Over breakfast in The Bridge of Orchy Hotel I told Euan that I wanted to go to the doctor’s as my legs were no better this morning despite the anti-histamines.
Unfortunately because it was Sunday that meant a bus trip to Fort William and a visit to A&E at the Belford hospital. After paying our bill, we went outside to sit on the picnic benches while we waited for the bus. Again since it was Sunday we had to wait a couple of hours for it, but we chatted to anyone who came past, had a couple of pints of juice and some cake, and ‘phoned AMS, the Macdonald Hotel and the Bank Street Lodge to cancel our bookings.
The bus journey is actually quite picturesque, going past Loch Tulla and the entrance of the White Corries ski centre, although obviously I’d rather have been walking. The road continues on through the spectacular scenery of Glen Coe, along the edge of Loch Leven, across the bridge at Ballachulish then along the edge of Loch Linnhe to Fort William.
The bus dropped us off just next to the railway station, which thankfully was only a short walk from the hospital. After about half an hour in the tiny waiting room I was seen by a doctor who told me to stop doing the West Highland Way – and any unnecessary walking – put my feet up whenever possible and take anti-histamines. In his words, I’d been “incredibly unlucky” to get the allergic reaction, sunburn and cleg bites in the same place. On both legs!
Being Sunday, the only train back to Glasgow was not until 5 o’clock, so we had 6 hours to kill. We walked down to the High Street and I went to Boots to get anti-histamines. Except it was Sunday, so it was shut! We bought some lunch from Tesco, then went and sat in the park to eat it. It was another gloriously sunny day, which made the fact we’d had to stop walking with just 56km to go even more annoying. After a few hours in the sun watching Japanese students playing with a local dog, we bought some papers and magazines for the journey and headed to the railway station to buy our tickets.
Although walking to Glasgow is 152km, that route goes over some mountainous terrain. The railway has to go around the hills rather than over them, so is a longer distance. The journey by train takes just under 4 hours, but the views from the train are simply stunning. It begins by going north and east through Glen Spean before dropping down by Loch Treig to the remote Rannoch Station on the edge of Rannoch Moor, where Loch Rannoch was just visible, with Schiehallion‘s distinctive peak on the horizon.
Beyond Bridge of Orchy the track follows the West Highland Way closely to Tyndrum and Crianlarich, then through Glen Falloch before heading down the opposite side of Loch Lomond to the West Highland Way. This section makes you appreciate exactly how far you’ve walked.
As the train twists and turns along the loch, you can see right down it’s length, realising the physical distance involved. But rather than following the banks of the loch all the way, it breaks off at Tarbet to follow the edge of Loch Long and the Gare Loch through Helensburgh and Dumbarton back to the grim urban reality of Glasgow. This wasn’t quite how we envisaged ending the West Highland Way, but we’d had good fun on the way. It just means we’ll have to do it again next year!