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West Highland Way in 3 days

West Highland Way in 3 days


Postby Scottk » Fri Sep 29, 2017 3:54 pm

Date walked: 13/09/2017

Time taken: 3 days

Distance: 151 km

Ascent: 3946m

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Apologies, I posted a draft of this before I realised.
I had quite a lot of holiday to take so decided to take a week off and use some of it to walk the WHW. Got a ticket to Glasgow for the Wednesday and arranged that my wife would meet me on the Saturday. She was having some of her friends round on the Friday so the dates worked out well! The forecast was looking poor with storm Aileen bringing rain, winds and bright spells. Plan was to camp all the way either wild or on campsites.
Day 1
Got to Glasgow about 15:30 and just missed the connection to Milngavie. Eventually got there about 16:30 and started out at 16:45. Was worried that it wouldn't be obvious but you can't miss the start although it does then take you to a pretty rank car park which made me pause. The path is good although it was very muddy due to the rain which we have had most of the summer. Made pretty good time to Drymen campsite and pitched my tent, got something to eat and then to sleep.
Day 2
First real day of walking. I was hoping to make it to the end of the loch by tonight but didn't want to get up too early as nobody else was moving. Eventually got up and away by 07:15. Walked for a couple of hours and then stopped for some breakfast in a nice wooded area. Changed into my trail shoes as the path was good and dry. Cracked on and got my first view of Loch Lomond.
ImageIMG_0323 by Scott Kinghorn, First View of Loch Lomond
The weather was great and I was walking in a t shirt-this was to continue for the rest of the week.
Made my way on and up Conic Hill where I met a group of 6 Americans who were starting from Balmaha using a luggage service. They were lovely and having a great laugh and taking the mickey out of each other. They planned to do the Great Glen Way once they completed the WHW. They went off the usual way but I decided to use Dan Baileys suggestion, from his book, to carry on along the ridge and descend through the woods and come out North of Balmaha. This was a mistake. I don't know if I missed something but the descent was sketchy, the track was through a field and the pine trees had fallen over the path through the woods-I was already feeling that I had done a workout and it wasn't even 11 am. Got to the road with some relief and orientated myself to ensure I was heading the right way. It was quite a long way along the road but the traffic was fairly light. I arrived at Sallochy and used the facilities and took the opportunity to refill my water. The toilets here are open all year unlike Rowardennan which closes in October.
ImageIMG_0325 by Scott Kinghorn, Ben Lomond memorial statue
The walking was getting more interesting now but still too much time on tarmac. Walked on at times beside the loch but sometimes it feels that the path is taken away from the loch for no good reason to go up loads of stairs and then back down again! Eventually got to the Snaid Burn and the hotel but was aware of the time so just continued on. Weather was lovely with people sitting outside and I quite fancied a beer!
ImageIMG_0328 by Scott Kinghorn, No idea where this is!!
The path now got a bit tougher and I felt a hot spot between my big toe and the ball of my foot so I found a spot to sit and have a brew. I had a look at my foot and there wasnt any sign of a blister but I put a small blister plaster on the area just in case. I changed socks and went back to my boots. This turned out to be a good idea as the path got pretty muddy for the rest of the day.
I had heard about the feral goats but hadn't really thought about it until the most distinct and unpleasant smell hit me. It was like goats cheese but not very nice. Eventually came across the goats a few minutes later. In the space of an hour I saw 3 small groups of them and each time accompanied with the aroma.
