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Blisters 1, toe nails 9, teeth one fewer than before!

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:41 pm
by Chrisabelle
Day 1
Started off from the obelisk in Milngavie with kfrweaving at 9.10am.
the start.jpg
The beginning of the walk is familiar territory for me as I often walk my dog there. A little drizzle of rain meant we had waterproofs on from the word go, that and the forecast!
Met a few other walkers as we made our way through Mugdock wood and along by Craigallian loch, saw the 'memorial' to the Craigallian fire, which was a beacon kept alight for travellers in the 1930s.
After passing the huts at Carbeth we got our first sight of Conic Hill, Ben Lomond and the Cobbler.

Also my nemesis, one day I WILL get up this hill;

Stopped to eat our picnic lunch at the Beech Tree Inn, who kindly allowed us to eat under shelter rather than in the "walkers area", then followed the course of the old railway and the current pipeline that carries water from Loch Lomond to the central belt. It was by now pouring with rain, and we were glad of our waterproof jackets and trousers.
Along this next bit of the walk we came across an "honesty" table, laden with cans of coke, flask of hot water, tea bags and coffee with cakes, crisps and biscuits. A sign informed us that a young girl was raising funds for a teaching trip to Chile with the money raised. We each made a donation and enjoyed a welcome cake.
The path soon joined a minor road for the last 2 miles into Drymen, this seemed to last forever, due to the hard tarmac and the unrelenting rain!
Arriving safe but wet in Drymen at 3.30pm

Day 2

or the day the trees fell down!

In the B&B last night we could hear the storm outside and hoped it was away when we woke. Although windy it didn’t seem too bad as we set off about 9am and quickly got back onto the WHW track. Walked between sleepy cows and sheep as we made our way to Garadhban Forest where we knew there was a detour in place due to logging activities.

Followed the forestry commission detour signs until we reached a tree that had fallen over the track. Thought that it must have fallen in last night’s storm. Climbed around it and tried to make our way back onto the track when another 100 foot pine tree fell about 20 feet away from us, between us and another party of walkers! Decided to find another way around the forest when another 2 fell about 50 feet away! Kept well away from the trees and got back onto the forestry track and safety. Altogether we saw about 8 trees fall, all about 100 feet tall, all due to the wind.

Some of the fallen trees, well away from the ones still falling, very scary.

Kfrweaving and I were a bit nervous about tackling Conic Hill in the windy weather so took the alternate route through Milton of Buchanan. Arriving in Balmaha for lunch, which we ate, in the rain, outside the village shop.

Kfrweaving had been feeling unwell so we went into the Oak Tree Inn for a warming coffee. After being in the warmth for about 30 minutes she wasn’t feeling any better so she decided, and insisted, that I continue alone to Rowardennan while she took a taxi. Later to find she couldn’t get a taxi but got a lift from a Loch Lomond Ranger.

I did then continue on my own the 7miles from Balmaha. The first few miles were quite easy alongside the loch and through the silver birch forest, only small trees, no danger of them falling on me, the wind had reduced somewhat also.

Once past the campsite at Sallochy the going got a lot tougher, lots of up and downhills. Which seemed to go on forever. At one point I didn’t lift my foot high enough and kicked a rock! VERY painful!

At long last reaching the Rowardennan Hotel at about 5pm on my own, hence the rotten photo.

Kfrweaving now feeling better, a lovely dinner of smoked haddock in the hotel followed by a medicinal brandy and I will be fine for tomorrow’s 14 miles to Inverarnan.

Day 3, had a fabulous day.

Left Rowardennan just before 9am and set off along the track, passing the secluded Ptarmigan Lodge soon after. The track goes gently uphill to take you high above the loch. There is an alternate route lower down that passes Rob Roys cave but this was closed due to fallen trees. Its a fairly easy undulating walk for the first 5 miles then as we neared Inversnaid the path became more difficult and Kfrweaving was struggling with the terrain.
On the way to Inversnaid

We had to watch where we put every footstep due to tree roots and rocks on the path. We reached the Inversnaid Hotel around 12.30 and ate our picnic lunch. We knew the path after there was more difficult than the one we had just walked so Kfrweaving decided to take the water bus to Tarbet and the road bus to meet me at Inverarnan.
I set off by myself at 1.30pm and found the path to be just as described. However I loved it, a real challenge! A bit like an adult adventure playground, climbing over rocks, around rocks, around trees, under fallen trees and sometimes precariously close to falling in the water. This went on for about 3miles, just over an hour and a half. I then started thinking about taking a break but there was nowhere suitable until I found my little piece of paradise! A lochside beach where a stream flowed in, a lovely seat in the sunshine.

Spent a very pleasant 20mins there before continuing on my way. Shortly after setting off again I saw a familiar walker (a german gent) taking a photo, as I went to walk past he said it was an eagle he had seen and it was still flying around above us! Wow! There were also some feral goats nearby so well camouflaged I nearly missed them. Their horns were huge!
The rest of the walk passed uneventfully and I met up with Kfrweaving at Inverarnan where I had the most enormous steak pie dinner I think I've ever eaten!

That is apparently the most challenging bit of the walk over, I loved it apart from kicking another rock and I may loose the toenail. Looking forward to 13 miles from here to Tyndrum tomorrow.

Day 4
Left Inverarnan at 8.45am and followed the track along scenic Glen Falloch and the lovely Falloch Falls

it was a lovely morning and the hills around us were very picturesque. The path followed the river for about 4miles and is also close to the main train line. We decided to be "railway children" and wave to a passing train and were thrilled when several passengers waved back!
We got to Crianlarich for lunchtime and 1mile further on marks the walk's halfway point! We're on the second half! Shortly after lunch the path enters a pine forest which seems to go on forever. I have now decided I don't like forest walks, if the trees aren't falling over and trying to kill people then they're very boring. When you can't see the scenery you can't work out where you are, I can't anyway. So we took our time, my sore toe was playing up and I had to be careful with every footstep.
We eventually left the forest after what seemed like hours and hours but was just over 1 hour. We then sat on a wall for a break, an enormous orange I had carried for two days was delicious but had catastrophic effect on my smile. I had a front tooth crowned after a cycling accident as a child, this broke into several small pieces when I was eating the orange!!

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology within 20mins I had an appointment at the dentist for when I return, so no more smiles until Monday. We then continued on our way by crossing over to the site of St Filians priory. The rain now started in earnest and full waterproof gear was put on. We stopped for a coffee at a campsite shop, we really were on a go slow today.
2miles after that was our B+B which we had to reach by wading over a stream, walk up a hill and over a large stile. So here we are in Tyndrum, relaxing awaiting dinner whilst trying not to think of the 19 miles to Kingshouse tomorrow.

Day 5
The longest walk of the week and didnt my legs know it!
Left Tyndrum at 8am with Kfrweaving who rapidly became unwell again, she has a long term health condition which was affecting her greatly this week. The thought of walking 19 miles on my own was quite daunting so she agreed to meet me at Bridge of Orchy and try and join me from there.
The path from Tyndrum continues to run parallel with the railway up a lovely glen with high mountains either side, some being munros; Beinn Odhar and Beinn Dorain, imposing sights with dark storm clouds covering their tops. The storm did arrive and it was a deluge, the path turned into a stream and I was thankful, again, for decent waterproofs. For a few minutes it appeared to be snowing!
One train did go by me but I didn't wave in case they thought I was in trouble!
Further along the glen, as the rain eased, there were signs warning of deer stalking going on in the area. I didn't notice any of this activity but I did see 2 eagles flying high once the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to come out.

Believe me, there's an eagle there somewhere!
I followed the route along the base of Beinn Dorian in quite a wind which had blown me dry by the time I reached Bridge of Orchy at 11.15am where Kfrweaving was waiting in the hotel with a warming cappuccino for me.
We discussed what to do next and she was going to try again. Unfortunately we took a wrong turn and went about 300m the wrong way before turning back to find the correct path which had been hidden behind a parked van when we first passed. Kfrweaving was again feeling unwell, I decided to go for it and tackle the walk on my own. We had met others at various times and knew they would also be crossing the moor today so I didn't think I would be completely on my own. We thought I would arrive at Kingshouse about 7pm so she had no need to worry until then!
The path climbs quite high out of Bridge of Orchy and I stopped many times to get my breath and admire the expanding view. I reached the high point; Mam Carraigh after about 40mins. Its then an easy descent to the Inveroran Hotel where a female deer crossed the path in front of me, slowly enough for me to get a photo.

I stopped near Loch Tulla for lunch in the sunshine. There follows a small hill past a small wooded area then the vista that is Rannoch Moor opened up in front of me. I could see for miles, amazing mountains and weather fronts could be seen all around. When rain came it could be seen heading towards me, not that it happened very often surprisingly. I could see big storm clouds over the mountains I had passed in the morning and they seemed to stay that way the rest of the day. I took dozens of photos, just stopping every half mile or so and taking photos in different directions. A few from this because I took nearly 100 that day

I did meet one other fellow walker, a man from Switzerland who is very knowledgeable about wildlife and informed me that the noise I heard occasionally was stags bellowing, unfortunately I didn't get to see any, just hear them. The walk over the moor was not as I envisaged at all, it was very scenic and peaceful. One I'm very pleased to have done (and completed by 5.30pm to Kfrweaving's delight) but 19miles in one day has left my feet very sore. Still the final view to beat them all has to be outside my hotel window; the magnificent Buachaille Etive Mor!

Day 6
As today was only 9 miles we enjoyed a long lie and left Kingshouse shortly after 9am.

The walk follows the road (A82) for a while and the weather was Glencoe's usual; a howling gale and driving rain, that occasionally turned to wet snow. We were walking directly into the wind until turning away from the road at Altnafeadh and saw the "Devils Staircase" for the first time.
Kfrweaving had a wee moment of indecision here but some words of advice from me and fellow walkers and she was on her way again. We took things very slowly up this steep ascent and felt a great sense of achievement on reaching the top which at 500+ metres is the highest point of the whole walk.
Me at the top

Its almost downhill all the way from there and with the rain easing it was a lovely walk through some breathtaking scenery. We could see some of the mountains belonging to the Nevis (were they? now I'm not to sure) range but not the big one itself, will see that tomorrow.
We entered Kinlochleven alongside the pipes that carry the water for the hydro-electricity plant, an impressive man-made sight.
Arrived at our guest house about 3.15pm surprisingly ahead of our overnight bags which came about 30mins later.
Final day tomorrow, 14 miles to Fort William, YAY!
Day 7
Bought new batteries for camera at Co-op in Kinlochleven as I'd worn the others out. Do not do this! I bought a pack of four, the first two died after about 10pics and the other pair after only 4!! So not many pics of the last day except phone photos.
Every guide book on West Highland Way states how steep and tough the climb of the "Devils Staircase" is. Not one of them mentions the climb out of Kinlochleven! It is far worse! Everyone we spoke to agreed, it took about two hours to go about a mile and a half due to the steepness of the route! None of the views either because most of it is through woodland.
The top of the climb

Once the top of the climb is reached though the track reveals itself to you, seems to stretch ahead for miles between huge mountains. Kfrweaving and I had agreed to go at our own paces today and if we met up then so it would go. We walked together up the steep climb, though walk is maybe too strong a word, two steps and a stop for breath is more like it. Once on the relative flat my quicker pace took me ahead. The tops of a few mountains were in cloud and it did rain a few times. The path becomes a stream after each fall of rain and for some time after. At the beginning of the walk we took care to walk around or jump puddles, now we didn't care, just walked straight through! Just as well because for long stretches it felt like we were walking along a stream.
I wish I knew more of the names of the mountains or had someone with me to identify them.
There were two ruined buildings on the track and it was at the second of these; Lairigmor, that I stopped for lunch and Kfrweaving caught up with me. We then walked together for a short while before she stopped for lunch and I carried on. We didn't meet up again until Fort William.
The map showed the path to go through forest for much of the last 6 miles though I was delighted to find much of it had been harvested. This leaves a strange "post apocalypse" landscape that can be quite eerie. I saw some large birds flying but couldn't identify them. Too small for eagles.
The last 4 miles are through woods then annoyingly along a busy road into Fort William. It felt so good to finish, my feet are very sore.

