Since we had such a brilliant experience on the Coast to Coast the previous year,
in September 1998, we decided
that we would like to do another long distance route, and we chose:|
The West Highland Way in Scotland.
As the walk starts near Glasgow and finishes 95 miles north in Fort William, we weighed up the various options of how
to go about transportation. The solution was probably the most convenient and cost-effective...
We took our own car, and found a campsite near to the start.. for a small fee (I think about £12) they let us park the
car there for the week. The start was only about 1.5 miles away so very handy. To get back from the finish, we found
that a bus runs fairly regularly from Fort William to Glasgow bus station, then a local bus links back to the start.
This all went very well, although a bit long-winded on the way back.
The route starts in Milngavie (pronounced Mullguy!)on the outskirts of Glasgow and heads North for 95 miles through
spectacular Scenery finishing up at Fort William beside Britains highest point- Ben Nevis.
As we did previously on the Coast to Coast, the aim was to camp every night, and this went to plan for most of the
way, however, we did allow ourselves the luxury of a bunkhouse which was very conveniently located at the Bridge of
Orchy when the weather
turned a bit nasty. |
|Milngavie to Drymen-- 12 miles|
The start is from the centre of Milngavie shopping precinct and proceeds through parkland, quite easy going to start with, and the route is well marked. A good first day steady walking managed to find a pub on the route around lunchtime and sat outside in pleasant weather. Found the campsite easily at Easter Drumquhassie Farm- good facilities including showers all for £4 each. Unfortunately, it was about a 2 mile walk down the road into Drymen for the nearest hostelry but well worth it..reputed to be the oldest pub in Scotland and serving excellent food.
Drymen to Castel Campsite nr Rowardenan-- 12 miles|
Pleasant walking through forest to start, then came to the first real rise- Conic Hill, shortly after reaching the summit, there was a fantastic view over Loch Lomond particularly as it was a clear day. Dropped down into Balmaha,and stopped for a drink in one of the pubs, then pressed on by the side of the Loch. Eventually reached the Cashel Campground located by the Loch which is great, but its pretty much isolated from any town or village and there is no local pub. We weren't really prepared for this, but luckily got there before the site cafe closed at (17:45 on Sundays) and managed to get a reasonable meal. Cost £4 each to camp including shower.
|Castel Campsite to Inverarnan-- 16 miles|
It rained most of the night, but it miraculously stopped as we got up, and it stayed fine until about 6pm, when it started again! The day's walk was entirely by the Eastern banks of the Loch which we thought would be easy, but it turned out to be quite tough going, there were lots of small climbs and roots to negotiate through the forest. We suffered a bit with de-hydration, draining our water bottles, and very pleased to reach the Inversnaid Hotel for a refill and an excellent pint (of orange!). The remaining 8 miles after the hotel seemed to go on for ever and really drag. Camped at Beinglas Farm which was an excellent site with a site shop and good showers, cost again £4 each. Luckily there is a pub (Drovers Inn) nearby just across the river via the small footbridge. The pub is worth a visit just for the experience..interesting!
Inverarnan to Bridge of Orchy--20 miles|
It rained all night, this time, it didn't stop in the morning. It was a bad start to what turned out to be a tough day. The original plan was to walk to Tyndrum, but because the weather was bad, we had been 'burning' up the miles and got there by 13:45, and decided it would be best to press on, but we weren't sure where we would be able to camp the night. We had a break at the Pine Trees Campground in Tyndrum (where we would have been staying) then carried on via Brodie's stores for some chocolate. Had a long trek on the old miliatary road in driving rain- unfortunately not appreciating the scenery properly due to having the hood up and head down! On reaching the Bridge of Orchy, we asked at the hotel if there was a campsite nearby, they said it was at Inveroran, about 5 miles away! We had already done 20, and really didn't want to do any more especially in the weather and being already soaked. Seeing the dread on our faces, the receptionist then said, "There is a room in the bunk-house next door at £8 each". We took it, and it was brilliant, the room was just for 2 people, and heated, there were showers, and we managed to get everything dried off. The hotel next door was serving good food and drink, it couldn't have been a better ending to a very hard day's walk.
|Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven--20 miles|
Better weather, a bit drizzly, but not bad enough for waterproofs, bit of a climb to start, midges starting to be annoying. Got to Invoranan in about 1 and a half hours, feeling pleased that we had not pressed on the previous day! Excellent walking over Rannoch Moor and got to Kingshouse by 12:30, and stopped for a pint in the hotel. We were going to camp here, but as it was so early, decided to carry on over 'devils staircase'. After the climb (which wasn't so bad as people had told us) there was a long seemingly endless descent down to Kinlochleven, our destination for the night. We camped in the grounds of the MacDonald Hotel (£4 each inc. shower) which was ok, the only problem was the midges! It was the worst midge situation imaginable, they were everywhere, the tent was covered inside and out, couldn't really tolerate more than a few minutes outside, luckily, we had plenty of repellant, which didn't keep them away as such, but we managed to clear them out of the tent (until the next time the door was opened, then it all started again!)
Kinlochleven to Fort William--15 miles|
We were dreading leaving the tent because of the midges, so packed as much as possible away before even opening the door. We then planned to whip the tent down as quick as possible then be off, but on emerging, it wasn't so bad, there weren't many around. Anyway, we made a swift exit, the Way continued immediately uphill out of Kinlochleven, then followed some of the best walking so far through a pass between mountains, and on into woodland. Ben Nevis was visible ahead eventually meeting a Land Rover type track leading down to Glen Nevis. The weather was quite variable, but warm enough for wearing shorts. Camped at the Glen Nevis campsite, (£7.50 each + 20p for shower) which as its a tourist area was a bit more expensive, but the facilities were excellent i.e. really good showers, flat ground and a site shop. We finished the West Highland Way on the way to find our evening meal in Fort William which was about 2 miles further up the road. Had a fantastic night at MacTavishes Kitchen, which provided us with very good food, and traditional Scottish entertainment- a fitting end to a great walk.
It was irresistable really, it was there just in front of us, and we didn't have to be off until about midday, so we went for it! Rose quite early, and we had it to ourselves, there was no-one else in sight! We didn't hang about, it took us just under 2 hours to get to the top- walking quite quickly, had a wander round, then ran most of the way down in about an hour. Really enjoyed it, and hardly saw another soul until we got almost back down. Had a shower, packed up and caught the bus back to Glasgow.
A fantastic week!