The track was much tougher than I expected and I was glad to be off it. The guidebook I have mentions that the path takes you away from the loch for a final time before arriving at Bheinglas campsite so I was quite excited when the path veered off and went through some trees only to be bitterly disappointed when it came back to the loch a little while later! I eventually came to the bothy which had a fire going but I cracked on. I had been taking it easy all day as you are always aware it's a long day with another to come but at this point I want sure just how far I had to go and it was getting late. I stepped up the pace and came to the small hill where the memorial is, passed a couple of people on this and enjoyed the views. There was a bit of a breeze which felt pleasant although you could tell it was cooling. I passed a couple of other groups on this section and then heard a shout from the pair in front. They had spotted the campsite!! I checked in (it was 19:45 at this point) pitched my tent and cooked dinner. Met a couple of French girls but one had a bad blister so they were having to take it slowly. The campsite was pretty busy. Grabbed a shower (not that hot and poor water pressure but nice anyway). On my way back to the tent I had my head torch as it was dark, a guy came out in front of me and I thought he must be feeling sore as he wasn't walking very well. It wasn't until he tried to use his phone as a torch I realised he was **** as a fart.
Day 3
Rained a little through the night. Up, washed, wiped off as much moisture as I could from the tent and packed up. On the trail by 07:15. Walked along a lovely stretch near the river where there were signs of fires at the riverside.
ImageIMG_0326 by Scott Kinghorn, Waterfall on this stretch
ImageIMG_0327 by Scott Kinghorn, Sheep creep which was quite muddy and gets lower as you go through.
After the sheep creep I got onto some farmland where there was an honesty box with soft drinks, crisps etc but it was too early for that. The ground through the farm was awful, boggy, stinking and lots of shar (from a cows rear end) Lots of beasts about and quite a few with calves which can be interesting. Got to Crianlarich crossroads and decided to have some breakfast. Not the best place to stop-lots of midges. I would have been better going to the bench at the top of the hill although the ground was very churned up round it.
The walking is quite hilly here and there are some steep descents. Filled my water from one of the burns and carried on to Tyndrum where I had a coffee and biscuit at the Green Welly. Had been looking forward to this but it was an anti climax. Probably better going to the local shop (Brodies). Made good time out of Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy where I stopped at the hotel for a packet of crisps and a drink. Filled up my water from the tap they have jus beside the front door steps. There was a lot of cyclists about as the car park was being used as a point in the round Britain cycling tour. Changed socks and put on my trail shoes to give my feet a break. The first part of the path over the bridge was very muddy but soon improved and it was very nice walking down to Inveroran Hotel. Passed a guy at this point who was struggling with a 50lb pack but he was stopping at the hotel.
ImageThe view down to Inveroran Hotel by Scott Kinghorn, on Flickr
Went up the road passing a lot of perfect camping spots (Victoria Bridge) but quite busy with tents (Friday night maybe?) and then through a gate onto the old Parliament road. Went along this for a while before stopping for a break and something to eat. Also changed back into boots as I was feeling hot spots on both feet. Met a couple of guys from Luxemburg on this stretch who were enjoying the walk and managed to get incredibly close to a stag near Ba bridge - probably only 2-3 metres away.
ImageStob a'Choire Odhair, I think! by Scott Kinghorn, on Flickr
ImageBuachaille Etive Mhor by Scott Kinghorn, on Flickr
I stopped at Ba bridge for a soup and rest as it was a beautiful day. I then walked to Glencoe resort to camp needing a light jacket for the last hour as the wind was picking up. Pitched my tent at Glencoe and grabbed a bite to eat and a couple of pints. The bar was very busy, food was good and a great atmosphere. Headed back to the tent about 9, hit the showers and then bed. (Remember £1 coins for the showers!!) some German guys then proceeded to put their tent up at 9:30 while tripping over my guy lines and shining their torches everywhere! Apart from that, I got a good nights sleep and was up at 06:30 and on the road again at 07:15. Met a lady in the morning who was going to run the ring of steall race which I realised might be on the same route as me for part of the day.
Day 4
Walked down past the Kingshouse where I saw the guys from Luxemburg again camped on the banks of the river.
ImageDeer beside Kingshouse Hotel by Scott Kinghorn, on Flickr
