Over a leisurely breakfast at the Inversnaid Bunkhouse, we realised that we were now several kilometres behind where we wanted to be, but had little choice but to press on for Crianlarich.
After settling our bill, Scott drove us back down the hill to the Inversnaid Hotel so that we could start from where we left off the night before.
Before we started walking again, we had another look at the mightily-impressive waterfall where the Arklet Water discharges into Loch Lomond from Loch Arklet.
Setting off up the side of Loch Lomond past Rob Roy’s Cave we were hit with the slightly demoralising realisation that after almost 2 hours of walking, we had only just reached the ferry crossing to McGregors Landing, where we were supposed to stay last night. But our mood was good, since we weren’t as wet as we had been yesterday, and as we approached the end of the loch the rain even lifted. Briefly.
As the rain started up again – straight-falling, persistent, wet rain – we reached Beinglas farm and walked across the bridge and back down the main road to The Drover’s Inn. I’d heard about this place before, but only that it was well worth a visit. From the outside it looks like it’s falling down.
And when you go into the hall you’re greeted by a huge number of stuffed animals, including a bear and a shark! When you walk into the bar itself, you’re hit by a wall of heat from the massive open log fire at the end of the room, just what we needed as we were soaked to the skin again, and feeling the cold.
A pint and a toastie made us feel so much better, and finally we pulled ourselves away from the warmth of the fire to continue our trek in the rain. We were now following the River Falloch through Glen Falloch, climbing up as the river flowed down to Loch Lomond behind us.
Several days of heavy rainfall had turned the river into a raging torrent as it flowed it’s way at high speed through the narrow rock gorges, pounding and churning as it went. We crossed the river over the bridge at Derrydarroch, following the path as it ran just down from the main road. It was heavy rain now, so there were no more photos today.
The water from the river was now lapping over the edge of the path, and when we turned a corner we encountered a problem. At a dip in the path, the river had burst it’s banks, and the problem was aggravated by an under-road drainage pipe spewing water across the path and into the swollen river. If we’d been swept into the river that would’ve been it, so we decided to climb up onto the main road and walk along the edge of that until the West Highland Way crosses it to the west side.
We later found out that a bunch of guys from north-west England who we’d been meeting at various places on the way (and who weren’t carrying their own bags) had decided to wade through the flood water, and found themselves up to their chests in water, dragging themselves through along a wire fence! Walking along the road was without a doubt the most miserable and demoralising section of the West Highland Way.
The rain was driving straight at us, it was cold, we were soaked, and we were walking on hard, unforgiving tarmac instead of forest tracks. To make it worse, the road was dead straight, so we didn’t appear to be making any progress at all. We decided to carry on on the road rather than rejoining the West Highland Way as we couldn’t face having to turn back again because of floods.
Rounding the corner into Crianlarich seemed to take forever, but at last we walked up the small slope to the Crianlarich Youth Hostel.
The contrast between this and the Inversnaid Bunkhouse couldn’t have been greater. Despite being drenched to the skin and physically shaking from the cold, the first thing they wanted was our money, and we had to sign up as members – difficult with shaky hands! – there and then. Only after all the rules had been explained to us (such as the front door being locked at 11:30 and lights out at 11:45) could we finally go for a much needed shower. Which was cold.
We headed out for the bright lights of Crianlarich, and ended up in The Rod & Reel for some food and a few beers. We were joined by the Scouse-Mancs and exchanged stories about the incredibly wet day we’d had, before introducing them to the delights of Talisker.
The Germans later came in as well, but the fours of us had to leave the English guys behind and rush to the hostel before the doors shut – they were staying in a much more expensive hotel after experiencing the hostel once before.