A lovely walk in the snow…

Sometimes you have some daft ideas…. today, my pal Ellen and I had one – let’s walk to Bridge of Orchy. Yup – sure, could it really be that difficult? It was a lovely day, the sky had (non-threatening) fluffy clouds, blue sky and wind. The chill factor must have been about -10 however, we planned our day…

I met Ellen down the road, and she walked up wearing winter (hmm… ) running bottoms, a zip up top and a fleece. To give her her due, she did have on walking boots, gloves and a warm head band. I nearly collapsed laughing, she looked like she was going for a wander round the garden, not a hike for 7 miles in the winter…

We headed off up the West Highland Way from the village, and got up to the water tanks – it was sheet ice – just a bit skittery to say the least… at that point Ellen said “Well, we aren’t turning back now, I would only land on my arse if we had to do that lot going downhill!” The other turning back moment was meeting two walkers – I asked them if they had walked from Bridge of Orchy – nope – they got “half way” and turned back. They obviously didn’t know the path very well, because they hadn’t even covered a quarter of the walk, but did say when they sunk into the snow up to their knees, they decided they should turn back. I did make a comment on how they were using walking poles, and at that moment had the ” Why the hell didn’t I bring mine….” They offered to sell them to us…. however, was more concerned about having money for our lunch and not about buying walking poles from two random walkers… As it transpired, they had walked to the next gate, and yes, the lady walking must have been up to her knees.

We were committed though, and staggered on through drifts of snow…. muttering as we went…. walking poles, walking poles…. we both got stuck, especially where there is no obvious path, however, after a bit of rolling around, we got back to our feet. Ellen did admit though to getting a bit cold and wet – not wearing the most practical leg wear, let’s be honest here!

The views were stunning and even though the conditions were bitterly cold, we plodded on, and on with huge grins on our faces…. We had the usual “Boy, aren’t we so lucky to live where we do…” conversation! The bonus of walking to Bridge of Orchy is there is a hotel at the end of the walk. The Bridge of Orchy Hotel is a very warm welcoming place after a hike like that. I did meet on of the locals before we left home – he lives around the Inveroran road. Ewan said that the hotel was closed, they had burst pipes, I nearly freaked with disappointment. Then I realised that Ewan was only doing his wind up bit – so gave him hell and then about half way, and up to our knees in snow, I told Ellen that the Hotel was shut due to a burst pipe… I thought she was going to swing for me… hehe *grin*.

I have to say that this walk was one of the best yet. We have in the last few months been getting out for a good few treks locally, but this walk has to be one of my favourites.

We walked this route a wee while ago, probably about 3 months ago now with Paul and Andy. I went armed with my camera and again the weather was stunning – no snow, but just lovely. Imagine my frustration (to say the least) when I went to view a picture I had taken to realise that I didn’t have a memory card in the camera….. aaarrrghhh! Craig, our Internet Manager had been using my camera for work, and the card was sitting all nice and cosy in the slot in the pc, in the office… I was so hacked off, I phoned him – mind you, if he had stepped out the back door of his house, he probably would have heard me all the way to Darvel…. Needless to say, the blame was put entirely on me – I should have checked, any good photographer will make sure they have the memory card, battery, spare battery…. blah, blah, blah… hearing that didn’t make me feel any better, that’s for sure, but I ‘took it on the nose’ as being well and truly my fault. It was at this point of the walk that I took the non-picture that day:

We saw stags on the hill, it was at that point that I was kicking myself for not getting the zoom lens for my Christmas – well, from Ed to me… hopefully going to sort that in the sales in Edinburgh this week though…

Passed the farm, the shepherd had gone along in his 4×4, so walking was a bit better in places. It did take a while though to click that the bits where he had traction difficulties definitely meant we were too… a few knee jarring moments, skittery slides later, giggling, then the penny dropped! Stay out the bits that a 4×4 struggles in… Getting closer to The Bridge, the views were stunning….

Nearly there…. just got to the gate at the station and there was Kenny, one of the Oban police, standing there with an OS map and binoculars in his hand…. apparently there was a group of climbers who hadn’t moved for a while in the Corrie below Ben Doran, so another climber had called the police to report it as a ‘possible’ problem. Ellen and I reckon they were having a ‘brew’ and their sandwiches, maybe even a hip flask or two…. anyway, it was a good chance to have a blether with Kenny – I used to go to school with him, so there was a bit of banter back and forwards. When he and his colleague were driving towards the Bridge of Orchy, he did see Ellen and I walking …. I won’t write what he ACTUALLY said, but it was along the lines of “look at those nutters….” He maybe had a point. However, the aching bum, knees and legs are testimony to a hard but really enjoyable walk…. It was finished off with coffee and a sandwich in the hotel – I was so tempted to have a whisky, but resisted. Mum joined us, and drove us home. Ace. A superb day with excellent company. Lovely to appreciate what is on your doorstep….

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