My hips seized up during the night which made for an uncomfortable nights sleep. I skipped breakfast, taped up my feet and set off early towards Tyndrum. It was a cold morning and I was only 10 minutes into my walk when it started to snow heavily. The first section of the “path” was absolutely awful. It was shared with cows who had inconsiderately shat everywhere! With each step my foot sunk deep into thick, viscous, snow covered cow shit, making me angrier and angrier with every step I took. At one point a heard of cows and calves completely blocked the path preventing me from passing. Now, apparently Cows are officially the most deadly large animals in Britain (see link) and can be very protective over their calves. Not wanting to become a statistic, I climbed on top of the 6ft dry stone wall and surreptitiously sneaked past them.
After a mile or so, I cleared the horrible slurried path and made my way though a conifer plantation high on the hillside. The path was covered with fresh untouched snow and wound its way through the Forrest.
Eventually the path descended down into the valley and crossed the A82. I had only been walking for approximately 6 miles and already my feet were in absolute agony. I stopped at a Strathfillan Farm Shop and took shelter from the snow under an overhanging roof, where I mummified my feet in more compeed and padded tape. About an hour later I breathed a sigh of relief when I reached the famous Green Welly Shop. I threw my backpack onto the ground and felt as though I was going to float away! I was tired because I hadn’t eaten anything all day other than some nuts and a chocolate bar. I drank a coffee and got my own back at the cows by eating a lovely hot beef roll dripping in gravy. It was delicious.
Now this was the part of the trip which I was most looking forward to. To me, Tyndrum is the gateway to the Highalands and the start of amazing vistas that I had been craving since day one. There would be no more shops for supplies for the next two days. I struggled onward out of Tyndrum and made my way towards the Bridge of Orchy, spurred on by a few passing motorists who beeped their horn at me and shouted “OAN YERSEL!”. The snow had stopped and the sun shone through gaps in the clouds, lighting up the valley up in a warm yellow light. I’ve spent a lot of time in this area, but I still smiled when I saw Beinn Dorain – a grassy pyramid of a mountain – standing proudly half covered in snow.
I was so taken aback by the views that I forgot about the pain in my feet and found myself walking faster than I had done the whole trip. It was 11km to the Bridge of Orchy and I reached it in only a couple of hours.
It was late in the evening by the time I arrived and the sun had started to set, providing one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen in that area. I tried my best to capture it using my camera, but it’s never as good as witnessing it in person.
I continued through the Bridge of Orchy and raced up a steep hill, chasing the sun before it set behind the mountains in the distance. The path was slippery and icy in places, but once at the top it provided incredible views of Loch Tulla and Inveroran.
Inveroran is a tiny and beautiful village containing only the buildings pictured above. I pitched my tent on an idyllic spot right by the river. It was freezing cold and full moon shone brightly in the cloudless sky. I was setting up my stove when I suddenly heard something moving behind me. I turned around and was greeted by a small heard of deer – only a couple of feet away – who were clearly used to being fed by passing tourists. I knew that if I fed the deer they wouldn’t give me any peace, so I did my best to ignore them and instead they grazed on the grass surrounding my tent. I cooked my dinner and sought shelter from the cold within my tent, where it was few degrees warmer. Within only half an hour of setting up, the outside of my tent had completely frozen.
By now I had learned a few ticks to staying warm at night; I shoved every item of unworn clothing inside my sleeping bag along with the insoles of my boots… but it didn’t work. It was by far the coldest night I have ever spent in a tent. I had walked 24.6km and it didn’t take me long to fall asleep. I tossed and turned as a result of my stiff hip and woke up with my sleeping bag covered in water from condensation dripping within my tent. The warm air from my breath had risen and condensed when it hit the frost on my tent, therefore, every time I turned over, my head and feet brushed against the inner tent and brought water dripping down onto my seeping bag. I estimated that it was about 5am and contemplated getting up and moving on, just to get out of the cold damp tent I checked my watch and almost cried when it read “2230 hours”… I closed my eyes in rage and tried to fall back asleep. It was by far the longest night of the trip, and possibly of my life!