Carried on down more roads (getting tedious) until I eventually got to the path leading to the Devils Staircase. A couple had got there before me and started up it, chatting away non stop. They were soon out of sight carrying small rucksacks with little flags. I got to the top of the Devils Staircase and started down. By this point I was getting frustrated with gaining height and then going downhill!! Made good progress on the paths and met the couple who had been in front of me coming back. They were putting out the flags for the skyline race which was going on the next day. They looked incredibly fresh and the lady was about 7 months pregnant (I did later find out that she is one of the top ultra runners). Carried on until the path gets quite rocky and then eventually starts going downhill on the Land Rover track. Was passed by a couple of runners coming from Kinlochleven and then more as I got nearer. I got into Kinlochleven about 10:30 and that was when I realised that something was on. There were Salomon flags and very fit people everywhere. I later found out that 4 races were on over the weekend and that about 1300 athletes were competing. I stopped at the Ice Factor for a bacon roll and coffee-lovely. Phoned home to see if my wife could come to the Ice Factor before picking me up and then asked the reception if I could leave a bag of gear which I could. This made the afternoon walk much easier. I took out all my camping gear and left it behind with a label so it would hopefully still be there later.
Went through the village to the trail and took the path uphill. This felt very easy because my pack was only about 5 kgs. The weather was drizzly but warm so I walked in my t shirt. There were a few runners on the trail but nothing too inconvenient and I could hear them coming so just stood to the side. The path continues and gets bigger further on. It was quite wet but not too bad and I was making good time. I was passing quite a few people at this point-presumably they had started out the Saturday before. The drizzle had stayed on and the wind coming up the glen was chilly so I put on my wind proof for a couple of hours. Through a forested area and then into the area which is being felled. I quite liked it here although it is bare. By this time I was running low on water and was keeping an eye out for a good burn to refill my bottle from. Saw a really nice one coming from high up down some waterfalls and decided it looked good. Was just about to go down the bank to fill my bottle when I spotted used toilet paper right on the bank. Disgusting. No chance of a fill here but came across another source shortly after. The path continues until you eventually have a small climb where it meets a logging road where you turn right. Shortly after, I got my first glimpse of Fort William but it still proved to be a long way.
ImageFirst view of Fort William - still a long way to go. by Scott Kinghorn, on Flickr
When you eventually get to the town, the first thing you see is the Ben Nevis visitor centre but unfortunately you have to walk along the pavement for a long time to get into the town proper. This was a horrible bit for me and I would have happily got a bus! When I got into the town at about 16:30 I headed for the small Tescos and got milk chocolate drink, irn bru, ibuprofen and a snickers. Ate this and my wife called to say she was almost in town. Met her at the Alexandria Hotel car park, changed my top and trousers and headed to Kinlochleven to pick up my gear. Had a fish and chips in Kinlochleven and headed home.
Overall, a great few days. It would have been nice to spend an extra day doing it so I could take my time but overall a great experience. I would like to do it again with my wife but probably start from Balmaha as there isn't much of interest before that.
It was much harder than I thought it would be and the second full day from Beinglas to Glencoe was easier but made harder due to the day before. The last day was much easier than I expected but I was also very lucky with the weather walking in a t shirt for the bulk of the time. Footsore but no blisters. I will add some photos, although I hardly took any, and a quick synopsis of my kit at some point- probably next week.
Last edited by Scottk on Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:45 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Scottk
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Posts: 299
Munros:27   
Joined: Aug 22, 2017

