*This post picks up on day four of my adventure as I travel to Tyndrum. If you’d like to read about days 1-3 on the West Highland Way, start here*
As I woke up on Day four for my journey to Tyndrum, I was ready. My knee was still hurting more than I ever imagined it could, but I found myself excited to get started. The relaxing evening in the Drover’s Inn, good food in my belly, and pint of cider had me feeling relaxed. I slept soundly and comfortably.
I dragged my luggage over to the shed across the street and tossed it in before heading to breakfast. At every luggage drop off, I always felt a bit apprehensive that my wedding items would somehow end up lost before the end of my adventure. Everyday it seemed like I carried more in my backpack than the day before. It didn’t matter how much I tried to reshuffle my pack and luggage each night.
I was seated in a new area of the Drover’s Inn for breakfast, but I found it equally as charming. The room was less crowded with fellow guests. At first, my only company was a couple with a dog enjoying their meal. Later, Deb and Kris, my newfound WHW companions from last night, were seated at a table in the corner.
We chatted for a while, even taking a selfie together, before I headed on my way. I was sure I’d run into them again. We were all making our way to Tyndrum and stopping there for the night.
On the Road Again
Day four was around 13 miles on easier terrain with less elevation than days prior. I felt ready to take it on with my freshly bandaged blister, but was struggling on my knee. I’d read that there was a shop in my next destination and hoped it would hold out for me until I could pick up a brace there.
The trail weaved along wide easier paths and old military roads with minimal inclines. I was relieved for the break from scrambling up and down. It was already clear that today would be a welcome reprieve from the rocky shores of Loch Lomond that I’d become acquainted with over the last couple of days.
It was an overcast, cooler day and I was happy to be enjoying more of my favorite type of weather. Call me crazy, but give me some overcast skies, green grass, cool weather, and a little bit of rain and I’m a happy gal.
On this early stretch of the path, I found myself enjoying the scenery. I was now trailing along the riverside with rolling hills and fields making up the surrounding area. I was greeted with the quiet of nature and the rushing water of the river nearby. There were plenty of small waterfalls to see, and as the rushing grew louder, I was able to catch the Falls of Falloch in the distance along part of the trail. Per my earlier vow, I stopped to listen to the rushing of the water and take a moment.
Not long after the falls, the trail passed a wee bothy along the riverside. I wondered where the owners parked their car. How nice it must be to enjoy some quiet time at home with the sound of the rushing river nearby.
At this stage the path was becoming synonymous with a nearby railway line that I’d encounter for the rest of the day. As we neared what I later learned was called a “sheep creep” (an opening in a wall allowing sheep to get through), I was reunited with several familiar faces.
I’d caught up to the couple from the first day who referred to me as “Hufflepuff ” based on the patch on my backpack. Also in the same conglomerate of people, I’d caught up again with Deb and Kris. Many of us stopped to take pictures at the sheep creep. I was grateful for catching up to the group at this point because they were able to snag a picture of me walking through.
Not long after passing the sheep creep, it started to rain. It was the first time I’d had to unroll my waterproof jacket and put it on throughout the hike —something I’d never expected with the infamous Scottish weather. Who would have thought it would take until day four to rain? Honestly, it was my kind of weather and I was enjoying the cool rain.
Halfway Through the West Highland Way
The trail worked its way uphill on a steady incline at this stage and followed along a stone wall. The wall reminded me of the ones we saw a few years prior in Ireland, zigzagging through the landscape. It was a familiar and comforting sight.
As I neared the top, you could tell the landscape was transitioning into forest land. I was saddened to see some deforestation in this area. Despite forestry being a big industry in Scotland, it was a welcome sight to see new trees planted where they were felled.
Eventually, we reached a signpost to continue on the West Highland Way or make a detour to Crianlarich, the halfway point along the trail. Many travelers stopped here, either for the night or for a way to break up their day. I chose to continue on. I hadn’t prepared for the added detour and wanted to stay the course.
It was bittersweet as I passed the halfway point. I realized how far I’d come and that before long it would all be coming to an end. Still, I felt accomplished and excited to tackle the rest.
Before entering the forest portion of the trail, I stopped and took a quick break. The couple from the first day sat nearby. We talked of their regular hiking adventures, snack packing tips, and where they planned to visit after completing the Way. They too would be exploring some more of Scotland before heading home.
Frolicking in the Forest
This phase of the trail brought me back to the forest. I was getting ahead of the group at this point and grateful for some more time to myself in this peaceful scenery.
