The West Highland Way 3/4 – Critreoch Forest to Strathfillian Wigwams

By Bryan • personal, photography, scotland, travel, west highland way • 4 Oct 2014

I have combined my third and fourth days on the WHW into one entry largely because my third day was utterly horrible from both a aesthetic and physical perspective.  Leading the morning trek from Critreoch Forest was another scorching day of +30 degree weather.  What was suppose to be a 20KM trek to Inverarnan and the highly recommended Dover’s Inn Pub, turned into a 10KM slog up and down an old forestry road that was acting as a detour to the usual trail which was undergoing a serious reconstruction.  The forestry road eventually disappeared into a goat trail.  It was at this junction that I assisted with a roadside rescue of a window washing van that had become horribly lost.  Driving to the very end of the road looking for an estate, the driver had not negotiated his turn around appropriately and had become mired in the ditch.  He was driving one of those hopelessly small service vans with bald tires.  It required three passing trekkers, including myself to dig and push him out of the ditch.  It was during this event that I was first introduced to English-Scottish and Scottish.  It’s English, but not understandable in any format whatsoever.

Several hours later I arrived at the Inversnaid Hotel.  Given the 10KM distance to the next appropriate camping/lodging area in Inverarnan and my disappointing physical state I opted to have a good meal/pints and stay and the nearby hostel.  It was at this stage that the seven day trek became an eight day trek and it was probably one of the best decisions I made during my Europe 2014 trip.  I have stayed in many, many hostels throughout the entire world.  Some good, some really good and many that are utterly horrible.  The Inversnaid Bunkhouse sits easily within the top three, if not the top hostel l I have had the pleasure of staying at.  A tastefully converted church, the bunkhouse slings up just about the best hostel food by far and the staff is unbelievable helpful and friendly.  It doesn’t feature prominently in any of the guidebooks about the WHW, with most guides steering trekkers to the campsite at Inverarnan.  Definitely the the hidden gem of the WHW.  

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With the exception of the Inversnaid Bunkhouse, day with was not my finest. Fortunately, the next day turned into my best.  A quick breakfast and an early start from Inversnaid saw me crushing the next 10KM to Inverarnan, arriving at the Beinglas Farm campsite well before noon.  This was about as far as I though I would get providing my poor performance yesterday.  The shoreline trail from Inversnaid to Inverarnan certainly is a challenging mix of rock, massive stumps/roots and constant ascending/descending, but it was a far cooler day, yet it runs high when approaching the end of Loch Lomond, and develops into a decent trail a few kilometers before Beinglas Farm.

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From Beinglas Farms, the WHW begins to make use of the old military road constructed during the 18th century to facilitate the movement of English troops and supplies into the Highlands. It’s in fairly good shape for an 300 year old road (it’s obviously been maintained in various capacities over that time), yet the cobbled nature of much of the road makes for a less than comfortable walking experience, although it is a far more satisfying trek than hopping over boulders and roots.  It’s also at this point that one truly begins to experience the glens and hills of the Highlands. 

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My goal was Strathfillian Wigwams, a private campsite a few kilometers south of the small town of Tyndrum. 

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These last few shots were taken in the early evening a few kilometers south of Strathfillian.  The trail crossed the highway and the railway a few times during this segment.  Old bridge engineering is quite incredible, yet the uniqueness of these structures would be a maintenance nightmare. 

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This is what is left of St. Fillian’s Priory which was constructed in the 13th century and is apparently associated with Robert the Bruce.  It’s accompanying graveyard has been minding the dead since the 8th century.

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The view south from Strathfillian Farms.  This was one of the last clear days before the rains came….

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3 Responses

  1. Thought it wouldn’t to give it a shot. I was right.

  2. Slam dunkin like Shaquille O’Neal, if he wrote informative articles.

  3. Margaret & David have done so much work for the Orphanage (and others) The town of Ridgetown has been so supportive because of David & Margarets continuing work for this worthy & needed cause. Great Job once again. Well Done!!

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