Not such a leisurely start today although the leg should be easy and almost as short as yesterday. However, I have a train to catch at around mid-day. My ticket, bought long ago before the shin splints erupted is from Corrour, which at one point I had hoped to get to by now. However that plan has been abandoned and I am pretty much committed to go up the west, rather than the east, of Rannoch moor now. Less exciting but easier to bail if the splints flare up. Anyway, I can catch my scheduled train from Bridge of Orchy. I should have plenty of time, but if I miss it I will be buggered as I will not then be able to get to Glasgow to catch the connecting train I am booked on.

I also have a limited choice of buses to get up the road to Tyndrum on. If I catch the later one I should be OK but will have to make good time. I get myself sorted out and hurry out, just in time to catch the earlier one though, so time is not an issue. If I get to Bridge of Orchy early, I should be able to hang out in the hotel. One of the walkers in the hostel warned me that it has been taken over and become poshified. He was disgusted. I don't mind so long as they still serve stinky walkers, though I hope they have not got rid of the fire. Might even get a decent cappuccino...

The bus comes and whisks me up the road. Having plenty of time I consider breakfast in the welly shop decide to head straight out of Tyndrum, passing first a shop that announces it is the last one before Kinlochleven, and some amazingly skilful chainsaw carvings as the way heads out of the village

. By the village hall I decide to get properly kitted. It looks like the drizzle intends to turn to rain and I am on an old road which is now the West Highland Way so it should be reasonably graded. Thus I put on the overtrousers and rucksack cover.

And off properly. I am on a track and just as I come to a gate a car approaches so I get the gate for them. The track goes up to an electricity sub station (or maybe a waterworks, can't remember exactly) where more cars are parked. One seems to be guys working but not the others. I wonder if they are hunting.

The track heads due north, parallel to the road and to the railway. It is overcast the cloud at about 500 meters so I cannot see the tops of the hills in front of me, which is a pity.  Round here they all seem to have steep, evenly angled, grassy slopes for most of the way up to the top, so much so that, from certain angles it is hard to distinguish some hills from each other.

Over a river and the glen continues to narrow until the way, the road and the railway line march closely together. I don't mind though as at least I am not on the road.

And after a mile or so the glen begins to open up in front. I am getting some not bad views and the rain is not as unrelenting as I feared. There are even some breaks in the cloud away to the north, though it is windier and colder than yesterday.

I start to get some really fine views up ahead as breaks in the cloud illuminate the black mount. I even get my good camera out as it is not raining just at the moment. But the best of the breaks have gone before I can start using it.

Just before the way diverges from the road, I see a sign announcing that we are entering Argyll and Bute (and leaving Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park). The way is still north but the road sweeps off in a more westerly direction.

The way goes through a culvert under the railway which has a roof of twisted tree branches, and the line slowly. It had left the proper track and become a path for a while but now it is wide land rover track again as it aproaches Glen .

 Here two glens sweep away to the East from Auch. One of them is the drovers route to Killin that I had considered earlier in the year. A lot of work is goiing on, it looks like a substantial track is being driven through. A lorry is depositing gravel and there are signs warning of plant though the route is as traffic less as it is walker less.

Past the viaduct that takes the railway over the side glen, the old military road keeps to the bottom of the glen for a while before slowly rising on the side of the hill. Buzzards call and wheel around me as I walk.

It is a fairly featureless. I am in good time and around Auch I started to wonder if I might get to Bridge of Orchy in time to catch the train up the line to Corrour, where there is a cafe (though I am not sure if it will be open). As my ticket is paid back and it is only two stops, that sounds like a pleasant way to pass the time. But it is not really on even if I force the pace and with my shin splints behaving so unexpectedly well this trip I don't want to push my luck.

So I am still some way from Bridge of Orchy when the sprinter comes into view around the mountain to the south of me.

And just after that I meet another walker! Trudging southwards he gives me a terse greeting and carries on on his own journey. Doing the WHW the other way round, perhaps?

And a little later it starts to spit again. Just as the track turns to go under the railway by Bridge of Orchy station it becomes heavier. I check the time-table. The station here is a bunk house and there is no waiting room. But anyway I want to check the hotel out. I have spent time here before. Years ago I went with two other people on a very full on winter day to climb Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh. It was hard going as there was masses of soft snow, a bit like wading through Mr Whippy ice cream several feet deep, more where it had drifted. When we got to the bealach it became quite windy and Theresa, who is a slender woman felt unhappy, whilst Mark our driver was a big Munro bagger and really wanted to get the ticks. So I volunteered to go back with Theresa who was not comfortable walking in winter on her own and we waited for him in the hotel, next to a roaring stove.

As I set off down towards the hotel it begins to rain harder and I just make it in. They are serving food from 12 so I order a cappuccino and peel off my over-trousers. The interior is all stripped wooden floors and designer tables now, but the stove has somehow survived the makeover.

Three guys are sitting opposite me and discussing something very technical about day light hours and a system one has on his lap top. I can't quite place them because they have good wet weather gear but don't seem to be walkers. But then they get into sunsets and I realise that they are photographers, chasing sunrises and sunsets and the programme he has helps to work out where to be for good ones.

12.00 comes. It is pouring outside now and I am very glad to be out of it. I order venison stew which, though not cheap, is a decent portion and completely delicious.  A couple of Americans, father and son, replace the photographers.

It continues to tip it down as I finish off my dinner and then dash up to the station, rather too soon as I have to find shelter and wait some minutes for the train.

But it comes, I get on and I am soon rattling southwards through what seems like endless rain, more than a little amazed at the distance I have travelled.


  1. JaneGS said...

    I absolutely love that first picture, Spencer, and the stew at the hotel sounds good.  

  2. Spencer said...

    Thanks, Jane. The pictures for the last two days were generally not so good quality as I was using my waterpoof Olympus (having learned the lesson by ruining a camera in the rain on Cross Fell in the North Pennines). But I thought it was worth getting the new Panasonic out for some of the views as the rain had stopped. The previous day was Olympus all the way though, which is why the photos are a bit basic.  


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