Steve Anderson

The West Highland Way Page 2

Nov 2010

Day 2 was to take us to Inversnaid via Rowardennan, we said good bye to Andrew at breakfast who had to do another 20 mile day, in parting conversation we explained how current thinking dictates that diluted orange juice is considered very good for extra energy so without a further ado he emptied about a litre of the stuff into his canteen from the breakfast bar in the Hotel. I admired the young American for his complete lack of scruple. This leg of the journey took us along the coast of Loch Lomond, a section which is famous for being a bit of a scramble, and having done it I would not disagree, the path started up a hill only to come straight down again, which did not set me off in the best of moods, a pointless climb with no reason attached to it. Once on the trail however the steady concentration of one foot in front of another took over and we proceeded at a reasonable pace to our lunch stop at the Hotel in Rowardennen, a fine bar with a big fire and friendly folk. What could be better? I was beginning to get the hang of the lunchtime pub stop, always more or less half way through the day, perfectly placed to provide an invigorating pint and a bowl of soup just when the body is flagging. The rest of the day took us further along the Loch side with the occasional small climb and scramble along the boulder strewn path. When we finally made it to Inversnaid Hotel we (probably driven by me) headed for a refresher in a pint glass at the bar before phoning the warden at the bunkhouse which was to be the nights resting place, to come and collect us, a service advertised in the guide books. Another pint or two later and the number was rung. Disaster, he did not have a car to collect us in so we faced a further 1 mile walk up a steep road to get to the bunkhouse, not a prospect any of us relished. As faithful as we were to the lovely bunkhouse, we asked first at the hotel if they had any rooms, “full” came the reply, and as if to prove it I was shown a colourful spreadsheet with “Full” written in red biro at the bottom of it. Double disaster! As a final attempt to reduce the pain I asked if there was a taxi or someone who would consider giving us a lift, bingo, one of the guys in the office who I think was looking for an excuse to go for a smoke, happily offered to run us up to the bunk house, (which he duly did at breakneck speed) hurrah!  The bunkhouse was a personal favourite for me, it was a nicely converted church with a friendly warden who cooked a mean haggis with whisky and pepper sauce, and due to the lateness of the season afforded us a room each for £17, for an extra £4 you could even sit in the hot tub outside by the river and watch the stars go bye, lovely, probably.

Day 3 which took us from Inversnaid to Crianlarich (13 miles) with yet another perfectly placed lunch spot at Beinglas farm. Getting to lunch would see us passing the end of Loch Lomond which had accompanied us for what felt like most of the journey so far, it is a surprisingly long Loch, not to be confused with Loch Long which is somewhere else. The top end of Loch Lomond is beautiful with little islands marking the end of the loch and the beginning of the river system which flows into the loch. On this stretch we passed a bothy which I would stay in if in desperate need of some basic shelter, but which did not really radiate warmth, there was a raised sleeping platform, and a fire place, and that is in essence the full list of comforts. Arriving at Beinglas farm, a place I had visited earlier on in my trip and therefore was on familiar terms with the chef and barman (he is famous for his Indian Scottish fusion cooking, a favourite on his menu was Haggis pakora) we were greeted with a fine pint of Guinness, Paul and Mike had lunch, I had another Guinness. We were discussing passing way goers when the barman mentioned a young American who had passed by the previous day, and who in the words of the barman looked to be in some pain and running low on energy, presumably the power bars and orange juice had run out, that was to be the last we heard of Andrew, I hope he finished the walk and enjoyed it. The barman asked us where we were off to next and when we announced we were staying at the Crianlarich Hotel, he confessed a fondness for the barmaid there, a lovely Hungarian girl called Petra. It seems that all the staff  in  these remote Hotels have to do on evenings off  is visit the next Hotel up or down the Glen,

Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.  (Steven Wright)