Re: West Highland Way in 3 days

Postby Scottk » Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:29 pm

The kit I took as follows;
Rucksack- OMM villain stripped but with a pocket attached to the shoulder strap.
Alpkit carbon lite pole
Sleeping/shelter
Nordisk Telemark ULW 1
Neoair xlite reg - I put this in place of the rucksack platforma to give support and it worked well as long as it wasn't too inflated.
REI 20 degree sub kilo sleeping bag
Tyvek groundsheet- used this but threw it away after as it got waterlogged.
Clothes carried
Goretex paclite waterproof jacket
Montane minimus waterproof trousers
Rab power stretch gloves
North face beanie
Thermal long johns
Icebreaker 150 long sleeve base layer
Spare socks
La Sportiva Bushidos
Cooking/food
Jetboil minimo with a100g cartridge
4 dried meals
Porridge/ snacks
Titanium mug
Water bottle (750ml sports cap thing)
Camelback water bottle with straw
Sundries
Toiletries/smidge/ midge headnet/trowel/compass/head torch/phone/power bank/first aid kit
clothes worn
Icebreaker merino 150 t shirt
Alpkit merino boxers
Montane terra trousers
Bridgedale trekker socks
Arcteryx atom SL jacket
Salomon X ultra 2 mid gtx
Millet cap

What worked well
All the gear was good but the stand out items were the sleep mat, boots and arcteryx jacket. The tent was great but it is small and the condensation was always there. This might be because I was pitching at dusk and leaving early and the ground was wet everywhere.
The rucksack was very good although on the first day I left too much air in the sleeping mat and this caused a bulge so the rucksack didn't sit well. With a full pack the shoulder straps seemed to be quite short but I do have a long back. The one thing I would like are bigger hip belt pockets.
The walking poles were very good and were used almost the whole time.
The sleeping mat was warm and comfortable. The only issue is it was very slippy and I spent the first night sliding around! On the next night, the floor was damp and this stopped the sliding. Will need to add some silicon dots to stop this.
The Bushidos were great. Very comfortable, nice to have a change of footwear and use at camp.
Jet boil worked flawlessly but it was only boiling water 3 times a day.
Freeze dried meals were very good.
Smidge worked well and I had no bites at the end although the midges seemed to be getting better at the time.
The arcteryx atom SL was brilliant. It's wind proof but breathable with a light insulation on the body. I wore it on stops, camp, mornings and one day when it was drizzling and when windy.
The rest of the clothes were great. The merino had no smell at the end of the trip and kept me warm even when damp. Montane terras-I have gone back to these and they are great for walking 3 seasons-I have Patagonia super guides for winter.
The Salomon boots are brilliant. I was very glad of the waterproof lining. This is the first pair of lightweight walking boots I have used and I have done about 300 miles in them. Between these and trail shoes I am pretty well sorted for 3 season walking footwear. No blisters at the end of 3 hard days is good.
The camelback bottle was good as you don't need to tilt it you just suck. One day I was drying it by shaking the top and the straw bit flew off. Couldn't find it and felt like throwing the bottle away. As I packed up I found it on the other side of the path luckily!

Not so good
The Millet cap was dumped when I finished- it was getting smelly and drips water from the peak in the damp due to having plastic in it to keep it stiff. The plastic had caused it to wear and rip so I had enough of it.
Waterproofs-no idea as the weather was so good. I intend changing the jacket as it is pretty heavy and I use paramo in winter.
Tyvek groundsheet-this was a disappointment but it got heavier every day so I dumped it on the last day. Maybe I was expecting too much.

Please feel free to ask any questions and I will try to answer. Any suggestions welcome.
Cheers, Scott
Last edited by Scottk on Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Scottk
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Posts: 299
Munros:27   
Joined: Aug 22, 2017

Re: West Highland Way in 3 days

Postby EmilyandGreggles » Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:39 am

Great report Scott. My wife and I are giving the last two sections a go this month. Appreciate the heads up!
EmilyandGreggles
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Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 30, 2020

Re: West Highland Way in 3 days

Postby Scottk » Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:21 pm

The last sections are really enjoyable barring the walk into Fort William although I did it again last year and the walk in wasn’t too bad in great weather and a herd of deer by the road. Last year was with a friend at a more sedate pace but the weather wasn’t so good.
Scottk
Scrambler
 
Posts: 299
Munros:27   
Joined: Aug 22, 2017

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