Day 3: West Highland Way(Rowardennan to Inverarnan)

…or the day of rocks and midges.

We got off to an earlier start.  It was going to be another 14 mile day, broken in the middle with an opportunity for lunch at Inversaid.  The guide book promised an easy trek to Inversaid, with only gentle ups and downs along the shoreline and through the woods.  What it didn’t mention was the waves of midges that we would encounter, particularly in the woods.  Since our departure from Drymen the midges had become a lot more obnoxious, but we found that as long as you kept moving, they didn’t really bother you.  But this is only true if the concentration of midges is moderate.  In heavier areas they fly at you, as you move, landing in your eyes and mouth, if you open it too wide for air as you pant uphill.

It was a tiring first half of the day.  We were basically unable to stop for longer than a minute for the 3.5 hrs it took to walk from Rowardennan to Inversaid.  It took the midges about 15 seconds to find you, not long enough to pee or even drink, and certainly not long enough to rest.  Occasionally we would stop somewhere for a moment and it would be midge-free for as long as five minutes, but overall it was non-stop to Inversaid where we arrived at the Inversaid Hotel.

The sun was still shining and there must have been about 20 hikers around all the wooden tables outside; midge-free because of the wind that was blowing.  However, we ate a light lunch in the dining room, which overlooked the North end of theLoch, served by one of many Polish waiters we were to encounter on the trip.  It’s a bit disconcerting to be in a remote Scottish location and not interact with Scots.  The hotel was nice enough though and would have been a pleasant place to stay.

The afternoon walk from Inversaid to Inverarnan is said to be one of the hardest parts of the trail.  The way is really rocky underfoot and every step is a calculation of stride and balance.  Here, some of the Way takes you over large rocks, and you have to haul yourself up them, and then half-scramble and slide your way down.  Its slow going, but a particularly lovely part of the walk.  The hike takes you towards the end of the lake shore with a final climb up a rock face via wooden ladder and out into the bracken covered fields north of Loch Lommond.

A wooden ladder to assist the climb over the larger boulders

Ireally liked this section. It was so green, with the interesting texture of the bracken everywhere.  We spotted some wild goats and the path took us closer and closer to them as they stood munching on the ferns.  They had some pretty fierce looking horns and I didn’t want to risk stopping to take a photo, but they were pretty tame and much more interested in their bracken dinner than a pair of hikers.

The bracken covered slopes as you approach The Drovers. Goats were hidden in there somewhere!

Arrival at The Drovers Inn in Inverarnan was at about5.30pm, we had been on the road for 9 hours.  We saw the old stone building from a distance as we turned from the path to the main road.  We’d been promised an old, charismatic building with oddities and men in kilts.  Walking into the reception, there were stuffed animals and a big mangy stuffed bear striking a fiercesome pose.  We learnt from reception that our stay at the Inn was actually in the 1980’s lodge over the road, which was nowhere near as interesting.  I felt we had been mislead, and somewhat taken by the hotel.  The staff were friendly and willing but not very knowledgeable.  More Polish servers, this time in kilts, and no-one that seemed to have spent more than a week on the job.  Too bad, as it was worth seeing.  But I would recommend staying in another nearby location and just visiting The Drovers Inn for dinner.

Michelle outside The Drovers Inn

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