This varied leg has two halves: from the hill to the west of Crianlarich the trail undulates northwards through forestry before descending steeply to reach the River Fillian. The second half is flatter as it follows the floodplains of the Fillian and Crom Allt to reach the small village of Tyndrum on the A82.
3 hours 8 minutes
Map of the leg
Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format.
After crossing the stile into the woodland above Crianlarich, turn left to leave the track and continue along a path that twists and turns northwestwards as it climbs through the trees. It reaches a summit next to a picnic bench and continues to rise and fall. After a mile in the forest it crosses a large footbridge over the Herive Burn. On the other side it continues winding in a rough north-northwestwarly direction; it joins a track for a few hundred metres before leaving this once more and continuing through the trees. The route is easy to follow and obvious on the ground, although some of the descents are steep. It eventually turns to the right to descend with the Allt an t-Saoir on the left to reach the railway line at NN360275.
Descend some steps under a railway viaduct and then turn to the left to rejoin the Old Military Road. It immediately crosses the burn on a bridge and heads on north-northwestwards for a short distance before turning to the right to reach the A82. Carefully cross the road and continue on along an unsurfaced path on the other side; the path parallels the road on the left for a short distance, descending to cross a stile. On the other side follow the edge of a field to reach a wooden clapper gate; on the other side of this is Kirton Bridge over the River Fillan at NN358280.
Go through a kissing-gate and turn right to cross the bridge. On the other side follow a surfaced track northeastwards towards Kirton Farm. Do not enter the farm, and instead turn left in front of it to take another path with the farm’s barns on the right. After a few yards a complex track junction is reached next to an old graveyard; go through a gate and immediately turn left. Follow the good track northwestwards through several gates as it heads across the edge of the floodplain. After 0.6 miles until the farm and campsite at Auchtertyre is reached.
Follow the track through the middle of the farm and cross the Allt Auchtertyre on a bridge. On the other side of the bridge turn left to follow another good track southwestwards for a third of a mile. Just before the A82 is reached once more at NN349288, turn left to go through a metal gate and join a path that immediately sneaks under the bridge that carries the main road over the River Coonish.
Continue on along a good gravel path with the river on the left. When it meets a track turn left to join this new track. It passes a lovely three-arch stone bridge on the left, at which the path curves to the right to reach the surfaced track that heads over the bridge. Cross the track and head on along a path on the other side, still with the river on the left. When the Crom Allt is met the path turns to the right to follow the stream northwards for a short distance until a track is reached. Turn left along this track to cross the stream to head westwards.
After about a fifth of a mile the track crosses a cattle grid; cross this and after about 200 yards turn right along a small footpath that winds northwards through trees. It roughly parallels the stream for a mile, crossing a gate through a deer fence that leads into an area devoid of any vegetation - the site of an old lead works. Go through another gate on the other side of the cleared area to join a track that runs along the southern bank of the Crom Allt. This track eventually curves to the right to reach a road; turn left to follow the road, passing the By The Way campsite on the left to reach the road near Tyndrum Lower railway station at NN327301.
Places of interest
Crianlarich is a small village situated at the junction of the A85(T) and A82(T). It developed at a junction between two military roads and has served the wayfarer ever since. Several hotels and B&B's that grant the weary traveller a place to rest their heads.
The village is served by a railway station on the line from Glasgow to Fort William. A junction immediately north of the station takes a line to Oban on the west coast off the main route. Originally another line headed east towards Callander, but this was closed in 1965.
The West Highland Way crosses a hillside about three-quarters of a mile to the west of the village; it is still a popular place for walkers to stay, however.
location UID #238
St Fillian and St Fillian's church
Some small ruins by the banks of the River Fillian mark the site of St Fillian's Priory. This Augustinian Priory was established in the 13th Century and, at its height, the main buildings were over 50 metres long. It could only have looked magnificent against the backdrop of the surrounding mountains. Information on the priory is hard to find on the Internet, but fortunately an information board at the site provides more information.
The priory housed several relics associated with Saint Fillian, which were kept by hereditary guardians called Dewers. Some of these relics were lost after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1607, but a couple survive and are now in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
St Fillian arrived in Scotland with his mother and uncle in around 730 AD, wanting to convert the Pictish population to Christianity. After separating from his family he travelled to this part of Scotland and set up a Celtic church on this site; nearby there is a graveyard that is believed to have belonged to that early church and a ‘holy pool' that became a shrine to the saint. Sadly the latter is a poor place for contemplation due to noise from the adjacent main road.
The holy pool was an interesting and macabre place. The sick used to be dipped into the pool to cure them of their ills; unfortunately the mentally ill were bound by hand and foot and thrown in. If they could grasp a pebble off the bottom of the pool and bring it to the surface - a seemingly impossible task with hands bound - then the person was said to have been cured. If they failed after two attempts they were taken into the church to lay on the floor overnight; if they had managed to loosen their bounds by the morning then they were also sane.
St Fillian is the patron saint of the mentally ill. No connection should be made between this fact and long-distance walkers.
location UID #239
Tyndrum is a small village situated on the A85(T) in the shadow of Ben Lui. It has the usual facilities for wayfarers such as hotels and B&B's.
The surrounding area once had a significant minerals industry. A vegetation-free scar to on a hillside to the south of the village marks the site of a lead crushing plant; minerals that leached into the ground have prevented vegetation from growing. The ore was taken by pack horse to Beinglass for smelting, and the resultant lead was put onto boats on Loch Lomond. Precious metals can also be found in the hills; there are plans to open a gold and silver mine nearby. Some (but not all) landowners tolerate non-mechanical gold panning in the rivers.
Although it is a tiny settlement, the village is served by two railway stations: the lower station is on the line to Oban, whilst the upper station leads to Fort William.
In 1306 the Battle of Dalrigh took place to the south of the village; the Clan MacDougall defeated Robert the Bruce, in the process gaining a royal jewel called the Brooch of Lorn. Robert the Bruce had recently killed the Red Comyn, a rival to the Scottish Throne. After losing the battle of Methven in June 1306 he fled into the Highlands, eventually making his way into MacDougal territory. Unfortunately for Robert the chief of the MacDougals was a relative of Red Comyn. A simple stone bench beside the West Highland Way marks what is believed to be the site of the battle.
Nearby is a superbly-named lochan - the ‘Loch of the Legend of the Lost Sword'. It is said that Robert the Bruce ordered his men to fling their weapons into the loch to lighten their load. Amongst the weapons were his massive sword, which was reputed to have been between five and nine feet in length.
location UID #240
Scottish Citylink service 914 runs several times a day between Tyndrum and Crianlarich; the stops are both on the A82.
Daily train services also run between Tyndrum and Crianlarich railway stations.
It should be noted that Crianlarich is 340 feet below and four-fifths of a mile away from the nearest point on the trail.
As usual, Traveline Scotland is an excellent resource for planning public transport journeys.