Day 61: 23 May 2014; Tyndrum to Glencoe

Day 61: 23 May 2014; Tyndrum to Glencoe
Walk descriptor LEJOG2014 Day 61
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
IMG_1078 IMG_1077
Today’s location
(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!”

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
IMG_0892 IMG_0942
The overnight sleeper from London heading out of Tyndrum for Fort William this morning Overlooking Beinn Dorain and Rannoch Moor. Ben Nevis is I think just visible to the right of my head
IMG_0965 IMG_0976
The settlement and hotel at Bridge of Orchy. Not sure which came first – the hotel or the railway station Butterwort – an insectivorous plant that traps insects in its sticky leaves then dissolves them. I think I could do with a few in my tent to remove midges
IMG_1016lighter IMG_1059
At the high point of the section of the WHW crossing Rannoch Moor – about 1,400 ft There is a whole new vocabulary to go with Glamping. These are “Hobbit Houses”.
Panorama over desolate Rannoch Moor this lunchtime
The previous day’s blog follows below the blue line
Solid line blue