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Bivy bag along West Highland Way in January

Re: Bivy bag along West Highland Way in January

Postby Marty_JG » Wed Dec 14, 2016 2:21 pm

The daylight hours is a real thing, especially in the rain. I camped overnight last week at Rowardennan expecting a pleasant evening by a campfire (don't worry, in a BBQ firepit) before turning in and bagging BenLo in the morning. The rain came on, which I braved it for a while, but was forced into the tent by 7pm. That's a lot of time to be stuck in a 2-man tent let alone a glorified sleeping bag.
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Re: Bivy bag along West Highland Way in January

Postby Chael » Thu Dec 15, 2016 2:04 am

StevenF wrote:Good decission Chael,

there are three kinds of adventures they say, type 1: fun while you are doing it, 2. no fun while you are doing it but fun to talk about afterwards and then there is type 3: no fun while doing it and no fun to talk about it afterwards.

My first bivy "adventure" was in near Spa in Belgium, usually a very quiet place but on that on that very night the 24h car race of spa-francorchamps was held. Although it was a couple of miles away there I was kept awake by the very loud racing sounds. So much for my romantic ideas about spending a quiet night in a bivy bag :-)

So at worst you are heading for type 2 fun I would say. If it becomes too cold and wet just get up and start walking (one thing I learned during a type 2 fun adventure).


Thank you, Steven.

I don't think a type 1 adventure is much of an adventure at all, and I can't imagine a type 3 adventure. Can you give me an example of one?

I don't intend to spend 15 hours hanging around in the dark. I have a decent head torch. I've hiked with a cheap wind up torch before in absolutely miserable weather before, so it should be no problem.

Where possible, I will be sleeping under natural shelters.

Also, I don't think I'll be taking a stove.
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Re: Bivy bag along West Highland Way in January

Postby StevenF » Thu Dec 15, 2016 10:38 am

Type three would be something like loosing a couple of fingers and toes because of frostbite (or worse; a walking compagnon) on a very cold night.

Your plan to also walk in the dark is a good idea I think.

Normally their are plenty places where you can resupply, get warm, but I just checked and the Kingshouse hotel is closed for 18 months: http://www.kingshousehoteldevelopment.co.uk/
Maybe this means that there is no chance to get decent shelter from really bad weather between Kinlochleven and Inveroran Hotel, which is apparently also closed http://www.inveroran.com/Hotel/Home.html.

Making a list of places where I could get warm would be my back up plan for your adventure, but your back up plan can be totally different. I would just suggest having a back-up plan, to avoid a type 3 adventure.
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Re: Bivy bag along West Highland Way in January

Postby Chael » Thu Dec 15, 2016 11:15 am

I walked through the rannoch moor section of the WHW before and experienced very poor weather. Worst case scenario after the hotel is to get on the road and walk to the nearest place to call a cab from.
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Re: Bivy bag along West Highland Way in January

Postby garyoppolis » Thu Dec 15, 2016 2:01 pm

Some kind of tarp pitched to cover your head-end will make a world of difference. Full sized army issue ones weigh about 700g. You could probably improvise something sufficient with a pound shop poncho though and they weigh nothing. Sleeping mat is a must.
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Re: Bivy bag along West Highland Way in January

Postby Marty_JG » Thu Dec 15, 2016 2:29 pm

RAB SilTarp is 218 grams and £55.
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Re: Bivy bag along West Highland Way in January

Postby basscadet » Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:13 pm

StevenF wrote:Type three would be something like loosing a couple of fingers and toes because of frostbite (or worse; a walking compagnon) on a very cold night.


i don't know - that would be category 2 I think - surviving physical injury always makes for a good yarn.. :D


StevenF wrote:Normally their are plenty places where you can resupply, get warm, but I just checked and the Kingshouse hotel is closed for 18 months: http://www.kingshousehoteldevelopment.co.uk/
Maybe this means that there is no chance to get decent shelter from really bad weather between Kinlochleven and Inveroran Hotel, which is apparently also closed http://www.inveroran.com/Hotel/Home.html.

Making a list of places where I could get warm would be my back up plan for your adventure, but your back up plan can be totally different. I would just suggest having a back-up plan, to avoid a type 3 adventure.


Naa, there is always the ski centre - they have a good few wee cabins and suchlike nowadays - well why wouldn't you? I'd have a couple in the garden as well if I lived on the WHW - a goldmine :lol:
Anyway, there is a high chance of being able to hitch down to the village and back in an emergency once you get to Glen Coe (or indeed hitching anywhere to anywhere apart from the Loch lomond bit, but that is fairly sheltered anyway).

I once picked up three separate people who were waiting for the bus in Glen Coe because the weather was so awful, and they didn't even have their thumb out.

IMO though, I wouldn't go out for more than 5 hours without a stove in winter - I just couldn't hack it without tea :roll:
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Re: Bivy bag along West Highland Way in January

Postby StevenF » Thu Dec 15, 2016 5:13 pm

IMO though, I wouldn't go out for more than 5 hours without a stove in winter - I just couldn't hack it without tea :roll:


That's my idea as well, maybe Chael will share our views after his adventure. Let's prepare to be really smug when he reports after his trip that the one thing he really missed was a cup of hot tea every now and then :wink: . I wouldn't do it without a good tarp and a stove because I think my chances of completing the WHW with just a bivy bag would depend too much on the weather. I just like the idea of somebody thinking "I wonder if I can complete the WHW in winter, just using a bivy bag" and then doing exactly that :clap:

But all this talk about adventures has lead to me book a holliday for 5 days in snowdonia. Nights will be spend in a hostel or inn though, I'm in need of some type 1 adventure :-)
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Re: Bivy bag along West Highland Way in January

Postby Chael » Sat Dec 17, 2016 12:29 am

Nice one, Steven.

I can buy a cup of tea in a few places along the way, right? Or is that cheating?
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Re: Bivy bag along West Highland Way in January

Postby mrssanta » Sat Dec 17, 2016 11:55 pm

Chael wrote:I can buy a cup of tea in a few places along the way, right? Or is that cheating?

It's your trip, I'm sure you get to decide the rules, but I'd say that would be essential!
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Re: Bivy bag along West Highland Way in January

Postby Dan Scheer » Wed Dec 28, 2016 2:57 pm

I'd say go for the bivvying! It is a fantastic experience and makes a trip feel a lot more like an adventure! Only you know where your comfort zone is and how far you are willing to push it! Since trying the bivvy life, I have pretty much entirely given up on tents except for rock festivals etc. What's the point in camping in beautiful scenery and locking yourself away in a tent?! There is nothing more beautiful than lying in a bivvy on a cold winter night in the snow, staring that the mily way as you drift off to sleep. If you have a warm enough sleeping bag and mat, you can do so in perfect comfort!
Couple of tips:
- get a Rab siltarp as someone mentionned already for the rainy days, weights nothing, adds a lot of comfort
- if you don't plan on taking a tarp, pracitce at home. Play 'the floor is lava' and see how quickly you can undress, stash all your clothes in your pack without letting anythign touch the ground and get inside that bag. Because anythign hitting the ground will get soaked and the longer it takes you to get inside and zip up, the more miserable your night will be :)
(oh and get a large enough drysack to stash your backpack and all extra kit in during the night)
- put the sleeping mat on the inside of the bivvy
- take a bottle of water with you inside the bivvy or it will freeze
- if you use it during midgy season, zip it up as much as you can, leaving just a gap big enough to breathe through, that should be enough to keep the midgies out
- snow goggles combined with balaclava work well for sleeping in snow, or just slide further down into your bag and just keep a small opening to breathe through, but that way you miss the nice views
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Re: Bivy bag along West Highland Way in January

Postby Arthurs Eat » Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:15 am

walkingpoles wrote:I met a walker on the great glen way who slept in a bus shelter.

Luxury.

The four yorkshire men come to mind.


Imagine harrying a bus shelter for 95 miles. Bivvy bag looking good! :crazy: (coats already on)

More seriously. In a different life I used to use a bivvy bag. But found that I often needed an 'admin area'. For this purpose we tended to use poncho's. The gist of it all being that the total weight of both is not far off that of a half decent tent which provides much greater protection against weather which will be a prerequisite in January. Good luck whatever you choose to do. Let's us know.
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Re: Bivy bag along West Highland Way in January

Postby matt_outandabout » Sun Jan 01, 2017 9:59 pm

Chael

This does sound like an adventure to say the least - i'm keen to hear how you get on.

In my view a lack of shelter and no stove, with what sounds like a lack of experience, in a Highland winter, leaves you with a very narrow margin for error. This may be your first 'lemon' lining up. A shockingly windy, cold and wet day may be your second lemon. Before you know it its dark, you are on Rannoch Moor and the snow gates are closed, so no lift to warmth that night - your third and final lemon pops up on the gamble...

Equally, you may hit the spell of unseasonably warm weather we are experiencing, with low snow cover and a dry few days. A few cuppas and warm welcomes in Crianlarich, Bridge of Orchy and Kinlochleven will spur you on with renewed energy, as you walk into the dark evenings and cover the distance well, without navigational or weather challenges, arriving in FtWilliam for a well earned pint...

Please take care, and do think 'what if' from a positive and negative view thoroughly before you go.
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Re: Bivy bag along West Highland Way in January

Postby Porrige Pot » Wed Jan 04, 2017 3:11 pm

so, is this numpty dead yet?

no Scottish winter experience, no bivvying experience, no hot food or drink, and laughably unaware of the geography of the WHW up past BoO?

perhaps we can have a re-run of the bloke in a cowboy outfit who walked up a Scottish mountain to die in the snow...

i'm a bivvy fan, i do it for pleasure when the weathers good and i've done it for work when the weathers bad - doing the WHW in January with questionable gear and no hot food or drink is the type of exercise used to test experienced, motivated and very fit soldiers who want to wear upside-down para wings. an 'average' person, with no relevent experience and no realistic fall back plan however is just begging for death with their bowl out

by 6pm on the first day you and all your gear will be soaking wet, you will be cold, and you will be miles from anywhere and anyone. if you are lucky you will survive the night with no sleep, but in january with wet clothes, wet sleeping bag,, no shelter and no hot food, i would suggest that your chances of being lucky are about one in ten...

take a tent or a tarp, take a stove, have a bloody good sleeping mat and bag, and do some more research.
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Re: Bivy bag along West Highland Way in January

Postby basscadet » Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:15 pm

I love it when a troll gets someone as het up as this - legendary :lol:
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