Day 4 – Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven 34.5km
The day began with more walking than usual as a hill was our first 2km-ish, but coming down the other side was as usual magnificently fun. Turns out downhills are quite my thing and I knew it was annoying, but I just couldn’t help galloping down every single one. It also hurt too much to go slow and controlled down them, painful legs were our new norm. After passing quite the crowd at the bottom of the hill, along with a few familiar faces from the last few days, we put on a burst of speed as the cheers and smiles buoyed us on, along with some unexpected tarmac. It was quickly apparent that we were not up to such speed ha, and we swiftly stopped for a snack break as our first hour ticked by. This was our rule – a snack every hour was mandatory.
This was to be probably the easiest hour of the day as we then hit the old Drovers Road. UGH. Slippery and uneven, it was two steps forward one slipped back as I got increasingly frustrated and angry. It was almost cobbled, but not even as nice as cobbles. I was not a happy Hannah. Give me tree roots and twisting paths any day over that! Eventually the horror eased and the track became easier. It was quite the party on the trail today, and as we wound our way out onto Rannoch Moor. Plenty of company, cheers and high fives from a multi-national crowd of walkers. PArticular shout out to the Scandinavian (maybe?) lads who formed a guard of honour and clapped us through whilst shouting “We take our hats off to you!”. It was moments like this that had me glowing inside, this really was a cool experience.
As anyone who has been on Rannoch Moor knows, this place is HELLA exposed and the elements are tough. Today was no exception and Fi and I nailed our layering system down to tshirts and waterproofs. It was here we became, how to put it? Embroiled, in our first almost argument of the trip. We were on rolling terrain and often found ourselves climbing short hills, but we were also being blasted by the qworst of the scottish elements and were very aware of how things could take a turn for the worse very quickly. Ells on the other hand decided a vest top was sufficient protection… Me being me, I just couldn’t do it, I couldn’t stay silent. After all, it would be us who woiuld have to deal with the consequences should things go badly, so I did it, I said something and I didn’t give in until E finally had a coat zipped up. It was a mini argument, and we ran on past it lets just leave it at that.
Our lunch stop that day was at the famous Kingsbarn. And what a place! Another stellar find as we dripped into their FREE drying room. With boot warmer-like drying racks, benches and heaters this was not a find to be sniffed at and we took full advantage. Shoes and jackets came off, more feet firstaid on some very soggy toes, and we headed into the bar area to find some grub in our camp sandals looking every inch the ragged travellers we were.
After food and stinking out the changing rooms with our shoes, we extricated ourselves from the toasty drying room and resisting the urge to google room prices again, headed out on the trail to Kinlochleven. I was trying very hard not to think of the end, as I knew it would batter me mentally to think I only had to run a bit more. I just needed to keep motoring with the only thought of getting to tonight’s camp spot.
Get there we did, and into a town nonetheless! Although this was Kinlochleven so town might be too strong a word. We made a co-op stop for some quick snacks then carried on through town to find what the map described as the woods where the trail picked back up. I think was possibly our least wild ‘wild camp’ as it was just a few metres off the road and in the trees. It turned out to be a popular spot as before night fell we were joined but 3 other groups in the collection of clearings. Strangely enough, all of them were german?! After retelling our ‘yes we’re in a bivvy, no we don’t really get wet, no we wouldn’t rather a tent’ shpeel, we headed off to find the Bothy Bar we’d heard about. Turns out it was in the side of the Macdonald Hotel! It was our LAST NIGHT!!! Ahhh! So we thought what the hell, and treated ourselves to a couple of pints AND dinner. We just couldn’t stomach more Mugshots.
After a fantastic evening amongst fellow travellers, good food and cider we headed to our clearing and to bed on our final night on the trail.