Chelmsford YHA Group

CYHA News

The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

December 2020

Highland Fling (part 2)

Rowardennan Lodge, West Highland Way

Last month you left us at Rowardennan, three days into the West Highland Way. After a long, hard day to get to Rowardennan YH, day 3 started with a choice: high road or low road. The upper route had the advantage of being easier going, but you missed out on fantastic views across the loch. We had people on both routes.

On the low road we passed some ruined cottages, plus the restored Rowchoish bothy, and got spectacular views across the loch to Ben Arthur (aka The Cobbler). The Cobbler has an unusual profile with three summits, looking a bit like a head with curling horns. It looked amazing against a blue sky and we really couldnít believe our luck. We had a very relaxed lunch in the sunshine on one of the beaches by the loch, tucking into some delicious tiffin we picked up at one of the better-stocked honesty cafťs, but after a while the cool air got to us and we decided to press on. Having walked on our own for much of the day, we rounded a corner to find Robin half naked and Sarah wearing every warm stitch she had. As there was no rush today, Robin had decided to take a swim and dry off in the sun Ė clearly made of sterner stuff than us!

A little further on and we caught up with Doug at the Snaid Burn waterfall. We were going to stop for a well-earned drink at the Inversnaid hotel, but sadly they had decided not to open under Covid restrictions. It seems that because their main clientele were older people travelling by coach, their business had pretty much evaporated in March. Still, all was not lost! A bit of a pull up the hill, but there was tea and beer waiting for us at the Inversnaid Bunkhouse and Bistro.

Day 4 was another longish day with 13 miles to cover to Crainlarich. It has the reputation of being one of the toughest days on the route, but for me it was one of my favourites.

You start in the woods on a pleasantly scrambly path - nothing extreme, but just enough to get your hands out of your pockets. After a short distance you pass a sign for Rob Royís cave. Dave and Robin couldnít resist a peak, but I think there is some doubt about whether Rob Roy really used the cave. Itís probably in the same category as beds Bonnie Prince Charlie has slept in. The cloud was a bit lower today, but we were treated to fantastic views down the length of Loch Lomond to Ard Lui and the hills beyond. We were walking below fairly steep wooded cliffs from where you could hear the bleating of feral goats. Apparently these are the ancestors of livestock abandoned after the clearances.

We had an idea to stop at Doune bothy for lunch, but on arriving found a chap camping there and using the building to dry his clothes from a deluge a few days before. We stayed for a chat and found out he was an Aberdeen man desperately looking for work, but none of the hotels were hiring. Potentially a bit of a bleak existence, but at least he was doing it in nice scenery.

Ian had been suffering from bad blisters and, despite Judi applying a thick layer of dressings, it was at this point that the temptation of a ferry back to civilisation got the better of him. Instead of reaching Crianlarich on foot, Ian arrived by train via Oban. The rest of us plodded on, climbing out of the valley containing Loch Lomond and past a memorial post to Dario Melaragni, the founder of the West Highland Way race. In the West Highland Way race the competitors complete the course that was going to take us 8 days in roughly 16 hours. Itís a memorial because unfortunately Dario died at 46 during training. Iím not sure how much to read into that, but Iím not taking up running any time soon.

From the memorial itís along the side of Glen Falloch, which runs all the way to Crianlarich. Dave and I stopped off for a welcome beer at Beinglas Farm. It had already been a long, hot day and we still had roughly 7 miles to go. The walk up Glen Falloch was impressive. The Glen was narrower than the Lomond valley and as the afternoon went on, low cloud started to circle the peaks on either side. It was very atmospheric and quite different to the open views of the loch. After what seemed like a lot further than 13 miles, we eventually pulled up at Crianlarich, the traditional half-way point on the West Highland Way. †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

Ali

Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer