Day 4: West Highland Way

It was unbelievable to have such poor sleep after such an exhausting day but Husband and I both woke up tired. As a bonus, Husband had also come down with a heavy cold and wasn’t feeling well.

We wobbled our way over to breakfast, where we got some consolation that all other walkers staying at the Drovers were wincing when they got out of their chairs and hobbling as started to walk. Not just us, young people too. That walk yesterday had taken its toll on everyone.

The Drovers Inn, the UK’s most haunted pub?

Another weird thing about that Sunday morning was the sky. It wasn’t blue. We had been used to clear blue skies so far on this walk. The grey clouds promised a cooler day of hiking but we would have preferred the sun. Nevertheless we rugged up warmly and headed out on the trail.

Today’s walk was also long, at 12.5m/20.5km, but covering less difficult terrain. The path ran near the road and the railway line for the first part of the day, and we frequently pulled off to the side to let other, faster, walkers overtake us. The path wasn’t challenging though, and we trudged on, taking in the scenery, and tracking our pace against the guidebook timings.

On the path to the Crianlarich turn off

We eventually passed underneath the railway line and made our way up a hill and followed the path along, observing clusters of wriggling tadpoles in puddles on the hillside.

We arrived at the Crianlarich turn off exactly as expected and felt pleased with ourselves for making a good pace even if that pace was slower than everyone else. We paused for a break. Crianlarich is not on the way, so the 30 minute diversion was not something we were considering, although we saw two men we identified as The Bothy Boys (the men staying at Doune Bothy) toiling back up to the path from Crianlarich.

We walked on and steeply upwards into a pine forest, where the closely planted trees had dropped needles on the path, providing cushioning underfoot and filling the air with a scent that was so piney it almost smelt fake. The path dropped and then climbed steeply again. We took a break on a convenient path-side log to eat our packed lunch sandwiches from the Drovers. After another steep descent, my toes banging heavily against the front of my boots, we emerged from the tree line to a denuded patch of land.

Here the densely planted introduced Nordic pines had been cleared, and native species were being replanted. However the land was still very ugly, being scarred with fallen trees and the new saplings still small inside their protective green tubes. One day hence this will be a nice place, but not now.

Reaching the bottom of the hill, we walked under the railway line, over the main road, and through farmland, with just one hour to go to our destination. We were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. Of course, this was when it started to rain.

Marching on to Tyndrum

Let’s face it, on a seven hour walk, to only have rain in the last hour is not a bad result. All the same, I was annoyed by this, and marched my way through that last distance towards Tyndrum, swinging my arms and overtaking the Canadian ladies who had obviously left before us from the Drovers.

Our hotel, Tyndrum Lodges, was right by the path just before Tyndrum itself, and we were happy to get there out of the rain.

The staff there were very friendly and we were pleased to hear we would be having a continental breakfast the next day that we could collect now and pop into the fridge in our room. Our room was big, and very nicely appointed. There was a bathtub in the bathroom, which I took full advantage of and tried to soak away the aches and pains of four days of walking.

Yes, we were halfway through this eight-day walk, and had covered more than 50% of the total distance. It was a dizzying thought to realise we were halfway through already.

We celebrated with a large fish and chip dinner at the Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum, although Husband’s cold had reached a point where he couldn’t taste anything.

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