Trails and trials of the writer who walks
Another dawn start, and at Tyndrum (around 10.30 am), I’m at the halfway point of the walk. There are several pubs and cafes to choose from plus shops. I spend a lot of time enjoying the sunshine outside the Tyndrum Inn and watching WHW trekkers straggle past. None of the old convoy appear. I quite miss them really!
“What time do you start serving lunch?” I ask, at 11.30 am, having already progressed from coffee to beer.
“Any time you want,” is the useful reply.
This time, the same haggis starter, served as a stack of swede (neeps), mash (tatties) and haggis, and including the whisky sauce, is a mere £3.95.
A sign in Tyndrum warns ‘Last shop for 44 kms!’. This is true but in the Highlands, hotels have a habit of popping up in the middle of nowhere and they always have cosy walkers’ bars: a log fire, and the possibility of a bacon roll or a haggis pannini even when the chef hasn’t arrived yet.
The hotel at Bridge of Orchy provides a refreshing pot of tea with home made cake. Just the right thing for a rest stop around 3.30 pm.
Did I mention that the weather has been un-Scottishly excellent? I haven’t even taken out my coat yet. This is about to change.
I’m now getting acquainted with my new convoy who all appear at Inveroran Hotel because there is nowhere else to be. Those doing the luxury version of the walk are booked in, but I intend to have my usual long tea-time rest and then plough on for another hour or two.
I fall into conversation with a German girl who is a minimalist lightweight back-packer like me. You would think, with her Bavarian birthright, that she would be a beer drinker but her tipple of choice is cider. This confuses the Romanian barman who has not yet added this word to his vocabulary. With the help of my reading glasses, I find the right pump for him. He is still muttering ‘Magners’ as we leave.
The German girl, Sabine, knows of a good pitch a little further up the road which she has found on Google maps. Her phone must have more ‘vorsprung’ than tesco mobile because I can’t get any ‘t’internet. The pitch looks idyllic: firm grass safely above a river, only one little tent in sight. By now I’m wearing my midge jacket (hooray!) and zip the hood up completely so that I resemble a bee-keeper while erecting the tent. As we both favour a dawn start, we are tucked up in our bags by 10 pm and well on the way to the land of Nod, when a minibus arrives, disgorging about 20 young teenagers plus a Leader, who bellow his instructions to them in a voice that can carry all the way over the Sound of Mull to Tobermory. (I know this, because a man in Wetherspoons at Fort William claims to have heard him). I’d picked a spot on the edge but my German friend has placed her tent in the middle of the green and is now surrounded.
During the night, I occupy my wakeful hours batting slugs from the outside of my inner tent before they can climb in the window. (Camping tip of the week: do a slug check on your boots and utensils in the morning). As well as the mini-bus invasion, it begins to rain and will continue for three nights and two days.