This is a relatively straightforward leg. The trail follows a series of tracks and paths that climbs slowly up the valley of the River Falloch. The valley also carries the A82(T) and the railway line to Oban and Fort William as well as power lines; it is therefore not the quietest or most serene section of the trail. After crossing the Falloch and passing under the A82(T) it follows an old Military Road that slowly climbs up the northern side of the valley, eventually reaching some woodland above Crianlarich.
3 hours 1 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.
Do not enter Beinglass Farm, and instead follow the track that heads northwards behind the farm buildings. Follow this uphill to the north with the River Falloch a short distance away to the left; it slowly curves to take a more northeasterly course. After about a mile a crossroads with another track is reached at NN325200. Continue straight on along a rougher path that heads eastwards, still with the river on the left.
The good path continues to climb slowly eastwards along a spectacular stretch of path that crosses a series of bridges over small burns; several stiles and clapper gates are crossed as well. After 1.2 miles it passes the Falls of Falloch on the left and continues on along the southern bank of the river. Power lines come in from the left and are followed for a while. Half a mile after the Falls it crosses the Allt a Chuilinn on a footbridge (NN344213).
On the other side of the stream the path becomes a track that climbs uphill, passing under the power lines before descending to reach the remote whitewashed farmstead at Derrydaroch. Pass this and continue on for a short distance to reach a footbridge over the river at NN351218.
Cross this bridge and on the other side turn right along a narrow path that undulates northeastwards for three-quarters of a mile with the river on the right, slowly climbing along with the river. At NN359227 it passes through a low cattle creep under a railway bridge. On the other side go through a clapper gate and turn right along a path that slopes up to reach an old road. Turn right for 100 yards long the old road and cross a stile over a fence on the left to reach the southern side of the A82.
A little circular bridge heads under the A82, and on the other side climb up some steps. At the top cross a stile over a fence and immediately ford a little stream; the path slopes uphill, passing under the power lines to reach the Old Military Road at NN358229. Turn right and follow this good track northeastwards. Cross a stile near a metal gate to continue along the old road. After 1.8 miles it reaches a wooden clappergate in a deer fence; go through this to enter coniferous woodland at NN375250. To reach Crianlarich, turn right down an obvious path that leads to Crianlarich and the station.
Places of interest
The River Falloch and Falls of Falloch
The River Falloch rises in the hills around Beinn a' Chroin to the south of Crianlarich. It heads north toward curving sharply to heads southwestwards, forming Glen Falloch. This low ground has proved a useful transport corridor; the A82(T), a railway line and power cables all share the glen.
The river runs through a series of rapids and cascades as it descends; the largest of these, at about 30 foot in height, is the Falls of Falloch. There is a car park beside the A82 on the northern side of the river and a path that leads to the falls; sadly the views from the West Highland Way on the southern side of the river are not as good.
location UID #236
General Wades military roads
You will not have to study a map of the Highlands of Scotland for long before you come across the words, ‘military road' scrawled alongside some tiny track away from the main roads. They can be followed for miles across the landscape, occasionally merging and being subsumed by modern roads.
Like trackways from time immemorial they do not necessarily follow the obviously flat ground along the valley floors. Valleys can be boggy places and prone to flooding; not ideal places for building roads without large amounts of civil engineering. Instead they often hug valley sides in an attempt to stay on firmer ground. The larger modern roads often picked lower routes, meaning that long stretches of the old roads are still available for walkers to use.
A large part of the Highlands' road network was a reaction to the events of 1715. In that year large areas of Scotland rose in rebellion against the British throne. 26 years before the Dutch King William and his English wife Mary deposed the Stuart King James II, who fled to France. The rebels' aim was to return James II to the throne, and hence return the Stuarts to power.
The rebellion was crushed and James II fled back to France once more. This left the current British King, George I, with a problem. The Scots had rebelled, but the remoteness of the terrain made communications very difficult; the rebels could simply disappear back into the hills. Time and time again Scottish history had proved that armies found it difficult to move through the mountainous terrain.
For this reason General Wade was sent to Scotland to build a network of roads that would help keep the Scots under control. Major forts were built at strategic positions such as Fort George at Inverness and Fort William at the southwestern end of the Great Glen. Between 1725 and 1737 Wade's men built over 250 miles of roads; others continued expanding the network after his death, and a further 800 miles were built by a Major Caulfield.
A further uprising in 1745 showed that the martial aims of the roads had failed. They did, however, open up the Highlands to commerce and make long journeys easier for the Highland clans. Sadly this increased communication improved land values for the lairds and could be argued to be one of the causes of the Highland Clearances.
location UID #237
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
Scottish Citylink service 914 runs several times a day between Crianlarich and Inverarnan; the stops are both on the A82.
Note that Crianlarich is 340 feet below and four-fifths of a mile away from the nearest point on the trail. Likewise, the bus stop at Inverarnan is on the A82(T) on the other side of the river from the trail; a farm bridge allows access to the main road.
As usual, Traveline Scotland is an excellent resource for planning public transport journeys.