Day 61: 23 May 2014; Tyndrum to Glencoe
|Date||Fri 23 May 2014||Start to end time||07h 10m|
|Start point||Tyndrum||End point||Glencoe|
|Miles today||18.98||Cu miles||1,137.59|
|Ft today||2,734||Cu ft||153,530|
|Route miles left||359.40||Route ft left||50,610|
|Today’s weather||Bright with broken white cloud and sunny intervals. Dry. Strong North Easterly wind. About 8C|
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
|GPX based track of today’s walk
(click here to access to access downloadable file)
“I’d enjoyed a highly nutritious dinner of fish and chips followed by cake and beer at the Real Food Café in Tyndrum last night and then remembered that I’d lost my razor and also that my rucksack hip-belt had started to come adrift from the bag. So at 10 o’clock I started scouring the Highlands for shaving equipment and a sewing kit. Remarkably, I found both at a petrol station and I immediately concluded that in view of its two railway stations, excellent restaurant and very handy petrol station, I liked Tyndrum a lot.
I effected a makeshift repair of my rucksack then managed to get a good night’s sleep. Despite the fact, by the way, that at this time of year up here it stays fully daylight until nearly 11pm. I set my alarm for 6 am so I could get an early start this morning. I’d scheduled a long day walking to King’s House, and this involved a lot of climbing and also a traverse of Rannoch Moor. So I wanted to get away early so I didn’t have to rush. Leaving early also had the advantage of giving me a couple of hours on the path on my own. At about 10 am, every day since I joined the West Highland Way, hordes of walkers seem to disgorge themselves from their B&Bs and hotels and start plodding along the path. It’s nice to have people to say “hello” to (and one group gave me a generous donation to my charity) but I must admit I think I prefer having the route to myself. At heart I must be just antisocial!
In terms of scenic magnificence, this route probably topped the list on the LEJOG hike so far – possibly even beating the traverse of Loughrigg Terrace in the Lake District. The weather was clear with lots of sun, and the low temperature and stiff breeze kept the midges away. But the ascent from Tyndrum and then the expanding vistas over Rannoch Moor were simply magnificent. There were snow capped Munros in all directions, and at one point I think I glimpsed Ben Nevis in the distance. Very hard to beat, anywhere in the world.
Rannoch Moor always invokes awe in hikers – it’s bleak, large and remote. But this was at least the second time I’d traversed it and I’ve never found it too problematic (though generally I’ve been lucky with the weather). It’s impossible to get lost on the WHW path, and it’s very well maintained. I completed the 10 mile traverse in under 3 hours and it just flew by. Perhaps it was the magnificence of the scenery, or maybe my 1,100 mile hike has made me fitter, but I didn’t find today’s route too difficult at all. The trouble is, though, that my average speed has increased a bit so I tend to arrive at my destination in the early afternoon, which can leave me with time on my hands. I guess I should just start later in the mornings, but that would put me in the thick of the walking masses, which I’m not sure I could cope with..
I’d been planning to end the hike at King’s House Hotel and wild camp by the river. But as I entered Glencoe, I saw a sign advertising a “proper” campsite that had just opened at the base station of the chairlift which serves the nearby ski-centre. It has proper hot showers and a rather nice log cabin dining room. Given that my original plan involved wild camping and then sharing a bar with sweaty climbers topped off by getting washed in the river, I didn’t think about it for too long. So I changed my plans and have camped here, complete with stunning views of Buachikle Etive Mor – the Great Heardsman of Etive – one of Scotland’s most imposing mountains. All I need now is a midge-free evening to make the day perfect!”