|Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy (11 km)|
Bridge of Orchy
Another easy day takes the West Highland Way from Tyndrum to the Bridge of Orchy over a low pass between Strath Fillian and Glen Orchy. Dominating the later part of the day is the rugged cone of Beinn Dorain looming to the east of the track (which is a dirt road for most of its length).
|Dalkell Cottages||B&B||01838 400285|
|Pine Trees Leisure Park||Campsite||01838 400243|
|Glengarry House||B&B||01838 400224|
|The Invervey Hotel||Hotel||01838 400219|
The Way passes through the wicket gate by the lower Tyndrum railway station and goes across gravel flats by the Crom Allt to the old miner's village of Clifton. The main road (the A82) now crosses the village at right angles to the old road which forms the path of the West Highland Way as it climbs gently and steadily to the north with woods on the slopes to either side. The Crom Allt flows to the right of the path in a small gorge and there are a couple of small waterfalls and other water features to make the stream interesting. However you have to take care to ignore the storage tanks and treatment plant for Tyndrum's water supply. Remember to look back to Tyndrum and across the head of Strath Fillian to the bulk of Beinn Dubhchraig.
Soon the railway line sweeps from the east side of the glen and crosses the Crom Allt. The woods on the right-hand slopes peter out. The Way in turn crosses an overbridge to the other side of the railway line (deserting the old road for a while). This marks the beginning of the grassy summit of the pass with level walking for the next kilometre. The steep sides of the pass, especially the scree-fan filled slopes of Beinn Odhar to the east, are signs of the enormous glaciers that flowed south from the ice-sheet on Rannoch Moor during the Ice Ages.
|Beinn Dorain reveals itself|
Beinn Dubhchraig vanishes behind you as the next milestone of the Way rises in front - the scarred slopes of Beinn Dorain. This is the best face of the hill with smooth grass slopes rising to a grey, craggy point. While the hill can be climbed from this side (the southern crags can be carefully navigated through), it is more usual to ascend from Bridge of Orchy which is easier and also allows the conquest of Beinn an Dòthaidh.
Beyond the summit, there is a quick descent to a cattle-creep under the railway line to rejoin the military road. The Way drops down to the banks of the Allt Coire Chailein with the railway line maintaining its height as it sweeps into a grand horseshoe bend through Auch Gleann to the east. Auch (short for 'Ach-innis-chalean' - the field by the hazel meadow) was once a royal hunting lodge, part of the royal deer forest of Mamlorn. The Auch farmhouse is hidden in the patch of pines across the stream as the entrance to Auch Glean is reached. Take some time to look up the glen to admire the two fine viaducts that take the railway line high above firstly Glen Coralan and then Auch Gleann.
At the bridge over the Allt Kinglass there is an option to extend the day. There is a right of way that goes up the farm track to the east. This gives you a close up view of the railway viaduct about a kilometre up the track. It also gives a chance of seeing some highland cattle that may be in the fields near the viaduct. At the head of the glen is Ben Mhanach. Either return the same way or head further up the glen to a rough route over a saddle near Beinn Dorain (see the Ben Mhanach page).
The Way skirts the slopes of Beinn Dorain for two kilometres before crossing the railway line next to a mountaineering bothy. Another 2 kilometres of pleasant, easy walking awaits as the few buildings at Bridge of Orchy approach. In the glen to the left, the river winds its way north to join with the River Orchy entering from the west. Close to their junction is the massive boulder of Clach a Bhein. Ahead the Black Mount ranges begin to appear with the highest peak being Stob Ghabhar.
An underpass at the Bridge of Orchy railway station leads down a short tarmaced road to the hotel where there is also bunkhouse accommodation and camping (at the far end of the bridge, ask at the reception desk). I chose to stay at the bunkhouse for a tiny bit of luxury while I climbed Beinn an Dòthaidh and Beinn Dorain the next day.