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west highland way backpacking

west highland way backpacking


Postby brodiedillon303 » Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:38 pm

Route description: West Highland Way

Date walked: 14/04/2012

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lochlomond.JPG
8) I started the Way on Saturday 31st March at 3pm.I had been delayed in Glasgow so did not get to Milnagavie starting point until 3pm. Had to pay £30 at airport for taxi to Milnagavie. The walking at the start I found quite taxing as i had underestimated the weight of the pack and had overestimated my fitness.It was also very hot. All in the pack i was lugging was around 30k plus. It had been some 30 years plus since I had carried such a load and forgot i was older. :? I had planned on having a small rest every two hours but ended up resting a bit every hour. The scenery was pleasent and i guess would ordinarily have been a a lovely walk. I had underestimated the hills and distance to walk carrying the pack. I was really tired by the time I got to Drumquhassle farm and pitched my tent just as it was getting dark around 8pm. I ate three tins of tuna like a man possessed then into the green maggot. It was really cold during the night. Stupid me, in my haste I had pitched the tent with the high end sloping down the hill. I slept upside down i didnt care as I was so tired. During the night I thought the werewolves had come to get me as I awoke to the sound of munching and slaverings. Turned out to be horses in the next field. At 5.30 a.m the cockerel woke me so I got up and ate then set off
werewolffield.JPG

I found Drumquhassle pitch good. Basic amenities for preparing food and also a toilet. I appreciated that stop and would definitely use again. :)

Drumquhassle to Milarochy.
Weather very hot again and the terrain was much steeper than i'd expected with little relief. I just plodded on.I had a choice of two different ways forward: the easy and the hard way. I took the hard way over Conic Hill as doing it easy is not much fun.Before conic hill you have to get up and over this bad boy.
towardsconichill.JPG
Climbing the hilll was like SAS selection a matter of sheer willpower taking over from my lack of fitness. Just about everyone I met was carrying a daysack, a water bottle or a camera. The athletes were running it in their spandex.I could not see any other pack mules nearby and realised that doing it the old fashioned way (carrying all my own stuff) was indeed a thing of the past. Nevertheless with one foot in front of the other I made progress. I thought i would have a heart attack there and then on that hill. Remarkably I survived and was soon down the other side and on my way. On the descent I met a couple of guys who said see you in the pub in ten minutes. They were carrying nothing it took me over an hour to get through Balmaha. Eventually arrived at Milarochy site exhausted. Pitched ate and slept. I must have looked done in as the girl at reception tried to persuade me to get my equipment delivered to my next stop. I was sorely tempted but decided to stick to my plans of carrying it all myself. Slept like the dead ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ :D Milarochy is a well organised site with toilets and cooking facilities. I'd definitely use again.

Milarochy to Inversnaid.

Woke up after a deep sleep and strangely felt good. Walking all day by the banks of Loch Lomond: beautiful. Eventually camped for the night on the banks of the loch on a high ridge about 20 feet from the loch. Had curried noodles for my tea. Yum Yum. There was something scuttling about in the night but I did not care as I was tired again. I put on warm clothing as it was getting cold and the wind was getting up. At about 4am a gale came in and was battering away at my tent. I put on all my clothes in case my tent took off. Admirably the little wolfskin gossamer stood its ground and there was no drama.......... snaps for the tent :D


Inversnaid to Inverarnan
Woke to really wild rain and sleet . I did not eat as it was far toooo.... wet. Eventually ate around 11 am as the weather improved.
snowbylochlomond.JPG
More noodles and hot chocolate to wash it down. he sleet and rain was on and off all day. Strangely enough I was feeling fitter. Like a second wind I was adapting to the rigours of the walk and the conditions. The terrain just past inversnaid hotel is quite taxing. The pathe itself although visible is not much of a path and you have to continually negotiate tree roots; low branches and rocky outcrops. I was continually getting my pack caught up in the greenery. I met another walker with her daughter who thought it an exciting obstacle course................. she was carrying only a bottle of water: different strokes for different folkes. :wink:
lotsathis.JPG
Eventually arrived at Inverarnan site. A new and developing site with wigwams and cottages for those who prefer that kind of thing.Also had a bar and shop.................whoopee! I loaded up with tins of irn bru. Ate then slept.zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz......................

Inverarnan to Bridge of Orchy
Very cold last night and i slept with all my clothes on. Up early ate and then left. Feeling good. walked all day terrain not too bad.Eventually ended up in Bridge of Orchy.
orchy.JPG
I camped just over the bridge on the right . Loooks like its a wild site used frequently by walkers. No one bothers you and it suits the purpose. Up early tomorrow as I have 20 miles to cover.

Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven

Woke early around 5 am it had been very cold. Ice all over the tent. keen to get going.Did not know if id manage 20 miles in unknown terrain. I thought i'd need all the daylight possible. Weather was good at the start of the day. Steadily climbing terrain through woodland and zigy zaggy path. Not too taxing. As the day progressed the weather was constantly changing. At one point I had spring summer and winter weather in one half hour. Rannoch Moore had a strange beauty to it. Not much there just a fairly long walk in tranquility.
mistyhill.JPG
I liked it. :D Stopped at Kinghouse hotel to get a bowl of broth.
kingshouse.JPG
Had soup bread and butter and a hot mug of tea. Also topped up with tins of irn bru. The climbers bar is cozy and everyone is welcome even our four legged friends.
doggyfriend.JPG
The meal felt like a banquet and I savoured every bit of it. I had been living on noodles for the past few days and my body was looking for homely food :crazy: After my meal I set off with the afterburners on. I was good to go. Steadily climbing terrain and the Devils Staircase was a challenge but just a healthy one. Nothing to fret about and easily managed if you take it steady. Eventually got into Kinlochleven about 4 pm. The approach to Kinlochleven is never ending. You see it from a long way off and it feels closer than it is. After a never ending walk you make it in. The site is well served with hobbits and bunkhouses. i was in my wolfskin again.Nearby there are shops a chipper and more. I celebrated with a poke of chips with lots of salt and vinegar. I had been thinking about chips and fried eggs for days. :crazy: Ill take it easy tomorrow.Only twelve miles to go. Today had been good. I had covered 21 miles in around 9hours over varied terrain. I felt fit and lean................ and good to go!


Kinlochleven to FortWilliam

The last trek into Fort William still had a fair bit of steep terrain finally making my way through woodland by Nevis then into the main streets. Took longer than I thought. Eventually reached the finish point around 2pm.........................job done :D 8)


Conclusion
I enjoyed it all. From my initial hard going through the bad weather and long stages I had come through it. I'd do it all again. The challenge was just what I was looking for. Im fitter and wiser.Next long trek the weight in my pack will need to be addressed. If i can cut that down and sort the food out then its happy trails.......... 8)


Follow Up

The main difficulties I faced were more or less due to the equipment I was carrying. My Vango 80 plus 20 expedition rucksack weighed in at nearly 3 kilo when empty. I was carrying 6 kilo plus in foodstuffs. My snugpak elite sleeping bag weighed in at 1.7 kilo. My gelert mat was .850g and so on. Ive already changed the vango to a golite pinnacle weighing in at around .900g and sooooo...... confortable. My snugpak has been replaced with a Mountain Equipment Dewline a mere .640g. The gelert mat by no means heavy has been replaced with a zor weighing less than 300g.......... and so on. the only original kit i'm keeping is the wolfskin gossamer tent which stood firm in the gale and my filtered water bottle that supplied me with safe drinking water in all places. The point worth emphasising is that 'organisation matters' and prior preparation and planning will have a positive effect on your circumstances. For my next long trip i'll be better prepared and good to go! 8)
Last edited by brodiedillon303 on Fri Jun 15, 2012 7:02 pm, edited 10 times in total.
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Re: west highland way backpacking

Postby Dunfie » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:13 am

Well done for wild camping your way up the WHW. There was definitely a couple of really cold nights for your week.
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Re: west highland way backpacking

Postby GillC » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:20 pm

Well done, i would like to have wild camped when i did it last year but i wimped out as was doing most of it on my own. bit concerned your food intake might have contributed to low energy levels,,,doesnt sound like you had much nutrition going on there :lol:
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Re: west highland way backpacking

Postby brodiedillon303 » Fri May 11, 2012 11:29 am

youre right about lack of calories. I lost about 12 lbs in weight. I was leaner and fitter and felt better for it. Since returning I have put on about 6lbs but have stabilised at 6lbs lighter :)
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Re: west highland way backpacking

Postby Lenore » Wed May 30, 2012 11:09 pm

Sounds like a good trip! Taking the pack was a good choice I think, a bit more of an adventure that way. 30k is an impossible weight though! But you realized that :D I had 16 k on a multiday trek in knoydart and later the great glen and this time around I'm hoping to go a bit lighter than that. Still, pack, tent, sleeping bag, mat, a change of clothes and emergency stuff weighs in at 10 so add water and food... I'm amazed to hear your new pack is less than a kilo, that's half mine, sounds good.
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Re: west highland way backpacking

