Friday, May 15, 2015

WEST HIGHLAND WAY (WHW) – Day 4 – Inversnaid > Crianlarich

West Highland Way, Scotland -- Day 4



WEST HIGHLAND WAY BLOG LINKS:

Things to Know Before You Go
Day 1 – London > Glasgow > Milngavie > Drymen
Day 2 – Drymen > Balmaha > Rowardennan
Day 3 – Rowardennan > Inversnaid
Day 4 – Inversnaid > Crianlarich
Day 5 – Crianlarich > Bridge of Orchy
Day 6 – Bridge of Orchy > Kingshouse (Glencoe)
Day 7 – Kingshouse > Kinlochleven
Day 8 – Kinlochleven > Ft William

The day I took off to sit in the Inversnaid Bunkhouse to recover, it was an absolutely stunning day. The next day, the day I started walking again, it rained lightly all day. I was refreshed and dry under my poncho so I absolutely loved it. The overcast skies where giving me the most perfect lighting for photographs, so there really was a major plus side to the drizzle. If I could only keep my camera lens dry.

While at Inversnaid, I had the staff at the Bunkhouse help with suggestions in booking hostels for the rest of the trip. I was able to book cheap places in Crianlarich (my next stop), Kinlochleven and at the end of the trek in Ft. William. This left two more nights that I would need to camp in the highlands when I would be at Bridge of Orchy and at Kingshouse. The idea of getting rained on in my leaky tent again during that time absolutely terrified me. I didn't care if I got rained on during the day. But I didn't want to sleep in a wet tent and then carry a soaked, wet pack again.

But moving along, this days trek took me from the shores of Loch Lamond and into the highlands. The pathways became thick with mud. As I traveled closer to the moors of Scotland the richer and thicker the mud got and the deeper my feet would sing into the pitch black goo if I happened to not find a stone path to cross the muck.

I found a discarded walking stick that was perfect and I thought I was being clever and used it for balance along a series of stones through an extra large area of mud. One little slip off of one slippery stone and my feet slid into the mud, and with the weight of my pack n my back it brought my knees into the mud.. and there was no stopping my entire upper body from going completely face-first into the blackest, most fertile mud I have ever had the pleasure of eating. I was horrified for about 5 seconds, but then, of course, started laughing hysterically. Thanks to my rain poncho, only my face and my lower legs were covered with mud. The rest eventually washed off in the rain. It turns out that this very thick black mud clumps up and falls off fairly easily.
Covered in Muck
The scene of the crime.
Broken Glasses

I was completely covered in mud, but my legs hurt a lot less due to a lighter pack and I was still fairly dry under my poncho.. so I was still absolutely loving every second of this.

This is the part of the trek that allows you to begin to feel the warmth and charm of some remote Scottish villages. Except for the occasional modern convenience store, the villages are a charming reflection on what small village life has been like here in the past and the people of Scotland continue to be among the most cheerful and pleasant. I honestly have loved every second here.. even the parts with the rain.

Along this path you will cross quite a few mossy stones, some abandoned farmhouses and then later you will pass through miles of magnificent waterfalls. The Falls of Falloch could easily be the location of a 6-star luxury hotel. Majestic scenery.. but somehow completely preserved as an all-natural beauty.

video

The falls go on for miles and miles and at one point, you are completely surrounded by waterfalls. This was an amazing and unexpected highlight of the trip.

My legs had also started to adjust to the experience and by the fourth day of major trekking through steep mountains with a massively heavy pack on my back my legs felt as big and beefy as when I used to do cycling in my 20's. I am not feeling the pain any more from the weight of the bag, even though by the end of the day of walking, my legs still can hurt pretty bad. I can walk quite aggressively now though, instead of doing time-consuming baby-steps and whimpering the whole way (Day 1 - 3).

I now had to follow an itinerary set in stone with my reservations along the route that I had paid for in advance. May 9th I was to finish the West Highland Way. When I first stared on WHW, I had also planned on continuing on through the "Great Glen Way" up past Loch Ness for another 90+ miles. The rain and experience with the leaky tent caused me to reconsider this options and I knew I would be saving this experience for another trip.

I got through even more mud... and then mud mixed with copious amounts of horse manure to finally reach the turn to Crianlarich. The path to Crianlarich took me a mile away from the main trail, but it was through a beautiful wooded area, no mud, and took me to the edge of the village. I tried walking down the steep hill to the storm tunnel that goes under the railroad tracks (the only way into the village from the path) but I ended up slipping and sliding down it most of the way on my butt, leaving now my front and backsides completely filthy.

By the time I got to the front door of the Crianlarich Youth Hostel, I stood outside so they could see me and I waited for them to motion to me to come in before I made an attempt. I was filthy with mud, front and back, and I didn't want to walk in looking like a wild animal without their invitation.

I got into the shower almost completely clothed so that I could rinse the pounds of Earth off. Stripping layers of clothing off and wringing them dry.. I finally was completely nude in the shower, standing in a fine collection of mud, and somehow, rocks. I cleaned out the shower after I get myself clean. You could have grown crops in there after I was done.

The Youth Hostel was charming.. but completely no frills. Internet cost quite a bit to use as well. The staff were awesome though, and the chill-out area of the hostel was a great spot to chat with local travelers. Most of the hostel guests were well-past-retired gentlemen that loved to get up every day and walk up the mountains. 75 and 80 years old was not stopping these guys from loving the great outdoors. I hope I can be like these older kids when I grow up.

Off to an amazing night of sleep.

WEST HIGHLAND WAY BLOG LINKS:

Things to Know Before You Go
Day 1 – London > Glasgow > Milngavie > Drymen
Day 2 – Drymen > Balmaha > Rowardennan
Day 3 – Rowardennan > Inversnaid
Day 4 – Inversnaid > Crianlarich
Day 5 – Crianlarich > Bridge of Orchy
Day 6 – Bridge of Orchy > Kingshouse (Glencoe)
Day 7 – Kingshouse > Kinlochleven
Day 8 – Kinlochleven > Ft William







 




 










 


















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