DAY 18: south of Crianlarich to Inversnaid – 12 miles *WHW day 5
Honestly when I went to bed last night, I couldn’t put ANY pressure on my left foot at all and feared I would have to take today off… But miraculously just one night of rest and this morning it felt almost brand new. Kate at our guest house had hinted that today might actually be one of the toughest, so I decided to give my closed in walking shoes another whirl and simply hope that the issues of yesterday were a one-off! Another big breakfast to kick start the day, and I was dropped back to the insignificant piece of road I had limped away from yesterday.
A day of two halves, the track this morning was gentle with the regular amount of ups and downs, streams, farmland, cattle, rolling hills. Stopping on route at Inverarnan camp ground to meet mum and sis to refuel on coffee, cookies, cheese and apples I set off for the afternoon toward the banks of Loch Lomond. The West Highland Way skirts the eastern side of Loch Lomond however there are no roads on that side so the only way to get back to mum, sis and more importantly the hire car was to catch a ferry back across from Inversnaid (half way down the loch). With ferry times at 2:15 and 4:30, I was hoping to catch the earlier boat and with a good path on the approach, stunning views and a spring in my step, I was confident that was doable.
Arriving on the banks of the loch however the innocent looking path soon began to clamber up and down from gravel to boggy flat, through high bracken and oak woods, under crags, fallen trees and over large boulders. Like an assault course, this arduous section was back breaking, challenging and very time consuming! Meeting more people than during any other section, you often had to wait for others coming the other way to step or squeeze through the single file track ahead, before you could proceed. At one point I waited whilst two women came through carrying bikes (and you think I’m crazy!!!). In the most part it was fun, and the scenery was stunning but it was relentless and never ending. I finally arrived in Inversnaid at 3:30, so spent the next hour flopped at the pier waiting for the later ferry munching on more apples, cheese and cookies.
During the 30 minutes ferry ride to the other side – which actually turned out to be a commentated cruise – I was half asleep, so nearly missed the captain on his microphone interrupt his talk on local bird life to ask if I was Marianne. When I looked up, he then proceeded to wind me up saying that we must have hooked up on a dating website etc before I replied that he must have met my mum and sister earlier (they had text to say whilst waiting they had taken an hours “cruise” around the loch). That soon shut him up 😜
My last night with mum and sis was spent back at the local pub in Tyndrum, and then of course packing – stuff I was taking with me the next day, things they were going to meet me with tomorrow after my day of walking, and then a third bag they had kindly agreed to drop at a hostel in Glasgow (basically all my camping gear). Even after all that pounding today, my body – feet and ankles especially – felt pretty dam good! I must be toughening up…