WHW Day 4: Camaraderie of the Trail

Day 4 was a really long day, and thinking back (I’m writing this on day 5), it seems like multiple days. For this entry, I’ve tried to keep as much in, while also condensing for readability

Prepping for trail

Coming off of day 3 where I was mentally pretty depleted and on the edge of yellow or blue blazing around sections of trail, I needed to put down a good day.

I knew I was more than capable of hiking what I needed to, but would the loneliness of the previous day creep in?

I packed up and got ready at the Rose Cottage and ate breakfast with two British men also doing the trail. We chatted about how things had been going, Munro bagging, and how we had the same itinerary for the remainder of the trip.

The breakfast was awesome, and we found our trail runners dry and cleaned off by our hosts? don’t get me wrong, they were muddy again within 2 miles, but it was really nice to put on dry shoes!

On the road again

I set off for the day ahead, immediately getting passed by the two men from breakfast, and I got over heated quickly so I stopped to take off a few layers.

As I was putting my bag on, a guy was walking up and headed the same way I was so I asked how it was going. He sounded American (but also kind of British😉) and we ended up walking at a similar pace. He told me about how this was day three for him, and he’d been walking with his friend, but the friend ended up dropping from the walk that morning because of knee pain.

His name is Robin and we ended up walking most of the morning together. Finally, he took a rest break and I kept going, making it into the town of Tyndrum and stopping at the Real Food Cafe for lunch. As I sat down at the community bench and turned my phone off airplane mode, I noticed I had a voicemail and email from the Rose Cottage – I had completely forgotten to pay, and owed them £110!! Because all my accommodation was booked well in advance, it was hard to remember, but this B&B only took cash or bank transfer, so I exchanged a lot of cash in Edinburgh to have enough for the B&B and honesty shops along the way.

I called back, profusely apologizing, and the host was really understanding saying it happens and they had also forgotten. The following exchange then ensued:

Me: again, I’m so sorry, should I set up a bank transfer to you then?
Host: well where are you? Do you have the money on you?
Me: yes of course I have the cash, I’m in Tyndrum
Host: are you busing to Bridge of Orchy?
Me: no I’m going to walk
Host: that’s going to take forever! Ugh… I’ll be in Tyndrum in 20 minutes, just meet me in the car park of the cafe!

20 minutes goes by, I walk outside to pay my debts, and who is sitting on the curb? Robin? who thought the cafe looked too nice for walkers and was figuring out what to do instead.

The host arrived, I continued to apologize and pay him, and he seemed proud that I was walking all the way? I don’t even care if this is me projecting that onto him, this is my reality!

Robin joined me at the cafe and then we continued on to the Green Welly – a walker heaven! They have gear, a mini grocery store, a tap to fill bottles, toilets and a small cafe! Because the next section had little food, we stocked up on protein bars and snacks before getting back on the trail.

We again walked on and off together, taking different breaks or changing paces, and eventually I ran into a girl I had passed back and forth on the first day – Jana from the Czech Republic. Jana and I got to talking and she told me a lot about her life, her two kids, and how she wanted to do this trip alone, wild camping the whole way, to prove to herself that she can do it! Shes had a goal for 10 years to do this trail, and she’s kicking ass! It was also really nice to hear from another solo female walker that it’s been difficult at times, and I’m not the only one crying down the trail once in awhile!

In town, Bridge of Orchy

Jana and I walked all the way into Bridge of Orchy (BOO) together, first passing the town rail station, then making our way down the hill to the hotel of the same name.

I was staying at the West Highland Way Sleeper that night, which I knew had been an old rail station, but couldn’t figure out where it was! I asked for directions at the hotel, and they sent me back up the hill saying “it’s behind the train station”?

In the pub we also ran into the two British men from breakfast and Robin, all of whom were staying at the hotel. Back outside, Jana and I took a selfie and parted ways as she was pushing on to find a campsite.

I went back to the rail station and noticed a sign only sobos would see saying that the sleeper is on the back of the platform… which also wasn’t true because the bunkhouse IS the rail station… I checked in with the caretaker, Helen, who said she had an interesting call earlier with the people I stayed with last night‼️ which means the hosts at the rose cottage called all the places to stay in BOO (to be fair, there are only two) in an attempt to track me down…

Helen showed me to the bunk room where 8 other people were staying – 2 British women (well one was from Massachusetts but she’s lived in the UK many many years so it counts), 2 Swiss women, 2 German women, and a father son Dutch duo.

Everyone was really lovely and we all got on well. The father and son (also the son was only 14 years old!) had made a mistake on their itinerary and were also going to Kinlochleven the next day (same as me), and everyone else was going to Kingshouse, about halfway between.

When we ran into Robin at the hotel, he said he’d booked himself a table for dinner at 8pm and that I should do the same if I wanted to eat a proper dinner rather than protein bars. I was too focused on laundry and finding my accommodations that I ignored this, and messaged him later “what’s the deal with the pub?”

At this point, everything was booked but he was able to add me to his table!

While I waited, I sat in my top bunk and chatted with the Swiss women for awhile about our two cultures and countries. The bunk beds I was in were situated next to a large window with a curtain that was half open because we couldn’t get any of the lights inside to turn on… while the three of us chatted, we happened to glance out the window, and there were a few random men next to my window *waiting for the train*? such an odd place, but we got to watch the train come and waved as they boarded and rode away.

When I headed down to the pub for dinner at 8, so did the two German women, and we all four ended up sitting together, which was great fun!

After dinner, I got my next WHW passport stamp from the hotel reception, and the three of us returned to the bunkhouse, which wreaked of damp sweat, mud, and everything else associated with walker bunk houses…

To make matters worse, as we were quietly trying to brush out teeth to not disturb anyone, we walked barefoot into the bathroom where the tile floor was covered in cold standing water? so gross!

The end of the trail is starting to feel real with only two days left, it’s simultaneously as if it’s just getting going but also coming to an abrupt end!

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