Me at the original end, I did get photo taken at the "new" end with the Sair feet statue but I forgot to keep my mouth closed and I look awful!
I gained one blister ( under right foot) and lost a toe nail and a tooth. Would I do it again? Although I'm glad I did it, NO! Somebody hide my boots please! :lol:

Re: Blisters 1, toe nails 9, teeth one fewer than before!

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:07 pm
by LaurenAlexandra
Great report! And congrats on having done it! :clap: I LOVE that picture of the rainbow in front of the Buachaille. :shock:

Re: Blisters 1, toe nails 9, teeth one fewer than before!

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:08 pm
by pigeon
Well done Chrisabelle,bet you feel well chuffed completing the way,some harsh weather last week too.Don't hang up the boots,once the blisters and the toe nails have healed and you get your tooth fixed you'll be back out i bet :clap: :clap: :clap:

Re: Blisters 1, toe nails 9, teeth one fewer than before!

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:16 pm
by mrssanta
well done to you both! :clap: :thumbup:

Re: Blisters 1, toe nails 9, teeth one fewer than before!

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:32 pm
by westcoasthiker
Great trip report. It brought back fond memories of our trip in May of this year. Walking across Rannoch Moor was the highlight of the trip for me and I'd gladly walk it again.

Re: Blisters 1, toe nails 9, teeth one fewer than before!

PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:49 pm
by madasa mongoose
That was a bit of an epic! Well done on persevering :clap: You literally fought tooth and nail! :wink: :lol:

Re: Blisters 1, toe nails 9, teeth one fewer than before!

PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 5:39 pm
by Chrisabelle
You literally fought tooth and nail!
:lol: :lol: Thanks Madasa mongoose, I certainly did!
Lovely dentist has given me a temporary crown. The toe nail is slowly coming off and muscles are getting back to normal.
And to Westcoasthiker, I agree, Rannoch Moor is a special place but I wouldn't want to do the last 2 or 3 miles again in the lashing rain and howling wind whilst cold, tired and with legs like lead, but one day I will, see changed my mind already! :shock: Where's me boots! :shock:

Re: Blisters 1, toe nails 9, teeth one fewer than before!

PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:35 pm
by alfie
well done chrisabelle! really enjoyed your story !great effort! :clap: :clap:

Re: Blisters 1, toe nails 9, teeth one fewer than before!

PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:26 pm
by quoman
Well done on completing the WHW especially in that weather its a superb achievement to the both of you :clap: :clap:

Re: Blisters 1, toe nails 9, teeth one fewer than before!

PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 1:57 am
by RucksackFoodie
Congrats on your accomplishment! Inspirational !!! :clap: :clap: :clap: :D

Re: Blisters 1, toe nails 9, teeth one fewer than before!

PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:26 pm
by GillC
Well done you two,,,epic trip. With you on the climb out of Kinlochleven,,way harder than the Staircase,,I just thought it was me cos i did the Staircase in smirry rain but it was warm and sunny leaving went on FOREVER. Made me want to do it again. :clap:

Re: Blisters 1, toe nails 9, teeth one fewer than before!

PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 11:01 pm
by Martin Greenshields
Well done to you both. I enjoyed your blog. Three of us set off in a couple of weeks on the same route. Hoping for better weather!! :)

Re: Blisters 1, toe nails 9, teeth one fewer than before!

PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:37 am
by GillC
Hope you have a tanker full of midgie repellent Martin,,,gonna need it ... :D

Re: Blisters 1, toe nails 9, teeth one fewer than before!

PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:14 pm
by Chrisabelle
What a difference a year makes. I'm now planning on walking WHW again, with the new wonderful man in my life! Just re-read my blog and I can't remember the sore feet. I have a lovely new crown on my tooth and a beautiful new nail on my big toe (just! Nails take a long time to grow back). So next June 23rd, the week after my youngest daughter gets married I'm doing it again, maybe see some of you?

Re: Blisters 1, toe nails 9, teeth one fewer than before!

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 11:29 pm
by weebirdie
Absolutely loved reading this - you had a hard ol' slog but your enthusiasm should be bottled and sold alongside Avon Skin So Soft and midgie-nets! I set off tomorrow morning, and I am very, very glad I've read this before I went.