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WHW part 2 - The glens where your great rivers run (2013)

WHW part 2 - The glens where your great rivers run (2013)

Postby nigheandonn » Sat Aug 29, 2020 11:14 am

Route description: West Highland Way

Date walked: 18/06/2013

Time taken: 2 days

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Day 4 - Inverarnan to Tyndrum

After a very warm day I had a choice in the wigwam at Inverarnan of shutting the door and melting, or opening it and letting all the midges in. Eventually I gave up and went and sat outside for a while in the early hours before finally getting some sleep - the weather had broken in the night, and it looked like the sunshine of the last two days was gone.

Whether it was the disturbed night or not, this was a surprisingly difficult day - simple on the map, and slow and weary on the ground.

Everything was tucked into the narrow valley of the Falloch at first - road and river and railway, and the path just on the edge of the slope - but before Crianlarich the path climbed up the other slope, making the village and its shop a steep descent away, and a worse return climb. This claimed to be the halfway point, and from there the path dives into thick forest, so that for a while there wasn't even a view to distract me.

Back in the valley there was more to be seen - a ruined priory and a holy pool, then Lochan nan Arm which claims to hold Robert Bruce's sword, and the weird spot on the edge of Tyndrum so poisoned by lead smelting that nothing will grow. All the same, it was a long hard way into Tyndrum - at some point I walked straight through a little ford because detouring to the bridge was too hard, and found that surprisingly refreshing for my feet!

It was a shame, because I quite like Tyndrum, and I liked the hostel - I also had the most unexpectedly good pizza I've ever had, from the takeaway bit of the Green Welly Shop. (I've possibly had *better* pizza, but not from such an unlikely origin!)

Glen Falloch

The halfway point?

River Fillan and Cruach Ardrain

St Fillan's Priory

The holy pool

The legend of the lost sword

Lochan nan Arm

Lead smelting site

Wooden sculptures

Railway bridge by Beinn Odhar

I had the maps spread out all over my bed that night - all through these two days I seemed to be passed from river to river, not so much zigzagging across the watershed as having the watershed zigzag across me. First the Falloch running south to Loch Lomond and the Firth of Clyde, then the Fillan running east to Loch Tay and the long road to the Firth of Tay, the Orchy running south and west to Loch Awe and the Firth of Lorn, the Ba east running to Loch Rannoch and an even more roundabout route to the Tay, and finally the Coe running west again to Loch Linnhe.

Day 5 - Tyndrum to the edge of Glencoe

This was the day which should have been hard - my longest on the walk - and instead I loved it - on and on across the emptiness of Rannoch Moor.

First I had to get to the moor - shadowing the road and the railway through an even narrower valley to the famous loop at Auch, and the still more famous slopes of Beinn Dorain. Bridge of Orchy turned out not to be much except the eponymous bridge, although a lovely river, and then the shortcut over the hill to Inveroran, where I stopped for a cup of tea.

From there you finally leave the road behind - the new road, at least, because the military road fascinated me by changing under my feet, as if you could still see the different ways it had been made in the ways that it had worn.

The mountains which ring the source of the Ba were also stunning, and very new to me, so that I had trouble sorting them out on the map, while on the other side the river seemed to run straight for the little hill by the road, way over to the east.

I'd seen Buchaille Etive Mor before, from the road, but there's something different about walking in and having it appear round the corner - then the lonely Kingshouse below its hill. I'd wanted to stay there, but it had been full, meaning that I was catching the bus along to Glencoe village - and surprisingly, after the last few days, I was well in time for it.

Things didn't go quite so well from there - the bus driver said he would put me off at a shortcut to the hostel and forgot, so that he eventually handed me over to a bus going the other way to be put back to the crossroads, and the hostel gave me slightly erroneous information about how long it would take to walk to the Clachaig, so that I arrived 2 minutes after food time (they were very kind, and on enquiry to the kitchen produced a list of everything they could still give me - anything except chips, I think - so that I filled myself up gratefully with venison stew). But I'd stiffened up badly, and the day of road hadn't been good for my already suffering feet - one of my vivid memories of the trip is walking back along towards the hostel in bare feet, because it hurt less than keeping my shoes on, or at least differently.

Train on Beinn Dorain

River Orchy

Bridge of Orchy

Loch Tulla

Coire Ba

River Ba

Rannoch Moor from the cairn

Buchaille Etive Mor

The Kings House
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