Day Four – Crainlarich to Inveroran – 15 Miles
After the previous days hike from Rowardennan to Crainlarich, I was looking forward to a much shorter day, 15 miles compared to 20, and one that wasn’t quite so hard on the feet. I got an easier hike, but about half of the days miles were on hard, military roads. I didn’t see this in the guidebook before I left and I set off with high hope for a nice, leisurely stroll.
The hardest part of the day was the first, winding up the steep hills leading out of Crainlarich back to where I left the West Highland Way trail the day before. It was nice though, wandering through the thick forest covered with moss, plus it got my heart rate up and the blood flowing again. It was also able to remind me where my new blisters were from the previous day.
The first part of the hike takes you through some really nice and peaceful forests along a nice dirt trail. You rise relatively gently and you get nice views of the surrounding country side. It gets you away from the roads for a bit and you can finally reconnect with nature around you. There are babbling brooks that run through the area and the bird songs filled the crisp morning air.
This is a good place where I need to address one area about the trail and that is litter and trash. The only trash I ever saw on the trail was toilet paper and feminine product wrappers, always just a bit off the side of the trail and sometime hung in branches for a bit of artistic expression.
This is such and easy thing for people to throw away. Please bring a couple small zip lock plastic bags to throw away your toilet paper. Wipe, throw it in the bag, zip it up and take it wish you. Please, please, please do this. It would make a big difference for everyones enjoyment of the trail.
OK…back to the trail…
The woods come to an end after a decent underneath the train tracks that run up to Fort William and beyond. The tracks are on a bridge that spans high over the trail and it is really cool. This is one place where the civilization didn’t bother me so much.
The next stretch takes you through some sheep grazing country side and an old ruin of a priest who tried to convert the Pics to Christianity back in the day. The ruins are moss covered and there is a little graveyard that is kind of charming, except for the whole dead thing.
After the sheep fields, the next couple of miles will take you through some community park until you reach the town of Tyndrum. It is really easy walking and follows the river. There is a little pond in this section that may or may not hold Robert the Bruces’ sword (I’m going with no).
Tyndrum is a bit of a larger village and there are a few stores where you can replenish any goods you may need. People were looking for gold in the river which looked like a lot of work but fun. I don’t know how much gold they are finding these days, but the area used to be known for mining.
A bit into town you will see a sign on the gas station saying it is the last store until Kinlochleven and they aren’t joking. You aren’t going to see another store for a couple of days. Stock up here or your screwed. Seriously…
I’m really torn on how I feel about the next section of the trail, from Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy. On a positive note, this area is really beautiful with the highlands all around you. It was the first time I actually felt like I was in Scotland proper on the trail. I stopped often to take pictures and just admire the scenery.
On the other hand, this whole stretch runs right along a really busy road and again, power lines are stretched across the area. The road has a lot of traffic on it and it is never quiet.
The other issue I have with this stretch is that the West Highland Way trail sits on the old military road. It is not pleasant for the feet, which I have mentioned in other parts of my review. By the time I got to Bridge of Orchy, my feet were calling me an asshole and wanting a break. I was very pleased to find a pub in the Bridge of Orchy Hotel.
I would seriously consider buying some nice insoles for your boots or shoes, even if they are already comfortable. My feet don’t hurt after a good twelve mile hike on dirt trails in my shoes, but on these hard packed rock roads, they felt every step for the last several miles of the day. For the small price for insoles, they could make the walk much more enjoyable.
After a pint in the Bridge of Orchy hotel, I set off on the last two miles to the Inveroran Hotel. After the hard roads of the last miles, the back country dirt trails through the hills were very welcoming. This section winds up at a gradual pace up to some stunning views of the surrounding country side.
When you make it up to the top of the trail, be sure to climb a short way up to the right to the great look out spot. From there, you will get a great panorama of the highlands with a nice view of Loch Tulla. I highly recommend you make the short climb to this spot.
I reached the Inveroran Hotel and I was happy to arrive at such a quaint little hotel out in such remote country. It was very cozy and charming inside and the dinner was quite tasty.
They have a little pub attached so I spent the night listening to some nice Scottish and English folk discussing / arguing about politics before I made my way up to my room and crashed for the night, ready to enter into the much more remote country side.
Inveroran Hotel – A link to the hotel for more info
– Beautiful countryside and the first real Scottish Highlands.
– Variety of scenery from remote forests, small towns, mountains and lochs.
– Road from Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy follows a busy road.
– Hard military roads for several miles.
West Highland Way – Photo Guide and Review by Day
Milngavie – Drymen – 12 miles
Drymen – Rowardennan – 15 miles
Rowardennan – Crainlarich – 20 miles
Crainlarich – Inveroran – 15 miles
Inveroran – Kinlochleven – 19 miles
Kinlochleven – Fort William – 16 miles