Postby brodiedillon303 » Thu May 31, 2012 10:59 am

8) 8) yeah lenore the weight was outrageous :lol: it had been some time since i'd been on a trek as other sporting interests kept me occupied.Now returning to treking. I had packed for every contingency and the weight just piled up.I like the longer treks but am going to do a few of the munros etc. Going back to fort william soon to wander about there and do the nevis. It was quite hilarious sometimes with the pack. On my first camping break at drumqhassle I took the pack off to organise a pitch when I went back to pick it up I just couldnt. Two spannish trekkers helped me on with the pack and they were challenged picking it up. They thought I was a crazy scot. Strange thing was that when it was on i could just keep moving. At times when I stopped I had to put it back on like a stranded insect. I would lay on the pack get into the harness and be star shaped. Then I would role over onto my front. Then on to my knees then work my way up to a standing position. When I was in kinghouse pub after my food i went to put the pack on. i had left it sitting on a bench. I crouched down fitted the harness and squated to use my legs to rise. again two people steadied me. Looking back it was funny. Strange enough by day three i had adjusted to the weight when moving but still had difficulty lifting it. my new pack is ace. Golite is bril and tough.Dyneema weight for weight six times stronger than steel. developed by american backpacker. Recommended. 8) when I go on my next long trek I hope to half my carrying load to around 15 kilo I am convinced that is possible by selecting the lightweight gear. The food will be the challenge. I am on the case with that though. I am looking ahead to cape wrath at some point. Again on the case. i reckon if I do it in reverse i.e from the cape to fort william i can carry enough food to get to ullapool then I'll stock up with food to get me further along the road im sure it is possible but only trying it will let me know.
keep in touch 8)
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Re: west highland way backpacking

Postby Lenore » Thu May 31, 2012 7:49 pm

Hehe that is hilarious!! Cape wrath seems a bit of a monster to me. How about the new unofficial sutherland trail in the far north?
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Re: west highland way backpacking

Postby brodiedillon303 » Thu May 31, 2012 9:05 pm

Lenore wrote:Hehe that is hilarious!! Cape wrath seems a bit of a monster to me. How about the new unofficial sutherland trail in the far north?

Not sure what that one is about do you have the details.if its varied and challenging then it will be a contender.Where did you find out about it.Let me know. :wink:
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Re: west highland way backpacking

Postby brodiedillon303 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:46 pm

found it in one of the past blogs. :)
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Re: west highland way backpacking

Postby whiteburn » Tue Jun 05, 2012 6:19 pm

Well done, I admire your tenacity. :clap: :clap:
I wouldn’t have started with a 30Kg sack just got the taxi to the nearest hostelry. :crazy: :(
My 7 day pack is around 13kg and I find this hard going. :(
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Re: west highland way backpacking

Postby brodiedillon303 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 6:38 pm

thanks my friend. the pack weight was outrageous. i used to manage such weight regularly a long long time ago. i really thought that was the going rate. i forgot i was older now. it was just mind set over the discomfort. although the level of fitness i used to enjoy has gone the willpower is just as potent. the person who wins is the person who believes he can. i did think i would get used to it. old memories of the mind- struggle came back to me like a long lost friend..after about the third day i did get used to it as most of my food had been eaten and truly i did get in the zone and was motoring. again like an old companion coming to my aid. me myself and I. Your 13 kg sounds a bit better. im working on that now. hopefully with a bit of rejigging i'll get to about 15kg and that should have all my needs catered for. half the wardrobe will have been binned coz ill wear the smell proof merino stuff for the trip so will not have it in my pack. it is a big learning curve again but i am a quick learner and will adapt. planning already for my next jaunts. :)
Last edited by brodiedillon303 on Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: west highland way backpacking

Postby whiteburn » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:00 pm

My legs have 'suffered' from 40 years of yomping and now need every bit of assistance the bank balance will allow :lol:
I find the 'summer' weight merino stuff a liitle fragile, I just use the HH Lifa and go smelly :D I don't notice that much :lol:
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Re: west highland way backpacking

Postby brodiedillon303 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:27 pm

not sure how many more years of yomping i have left my oncologist gave me a set of statistics relating to me a couple of years ago ive since used up around two years of my projected allowance :) im hoping the statistician was having an off day. :) the result is i savour all my trekking time along with everyday experiences. as far as smelling is concerned youll understand that is not such a priority for me only that by wearing merino i may not need to carry it. take it easy old timer :)
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Re: west highland way backpacking

Postby whiteburn » Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:07 pm

brodiedillon303 wrote:not sure how many more years of yomping ......... take it easy old timer :)


I intend to take it easy when I'm fertiliser :)
Still need to catch up with some of the folk 20years older completing the TGO challenge etc :lol: :lol:
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Re: west highland way backpacking

Postby brodiedillon303 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:15 pm

youve got the hang of it my friend. not many people do. snaps to you whiteburn. a kindred spirit who HAS FOUND THE KEY. sshhhhhhh not many people find it. 8)
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