I left home early in the morning to drive to Bridge of Orchy station where I parked the car, unloaded my bike and gear and then sat and waited on the platform for the train to arrive.
This initially took the form of a narrow path that climbs through the woods and forestry, it was hard work on a loaded bike but good fun and quite picturesque.
After a hearty lunch of soup, sandwiches and cake washed down with a pot of tea I hit the road again. Initially my legs felt tired but soon the energy from my lunch kicked in and I felt much better as I tackled the short sharp tarmac climbs of the Glen Lyon road. Although this section was a road it was very quiet and scenic so was an enjoyable ride.
The view back east along Glen Lyon (the way I'd come).
The way ahead, west above Loch Lyon.
The track alongside Loch Lyon was a rough rollercoaster of a ride. There was nothing technical on it but there were some fast bumpy descents punctuated with water erosion damage that meant concentration had to be maintained to pick the right line. I was also very grateful for the suspension forks on my bike which added a little much needed comfort on these teeth rattling descents. After a couple of miles I crossed the Allt Meurain stream, this was a ford that could be a potential problem if this route was ridden after a wet spell of weather.
At this point my thoughts turned again to an overnight stop. It was late afternoon and I'd made far better progress than I'd expected. My plan had been to stop for the night near the watershed at the head of Strath Tarabhan but it was now dawning on me that I could easily complete the ride in a single day. I was a little bit torn as I love wild camping and this was a spectacular setting to spend a night but I now felt the lure of the challenge of getting round in a day.
As I rode over the watershed the lure of the challenge won and I decided to push on down towards Gleann Achadh-innis Chailein.
The descent down towards Auch Glen was really fast and fun with multiple crossings of the Allt Kinglass river by way of fords. Soon the familiar viaduct that carries the West Highland railway line across Auch Glen came into view (except this time I was viewing it from the opposite direction from the usual vantage point of the A82 road).
After passing under the viaduct I joined the West Highland Way for the last few miles back to Bridge of Orchy. It was strange seeing all the walkers on the path as I'd hardly seen a soul for the last few hours.
The final push back to the car was soon done with and it was time to reflect on a trip that hadn't panned out as expected. I'd ridden further than I'd imagined I could have managed and obviously had more in reserve than I'd realised. I'd missed out on my night out but the sense of satisfaction from completing the route in a day made that worthwhile. Next time I'd definitely do it without the extra 8 kilos of luggage on the bike though!