Inverarnan to Tyndrum
I had an awful night’s sleep last night. This had nothing to do with the room, the bed or anything at all to do with the B & B I was staying in. I just couldn’t get off to sleep. I have no idea what was going on in my head but after watching some TV to try and make me tired and then some chilled out tunes on my iPod – no, not thrash or death metal before you say anything guys – I eventually gave up after seeing midnight clock past.
Clearly at some point I drifted off as I woke up at 3:30am thinking it was time to get up. I guess I was worried I’d over sleep? After that I dozed until 5:30am and then tried my best to ignore the fact that I was again wide awake. It was a good job there was a short day ahead for sure.
I got myself ready nice and early and had my breakfast at the usual time. Scotland’s making the cooked breakfasts a little more interesting with the addition of haggis and potato scones – I must learn how to cook these – but by the end of this walk I will be well and truly off cooked breakfasts for some time to come.
The room I had shared a bathroom with another room which had a couple staying in there. Not a problem normally but just when I was ready to leave, and wanting to try one last loo stop before heading out the door (didn’t want to get caught short later on) the toilet was busy…and remained so for quite some time. Frustrated? Yes I most definitely was. I just wanted to get the walk started but all I could do was sit and watch the news…ahhhh, Susanna Reid…
Erm, sorry, where was I? Oh yes. Finally the toilet became free. All geared up and ready to go I settled up and hit the road at 9am, considerably later than I was actually ready for. Ho hum.
I headed back to the campsite from yesterday as I had to pick the path up behind it. It was a pretty decent path to start with, kind of a broken tarmac track which was easy under foot and I managed to get a good pace up. This didn’t last though as the path turned into a more muddy affair with larger stones sticking out here and there, but I still managed a decent pace. So much so that I caught up with and overtook three groups of walkers! Am I really that much fitter now?
As expected the path went up and down a bit but it wasn’t anything I hadn’t experienced yet on this little stroll of mine. Still, it got me huffing and puffing in places and after an hour and a half I decided to take a sit down. This was fine for about five minutes before the midges found me and grew in numbers exponentially – the little bastards!
Sick of swatting the little beggars away I put my gear back on and headed up the track, crossing under the A82 at Derrydaroch, just to be greeted with another hill to climb. This was a bit steeper than the ones I’d encountered so far today and it took a couple of stops on the way up to reach the top, where I paused for a moment, caught my breath and carried on.
The path from there followed an old military road in to the woods outside Crianlarich. The path was pretty awful to be honest, but I suspect a lot of that was due to the weather. The small streams were a lot bigger and the mud was thick and sticky. I didn’t really mind and trudged my way through it all regardless. What could happen? Wet feet? Muddy gaiters and trousers? Meh!
At the junction to the path to Crianlarich I stopped and chatted to a guy walking the West Highland Way with his two sons – both young teenagers. They were wild camping their way along which to me was way too challenging but they seemed to be enjoying it, even with the rain, wet clothes, well actually wet everything. I’m sure the boys will remember the experience, I’m just not sure it’ll be a fond memory one?!
I stood there for quite some time talking with them but I wasn’t bothered as I was half way for the day and it was still early, it not being midday yet. Still, I like to make it to the intended destination for the day sooner rather than later so I said goodbye and headed up the trail.
The walking didn’t last long though as my stomach started to tell me that I needed something to eat so I found a spot under a tree, to try and get a break from the drizzle, and prepared to eat my lunch.
Just then a chap I’d been told about that morning came strolling up. Jonathan was also walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats so I just had to say hello. We had a little chat, comparing notes, until the midges got too much to take. He strolled off, I ate a Mars bar quickly and got the hell out of Dodge before I got eaten alive!
There were a lot of people walking this section of the West Highland Way today and it wasn’t long before I caught up and overtook pretty much everyone who’d walked past while supposedly eating my lunch. I was feeling good about the fact that I was keeping a better pace than people carrying considerably less than me, again.
