Steve Anderson

The West Highland Way Page 3

Nov 2010

therefore they all get to know each other quite well, although sometimes not as well as some would like. We arrived at the Crianlarich Hotel and yet again I did not have to dig out my tent, preferring to stay in a comfortable room with en suit in the Hotel. We had a fine supper, some good if extended banter with the staff, including the lovely Petra and a good night in preparation for the next day’s ordeal.

Day 4 saw us journey from Crianlarich to Bridge of Orchy (13 miles). This section took us immediately up a hill to a point beyond the tree line so we were quite high up and quite tired after a mile or so, tired in my case was a euphemism for hung over as the banter Paul and I enjoyed with Petra and then latterly a barman went on into the small hours, and might have involved a malt or two. My hangover lasted all the way to Tyndrum, famous for its ‘Green Welly shop’ which was the designated lunchtime stop, I tried a pint of lager but could not really face it. I decided to change my socks in the pub to the mild amazement of a young couple for whom the sight of a bare foot or perhaps the smell of a well trodden sock proved controversial. We were joined from early on in the walk by a chap from Coventry called John whose accent was almost incomprehensible and for whom the long distance foot path held no bounds having already done the Wainwright coast to coast this summer, a stroll of some 190 miles making our stumbling efforts seem quite pedestrian if you will pardon the pun. During the afternoon part of the walk the path took us close to the west coast main line, and past a line workers hut, which was decorated with some thoughtful graffiti. “Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe”. I made a promise to myself to get a canoe and live my life in accordance with this maxim. Just as my feet were beginning to tell me enough was enough, we rounded a bend in the path and in the near distance (whatever that means) Paul announced that a white building that hove into sight was the Crianlarich Hotel, a lovely little place where Petra had a fondness for a barman called Andy, I seemed to recall from the previous nights haze. The bar manager at the Bridge of Orchy asked me where I came from, when I replied Chichester area (easier than saying Bosham)  he declared that his sister used to work near Chichester, at Bosham sailing club, how small is the world? The next morning John who had spent the night in the Hotels bunk house came to find us to announce that he was off early as he was going to do a long day, he was not very well having been sick a couple of times overnight, he had been wild camping and drinking from the streams and I think therein lies the cause, there are a number of microbes which can cause nausea when untreated water is consumed.

Day 5 Bridge of Orchy to the kings house Hotel (13 miles), a part of the way which was described by the bar manager ( who was a voluntary fire and rescue officer) as easygoing footpath, I believe this was part of the old military road constructed to get troops to the various rebellion sites around the Highlands. This section proved to have an extra difficulty which I became aware of at lunchtime, namely no half way hostelry, how this was to affect moral we could not know! After a delightful start the path which was reasonably easy took us past Inveroran and over Victoria bridge which afforded us a view so spectacular in every direction that I felt obliged to rummage in my tightly folded campsite for my mobile phone and attempt to capture the image for posterity, the results were largely worth the effort, even a mobile phone camera could not ruin the scene as it was presented to us. My body was beginning to revolt slightly, I had been very lucky on the blister front compared to Paul and poor Mike who had soldiered on through the purple haze of severe pain, but my knees and feet were beginning to suggest that maybe a day off might be a good idea, however as the accommodation for the boys had been booked all the way through we had to press on.

After a day's walk everything has twice its usual value. (George Macauley Trevelyan)