Willie Shand discovers the peaceful side of a popular Scottish glen, visiting hidden Glen Orchy.
The West Highland Way stretches between Milngavie on the outskirts of Glasgow and Fort William, at the foot of Ben Nevis. Walkers following this long distance trail across the Highlands of Scotland face a wonderful 96 mile hike.
Today, I was just revisiting a part of it on an easy six-mile circular starting out from Bridge of Orchy. To reach the start, though, I took a long road for a shortcut, driving west from Tyndrum to join the singletrack road through Glen Orchy.
The Road Less Travelled
This is a beautiful, unspoiled and very much overlooked glen. Motorists, eager to get to Oban or to Fort William as quickly as possible, rarely venture this way. This is a road to take your time on, not just because it’s twisty and narrow but because, following closely the banks of the River Orchy, there’s lots of photo opportunities along the way.
In places, the Orchy is still and going nowhere fast; in others, it’s racing through rapids and tumbling over spectacular falls like there’s no tomorrow. Nowhere is the river seen with more drama than at the Falls of Orchy. The water carved rocks and patterns of foam drifting over the pools below make up for the distinct lack of water caused by the dry summer.
A Scenic Highlight
The walk from Bridge of Orchy to remote Inveroran Hotel and the Jubilee Bridge is surely one of the finest stretches of the West Highland Way – especially climbing Mam Carraigh with its views over the Blackmount, Loch Tulla and away to the western tops.
This high track follows the line of the old 18th century military road. The bridge at Bridge of Orchy was built by Major Caulfield around 1751.
The return was by the present quiet road, starting above the shores of Loch Tulla. It enjoyed some cracking views across the River Orchy to the shapely Munros of Beinn Borain and its neighbour Beinn an Doathidh.