The walk through the woods carried on for another mile or so and eventually the path went underneath the A82 at Ewich. The downward sections through the woods to get to road level – well beneath it actually as the path went under the bridge – had strained the front of my right foot a bit so I decided to sit down, in the rain, on a wall and give it a little rest.
While I was sat there Jonathan came down the track and, seeing as we were both headed to the same place, and I mean exactly the same place as we were both staying at the Dalkell Cottage Guest House, we decided to walk the final three or so miles together.
For most of the day my waterproof cocoon had been completely pointless other than making me soaking wet from my own sweat that is. But, as we made our way closer to Tyndrum the heavens opened from what seemed like all directions. The rain started as a fine drizzle but the more we walked the harder it got. Jonathan wasn’t wearing a coat at this point and finally gave in, dropped his pack and put it on. And what happened? Just a few minutes later the rain stopped – typical! He decided to take his coat off again – bad idea – and sure enough, with just under a mile to go the rain started again. Oh the games it plays with us walkers!
It didn’t take too long to get to Tyndrum and I must admit, taking the more relaxed pace and stopping and chatting a lot more than a typical day, I felt pretty good. That made at least two days on the trot where I’d finished the walk in good time, in good spirits and in pretty good nick too. Hurrah!
The Dalkell Cottage Guest House didn’t open for check in until 4pm and as we had an hour to kill Jonathan and I headed over to Paddy’s Bar and Grill for a well deserved drink. As ever the selection was poor so we both opted for Guinness, having a couple of pints while chatting.
We also chatted to a couple of guys over from Belgium walking the West Highland Way. They were most intrigued by what we were doing and that the fact that we’d taken slightly different routes and managed to bump in to each other on the trail today.
4pm came round quickly and a quick photograph later we strolled, slightly light headed from the drinks on empty stomachs, down the road to check in to the Dalkell.
First job when I got to my room was to do some washing. Not having a bathroom to myself last night I didn’t do any so I hastily got to the task. Unfortunately, after sorting it all out I then realised that I didn’t now have a dry pair of 1000 mile socks to wear tomorrow – doh! I had liner socks but not a pair of these to go over the top of them. Thinking on my feet I grabbed the hair dryer and proceeded to dry them as best I could for the next twenty minutes.
They weren’t perfectly dry but hopefully they would be by the morning. I don’t suppose it matters too much as I suspect it’ll be raining again tomorrow so I’ll end up with wet socks and feet anyway, but there’s nothing worse that starting the day with wet feet I can tell you.
I spoke to Alice and Elisa briefly. Elisa met her new teacher for September, the same teacher Alice has now, and Alice had her school disco. It sounds like she had lots of fun and ate a few cakes and crisps too. Oh to be that age again…well…maybe not.
I met up with Jonathan at 7pm and we strolled up the road to the shop to get some supplies in and then headed to a hotel restaurant that had an Italian buffet on. This seemed like the place to be as there were quite a few of the walkers I’d passed today in there.
The pizza and pasta were good and certainly filling, and another pint of Guinness on top of the two earlier certainly helped to fill me up. Jonathan and I had a good chat. He was interested in the last stages of my walk as he wasn’t sure which way he was going yet. I don’t think he’s going to make that decision until his time off in Fort William but I hope I helped at least a little bit.
After dinner we headed back to Paddy’s for a final pint of Guinness – there’s a pattern forming here! We sat there talking about anything and everything and also comparing photos on our respective iPhones; yes, he’d got one too before heading off on the walk.
We sat there later than either of us had planned, so we supped up and headed back to the guest house. We both wanted to get an early breakfast tomorrow and to hit the road quick sharpish as the walk was supposed to be a little harder than todays, and there were more miles to be covered than today, a few hours more walking in fact.
Four pints of Guinness before a long walk tomorrow might not be the best idea I’ve ever had. I guess I’ll see tomorrow if it becomes an issue won’t I?