The West Highland Way – Part 3: That Accursed Loch! (Rowardennan to Tyndrum)

Whilst it was a shock to suddenly find myself solo, it wasn’t a huge surprise and I’d mentally prepared myself for it – by now I can recognise the signs. And so, I strode out towards Ptarmigan Lodge not too discombobulated by the sudden change in my circumstances. Here was the well-known honesty stall, but I’d just had lunch and was well enough stocked with everything, so I didn’t partake. Instead I strapped the earphones on and set about making some distance.

Now due to reunite with Paul two days hence, tonight I was aiming for Inversnaid(ish) and the next night just short of Crianlarich to make an easy part day into Tyndrum. Not a long distance – about 40km in total and 1,500m of ascent. Easily within my capabilities.

For a short while I enjoyed the chance to just strike out along a good level track – until I reached a point of decision. Not far past Ptarmigan Lodge the WHW splits into a lower and higher route. Unlike the Great Glen Way, where the higher route is the connoisseur’s, and more difficult, choice, on the WHW this is reversed with the low route being the harder prospect, and the high route a continuation of the largely level track I was on.

If I’d been suffering or behind schedule or had any other excuse I’d happily have taken the high route, but couldn’t really justify it, so down I went, plunging down a sloping path to almost the loch side. Then the path started bouncing along just above the loch.

Tortuous in places, but the music helped maintain momentum. I was glad to get to Rowchoish Bothy though, and had a look inside, although I had no intention of staying there – I wanted to get more distance under my belt.

A little way after the bothy, the low and high routes merged again and I had some more level terrain to finish the day on.

I passed a few spots I could have camped and as time was getting on, and I didn’t think I’d make Inversnaid before sunset, started taking them seriously. After rejecting several workable spots, I finally found one just off the path perched on a flat ledge above the loch. It was perfect, and I was glad I’d held out.

I woke to day 4 after the best camp of the trip so far. A night spent with the sound of the loch lapping below me. Not much wind and only a little rain. It was just as well I was feeling refreshed as some hard work lay ahead of me.

It didn’t take long to get to Inversnaid, where I found a coach party enjoying the waterfalls. Exiting the car park, I was confronted with a diversion sign for a broken bridge, but ignored it and found it easy to hop across the burn instead.

Things became progressively less easy from here on, the path becoming ever more twisted and turny, uppy and downy. I’d been clambering over rocks almost from leaving my tent this morning, but now it was rocks and trees. The torture peaked at Rob Roy’s Cave which involved a big up and then down around and over rocks with plenty of chance to slip.

By the cave, which I decided not to visit on the grounds I’d heard it was crap, I met a couple of lads coming the other way and had a secret chuckle about the Type 2 fun they were about to have. Mwahahaha.

A short distance after the cave, I found these leaves to sit on.

Gradually, the obstacles lessened, but not before a narrow squeeze between a tree and a massive rock. Soon I could see the end of the loch.

But then came a boggy detour inland, leading to Doune Bothy. Here I met a lady who was coming to the end of a 5 month stravaig. An interesting chat over a coffee.

Back outside and my next target was Inverarnan. Now it started raining and as I reached the now closed Beinnglas campsite I ducked under a bit of shelter to get waterproof gear / umbrella out. I did also check to see if there were any facilities open, and there weren’t. But, handily, the drinking water tap was !!!

The path now led off into Glen Falloch, with the noise of the A82 growing ever closer as the gap narrowed. A lot of slipping and sliding on muddy ground between bracken and low trees that meant I couldn’t hold the umbrella up. So I had to overheat in my waterproof jacket instead.

I was glad to emerge into more open terrain, and as I’d now realised I wasn’t getting especially near Crianlarich today, I also had the camp radar on. Eventually I spied a flat green patch under a tree by the River Falloch and squelched over to investigate. It would do.

A lot of rain, although much of what fell on the tent was simply drip through from the tree above.

Back on the trail, I hadn’t been going long before I was caught by another WHW walker – this one a chap who was travelling light and using accommodation along the trail. Apparently he did the length of the Accursed Loch in a single day.

Across the A82 and railway (that darned sheep creep), I could see the forest above Crianlarich getting ever nearer. I climbed up to the halfway point on the trail, and was glad that my timings meant there was no need for a detour into Crianlarich itself – it looked a fair bit of descent and reascent.

Progress through the forest wasn’t as rapid as I’d have liked as the path wanted to twist and turn and undulate a lot.

But finally I was dropping down into Strath Fillan to re-cross the railway and A82. Paul had walked out to meet me near St Fillan’s Church and it was an easy stroll back into Tyndrum.

We could tell we were getting near to civilisation as we suddenly encountered people at the Lochan of the Lost Sword which supposedly contains Robert the Bruce’s claymore.

Paul led me into Tyndrum and our hotel. It was lunchtime, so this left us the rest of the day to stock up on provisions, relax in the pub, and contemplate the next section…

2 thoughts on “The West Highland Way – Part 3: That Accursed Loch! (Rowardennan to Tyndrum)

  1. Glad you can recognise the signs but to be fair they’re not that hard to notice 🙂 LOL.

    Seriously though, my inactivity due to COVID related problems over the summer weren’t preparation to keep up with you and I knew when to retreat and reconsider my options. I also knew I had hated Loch Lomond the first time I did it so it was a simple decision to not suffer it again and jeopardise the walk later on. There was no way I wanted to miss the Tyndrum to Kinlochleven section, the highlight of the trail.

    Liked by 1 person

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