Monday, 13 October 2014

WHW day 5: Bridge of Orchy to King's House

I continue to marvel at how much a sleep will regenerate you.  Although my feet were a bit sore from the beating, I was ready to get up and go as soon as the sun came up.  While I wasn't as limber as I was on day one, I wanted nothing more than to keep going down the trail and really looked forward to it.  

And yes, there was a Bridge in Orchy.  It was built by the English as part of their military road on the way to Fort William.  

I would have been content to stay here for another couple nights and battle some of the Murnos in the area.  It was beyond lovely.

We soon left the A84 and began the climb through a pine forest up into the wilderness.  Today was an easy 12 miles to the next hamlet of Kings House.  It ended up being my favorite day on the trail.  The blazing hot sun didn't hurt either.

Seriously!  Everytime I've been to Scotland, I've gotten a lot of clouds and drizzle.  Never ever ever was there a strong sun in the sky.  It was magic, and the locals we encountered expressed puzzlement while fumbling for their dust-covered sunglasses.

The trail followed the old military road, which was wide and well-traveled.  Soon it turned into an old drover's road and we followed the cattle track into the remote highlands.

Although the trail is as well-waymarked as you can get, we still carried two maps, a compass and although we didn't depend on them, I had OS maps uploaded onto my phone with the app running to track our progress from space.  The fact the track was so well worn and well marked meant we really progressed much faster than we had on the Coast to Coast where we had to stop at every intersection to check the maps.

Even though we were gaining a lot of elevation, there was no wind at all.  It was almost uncomfortable.

We made really good time and stopped by a tiny Loch to have lunch.  All around us, hikers had like thoughts.  12 miles isn't a lot to hike and everyone just seemed happy to walk it lazily, and finding a nice flat rock to nap on took priority.

But ah, those mountains!  The official trail always took the easiest way through them, and I had an urge to go up and over every single one.  Our "Not the West Highland Way" book encouraged us to, but a lot of these didn't have footpaths and it required you to pick your way up through the moors, which was not an easy thing to do.

We did bump into a rather misguided Israeli couple who were hiking with a giant umbrella and winter gear.  I have no doubt they would be able to survive in the desert much better than I could, but it was kind of giggle-inducing to see someone hiking with such an impractical item.

It's not just because it was so sunny, but with rain comes wind, and here that would fold the sturdiest of brollys into a useless tangle of broken spokes.

We soon climbed up and over and soon we saw the ski resort.  There is only one hotel in King's House, and it was fully booked, so I had found that the tiny ski resort had a campground.

Oh, this is "glamping".  I ended up loving staying there more than any other place on the trail.  

They called them "hobbit huts" and I want to live in one.  They were well-built and cozy, with three bunks with mattresses.  These were hooked up to electricity so they had a light, a kettle and a space heater, but I found that once you closed the door it was cozy enough at night.  You just have to bring a sleeping bag, and I was just thrilled with our home for the night.

Also, our views:

 The campground had coin-op showers, and after a quick one, we decided to walk an extra 2 miles down the hill into King's House to the pub rather than have dinner at the cafeteria at the campground.

It was kind of stupid, we should have just stayed put and rested our feet, but the evening was just so nice, we couldn't have thought of anything else to do except to go for a walk.

A sunset on the high moors on a clear eve was just magic.  The sounds of the black grouse haunted the hillsides, and since everyone else was settled in for the night, the two mile walk to the pub was empty of other hikers.

The loneliest basketball hoop:

After a dram and a pie, we were walking a dusky trail back up the hill to the ski resort.  A cold mist was settling into the glens.  It was worth this little 4-mile jaunt just to have a peaceful constitutional.

This video isn't mine, but check out the sounds of the black grouse.  It's just outer-space worthy, and although they were hard to spot, you could hear them all over the place.  

Tomorrow:  we tackle the Devil's Staircase.  


  1. Sara I am really enjoying your blog on the WHW. My husband and I are from Canada and we will be walking the WHW next June. Your photos are breathtaking! Love your knitting too. Angela (Airdrie, Alberta, Canada)

    1. Good for you! We really had a fantastic time, and we're debating when and where to go next in Scotland as it's just the best place to hike around. Oh, and we met mostly Canadians on the trail...lots and lots of people from Canada do this walk it seems.