The West Highland Way – Stage 3: Rowardennan to Inverarnan – 14.5 miles/23.4km
Day 3 started with a taxi ride back seven miles up the road to Rowardennan. Physiologically it felt good to be quickly transported back up the line. We needed the boost because another gruelling 14 mile day lay ahead of us.
We had to make it to Inverarnan by nightfall and the famous Drovers Inn. We would still be hugging the shores of Loch Lomond for the majority of the day but by the end of it we would have made it to the start of the real Highlands.
Leaving Rowardennan The West Highland Way followed mainly forestry roads before then gently climbing high up above the Loch where we were rewarded with fantastic views over the water towards the peaks of the Arrochar Alps in the distance.
The path narrowed and gradually become more undulating eventually passing over a spectacular bridge and waterfall before we arrived at the welcoming Inversnaid Hotel.
Departing Inversnaid after a rather delicious scone and jam we passed through the RSPB Inversnaid Nature Reserve. Disappointingly I was unable to find Rob Roy’s Cave down on the shores of the loch but then again I guess that was the general idea of a hideaway, being hard to find!
The path onward from Inversnaid to the head of the loch was hard going with numerous ups and downs on a rough and very uneven surface. After leaving the lochside and passing Doune Bothy the path improved somewhat.
Then the heavens opened up on us making the last few miles a bit of a sufferfest to Ardleish and Inverarnan. Eventually we were greeted with the lovely Beinglas Farm marking the end of that particular day on the trail. Unfortunately for us we still had some way to go having to leave the way and follow the signs to get to Inverarnan. Several rain soaked minutes later we came across the 300-year old Drovers Inn.
From the outside it looks like your quintessential Scottish Inn, old, remote and welcoming. Once inside though you encounter the eclectic taste of the owners and a sign that says ‘If it was good enough for Rob Roy it’s good enough for you!‘
‘The decor and furniture, in deference to the past, remain as authentic as The Drovers itself’ or in other words old and tatty. As you enter the reception hall you are faced with a full grown, stuffed grizzly bear, an assortment of other animals including a ‘Haggis‘ and the assured feeling that this place is going to stay in your consciousness for a long time to come. The inn was unnervingly named as one of Scotland’s most haunted pubs by The Scotsman.
We had an uncomfortable night!
The West Highland Way – Stage 4: Inverarnan to Tyndrum – 12 miles/19.3km
Day 4 was a further twelve miles to the village of Tyndrum. By now we were starting to feel the cumulative mileage and it was with aching legs and reluctant hearts that we started the day. Luckily the rainy weather of the previous night had dissipated and we were met with a beautiful morning.
The trail climbed out of Inverarnan beside the banks of the River Falloch and we marched past many cascades, white-water hollows and rapids on and towards Crianlarich with the mighty Ben More and Stob Binnean providing a fantastic backdrop to our walk. The views back down the glen towards Loch Lomond were also magnificent.
Crianlarich is the halfway point in terms of mileage along The West Highland Way and this thought put a spring back in our steps after a lacklustre morning of walking. After Crianlarich we entered a stretch of secluded woodland walking before making our way back to the valley floor and through farmland surrounded by towering highland scenery.
Next we crossed the River Fillan to follow the Way past St Fillan’s Priory, a ruin now but once a 12th-century monastic site. Not too far from here is thought to be the battle site of Dalrigh where Robert the Bruce suffered defeat at the hands of the MacDougalls in 1306. The monks gave him support and shelter after the defeat. The good deed paid off as the settlement soon after was granted the status of priory.
Later we passed the battlefield and the Lochan of the Lost Sword a delightful pool of water where legend has it that Bruce cast his sword into its depths following his defeat, or maybe it was William Wallace there seem to be many tales about the pool.
Eventually we waddled in Tyndrum out last port of call for the day and the tidy Tyndrum Lodges where we would stay and rest for the night, modern, clean and quiet, everything The Drovers Inn the night before was not.
Read more about our trip to ‘Bonnie Scotland’ in Part 3 of The West Highland coming soon ………