Day 87 – Inverarnan to Bridge of Orchy

I got an early start this morning, but after last night it was a struggle! It was another sunny day and I was pleased to be back on the road; unfortunately, in the last few days I seem to have pulled a muscle in my left thigh and another in my right ankle, so it takes me a long time to warm up and stop hobbling each morning!
The path from Inverarnan is very straightforward, winding up through the valley between the river and the railway until it crosses under the railway and road via ‘sheep creeps’. The scenery isn’t magnificent (oh, how blase I am these days!) but it was good to see some proper Highland hills getting steeper and higher on either side.
Just before Crianlarich I took a break and was joined by Austin, Robert and Douglas, three cousins walking the Way for the very first time and rather bravely attempting to do the whole thing in 5 days. Other than that there were very few walkers around – although it is possible we had just beaten the rush by starting early!
The signpost for the Crianlarich turnoff was adorned, rather ominously, with a pair of walking boots with one sole coming off and a rolled up sleeping bag. It was a little reminiscent of mole-catchers hanging up dead moles – I hoped that whoever had left the boots there had managed to complete the walk eventually.
After Crianlarich, the path goes up and down some rather steep hills through a plantation, before emerging near the site of St Fillan’s priory. I stopped for lunch in the shade of a large beech tree, where I was joined by some very tired German boys carrying packs nearly as big as themselves, then headed off on a pleasant path down the valley towards Tyndrum.
Tyndrum is mainly a stopping-off point for people travelling through – walkers, motorists, cyclists and motorcyclists – and it is not pretty. It does however have a couple of cafes and some fairly well-stocked shops, with big signs warning you that this is the last shopping opportunity until Kinlochleven. I stopped for a much-needed cup of tea and to replenish my stock of painkillers, and then bumped into Austin, Douglas and Robert again. It can be hard to tell if people mind you walking with them but they didn’t object and we ended up walking the rest of the way to Bridge of Orchy together.
The route improves dramatically after Tyndrum – a rocky path along the valley with some very impressive hills on either side. The sun was still shining and I managed to run out of water, but it wasn’t far now and I decided to soldier on rather than getting my high-tech filter out of my bag.
I made it to the Bridge of Orchy hotel, which after the rather Spartan simplicity of my room the previous night was delightfully luxurious. I had an excellent dinner and a very nice glass of pinot noir and watched the sunset over the mountains whilst the swifts darted to and fro. Lovely.

Highlights: the Highlands in the sun!; Tyndrum community woodland has matured from when I last saw it; a beautiful view of the river and the mountains beyond from my swish hotel room.

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