Day 15. Beinglas Farm to Millarochy Campsite. 18 miles.
Having actually slept last night I awoke feeling refreshed and ready to tackle today's 18 miles, I knew from previous experience that the path today was comfortably the most challenging leg of the West Highland Way, but also the most fun, with boulder scrabbling and perilous lochside paths both being regular features. I rose early, showered again just for the sake of it, picked up my packed lunch from the campsite, and began the day.
Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures from the first 9 miles or so, as the path really did require my undivided attention. With a full pack, having to navigate the boulder-strewn trail was not easy and this was made more challenging by the ceaseless stream of pedestrian traffic coming in the opposite direction. The path was strictly single file you see, typically I was given right of way due to my singular status, but occasionally a less socially aware group would trample through, forcing me to lean awkwardly into the undergrowth which began to significantly slow my progress. Whilst the path was every bit as fun as I remembered, last time I had been here I had been in the company of my friends and having spent the morning seeing groups merrily pass me by I began to feel slightly melancholic, and a little lonely, for the first time on this long journey.
These feelings were swept away upon reaching the Inversnaid Hotel, where I met with a bunch of cyclists who were also tackling the end to end journey, albeit from South to North. We exchanged pleasantries and several very kindly contributed to my fundraising page, and I left in much higher spirits, feeling lifted by this brief but fulfilling encounter.
From here the path continued to climb, drop and weave, often menacingly close to the very edge of the land with the stunning Loch Lomond always in full view. It's easy to see why the West Highland way is the UK's most popular long distance path. After midday I found a suitable bench and sat down for my packed lunch - little did I know that I was about to be whisked away on a nostalgic tour of the 1990s. My treasure trove held a ham and cheese sandwich (normal) and a bottle of water (also normal), but after those items it got very interesting. There was a small, not for resale multipack bag of Hula Hoops (the most 90s of all the crisps), a Coco Pops cereal bar with yoghurt base (which I didn't know still existed), a carton of Um Bongo (whose strong overtures of colonial racism would not survive in today's marketplace), a small, two-fingered Kit-Kat (quite 90s), and best of all, a single Frube. I had genuinely forgotten about the existence of the tubed yoghurt treat which I hold to be synonymous with the spice girls, mad cow disease, Gazza's tears, and thinking all computers would stop working due to a change in the date. Ah memories.
Reinvigorated by my childish luncheon the remaining miles fell away as I approached Millarochy campsite. The trail soon fell down to water level and I was soon walking along stony beaches with the sun just beginning to set, casting a blanket of shimmering ripples over Loch Lomond. I passed numerous campers setting up for the night, greeting each of them with a friendly wave, before setting up my tent on the wonderfully flat ground of Millarochy.