Day 5: Inversnaid–Inverarnan
After a good night’s sleep, it was nice to cook breakfast under the shining sun. The weather gods must have finally awoken ja turned their smiling faces upon us, while the pesky drizzles of the early hiking days started fading into distant memory.
In certain parts between Inversnaid and Inverarnan, the vegetation became so lush the trail was almost swallowed up by the bushes. We had our lunch break on the northern shore of Loch Lomond. After that point, the trail separated from the shoreline and started following River Falloch. The terrain also got quite hilly right about there.
On the way, we passed by a bothy which honestly seemed a bit grim, but would surely offer good shelter from stormy weather. In any other weather conditions, I’d much rather sleep outside in a tent. However, our plan was to keep walking until we reached the Beinglas Farm campsite in Inverarnan. They have a beautiful, grassy field shaded by old trees for tents, and we put up ours in the farthest corner, right by a small stream.
Our first order of business was confusing the guy at the reception by asking him for tips on where to swim. Apparently, wild swimming isn’t the most popular hobby over there, perhaps since the waters aren’t exactly of hot tub temperatures. Eventually, we just took a quick dip in the shallow stream next to our tent, which seemed to amuse a few people hanging out by the bar. I mean, yeah, the water was surely fresh but not that different from Finnish lake waters in the early summer.
Surrounded by services, it’s easy to get lazy – since there was a restaurant with a lovely outdoor seating area and the weather was great, too, somehow cooking our own instant meals didn’t seem all that enticing. However, this time the instant mash truly would have been a winner’s choice. We ordered burgers which sounded delicious on the menu but turned out to be the second worst* hamburger meal (in terms of value for money) I’ve ever encountered: there was nothing else besides the burger and a shred of cheese between the bland bun slices. The “dressings”, i.e. Heinz ketchup, mustard and mayo, came in plastic portion bags and you had to squeeze them between the buns yourself. Do not recommend! The drinks were decent, though.
*The absolute worst one will always and forever be the meal my friend E bought at a fast food joint in a Tanzanian mall, where they had forgotten to defrost the hamburger before bringing it to our table. :D
Day 6: Inverarnan–Bridge of Orchy–Kingshouse
This day, we brought the laziness to a new level and finally got the transfer service for the heavier one of our backpacks. I had booked and paid for the service online the previous evening. Booking was super easy, all you had to do was fill out a sheet stating your desired pick-up points and dates for the remainder of the hike. The prices were £15 for one leg or £40 for a multi-stop hike, so for the same price, we really should have been smart and humble enough to get the service right from day one!
There are several companies offering baggage transfer on the WHW, of which I picked the small Baggage Freedom quite randomly. After completing the online payment, our only instructions were to attach some kind of a name tag to our bag and just leave it in the campsite’s dedicated baggage transfer space for pick-up. We were a bit nervous about whether all our important camping gear would really be waiting for us in our next destination, since the other, bigger companies picked up their customers’ bags quite early in the morning and I think our bag was the only one left after that. But we had no other choice but to trust the process and go on our merry way.
Our laziness was not limited to the baggage transfer, though. Oh no, we really made life easy for ourselves once we’d gotten the hang of it. We only had ten days in total for the entire holiday, of which we had already spent five days and were planning to spend the last two in Edinburgh. That left us with only three more days for hiking, so something had to give. According to our guidebook, the leg from Inverarnan through Tyndrum until Bridge of Orchy would have been a bit of a boring grind and non-essential for a good WHW experience, so it was an easy choice to skip that part entirely. Instead, we caught a bus from Inverarnan straight to Bridge of Orchy, and from thereon continued on foot to Kingshouse. Fortunately, there was plenty of space on the bus even though we had no reservations and bought the tickets from the driver.
It was such an easy day of walking now that Chef was carrying the lighter one of our backpacks and I was only carrying a small daypack. Once we made it to Kingshouse, more specifically the beautiful Kingshouse Hotel, we were super relieved to find our other backpack waiting for us exactly as promised. Besides the stylish main building of the hotel, there was also a separate bunkhouse for hikers, a public toilet and even a couple of coin-operated showers. However, we had no need for the showers since it was much nicer to bathe outside in the River Etive. On the other side of the river, across a bridge, there are many good, grassy spots for tents. We put up ours under the strict surveillance of a couple of curious deer. I think we even cooked some of our own meals this time, but still had seconds in the outdoor area of the hotel pub. Because it was there. And because then we could leave our phones and power banks charging inside.
Around sunset, we also had our first encounter with the Mighty Midge of Scotland. We had been warned about midges, but dismissed the warnings as utter nonsense – “what do these people even know of murderous bloodsuckers if they haven’t met the mosquitoes of Finland?” – but once the massive clouds of those wee beasties attacked us, it wasn’t funny anymore. We were forced to abandon the outdoor seating and move inside the dim but cosy pub. From there, we basically ran to our tent and behind the safety of our mosquito nets while waving our arms around like lunatics in vain attempt to swat off the bugs. If you opened the zipper of the net even slightly, the tent would immediately be swarming with midges. It was also too dark to properly swat them to death, but fortunately I innovated another method to get rid of them: if you pour some water on a wad of toilet paper, you can kill dozens of midges with one clean swipe of the tent fabric.
I don’t think any of the campers slept that night, all thanks to a group of loud and obnoxious Americans, the shrillest compound of villainous noise that ever offended ear, who decided to throw a massive party in the bunkhouse like it was spring break. Sometime in the small hours of the night, Chef snapped and, from the bottom of his heart, bellowed SHUT THE FUCK UPPP!!! at them, which only seemed to egg them on. However, the midges were still a mightier foe than the screaming idiots, so we didn’t even think to venture outside for further fight-picking. It could only have ended badly, either in a fist fight or a blood transfusion from losing too much to the midges. Still, if you can recognise your shrieking self from this description, methink’st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee. Fortunately, earplugs blocked some of the shrieks, and around sunrise the general offences started to run out of steam so that we were still able to get a few hours of decent shut-eye.
Prices (July 2019):
- Beinglas Farm: tent spot for two £16, use of the tumble dryer £1,50
- Beinglas Farm: terrible hamburgers and decent drinks for two £30
- Baggage Freedom baggage transfer £40/bag (multi-stop)
- Bus ticket, Inverarnan–Bridge of Orchy £7,90 pp
- Kingshouse Hotel pub: £9 per pint, a portion of fries £7
To read all posts on this trip in English, use the tag WHW19EN.