I thought my favorite spots along the trail would be the great glens, rivers, lochs, and wide open spaces. However, these mossy green forests with their creaking wood became equally as special to me.
This forest had more inclines than the ones that came before. I was growing tired and was in need of a “wild wee”. I started scouting a good spot before I lost the tree cover of my current surroundings.
It wasn’t long before I found a spot with a clearing, a few large boulders to sit on, and some tree cover. I ventured back to do my business and then decided the clearing was a good spot to have lunch. As I settled in and got out my lunch, Deb and Kris caught up on the trail and asked if they could join me.
We sat together enjoying our lunch and chatting. Another hiker they’d chatted with before walked by with a broken boot. We still had several miles left in our day and I couldn’t imagine doing it without a boot. My trusty Vasques had gotten me this far💚 (By far my favorite of any hiking boots I’ve tried – highly recommend.)
We talked about where we were from, my impending wedding in Scotland, things coming up on the trail, our favorite hiking boots, and how I was doing the West Highland Way solo.
I often heard that I was brave for doing so, because many people enjoyed their companionship along the trail. Before this trip, life had been a bit tumultuous. I had experienced big changes, uncertainty, excitement over the wedding, and a new normal after leaving a toxic work environment after nearly six years. I was feeling incredibly grateful for my time alone on the trail to reflect about life as of late.
The small lovely moments of companionship like this one made it so I never truly felt alone. I also never felt more safe on my own than I did in Scotland. I recall feeling more apprehensive being alone back home than I ever did there.
Though I didn’t quite enjoy my packed sandwich for this lunch (that’s what I get for trying to pick something new I hadn’t heard of), it was nice to sit and enjoy lunch with others. When I decided to get back on the trail, I knew I’d probably see more of my WHW companions before the journey was done.
From the Forest to the Fields
Not long after I was back on the trail, the forest gave way into heavy logging territory. This portion was somewhat jarring to the familiar natural, beautiful scenery I was becoming accustomed to in Scotland, especially along the trail.
I did not linger much here, thinking about all the forest that wasn’t anymore. Once I made it down the hill, I was reunited with the railway lines. Just beyond them were farmlands with Crainlarich Hills in the distance.
Here, the trail cut directly through these lands. Plenty of “hello, sheep”s were said as I passed sheep grazing in their fields, unbothered by my presence. There were also some signs detailing the history of these sheep farmers and their methods. I love a good information sign and will always stop to read. If only my brain was better suited for retaining the information!
On the opposite side of the field, mossy stone ruins appeared. Another sign (hooray!) informed me that these were the 12th century ruins of a priory built to honor St. Fillan the Missionary,
I’ve always loved ruins. The story teller in me loves to imagine them in their former glory and all the life that took place within their walls.
Lochans and Legends to the Finish Line
The final stretch of the day was easygoing as I neared Tyndrum. There were river views and more sites of historical significance. I passed a bench with information commemorating the battle of Dal Righ where Robert the Bruce was defeated.
Later on in the trail, you pass a lochan (small loch) where legends say the soldiers fled. As they fled, they tossed their swords in the lochan. They say Robert the Bruce’s sword still lies there today, though I’m not convinced!
Before long, a cropping of B&Bs and cottages came into view on the edge of Tyndrum. My lodging for the night was in this group, Tigh Na Fraoch.
The host set out lemon cakes and, to my surprise, mentioned that she’d heard about me. It turns out, Kevin and his wife, my companions from the first nights garden cottage, were also staying there. They told her about my solo hike and meeting up with Chris to get married afterwards. I thought they were a day behind me on the trail. Originally, they planned to do it in more days, so I wondered if they’d skipped one of the challenging spots on Loch Lomond.
My room was small, but cozy in a shared building with a community space to hang out in. My clothes were damp from the day’s earlier rain. I put everything in the drying room, had my shower, and headed into town to find a knee brace and some pain relief. Tomorrow was my 20 mile day and I would certainly need it.
Tigh Na Fraoch
The shop in Tyndrum is the Green Welly Stop. It is a popular spot for travelers passing through by car and along the WHW. There, I found everything I needed (and some extra snacks). The knee brace was a size up from what I needed, but would have to do.
For dinner, I ate a yummy burger at an American style diner on the main road through Tyndrum. Those types of places are always so fascinating to me. I like to see how other countries try to replicate, without quite hitting the mark. Do you think the Irish think the same thing about our Irish themed pubs here?
I spent the rest of the evening reading in the sunroom and relaxing before my long day tomorrow.
I was over halfway through the West Highland Way after day four and feeling so much gratitude for the experience. Now to see what the longest day on my journey would bring 💚