West Highland Way day 4

Crianlarich to Inveronan

Distance: 16 miles
Weather: Absolutely gorgeous, all the way to the Bridge of Orchy then it rained for the last few miles.
Health: I’m on cloud nine! My body has its trail legs and nature is doing its thing for my mental health. I’ve so missed doing these trips!

SUMMARY: Today has been my Camino day. If you’ve walked the Camino then you will get what I mean. Laughter with new friends that you feel you’ve known forever, coffee breaks at every opportunity. Bumping into people you never thought you’d see again. On top of that, I’ve fallen in love with Scotland. We’ve just pitched out tents (8.30 pm!) and sat and watched a herd of deer 🦌 walk into the river next to us and have a drink! I’ve also enjoyed haggis and whisky sauce today!

The Long Winded Version

Around 9.30pm last night I saw a figure walking down the path towards the youth hostel where I was camping on the front lawn. It was a small guy with a beard in full hiking gear and rucksack looking fed up. He was drenched to the bone and not happy. I’m the only one here and I was sitting on the bench enjoying a hot chocolate before lights out. “Do they have any rooms left?” He asked in a broad Glaswegian accent. “They are closed and not open until next week I’m afraid”. His whole body language screamed “get me out of here, I’ve had enough”. Looking at his rucksack I could tell he was a camper, so I mentioned that they gave me permission to pitch here and he could do the same. He shook his head and replied “it’s way too cold for camping tonight”. He needed to get out of those wet clothes and fast! “I know!” I said, rather enthusiastically, “follow me!” We headed down the drive and I took the garage key out of my pocket. “The hostel owner had let me dry my stuff in here, but you can sleep here if that helps?”. I thought he was going to cry! His name was Bobby and his friend had bailed on the hike about 30 mins ago and went home. He was so very grateful for the roof over his head. I wouldn’t have slept a wink in that garage. I prefer my own little tent, with two quilts and a hot water bottle! “There is a water tap around the corner” and went to show him where it was. As I turned the corner there was another hiker standing under the other garage door having a cigarette. His name is Neil and he is walking slowly but needed to get out of the rain. Bobby now has a new walking buddy! Isn’t life’s serendipity brilliant?

💤 5.50am – Morning peeps. I slept well and woke up a bit sweaty. It wasn’t that cold last night and two quilts were overkill. Note to self: sleep on top of one quilt if it’s too hot!!

☕️ 6am – Coffee and porridge then I need to wake up Bobby as all my stuff is still in the garage drying out!

🚶🏻‍♂️ 7.10am – Bobby appears all ready to go. Can I walk with you today? He asked. “Of course you can”. We are all packed up and head to the Best Western Hotel to collect Angie and Louise. Our little family take to the trail.

🤠 9.32am – The first part of today’s walk was along the road, then it turned off into deep countryside surrounded by mountains. We had a quick break at a random place called Strathfillan Wigwams. It was like walking into a Western Movie and you half expected Clint Eastwood to come out of the post office!

⚔️ 10.16 am – As we weave through open valleys and over peaks we pass by a stone bench commemorating The Battle of Dalrigh in 1306. Robert the Bruce’s sword was apparently thrown in this very lake! Then I hear a squeal, it’s Kit and Will the Lanshan Duo from two nights ago! I’m never thought I’d see them again so I’m stoked! They both had injuries so grabbed the bus from the Drovers Inn to Tyndrum. Our little family of four has now become six!

🍺 10.30am We stop in Tyndrum for a coffee and I buy some more “Skin so Soft” from the famous Green Welly Shop, and we head back to the trail. Bobby has a beer! “It's 10.30am Bobby” I said “I’m Scottish” he replied with a wink!

🏔 3.45pm – Our little family stayed together all day until we reached The Bridge of Orchy. Today’s scenery has been the best so far. This is what I was visualising. Snow-capped mountains, goats randomly appearing, pine martin (like a big red weasel/ferret) and I even nearly trod on a brown lizard.

📖 Met two new hikers called Claire and Tricia who are now in my little book of people. I threw my pen at them across the pub and it landed in Claire’s beer! Note: she wanted the pen to sign my book. We also met the food poising guy! He’s hilarious and told lots of stories. On day two of his hike he got food poisoning, and then 10 mins into day three he fell over and has torn ligaments in his ankle. As he related the story he was holding a bag of ice on his ankle. He will soldier on no matter what!

👋 5.10pm – I say goodbye to Angie, Lou and Bobby. They are all stopping at the Bridge of Orchy, but at £195 per room, I decide to carry on with Kit & Will. We are on a mission to find the perfect sunset campsite to end a perfect day. (And we did!)

🚶‍♀️🚶🏻‍♂️🚶 5.20pm – All packed and phones charged the three of us hike out of Bridge of Orchy, on the hunt for a sunrise. We are given a Scottish farewell from our friends as they whooped and cheered from the balcony!

☔️ 5.45pm – The first 20 mins of this section is all uphill but the sun is shining and I feel great! Then the gorgeous sunshine turns grey and the heavens open!!! What were we thinking? We’ve still got a mountain to climb!!! I’m now regretting hiking on!

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 6.50pm – Over mountains with stunning views, wild deer and deep valleys we eventually arrive at a hotel in the middle of nowhere called – Inveroran Hotel. We order a drink and I’m starving so I decide to try haggis and whisky sauce (with turnips). Low and behold, who walks in the door but the Direct Line Clan from yesterday’s hike! We play catch up before eventually heading out the door and back into the hills. There is a Loch around the next bend that looks perfect for wild camping…. And it was!!

🎥 8.53pm – I’m finally pitched up next to a river that literally had a herd of deer pass through about 10 mins ago. It’s fascinating to see and Kit has his big posh camera taking awesome photos. I know there are not many amusing stories today, but for me, it’s been epic. My best day so far. See you tomorrow. Sorry this one was late (zero mobile phone service!)