Wednesday, June 4, 2014

West Highland Way Day 5 - Tyndrum to inveroran

IMG_5993.JPGLeaving Tydrum under a slight drizzle we would follow this stream (looking back the way we've come) for some time. A major road is nearby and cars zoom by often disturbing the quiet of the hills. It is a bit sullen but the going is easy as we contour around hills rising and falling pretty gently on our way to Bridge of Orchy.
After a night at Ardlui hotel that some would prefer to forget due to some other guests utterly horrid drunken behavior (not people from our group though the affected people were) we boarded the bus for the fast drive to Tyndrum where we would begin our hike of some 9 miles to the Inveroran Hotel. It was misting a bit when we began our hiking and we fully expected the mist to turn into something with a bit more bite as the day progressed. We would be hiking along old Military Roads first built in the 1700s to facilitate British Army movements as they tried to quells various uprisings by the Scottish people. These roads are often very good for foot travel though I've found some that can be rather rough. I think a lot depends on what type of land the military roads traverse. If, for example, they pass through farmland that has been in active use for the past couple centuries it's Likely they get some maintenance by farmers to make moving their herds a bit easier. Our hike would take us north out of Tyndrum paralelling a major road (A82) not that far away. But just to our right was a stream chuckling on by and standing in it were a couple of men dressed for the weather panning for gold. They would use a bilge style pump to suck up water and rock which they would sluice through a pan to shake out stones and hopefully gold. I gather some people put a strong magnet in the path of the water as it flows down a trough to the pan to pull out magnetic ore and aid in the separation = process. It is clearly slow tedious work to get what can only be a handful of grams of gold so it must be a hobby (I doubt they're doing it for the monetary reward) that requires much patence especially on a cooler drizzly day like this was turning into (with worse to come).
Gold Panning in Scotland.jpgThis is something I have not seen before. It's cooler today than it has been, probably not much more than 50 degrees F and I expect the stream is hardly warm but that isn't stopping these fellows from doing what they're doing: panning for gold. I've no idea how much gold they can gather but I suspect it's probably a tiny amount measured in grams. I think they must do it for reasons other than monetary reward rather like the reasons people do catch-and-release fishing hour after hour standing in a cold river. Their must be something about the work itself that is satisfying though I'm not quite sure what that is.
The walking remained easy as we marched along the military road across hills , across small fords of tiny streams, and eventually into Bridge of Orchy just as the rain was starting to pick up some steam. About half our group decided to have a quick hot drink and soup at the bar while the rest huddled under cover and ate their mediocre sandwhiches at the railway station. Personally I think us bar sitters made the right choice as I've no doubt my soup was vastly tastier than the sandwich fixed up by Ardlui hotel. I'm not quite sure why we had to rush things as much as we did as we were more than two thirds to Inveroran and had ample time but we hustled through our meal as per our leader's decision.
Misty Mountain.jpgMisty Mountain
From Bridge of Orchy it's not much more than 2 miles to Inveroran hotel but you do have a steady climb over Man Carraigh (sp) to get there. We passed by a tent set up and staffed by volunteers raising funds for mountain rescue and some sort of outdoor outreach program for kids. Most of us got little carrot cakes and made donations. We went up into the woods with the rain coming down more steadily now and the wind picking up too. It wasn't a downpour but it was a steady rain by this time. I believe the temeprature was hovering around 50F. Things got worse on the backside of the hill where there was no tree coverage and you were just exposed to the elements as you pounded down the wide military road the last mile or so to Inveroran Hotel. We weren't soaked, except perhaps our feet (well mine at least) but we certainly welcomed the tearoom at the Inveroran Hotel which we entered just before 15:0 - just before there closing time though I doubt they'd turn away a dozen people bound to order hot drinks and sweets. We would pile into a bus for the ride to our hotel located in Glen Coe (about 40 miles away) about a half hour or so later and this HF Holidays house we are at now for the next four nights should be exceptional. All in all an easy day with mediocre weather notably at the end of the hike but hardly the worst weather any of us has ever hiked in by a long shot. Bad weather is, of course, so much easier to tolerate when you know a warm room with a good shower awaits and you don't have to worry about setting up or taking down camp in the rain.

All 4 photos for this day can be viewed (at much greater size) in this Flick album. It really wasn't a day for photography especially when hiking down into Inveroran battling winds that wanted to push you around and the driving rain that came with those high winds.

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