Walk: Inverarnan to Bridge of Orchy
Distance: 19.5 miles
Accommodation: Bridge of Orchy Hotel (bunkhouse)
Date: 21 September 2010
Walked with: Tracey
Pubs: Bridge of Orchy Hotel bar
After four days of solid walking I’m enjoying a day off today, sitting in the warm and dry and watching the rain out of the window. The Bridge of Orchy might, at first glance, seem an odd choice for a rest day. There’s literally nothing here apart from the beautiful views, the hotel, railway station (three trains a day, I believe) and a community fire station.
In actual fact, we’ve lucked out. There’s wifi, a nice lounge, wifi, a bar that does all day food as well as drinks, and wifi. Did I mention the wifi? I’m in the middle of nowhere and I’m getting a better Internet connection than I do in north London! Anyway, you don’t really care about my rest day because there’s no maps involved, so I’ll get on with telling you about yesterday’s walk instead.
We left The Drovers Inn (go to the pub, don’t stay there- it’s dirty and in need of a hell of a lot more than a lick of paint. And i didn’t meet any ghosties) at around 8.30, finishing eight hours later. It was easy enough walking, a lot of it on old military roads from the 1700s, and although the weather was quite glum and grumpy it didn’t rain on us much. Because there’s so much space and so little in it you end up walking for ages looking out for the most ridiculous landmarks to work out where you are – we never did see the ‘solitary tree’ for example although I did spend 40 minutes of the walk hotly anticipating the appearance of a cattle grid so we could measure our progress!
Like the day before, we saw a lot of waterfalls, although we were never far from the railway line or the A82 either. We reached the half way point of the West Highland Way on this section of the route, just at the point where the path turns off for Crianlarich. Nothing to mark it though, which seemed a shame. That was followed by nearly three miles of undulating footpath through a conifer plantation, emerging by the remains of St Fillian’s Priory, where I fed a friendly horse my emergency ration apple!
More walking-walking and we made it to the lovely Real Food Cafe. Although we only had cake there I’m told the fish and chips are excellent and the nice staff and the sofa next to the roaring fire defiantly had a restorative effect! An hour later, a quick trip to the sweetie shop and we were ready to leave and tackle the last seven miles. One new graveyard (with only one grave to date, it would appear) and we were back walking north to what the guidebook describes as the ‘impressive conical mountain’, Beinn Dorain. I’m sure it was deeply impressive, but unfortunately we couldn’t see it, so I’ll just have to take other peoples’ words for it. The next five miles were routinely pretty and had the following sites to act as way-markers: small cottage; small streams; the aforementioned solitary tree that we couldn’t see; more small streams. And then, finally, thrillingly, the Bridge of Orchy train station. Which even had a goods train departing from it. I think it’s fair to say that the pace of life can change rapidly on a walking holiday!
I lucked out and got a dorm room last night that had no one else in it, a lovely dinner and a couple of very nice glasses of wine. My predictions for tonight are that i’ll have less wine to drink and more people in my dorm room! Tomorrow we tackle Rannoch Moor and something called The Devil’s Staircase. Eeeek…