The West Highland Way – Day 4

Sunday 29th May 2022 – Crianlarich to Bridge of Orchy (14 miles)

“It’s Only 12 Miles”


That’s all we’ve got, or so we thought until the apps started showing between 14 and 16 miles on our arrival at Bridge of Orchy.

Almost all present and correct

It was with some relief that the Brothers presented themselves fit for duty at 10:30am in the morning. We had all been in bits only 12 hours previously after Day 3’s exertions.

We set off, first destination Tyndrum, uphill for a mile to rejoin The Way where we had left it the previous night.

Refreshed after the later start
Happy to be on the trail again

The first few hundred yards were a steady climb back up the forest path.

For those who had a large breakfast the strain soon showed.

Only 8 or 9 hours to go
Nature’s power

Back on The Way, the track became steeper and uneven through the forest which had been devastated by Storm Arwen.

The next hour was up hill and down dale through Tyndrum Forest but progress was good.

Time to pose for a picture

As happened all week Checkshirt had quickly lost contact with the others. The reality was that he wasn’t fit enough to walk 96 miles in six days over this kind of terrain. It is difficult to walk faster or slower than one’s natural pace over a long distance. The faster pace of the tortoises and hares reflected the training they had done.

Rush hour

After the forest we descended to, and then crossed, the main road to Fort William. No one was tempted to put their thumb out to hitch a lift.

We followed the river for the remainder of the morning.

Brooding skies

We were reminded that this can be dangerous terrain for the unprepared.

We had a leisurely pub lunch without alcohol (yes really!!), taking an hour instead of the usual 10-15 minutes.

Orange juice
Lime cordial
Aw, Club. That’s a Guinness glass!

Next was The Green Welly Stop, one of two in Tyndrum (“In” joke – see below).

Three of the Brothers decided they didn’t need any provisions, turned left out of the pub, and set off back to where we had left the Way coming in to Tyndrum. The others turned right to the shop to stock up on chocolate, drinks and analgesics.

The three pacesetters marched on, following the signs, turning right, then right again, before wondering whether or not to cross the railway. Clint was halfway across the tracks when they noticed a WHW signpost to the, erm, right, and duly followed the indicated route. Bizzarely, this led them past a second Green Welly Stop, which looked remarkably like the first one. They eventually caught up with the others, who had clearly taken a shortcut to get ahead. (Ed: By the end of the Hike, this detour resulted in one Brother walking over 100 miles on the Way, as I he was one of the cultured few who had detoured to see the Celtic artwork on Day 1).

Only slightly better than jerseys on the ground

We had been pondering where we could watch the Scotland vs Ukraine match the day after we finished the Hike. Could our lads make it back to the World Cup Finals and remind us of the glory years of our youth?

The portents weren’t good.

The route now took us on a fairly gentle walk uphill for about a mile.

Darkening skies?
Changing landscapes

This part of the Way is fairly dramatic as it begins to wind through the higher mountains north of the Trossachs National Park.

It is also close to the road and we were treated to the soundtrack of motorbikes roaring their way along the A82 – one of the most dramatic publicly funded racetracks in the UK.

Did anybody remember the earplugs?
The shortest distance between two points…

We were now on an old military road initially built by General Wade between the Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745. It is a good track but quite harsh on the feet.

The Brothers were spread along its length, sometimes together, sometimes on their own, grinding out the miles.

…seems to go on forever!
Del emerges from the wrong side of the tracks

The track ducks under the railway then bends to the right of a big hill then straight on towards Bridge of Orchy (or Bridge of Orgy as Clint was to message, thanks to predictive text).

The Swiss contingent – Jock and Knuckles – led most of the way until Pud engaged the afterburners on his eBoots and sped home first.

Not many Jungfraus around here
Bridge of Orgy?

We were at our nightstop by 5pm. An hour or so later Checkshirt arrived.

Now the injuries list was growing.

Godot had a swollen ankle caused by a bite from an unidentified bug and struggled home. Radar, despite damaged ligaments, managed to keep walking with the help of an ankle support, painkillers, and advice from Mrs (Dr) Radar, who we were delighted to hear a few days later had been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Congratulations, Elaine!

Most of the rest of us were by now wrapped in Compeed and had been walking with some discomfort, but keen to finish what we started.

Having showered, Del appeared in the bar with a little friend. He’d spotted a black mark on his arm which turned out to be a tick. Band Aid was immediately called into action and performed a rapid removal, ably assisted by Nurse Club. No damage done, but the tick was later heard to complain it hadn’t found any blood in Del Boy’s alcohol stream.

The evening was spent in the bar, followed by an excellent meal. Tired and preparing for the long day tomorrow, we retired around 9:30pm.

Day 4 Details: