Day 14. The Bridge of Orchy to Beinglas Farm. c.20 miles.
Due to barely sleeping in the sub-zero temperatures I drifted off sometime around 7am as the earth warmed slightly, meaning I didn't wake until well after 9am - a late start for a demanding day. With around 20 miles to cover I quickly packed up the tent, crossed the bridge and nipped into the hotel for coffee, toast and a pint of orange juice. Refreshed and a little annoyed at myself, I was on my way. One downside of last night's sleep is that my right ear had healed overnight - directly into the stitching of my sleeping bag. Having to disengage my flesh from the fabric of my makeshift duvet was not exactly a dream start, however it was all downhill from here (not literally, there was a lot of climbing, but generally things got better once I packed up and left).
The 9 miles from the Bridge to Tyndrum were fine, easy miles. The path was well trod and relatively flat, the sun eventually emerged around 11 o'clock, and the views were stunning - after the bleak moorland yesterday, today felt like a marked difference; the Highland sweet spot between overly rugged desolation and the fertile lochside scenery to come.
Indeed the path to Tyndrum was so pleasant that the miles slipped away unnoticed. It's funny sometimes hiking, after a while you realise it's all a mindgame - 14 miles of easy, beautiful path feels the same as 2 of sleet covered, steep climbing. But under today's conditions, with serene sunlight, a refreshing Highland breeze and huge cumulus clouds forming an endless array of majestic shapes, I'm confident even the most ardent armchair enthusiastic could fall for the beauty of hiking. Except maybe Becky...
I arrived into Tyndrum having made excellent time, tucked into a gammon steak and a couple of pints, restocked on savlon for my still-bleeding ears (yes they were attracting some odd glances) and sallied forth, knowing I still had around 11 miles to go. My destination, Beinglas Farm, was part campsite, part Inn, so I knew shower facilities were available - having gone 3 days without washing I was desperate to be clean, and the thought of hot water and soapy bubbles happily whisked me through the mountains and forests that lined the remainder of today's path.
After Tyndrum the path climbed through some actual pine forests (not neatly man made like the rest I had seen), before breaking into truly stunning walking. The path wound around the very edge of the woods, snaking higher through the mountains, each turn offered new views, with the visibility excellent for miles in all directions.
Eventually I weaved into Beinglas, surprisingly tired - today had been a long day, but compared to yesterday's trial, comparatively easy. However I found myself completely exhausted, no doubt as a result of barely sleeping for two nights in a row. I took an exceptionally long shower, prepared my bedding for the night and fell into a deep and untroubled sleep - but not before admiring the gorgeous Scottish sunset. A great day all in all.