|Ardlui to Crianlarich (12 km)|
Bridge of Orchy
This section of the West Highland Way is very civilised after the last day. A lot of farmland is crossed with an occasional patch of woods. The many rapids and falls on the River Falloch make this into an interesting day. While the views are few in the narrow lower part of the glen, they open up in the upper glen and there are wonderful vistas into the various corries to the south.
|Ardlui Hotel||Hotel & campsite||01301 704243|
|Beinglas Farm||Campsite||01301 704281|
|Drovers Inn||Pub||01301 704234|
|Rose Cottage||B&B||01301 704255|
I cheated slightly on this leg of the West Highland Way by walking up the A82 road from Ardlui rather than taking the ferry back to the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. On the other hand, I made a point of walking the few neglected kilometres on a subsequent trip to the area.
From the Drovers Inn at Inverarnan, walk north along the A82 road for 400 metres to the access road to Beinglas farm - remember to take another look at the Beinglas Falls. Here a bridge crosses the river and the path turns sharply to the right (south) to follow the river and then the burn back to rejoin the Way. The Way passes behind the farmhouse and then follows a farm-track northwards. In about a kilometre, the glen swings to the east and the most scenic part of the river starts as it falls through rocky banks. The Way climbs steadily and gently alongside the river, usually a small distance away from the water. If you visit the banks then be careful since the schist rocks are very slippery in wet weather.
|Drovers Inn, Inverarnan|
The Falls of Falloch are about 2 kilometres up the glen and are well worth the detour to the riverbank. The path up the glen is good where it crosses open pasture but can be rough as it passes through the many patches of birch, rowan and oak woods. All the streams have bridges across them. Remember to look across the river from the pasture to the huge boulder of Clach na Briton ('the stone of the Britons') perched on a ridge to the north of the falls. This is supposed to mark the ancient boundary between the Britons, Scots and Picts during the Dark Ages.
In the next kilometre, the path crosses the Allt a'Chulinn and joins a farm track to Derrydaroch. While the name means 'the oak grove', there are only a few oak trees by the river with scattered pine trees higher up on the slopes to the south. These trees are what remains of the old Wood of Caledon that blanketed the central part of the Highlands in the post-glacial period. Human intervention along with some climate changes has reduced the forest to the lone trees here and scattered woods further north.
The bridge to the Derrydaroch farm takes the Way to the far riverside which is followed closely for the next kilometre up the glen. River Falloch is finally left for a low-roofed cattle-creep under the adjacent railway line, a crossing of the sometimes busy A82 road and a climb directly uphill for 100 metres to join the old military road on the other side of the valley. This road is part of the network that was created in response to the Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745 to allow rapid deployment of troops. This particular section (from Tarbet to Crianlarich) was built in 1752 and 1753 by soldiers of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and Wolfe's Regiment.
The height of the road means that there are good views to the Crianlarich hills (Cruach Ardrain, Beinn Tulaichean, An Caisteal, Beinn a'Chroin, Ben More and Stob Binnein with the latter two hills mostly hidden by Cruach Ardrain). Take note of the right angle turn that the River Falloch does as it exits from Coire Earb (to the SE) and heads SW down the glen.
A dyke, enclosing the fertile fields below, is climbed beside as the road rises above the farm of Keilator and then ducks into a tiny glen beyond the farm buildings. The local name for this glen is Bogle Glen, bogle being a Scots word for a ghost, ghoul or goblin. At the head of the wee glen, a deer fence (with an enormous stile over it) marks an important watershed. Behind us, the Loch Lomond drainage system flows into the Atlantic. Before us, the Tay drainage system flows to the North Sea side of Scotland.
It is possible to continue on to Tyndrum. The easy walking means that the 22-23 kilometres is comfortably within anyone's reach. However I decided to head down to the comforts of Crianlarich (shops, hotels, B&B, Youth Hostel, pub and restaurant). If you follow the old military road then you end up about 500 metres to the west of the village. However there is a path angling to the east that ends up just north of the railway station and Youth Hostel (where I stayed the night). Crianlarich (possibly from craobh an lairig - the tree by the pass) is the halfway point of the West Highland Way.