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Springing the WHW

Springing the WHW


Postby whiteburn » Tue Mar 05, 2013 5:26 pm

Route description: West Highland Way

Date walked: 27/02/2013

Time taken: 5

Distance: 154 km

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I must admit that walking the WHW had never really appealed to me; somehow I think I’d gained negative impressions about the whole thing, but anyway the early spring and a desire for a reasonable length backpacking trip overcame my apprehensions and after all of 2 hrs of planning I packed my bag with 5 days (4 nights) of food and a ¼ litre of scotch and I was ready for the off. I planned to be travelling fairly light, base weight = 7.2kg; food, drink and fuel = 4.3kg; Total = 11.5kg.

Day 1 – Milngavie to Garadhban forest, 25km
After travelling for 5 hours I finally got set off at 12:35pm. Wasn’t that impressed with the route, pleasant enough but could have been anywhere, the fantastic sunshine in February certainly made it feel like somewhere different to Scotland. Wild camped in sheep pasture, NS 456908.

Day 2 – Garadhban forest to Inversnaid, 30km
Woke late after a bitter cold night, the Trailstar was coated with ice inside and out, and after a lazy start finally got on the go for around 8:45am, wall to wall sunshine again!
With the route over Conic hill closed lots of tarmac bashing to Sallochy, by there I was glad to leave the black top and follow the winding FP through the trees, great views of the mountains to the north and west.

IMG_0773 comp.jpg

By afternoon the weather looked as though a change was in the offing as the cloud thickened.
Wild camped by lochside, NN 335094

Day 3 – Inversnaid to Tyndrum, 30km
Another frosty night, the cloud of the day before had gone and it was back to wall to wall sunshine yet again, 3 days in a row in February !!! :D .

IMG_0775 comp.jpg

I found the next section of around 5km is probably to most difficult of the route, far from being the easy stroll down the loch side that I envisaged from viewing the map, the FP twists and turns like a corkscrew and doesn’t seem to be level for more than 2m at a time!
Rolled into Tyndrum around 6pm and rather than camp I chose to stay at the ‘By The Way’ hostel, must stay this was a good decision, £16 for excellent accommodation! Had a good meal at the Tyndrum Inn just up the up the road before retiring to the hostel, here I was forced to partake in some fine single malts by a fine group from the Deep South.

Day 4 – Tyndrum to King’s House, 30km
Got set off before 8am thanks to a snorer who awoke me too early from Laphroaig slumber.
The scenery from here on is definitely Highland and not a wind turbine in sight!

IMG_0783 comp.jpg

Finally arrived at the Kings House around 5pm for some well earned chips and a couple of sherbets before heading up the river and pitching up.

Day 5 – King’s House to Glen Nevis, 35 km
The weather didn’t look too bad, forecast was 50:50 for clear summits but the ‘Buachaille’ looked pretty gloomy.

IMG_0785 comp.jpg

Was away by 8am and by 11:45 I was in Kinlochleven enjoying an early lunch feast; scotch pies and malt loaf washed down with Iron Bru!
After the initial steep ascent through the woods from Kinlochleven the old military road over the Lairigmor is quite a sight as it disappears into the distance

IMG_0787 comp.jpg

...and on and on....

IMG_0788 comp.jpg

My original plan was to walk into Ft William but since I had food I decided to camp again if I could find a place close to town. I found a spot for the night in a forestry track ‘lay-by’ (~NN 119725)

Day 6 – Glen Nevis to Fort William, 4km
I ignored the official route along Glen Nevis and opted for a Forestry Commission FP that skirts around Cow Hill and drops right into town by the hospital (a far more preferable route to the diesel fumes of rush hour IMO)

IMG_0792 comp.jpg

By 9am I was enjoying the full Scottish breakfast :D :D

The train journey back to Glasgow is worth a mention, the ride is nearly as good as the walk, the scenery is magnificent!
whiteburn
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Re: Springing the WHW

Postby morag1 » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:50 am

My God you dont half do things the hard way - 5 days ??? :eh:

Im doing the WHW this year but my route is 8 days. :D

Still, I always enjoy reading about your excursions into the wild, hope you keep them coming 8)
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Re: Springing the WHW

Postby whiteburn » Wed Mar 06, 2013 2:49 pm

morag1 wrote:... Im doing the WHW this year but my route is 8 days.....

The key is to travel light and you'll enjoy yourself....use a baggage service if you're not up to carrying and go early before the wee beasties put in an appearance (zero last week).
Underfoot the trail is some of the best in Scotland, last week you could have completed in trainers without getting your feet wet, I continually regretted not wearing my trail shoes, the feet were over heating in boots :(
Navigation is a dodle, signposts everywhere you need them, only used the map to monitor progress through the day. It would take someone to be extremely 'navigationally challenged' to get lost :? :roll:
whiteburn
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Re: Springing the WHW

Postby morag1 » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:20 pm

Thanks for the welcome advice. I am planning on using a baggage service, mainly for my tent which, if you dont mind me saying so, looks a lot sturdier than yours!! Mine has a front and back for one thing!!

whiteburn wrote: you could have completed in trainers

I am planning on wearing my trail shoes and taking boots for the hard going bits.

Navigationally challenged? Er, that'll be me I suppose but I do have a footprints map, compass and my WH printouts so hopefully will make it to Fort William ok and not end up on the other side of the country :lol:
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Re: Springing the WHW

Postby whiteburn » Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:27 pm

morag1 wrote:.........my tent which, if you dont mind me saying so, looks a lot sturdier than yours!! Mine has a front and back for one thing!!.................

I reckon that the MLD Trailstar is probably one of the most robust shelters on the market, I've happily been out when the wind would have flattened a lot of 2 - 3kg tents.
I used a Wind Country Zephyros backpacking previously and can honestly say in bad weather I'd rather use the Trailstar. It also has the additional benefits of being twice the size and half the weight, plus the view out of the 'bedroom window' in the morning can be quite nice :lol:
whiteburn
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Re: Springing the WHW

Postby morag1 » Wed Mar 06, 2013 7:37 pm

whiteburn wrote: the view out of the 'bedroom window' in the morning can be quite nice


I bet you get a great view in the morning :thumbup: Must be a robust tent given some of the places you have wildcamped, just hope mine turns out to be half as good :D
morag1
 

Re: Springing the WHW

Postby Steven001 » Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:06 pm

Sorry to resurrect this thread but I really enjoyed your report. I can't believe how good the weather was for February! I love the look of your tarp/tent - MLD Trailstar, I have a Zephyrus 1 like you used to, but I hate that the height is so small that I can't sit up straight in it.

I've wanted to walk the West Highland Way for years now and I'm very tempted to try it next week, starting on Tuesday (weather dependant). I originally wanted to do it in 5 days, but your route of 6 days looks ideal. If you were going to do it in 5, would you have just walked the extra distance in the last day?

I was wondering what you did for cooking/eating along the way? I plan on taking a stove/pot and eating mostly dehydrated meals, but I don't know how many days worth of food to take with me or whether I should just take food for the first few days and restock at Tyndrum,

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Springing the WHW

Postby whiteburn » Thu Feb 02, 2017 12:18 pm

Steven001 wrote: I've wanted to walk the West Highland Way for years now and I'm very tempted to try it next week, starting on Tuesday (weather dependant). I originally wanted to do it in 5 days, but your route of 6 days looks ideal. If you were going to do it in 5, would you have just walked the extra distance in the last day?

I was wondering what you did for cooking/eating along the way? I plan on taking a stove/pot and eating mostly dehydrated meals, but I don't know how many days worth of food to take with me or whether I should just take food for the first few days and restock at Tyndrum,

Thanks in advance!


Only choose to stop 4km short of Ft William on Day 5 as I didn't want to pay for accommodation, I now know of a couple of pitches even closer to town (<1km) that I've used on other trips.

Carried MYO dehydrated food for 5 nights & an alcohol stove; you could resupply in Tyndrum but you may not get particularly lightweight fare; I personally are quite happy carrying 5 days basic food & just picking up snacky bits & pieces as I go.
whiteburn
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Re: Springing the WHW

Postby Steven001 » Thu Feb 02, 2017 12:55 pm

Thanks very much for replying! Which alcohol stove did you use? I currently have a basic campingaz upright gas stove, which I know doesn't perform well in cold weather, so I was thinking of getting a Alpkit Koro which has much better cold weather performance and is more efficient. I had thought about alcohol/meths stoves, but I didn't know how well they would perform in high winds (I know a windshield would be needed) and I couldn't use it isn't the porch if the weather got bad.

Edit: What are MYO dehydrated meals?
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Re: Springing the WHW

Postby whiteburn » Thu Feb 02, 2017 2:02 pm

Steven001 wrote:Thanks very much for replying! Which alcohol stove did you use? I currently have a basic campingaz upright gas stove, which I know doesn't perform well in cold weather, so I was thinking of getting a Alpkit Koro which has much better cold weather performance and is more efficient. I had thought about alcohol/meths stoves, but I didn't know how well they would perform in high winds (I know a windshield would be needed) and I couldn't use it isn't the porch if the weather got bad.

A good windscreen is paramount to get good performance from any alcohol burner; gas stoves suffer too.
I'm now using a Trail Designs Caldera Cone Ti-Tri with a 0.9L Evernew UL pot & a MYO wick type stove (similar to a Speedster stove), a very fuel efficient setup, ordered from the USA. 'Stormin' on eBay makes similar aluminium cone windscreens, to order.

Previously I used a MYO windscreen with various MYO burners like this.
IMG_0745 (Medium).JPG


I've no problem with using an alcohol stove in a tent vestibule, I do it all the time, a gas stoves kick out more CO2/ min than an alcohol stove.

For a winter gas stove, IMO you can't beat the Kovea Spider but they're only available mail order from Korea, Hong Kong, etc. Mine's been going a few years now & I've never seen a poor review; I've seen good & poor reviews of the Koro.

One solution would be to go with a canister top stove & be prepared to warm the canister if the temperature is approaching zero, say 5C; put it under your jacket while you pitch up & in the bottom of your sleeping bag over night.

Steven001 wrote:..... What are MYO dehydrated meals?


MYO = Make Your Own (dehydrator)
whiteburn
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Re: Springing the WHW

Postby Steven001 » Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:38 pm

A good windscreen is paramount to get good performance from any alcohol burner; gas stoves suffer too.
I'm now using a Trail Designs Caldera Cone Ti-Tri with a 0.9L Evernew UL pot & a MYO wick type stove (similar to a Speedster stove), a very fuel efficient setup, ordered from the USA. 'Stormin' on eBay makes similar aluminium cone windscreens, to order.

Previously I used a MYO windscreen with various MYO burners like this.
IMG_0745 (Medium).JPG


I've no problem with using an alcohol stove in a tent vestibule, I do it all the time, a gas stoves kick out more CO2/ min than an alcohol stove.

For a winter gas stove, IMO you can't beat the Kovea Spider but they're only available mail order from Korea, Hong Kong, etc. Mine's been going a few years now & I've never seen a poor review; I've seen good & poor reviews of the Koro.

One solution would be to go with a canister top stove & be prepared to warm the canister if the temperature is approaching zero, say 5C; put it under your jacket while you pitch up & in the bottom of your sleeping bag over night.

Steven001 wrote:..... What are MYO dehydrated meals?


MYO = Make Your Own (dehydrator)[/quote]

That looks like a great system, I had a look at the eBay version which looks good too. I ordered an Alpkit 900ml titanium pot today and will decide on my cooking system over the next few days. To save cash I'll probably just stick with my canister top stove. I actually saw those Kovea Spider's online and they look great and have excellent reviews like you say. I also had a look at a Primus Express Spider II which gets good reviews also.

I thought it meant "make your own" but I wasn't sure :lol: Unfortunately I don't have the equipment to make my own dehydrated meals, so I'll need to buy them. Thanks for the info!
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Re: Springing the WHW

Postby whiteburn » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:20 pm

Steven001 wrote:.... I ordered an Alpkit 900ml titanium pot today and will decide on my cooking system over the next few days......


I reckon the 900 pot is a good size, will take enough water for a shop bought dehydrated meal & a cuppa OR a big meal.

I've seen the 900 Mytipot used in conjunction with a fold flat windshield like this:
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/9-Plates-Fold-For-Picnic-Outdoor-Camping-Cooking-Stove-Sliver-Wind-Shield-Screen-/201175222176?hash=item2ed6fa47a0:g:cwgAAOSw34FVG4nx
and the 30ml Speedster stove
http://www.speedsterstoves.co.uk/
work quite effectively.
whiteburn
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Location: Aberdeenshire

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