, rocks and stuff at the person who was crossing in the hope of some very wet entertainment! One guy did fall in (see video). I went up-steam with Brian and we crossed at a safe(ish) place.

3.18pm – Went through a tunnel made for dwarfs who are hot wearing rucksacks!

☔️ 3.20pm – Wet stuff starts falling from the sky! I put on my rain fear. DL Clan are ahead of me now. I receive a text fro Angie & Lou. They are at the Best Western Hotel in Craiglarin. Ok, that’s where I will head.

🌳 4.05pm – I turn right towards Craiglarin and walk through the forest . I was considering wild camping but I’m soaked through and I need a hot coffee (or glass of wine!). As I arrive into the village I have to walk through a tunnel. There is a homeless guy in the tunnel doing meditation and it look at his set up and see about 50 packets of rubber gloves? What’s all that about? I walk by quickly and follow the signs for the Youth Hostel.

4.31pm – I knock on the Hostel door and a kind man answers. They are not open yet but I can camp on their lawn and he gave me a key 🔑 to the garage where I could dry all my stuff. How lovely is that?

🏨 8.20pm – I’ve just spent the last two hours with Lou & Ange at their hotel putting the world to right. I’m now heading back to my tent feeling happy that all is ok in the world.

Today was a good day. See you again tomorrow.