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the cowal way

PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 10:46 am
by johnm1615
as someone who walks the west highland way in may each year, this was my first attempt at the cowal way
-the starting point for me was to buy the excellent guide by kaufmann and mcluckie, and i will not repeat their highly recommended and detailed commentary of the route here, but will confine my comments to logistic aspects of my experience-i took the bus to tarbert on the monday-i'm glad i booked a seat as it was completely packed!-i stayed in an hotel that night and aimed to catch the first ferry to portavadie on the tuesday morning-this entailed missing breakfast-next time i will stay elsewhere and discuss my requirements before booking (lots of options in and around tarbert)-there is quite a bit of impressive path engineering on the short challenging section of route around ormidale lodge and walked on to clachan of glendaruel staying at an outstanding b&b that night (accommodation here is relatively scarce)- there is a camping and caravan park adjacent to the b&b with a part time shop (no alcohol!) for those wishing to camp and it is proposed to install a range of glamping pods in anticipation of more walkers attempting this route- after the full scottish breakfast!, i set off for strachur on the wednesday-this was an excellent varied day-i stayed at the impressive bailliemeanoch breaks with charlie and angie, who also have started a baggage transfer service-angie bakes her own bread and offers an evening meal, btw-charlie will also do pickups from the creggans inn for those who appreciate a hotel meal and a pint or two, as the local pub referred to in the guide has part time hours and was shut when i arrived in strachur-the next day (thursday) was a big one to arrochar via lochgoilhead-as noted in the guide, the relatively modest ascent to the cairn at grid 234019 (500m) is nevertheless quite challenging up a steep bouldery and boggy ride before a short steep stretch of open hill-not all walkers will enjoy such a long day's walk, perhaps instead tackling this section in two days-after a night in the arrochar hotel (recommended) i set off for the final part of the walk on the friday morning up glen loin to inveruglas-this took me only 2 hours and i then caught the service bus back to glasgow (essential to book a seat at this time of year)
-for those who are not camping and who, like myself, enjoy a meal, a pint of beer, a bath/shower, a bed and a cooked breakfast, accommodation is the biggest challenge to the development of this relatively new long distance walk-charlie and angie at bailliemeanoch breaks have a business model that will help this development such is their intention to cater for the walking market-anyone who has walked the west highland way as i have over the years will also be aware of examples of innovative business enterprise that has made that walk increasingly popular to a wide range of tastes, one notable example to be found at june and james palmer's beinglas farm at inverarnan
-it is estimated that around 60,000 attempt the west highland way, spending significant amounts of money in the adjacent business infrastructure
-hopefully, the prospect of increased walking tourism along the cowal way will encourage business investment to support and exploit that development
-i can recommend the cowal way as a walking experience, but it is one not to be underestimated
-some will not enjoy the use of tracks and roads comprising large sections of the way, but in my opinion this is made up for by other varied terrain and spectacular scenery if the weather permits
-i'll be back next year!