West Highland Way Revisited – Part 2 Rowardennan to Tyndrum

JF and I left Rowardennan Hotel in drizzly rain. But soon it was raining heavily and we detoured via the Hostel at Rowardennan, to take shelter while we donned full waterproofs. We were headed for Inverarnan and the Drovers Hotel and, while this was a modest 22.5km according to the guidebook, we agreed that it was the hardest day walk of the tour when we had finished the Way. This was mainly because for the first section of the walk, alongside the loch, the path has many smallish ascents and descents and is rocky with loads of exposed tree roots. Thankfully, the rain had eased by the time we reached the Inversnaid Hotel and we sat outside on a bench and had our lunch.

Back on the Way we did not take the detour to visit Rob Roy’s cave; I did this on my last visit and was not that impressed. A guidebook photograph showed some large rocks with “Cave” painted, in white, on one of the larger ones, which confirmed my opinion and memory.

At Doune we poked our heads into the bothy (it is the stone building on the right of the picture below) and found a man in his sleeping bag reading a book. He offered us tea but we declined and just stayed standing and chatting for a while. He said he was wild-camping and following a high level route north to Cape Wrath. He had come over Ben Lomond the previous day. He had some food and wanted to finish that up before he stocked up with more in the camp site shop at Inverarnan, so was taking a day off. We did not follow his logic on this nor on his expressed feeling that if he used camp sites he was likely to “soften up” and stop wild camping in future. He was surrounded by gear and his pack must have weighed a great deal. He was probably well into his 60’s so maybe a bit of “softening up” would not be out of order. 

Anyway we left him and soon arrived at The Drovers Inn. It claims to have been there for over 300 years and it may be that some of the furnishings are of that vintage. It may also be that maintenance on the outside stopped when Queen Victoria died. It looked like a place I would have driven past without stopping, had I have been searching for accommodation. But I would have been wrong. It was full of character and provided the best value food (liver and bacon) and beer of the whole walk. Admittedly, I did not appreciate the music which started at 10pm and was due to end around 1am. But, after a short complaint, I was moved to a room in the annexe, across the road. As I crossed the road in pouring rain I could hear “Donald whars yer trewsers” being belted out and I was sneered at by two overweight, heavily tattoed, scantily dressed, gum chewing, smoking, biddies possibly looking for “a good time” on a Friday night. 

After a cooked breakfast, served by a German waitress, we were on our way again. The drizzle soon cleared and the cloud base rose as we joined General Wade’s military road for an easy walk down Glen Falloch to Bogan Glen.

When we arrived at Bogan Glen, we decided to leave WHW and detour down into Crianlarich to visit the shop and cafe at the station. The station cafe is excellent; well worth a visit. At the cafe we happened to meet a bodhran-wielding, fire-walking lady with bad knees who was taking the train to some “alternative therapy” weekend. She gave JF a business card.

When we arrived back at the WHW we met “Robin Hood and his merry man” and an Irish lady called Maggie. Robin Hood turned out to be Canadian (Tony) and his companion was German (Ecky). We walked with them for the next hour or so and chatted. Maggie told us about the Camino de Compostela (another Spanish link) which she had walked last year. The day brightened up considerably by the time we crossed the River Fillon and arrived at St Fillons Priory, where we had glorious views of the surrounding hills. The other three left us and walked on.

As we walked into Tyndrum, past the Pine Trees campsite and alongside the river, I had a vivid recollection of my previous visit. As we approached our B&B we met another couple of WHW-ers, Andrew and daughter Tracy, also staying in Dalkell Cottages. I don’t recommend Dalkell Cottage to others; single people in a double room are, in my view, charged excessively, some of the accommodation is idiosyncratic at best and shoddy at worst. There are rooms with shower doors that are not attached, a drying room with heaters and humidifiers that are not turned on and the room heating was turned off before we got back to our rooms at 9.15pm.

As far as I could see, Tyndrum itself has little to offer the visitor. It has one pub with no draught beer and, on a Saturday night, few places to sit down. But it does have a great fish and chip shop called The Real Food Cafe. I have just Googled it and find it has a number of very good reviews on the web. I am happy to add my endorsement.

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One Response to West Highland Way Revisited – Part 2 Rowardennan to Tyndrum

  1. Tracy says:

    I was at first nervous to how we would appear in your entries! However, as your write-up merely darted a glance at the Dalkell experience, I can see that you are an eloquent diplomat. Hence, I look forward to the remaining sections on your WHW blog. We met great characters along the way and found the Scottish hospitality wonderful. It was truly a most beautiful, dramatic and rewarding walk. Tracy

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