The West Highland Way & Great Glen Way

Walked in August 2010

Day 3 - Tuesday 17th August

Rowardennan - Inverarnan
15 miles

As forecast the rain eased off and stopped at about 7am, and as we had already started packing up we were pretty much ready to go by 7.30. I took a few pictures of the Loch and the war memorial before we walked back down the road and along the drive to the hostel to pick up our packed lunches which took a lot longer than we expected due to the apparently lousy organisation of the staff. My legs were practically humming with midge bites and it was getting on for 8.30 by the time we left the hostel with our frankly meagre lunches (compared to what we’d had from hostels in the past) and set off on the road that wound up and around the lower slopes of Ben Lomond.

We passed a few tents as we walked, proving that other people had gone beyond the wild campsite and found their own nice little spots. We also caught up with a couple of other walkers and proceeded to reel them in before having to divert down a side path for a toilet break. We followed a long, high wooded section above the Loch that seemed to get higher and higher as we went. There wasn’t an awful lot of level ground, and it got worse as we descended back toward the Loch and eventually to the falls at Inversnaid and the Inversnaid Hotel where we stopped in the bar to have a couple of coffees each and some scones.

We seemed to be the first ones there but the bar soon filled up with other walkers, including the two American guys and various other people from different parts of the world. We also spotted the four competitive walkers (or The Four Fish as I like to call them) in the bar. Again they didn’t want to make eye contact or say anything to us, something which only added to our enjoyment later in the day when they made the mistake of racing us.

Leaving Inversnaid we found a much rockier path that slowed us down a little and made for some scrambling in a couple of places, particularly where a tree had fallen across the path and the waterfall that flowed over it. At first the path just seemed to disappear, but Darryl pushed through the branches and announced that the tree must be a recent addition to the way and had to be negotiated. I broke off as many branches as I could to help those behind us and we were soon across the unexpected obstacle. We pressed on for a while and stopped on a small pebble beach for a break opposite Island I Vow. Darryl had got the idea into his head to swim all the way out to it.

Despite my attempts to dissuade him and convince him it was further away than he thought, he stripped down to his shorts and waded in announcing unnecessarily that the water was cold. To be fair he did make it a fair way across but had to turn back after a while because the lack of goggles was making it hard on his eyes, and there were boats on the Loch that could prove hazardous if they headed his way.

We ate our disappointing packed lunches as more and more walkers passed behind us on the track. After I’d filled the filter/purifying bottle from a stream trickling into the Loch we picked up our gear and carried on along the path, eager to catch up with and overtake all those people who’d had the nerve to think they could beat us to Inverarnan.

We walked alongside the shore for a while then headed across a nice, soft grassy section before coming to a hill where below us we could see Doune Bothy, as well as The Four Fish who at that point hadn’t managed to secure much of a lead. I took a few photos then we went down and had a quick look in the bothy to find a walker had practically set up home in there, hanging his tent and bag out to dry above the sleeping area and covering the table with books and food. He was clearly trying to put people off staying in there for any length of time, and since we couldn’t stop anyway we left the miserable sod to it and carried on along the trail.

We put on a spurt hoping to overtake The Four Fish but as we turned each corner and topped each rise they seemed to remain curiously elusive. We increased our speed even more, growing suspicious that they were on to us and were going all out to avoid being overtaken (bless them). After about twenty minutes or so of hard work we finally caught sight of them, and were able to reel them in and overtake when they finally had to stop to shed a few layers. We offered a quick ‘hello’ as we passed, hiding any smugness, but merely got one or two begrudging grunts in reply. No honour in defeat for some people. To be fair they had done pretty well as Inverarnan was not too far away now, and we were really glad to finally reach Beinglas Farm (our destination for the day) and have a rest after all the extra exertion.

We paid for our pitches and put our tents up in the glorious afternoon sun. There were quite a few people camping at the site, as well as others using the cabins and wooden wigwams also on offer. We took the opportunity to wash and dry some clothes in the machines provided and bought some food from the shop, before relaxing by our tents for a while, reading and listening to the radio. Other walkers trickled in over the next couple of hours. I did see The Four Fish at one point, but they seemed strangely unenthusiastic about even acknowledging my presence, let alone striking up a conversation. Ha ha!

We had pot noodles, sausages and beans for dinner, then went for a walk down the road to the Drover’s Inn where we stopped for a drink. I’d heard stories about the Drover’s, particularly about the surprisingly bad state of the building and the rooms. Luckily we weren’t staying there, so all we got to see was the bar and the hall full of stuffed animals that really ought to have had a little more dignity after death. The bar was quite popular and we had a pleasant enough drink, spotting the two American gents at one point who were eating. They told us later that this was the worse meal of the whole trip. Another bad review for the Drover’s. When we left we saw a lodge on the other side that appeared to be part of the Drover’s so perhaps they have improved and expanded their accommodation. Will have to wait and see from other walkers staying there if this is indeed the case. It would be good for them to elevate their average review above that of ‘sh*thole.’

We walked back along the road to the campsite and decided to stop in small the bar for another drink. The food there looked pretty good, and although the bar/restaurant is small, it does seem to just about cater for all the busy visitors. Along with the shop and large dining/common room and washing/drying facilities, the place really does a great job of satisfying the needs of all walkers. If only there were no midges!

 

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