Tuesday, June 3, 2014

West Highland Way Day 4 - Ardlui to Tyndrum

IMG_5943.JPGLast night, a couple hours after we ferried across the loch, fog rolled in and rain fell. This morning though the clouds were heavy in the sky hints of a sunny day could be seen.
Our fourth day marks the halfway point of the trip and more than hafl of the West Highland Way walked. And that's agood thing because day 4 was a long one. We were lulled into a false sense of ease by the booklet which was off in all respects. The day would end up being just a touch under 15 miles long and have nearly double the ascent the booklet suggested. But the paths, trail, dirt and paved and old military roads we followed were in very good shape so that was in our favor. We had a wonderfully sunny day for the bulk of the walk which often as not was above river courses that featured, though I never saw them, waterfalls to gaze at. On the minus side you could not help but hear the traffic roar from the major road not far off (maybe the A82). Everything happens in the river valleys and so while you may feel as though you are alone as you walk swaths of rolling hills you really aren't that far from human activity. But it was still a fine day to be out and we enjoyed ourselves even though the last couple of miles really did wear us out as we seemed to keep walking and walking into the village of Tydrum under skies that were once again clouding over (in fact during dinner it did rain a bit).
P1020023.pngOK, so that wasn't the last view before but this one truly i the lsat view northbound hikers will get of the loch and it makes a fine first view for people heading south.
We did have many fine views as you can see in the pictures. Mom and Dad look great with the snow-clad mountains behind them for example. The view across Loch Lomond with the sun bursting thorugh the clouds was taken just before we boarded the ferry to cross the half-mile wide loch to start our hike. The other view of the loch was the true last view we had and what a fine view it was. It was a tough day because it was far longer than expected and after a while the distance just gets to you. I am a bit achy as I type this the following morning (waiting for breakfast which is served at 08:00). The backs of my knees feel it. I'd have loved to get a foot massage yesterday after the hike. Fortunately the walk on day 5 should be much gentler. The map/guide and HF booklet agree that it's just 9 miles and follows good paths and such with the booklet giving an ascent of 975 feet and the guide suggesting it's more like 1,100 for ascent and descent but that's an easy day. Sadly we will have a rather long bus ride to the next hotel but that's the way things go.
IMG_5969.JPGThe skies cleard a while back as we walked this path that winds through farms of Glen Falloch. I suppose this is a two-track of sorts and the walking was certainly was easy. In time we would settle down for lunch by River Falloch waiting for the steam train that would pass on by. We've a couple train buff in the group.
P1020031.JPGThe mountain in the background is likely Ben More. This would be our last open view for some time as we would continue to climb through forests, mostly on wide tracks vergining on woods roads, before descending seemingly a very long way to Kirkton Bridge.
Into Kirkton Farm.jpgThe people running this estate, Kirkton Farm I believe, are attempting to keep alive the long standing practices of highland sheep farming. It really isn't economically viable, or at least not that viable these days, from what I gathered. I guess the market for lamb, mutton, and wool isn't what it once was but I hope they are making a good go of it. The walking here is on estate roads and thus easy.
Ardlui Food.jpgThe portions at the restaurant in the Ardlui hotel may not be the tastiest but they are big. I'm not sure what this was called now but it's a bit like a pasty though the dough is flakier and lacks the outer ridge.

You can view all 16 photos for this day (at a much greater size too) in this Flickr photo album.

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