“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough”
In Crianlarich the train also stays longer than necessary, about 6 minutes. Crianlarich has train station and bus stop, as I told you. It is a good starting point to the north, towards the Highlands, and a good point of return to the south, towards the Lowlands. Or you can change lanes and head west to Oban. It is also a turning point in the landscape, from Crianlarich the atmosphere seems high mountain, although the peaks barely exceed a thousand meters. And it is, also, the midpoint of the West Highland Way. It’s time to move on, to Bridge of Orchy.
Resuming the West Highland Way
The day has woken up splendid, radiant and bright, and so has my body. I had only toast, cereal, and a scrambled egg for breakfast, and packed my backpack, the new one, the small one, which I was able to buy in the village shop. It’s been quick: reflex (the camera, not the spray), water, sandwich, two bananas, three cereal bars and running (almost).
From Crianlarich there are two ways to get back to the West Highland Way: the one that took me there, which leaves you at the train station, and another that takes you on the main road, the A82. I took the path I already knew, which had some photos pending to make of that forest. And I felt so light, so agile and so recovered, that the first stretch, to the crossroads where the road rejoins, with a considerable slope, I did it with the sticks in my back and the camera in the hand. Recovering the authentic path, he has followed the ascent and the busy hand.
Between photo and photo of this fantastic forest in which half of today’s route passes, I remembered that I had to take the bus back to Bridge of Orchy at 15:34, so I saved the reflex, I pulled out the sticks, and coinciding with the descent of the path, I increased the pace considerably.
To Bridge of Orchy
Finished the descent, and after crossing the road and the river Fillan, the path passes through a valley full of flocks grazing quietly, and shortly after the remains of what was the chapel of Saint Fillan, I have found, again, the German couple. We had seen each other yesterday, in Crianlarich: they too had taken a day off, his knee had also said enough. Initially they wanted to rest for two days, but that morning, encouraged by the good weather, they had decided to give it a try, and for the moment the knee responded. They would make only half a route, all the way to Tyndrum. They were, therefore, the last of those we started with who coincided. Finished the road, they would be two days in Edinburgh, so who knows … We said goodbye under the first drops of a rain that has suddenly appeared.
I kept walking at full speed and suddenly I found myself on the road. Since I found a banana peel there, I kept walking along the sidewalk waiting to find some sign that would make me cross the road, but since I couldn’t get there, I decided to look at the map – I was wrong! I had to go back a bit and re-engage the path, on a detour where, probably due to the visual limitation of the hood, I had not seen a sign that was about five meters inward and slightly raised.
Making this mistake has allowed me to reconnect with the Germans, much to the surprise of all three. After a few laughs, we said goodbye until the next road loss. Minutes later, and as if it were an American native, stood in the middle of the road, which was again in the woods and with a good ascend, an old lady, with bright white hair and fuchsia raincoat, enjoyed life, without doing anything. We exchanged a few mornings, talked about the weather, asked me how many miles I was walking today, and told me I could hurry up if I wanted to get to Bridge of Orchy at 3:34 p.m. I said goodbye to her, and she responded with a couple of hurry ups as he laughed happily.
Bordering the majestic Beinn before Bridge of Orchy
From Dalright to Tyndrum is a moment. And from here the route changes completely: the forest ends, and the path borders two magnificent mountains: firstly Beinn Odhar and then Beinn Dorain. For the last 10 kilometers the path runs parallel to the road and the train line, although in the last section, it is a little further away from the first. And the scenery of this stretch is fantastic, too bad I only took pictures with my cell phone.
It has been a hard stretch, a not very abrupt but prolonged ascent, and with 20 km on its legs. It has rained and even hailed, it has been very windy, blowing against the natural protection of the mountain. And, above all, it has been a stretch of extreme loneliness, without finding anyone until the last kilometer, with the exception, and from time to time, of some group of three or four goats.
If you want to arrive on time at Bridge of Orchy …
At about 14:45, I slowed down: there was about a kilometre left, and three quarters of an hour for the bus, there was plenty of time. I arrived at 15:10, and when at 15:40 I looked at the schedule, I saw that the bus from and 34 is the one in the morning, this was at 04. Because the buses are still in winter time and the next one was past eight, and the train passed six, I pulled out of Scottish kindness, without almost having to wait, and got off with a man from Perth, who had just come from Inverness to go mountain biking with his sister.
During the go back trip it has been easy to see people making their way, it was not yet four o’clock, and if they did not depend on any bus, there was still sun to be able to walk a few more hours. I was looking to see if I saw the blue jackets of the Germans, with the backpacks sheathed in blue and green, but they must have camped at Tyndrum.
Tomorrow the road enters the east side of Rannoch Moor. With a name like that, maybe I have to take the shield and the sword.
Photos of the road from Crianlarich to Bridge of Orchy
The route, in detail
Map and profile of the West Highland Way between Crianlarich and Bridge of Orchy
Total climbing: 2209 m
Total descent: -2226 m
Total time: 05:38:58