A morning of mental ups and downs
My alarm woke me up at 6.30 after a good nights sleep. I paid for the laughs I’d had in the pub the previous night, with time and a sore head. After way too much faffing around I finally left Beinglas Farm Campsite, feeling a little worse for wear, at 7.45 AM. Today was a big day, I was aiming to walk 23 miles to Bridge of Orchy.
The first miles of the day took me across open fields with many bridges and stream crossings. After about 1 hour, I arrived at the turning for Crianlarich, where I had planned to stop for a second breakfast. After speaking with some other hikers and realizing that the village was a 30-minute walk away, I decided to stay on the West Highland Way and make do with a Cliff Bar and some trail mix.
While taking a break here a lone Swiss hiker pointed out to me that this was the halfway point of the West Highland Way. I hadn’t looked up this milestone and was shocked that I had made it half way without too much trouble. Fabian (lone Swiss hiker) told me that he was tired of walking and was planning to take the train back to Glasgow ASAP. I walked on, uphill through a pine forest which smelt like Christmas and reminded me of Norway. Later, I caught up with two Scotish ladies who were section hiking. I walked with them for a while. We chatted about the Way and my going it alone. Their words of encouragement, coupled with some crisps and a can of Iron Bru I found in an honesty box, gave me a much-needed boost.
After dropping down and out of the pine forest, the Way crosses the main road and moves onto sheep grazed farmlands. I stopped at Strathfillan Wigwams for a brew and to give my feet a rest. While I sat chatting to some holidaymakers, Fabian bounced into the campsite. He greeted me with the biggest of smiles while telling me that the Highlands had ‘invigorated’ him. He was now certain that he would make it to Fort William! I left before him but he overtook me within a few minutes and I didn’t see him again until later that day in Tyndrum, where he downed a beer from the supermarket and kept going!
Arriving in Tyndrum around lunchtime, I found a table in a busy cafe. I ate a pasty and shortbread and drank 3 cups of coffee. After lunch I just sat for a while, I thought about where I was, what I was doing, and how much my feet hurt. My eyes were heavy and my right knee felt weak.
About an hour later I got back on the Way. I walked the next 7 miles to Bridge of Orchy which were the longest 7 miles yet. The Way went on and on, and on. After an uphill section out of Tyndrum the path crosses a road and sides a deer fence. This section seemed to go on forever! After crossing the railway the Way then moves on to open moorland, along old military tracks. This section seemed to go on for even longer than forever. I passed a couple of American hikers and a man on a mountain bike told me I still had about an hour to go. My heart sank.
Bridge of Orchy, Finally!
Finally, I arrived at Bridge of Orchy. The village is tiny with just a few houses and pub. I found the designated ‘wild camping’ area by the river. Fabian was already there and I was happy to see him. That night we had a few beers in the pub before setting a campfire and drinking whiskey with a local couple who were camping for the weekend. I was too tired to cook so made do with another Cliff Bar and some nuts. I went to bed tired, happy and (again) slightly drunk.
Day 5 coming soon. Almost there!
Click here for day 3.