A slow and rainy start this morning; as yesterday’s forecast foretold, we only had one rain shower; this lasted all day without rest and varied in degrees of intensity and it was correct that the weather would get worse after this. We walked into Tyndrum to buy food for a fried breakfast which we cooked in the shelter of the campsite kitchen while the rain drummed on the roof. Our clothes were wet again and the camping equipment hadn’t been dry since Saturday night. From here on there were no campsites until the last leg of the walk necessitating two night rough camping which would have been welcomed in better weather. A change of plan was needed so we returned to the Tourist Information centre and with some difficulty, found the ‘phone number of the only two hotels on the next 28 miles of walking. We were lucky to book rooms for our last three nights, first in Inveroran, next the famous Kings House in Glencoe and finally somewhere just outside of Lochleven. Back at the campsite, the owner was far more help than the Information centre and offered the encouraging advice that the path gets easier and the views get better from here. He said many people get this far and then give up, missing the best bit. By lunch time our bags were re-packed with supplies from the car and the camping equipment was safely stowed in the boot. This was a very late and relaxed start to the day which didn’t worry us as we knew the path was good, following an old military road beside the river, and it was shorter than previous days’. Without the extra weight of our camping equipment we made excellent progress and had plenty of time to enjoy the rainy views first of Beinn Odhar then Beinn Dorain. We were walking further into the hills, leaving the road behind for the last and best part of the WHW walk.
Cresting the ridge provided a panoramic view, only slightly obscured by the light rain which was the continuation of yesterday’s shower, of loch Tulla and the start of tomorrow’s route to Rannoch Moor. A Dutch couple we met were walking the WHW from north to south and expressed concern that we were a long way from the Kings House hotel and didn’t have much daylight left; we reassured them that we weren’t going that far today and were stopping in Inveroran which they thought looked like it was shut!
On arrival at the Hotel, it wasn’t shut. This is one of only a few buildings in the glen, is situated right by the Way and has a fantastic location looking over the head of Loch Tulla. I don’t remember if the room had a TV, instead we gazed at the magnificent view of the loch framed by our bedroom window.
After six miles the Way descended to the main road, we arrived at the Bridge of Orchy. We crossed the main road and the eponymous bridge after which the path quickly leaves the road and heads uphill. Here, we climbed higher over the end of a broad ridge, dropping down the other side to the Inveroran Hotel.
It is a perfect setting in the middle of nowhere. There is a real sense of history in this hotel, built in 1708 and centre of much of the early development of mountaineering in Scotland. Dorothy Wordsworth stayed here in 1803 whilst on a tour of Scotland, it was a popular stopping off point for Victorian tourists and drovers moving cattle and sheep though the two groups didn’t often meet. We love it here. Dotted around the walls downstairs are photographs of early travelers. One photograph shows a large carriage drawn by a team of four horses to take visitors to and from the nearest station. It must have been an uncomfortable, long journey sat on hard wooden seat, traveling over rough tracks in an open coach. Darkness fell, drawing the curtains on our view while we awaited a turn in the hot shower before dinner time. Poor Mark stripped of to reveal he had collected an unwanted pet. A sheep tick had attached itself to his back and didn’t want to leave, he was brave as we removed it and dug the last little bit out. Deer roamed near the hotel, through the open window we could hear their rutting roar. Overnight, the deer’s roar was replaced by the roar of the wind which picked up outside our comfortable room, driving rain onto the windows; we were pleased not to be in the tent.