Day Five: West Highland Way, hey, hey, it's magic

And the way to get your own back on the people that keep you up all night? Firebomb them with a burning Jetboil at 6am. Boom! (Not literally, thankfully). I am not entirely sure what happened, but my beloved camping stove toppled over this morning and promptly burst into flames. This was an alarming situation which I resolved by squeaking a couple of expletives, picking it up and throwing it to an area unoccupied by tents. Without thinking of my own personal safety, and not wanting a gas cylinder to explode and distribute shrapnel everywhere, I ran over to it, took a deep breath and blew the fire out. Sometimes I like to think that there’s only me and Superman left!

Anyway, take two: boil water, cup of tea, curry for breakfast and pack the wettest tent in the world (or at least as wet as others in this campsite) and out the door by 7am for a 19 mile trek to the Bridge of Orchy, in a clean T-shirt and a clean pair of pants I may add.

Yes, clearly this is going to be the Tolkienesque home of Mordor’s henchmen. At the very least, I should see a trol hiding under a bridge preventing me from crossing unless I sacrifice my bigger goat brother to his hunger.  Can’t wait.

But first, I must negotiate the whole distance by myself as my new walking buddies were on different schedules for the next couple of days and although, a couple of miles out, I saw Rich’s tent by the river, I decided to let sleeping Marines lie and carried on my way.

And what a damp way it was for the twelve mile section to Tyndrum in which the water never really stopped falling out the sky. The packed tent was already twice as heavy as usual with its currently saturated state, water was dripping off the peak of my cap and the path in places was covered by increasingly boggy farmyard animal excrement which threatened to come in over the top of my boots with every squelch and misplaced step.

So I had an Irn Bru and got on with it. I appreciated the scenery of fast flowing waterfalls; of mountains half shrouded in cloud; forest paths covered in a red carpet of fallen pine needles; the Caledonian Sleeper trundling its way towards Fort William and the A82 with its very fast moving traffic that I had to negotiate.y

My feet weren’t so keen on the hard Rocky descent from the top of Elwick Forest, and by the time I got into Tyndrum and its eponymously named Inn,  I was beginning to think hunting out magical and mysterious creatures wasn’t for me, at least not for today.

This feeling was exacerbated by walking in to the pub and seeing the same football match being played out on the big screen as was being shown the previous night at the campsite bar. Still more disorientating was a pub in Scotland prepared to serve me both food and beer before 12pm, returning a satisfyingly contemptuous ‘of course’ from the landlady in response to my seemingly ridiculous question suggesting the contrary. Still a pie and a pint fixes all ills (except, strangely, the result of the match in which Chelsea still lost).

Oh, and did I mention the feet? Well, they and the ankles were really hurting and the thought of the next seven miles weren’t filling me with a great amount of joy. Still, I bought flapjacks and the sun started shining and my mind started wandering to happy things. Just to be clear that the flapjack purchase had nothing to do with the weather, however there is nothing better than sitting on the side of a mountain, eating a flapjack, drinking water from a stream and justifying, first a bunkhouse for the night, and then upgrading that in my mind to a hotel room.

And so, that’s what I did, after having to come off the path to avoid many, many cows, some with big horns, who had decided to block the trail. A very kind man ensured that I didnt do permanent damage to myself (and the fence) as I ungracefully clambered over a one to rejoin The Way and,  with a limp in my step,  I forged on to the finish line to face the beasts of fantasy that awaited.

Which, disappointingly didn’t materialise, but the hotel did which meant I could dry my tent in the bathroom, watch Guardians of the Galaxy on the telly-me-box and sleep in a comfortable, warm, comfortable bed.

Well, I am on holiday!

Inverarnan to Bridge of Orchy

Inverarnan to Bridge of Orchy Route

Inverarnan to Bridge of Orchy Route Profile

19 miles / 60.5