Two hours north of Glasgow is the wonderful, if a little bleak, village of Crianlarich. Situated on the edge of the Trossachs, it’s a place frequented by people walking the West Highland Way and very little else.

Like most of you (who aren’t Scottish), this is the first time I’ve made any attempt to explore Scotland since moving up here for uni last year. I was quite comfortable living within the confines of the subway line. Who am I kidding? I’ve never even been past Partick station. Having never seen much of Scotland I was awestruck by the beauty of the country as I went through Loch Lomond and into the Trossachs. I suspect Crianlarich is like any other small town in Scotland, the trains are few and infrequent because after missing the 12pm train I had to wait a mere six hours for another one to come along. Once I finally arrived it was pitch black outside and my phone was about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Luckily I had the foresight to scout the way to the lodge I’d be staying at before entering the dead zone that is anywhere north of Helensburgh. Luckily for me memorising the route was fairly simple as there is only one road running through the village. The scary bit came when apparently the streetlight budget ran out and the road was lit by nothing but the moon and I’m pretty sure even the moon couldn’t penetrate the rainclouds.

After stumbling down the poorly lit road, I eventually found the Ben More Lodge where I’d be staying for the night. I was so happy to find it because I was beginning to worry I never would. From what I could see it’s one of two places in Crianlarich you can get a pint. Needless to say either the locals frequented the other place, or the four people in there were the sum total of the locals.

In the morning I got a chance to explore the area a bit. I think I’ve been playing too many apocalyptic games because the area surrounding Crianlarich made it feel like everyone in existence had died. No people, no sounds from cars, not even any planes overhead.

I walked far enough away from Crianlarich that I started to get a signal on my phone, only to discover I was walking in a direction I didn’t want to go. I thank Google for mapping that dirt track otherwise I suspect I’d still be wandering the Trossachs cold, wet and hungry for human flesh.

All I can suggest is get your camping gear out and venture north. The West End isn’t the end of the world. You might even enjoy it. Although If you’re like me and hate camping, stay in a warm and cosy lodge after enjoying a massive steak and a glass of malt. You’ll feel much better about your life.

[Jake Casson]

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