Our sixth day was another long one, with 13 miles to walk from Crianlarich to Bridge of Orchy. Well rested and set up with a porridge breakfast, we set off from the youth hostel at 8.30.
The climb back up through forest to join the West Highland Way wasn’t as long & hard as I’d expected it to be, which all goes to show what a good night’s rest can do for you. Mostly, this was to be another day of interweaving with the road and railway as we proceeded through Strath Fillan to Tyndrum and then on to Bridge of Orchy. However, we started high above the glen, walking through the pine forest, before dropping back down to cross the railway, road and river by the ruins and ancient graveyard of St Fillan’s Priory, dating from the 13th century. The forest seemed to be comprised mainly of larch rather than Scots pine which meant more sunlight was penetrating. Sadly, we didn’t spot any red squirrels, but we did make very good progress with Pene and Jenny setting the pace.
We carried on through fields populated by sheep, some black lamb, highland cows and their young, until reaching the gold panning centre and rather bizarre Western-style trading post at Auchtertyre. Yes, you really can pan for gold there, but nobody’s got rich on it!
After a brief stop, we carried on along the track to Dalrigh, where Robert the Bruce was defeated by the MacDougalls of Lorne, and the Lochan of the Lost Sword, where he is reputed to have thrown away his sword in disgust. Oystercatchers screeched in distress above us to warn us away from their nests in the gravelly river banks.
A further walk through pine forest and past the ruins of the iron smelting works took us to Tyndrum. There, we stopped to have lunch and do some shopping at Green Welly Stop. Crucially, I bought a thinner sun hat, just in time, as the temperature was rising rapidly. Although we were to spend the night in Tyndrum, we had to walk on to Bridge of Orchy, where we had been unable to secure accommodation for the night. It was very hot as we walked along the old military road where there was no shelter – it was like walking through a desert in Scotland! We climbed up the side of the glen and then down again to cross the burn at Auch, by the imposing Ben Dorain – we were getting into truly mountainous terrain. We were very pleased to arrive at Bridge of Orchy in time to enjoy afternoon tea at the hotel there before our taxi arrived to take us back to Tyndrum for the night. Two fellow walkers hitched a lift in our taxi, which reduced our fares, so they were welcome.
Jax, who was joining us for the last three days of walking, greeted us at our accommodation. The lodges, newly opened, were very well-appointed and just what we needed after a long hot day’s walking – spacious comfortable rooms with en-suite bathrooms including a bath, much to the delight of couple of us!
We enjoyed fish and chips at the Real Food Café, the most popular place in town, before bedding down for the night.