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7 days, 5 girls, 2 charities and The West Highland Way!

7 days, 5 girls, 2 charities and The West Highland Way!

Postby Cissyface » Sat Apr 20, 2013 4:49 pm

Route description: West Highland Way

Date walked: 01/08/2012

Time taken: 7 days

Distance: 150 km

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from l to r: Katie, Cheryl, Claire, Nicola and myself

So here we all are! Claire and I mused over doing the WHW during a particularly quiet day at work and a year later both of us, my sister and 2 of her friends were standing in Milngavie waiting to start the adventure! We gave ourselves a long time to prepare simply because we were all walking the WHW for charity and it gave us plenty of time to drum up sponsorship! We decided to walk over 7 days and stay in hotels and hostels instead of camping because we all had different levels of experience/fitness so thought this would be most fair.

Day one we tackled Milngavie to Drymen and it turned out to be one of the wettest days we ended up having with a few showers later on. We were actually really lucky with the weather on most days and it made it all the more enjoyable. Most of our group had little or no experience with hill walking and not all of us knew each other that well so the easy, flat first day was a great chance to get used to all of our gear, have a chat and find a comfortable pace.
day one: liiiiiiiight drizzle

Day two we woke up just outside Drymen, ready for the challenge of Conic Hill that morning! What we didn't know was that we were in for a slightly boggy detour before that!

After some fun in the mud we headed up Conic Hill aided by some glorious sunshine. I have big, long legs (as all the girls kept reminding me) and so enjoy just powering on uphill so here is a great wee shot of the ladies following behind me.
the girls on their way up Conic Hill

As you can see, there were a fair few other people heading up Conic Hill that day and some were familiar faces along the WHW, while most were just people out for the day or walking their dogs. As we had started the day quite early, we ended up meeting lots of people on their way up as we were coming down. After a delicious lunch in Balmaha we carried on for the afternoon to Rowardennan.
beautiful weather on day 2

The weather was really lovely and I got some stunning shots of Loch Lomond. We stayed that night in the Youth Hostel at Rowardennan and headed back to the hotel to eat. The little walk before and after dinner really seemed to help relax the legs!

Day three and we were off to Beinglas Farm! I think this was the day that some of the girls enjoyed the most and we all liked the section of the walk from Rowardennan to Inversnaid which follows the banks of Loch Lomond and is quite fun with its rocky path with small boulders/ladders etc.
on our way to Inversnaid

The afternoon did seem to stretch on a bit and towards the end the group split into mini groups as people relaxed more into their comfortable walking speeds. Beinglas Farm was one of my favourite places that we stayed at and when we arrived there I had a wee chat with 2 guys that were walking the WHW in the opposite direction to us, wild camping in KILTS! They were one of the few fellow Scots that we bumped into, also walking the Way.

The morning of day 4 was the hottest yet and with barely any breeze it really did make the relatively easy start to the day seem a lot harder.

hot, hot, HOT morning of day 4

We didn't have any lunch with us so we had to take a detour off to Crainlarich for supplies, which in hindsight we wished we didn't have to do. It sounds silly, but the walk back up from Crainlarich to join the WHW again was killer straight after lunch! The afternoon took a very wet turn so we got all suited up, got our heads down and powered through to Tyndrum. I'm a bit sad about the weather for the afternoon simply because I missed some good photo opps. It was the worst rain of the week and it felt so good getting to our hostel in Tyndrum, having a hot shower and then venturing to The Welly Stop for some pizza for tea. Everyone was in good spirits, the rain had stopped by then and the food was great after a miserable afternoon walking so it really was one of the best night's from our trip.

Day 5 was by far our longest day and the weather was supposed to be miserable so we set off nice and early as we would be over Rannoch Moor in the afternoon and being out there in driving rain (as it should have been according to the really nice man who had been chatting to us about our trip the night before in the hostel) would have been rubbish! The first part of the day was such a nice way to ease into our 21 mile walk and we ended up at Bridge of Orchy nice and early so stopped for a refreshing drink.
The girls early on day 5 - between Tyndrum and Bridge of Orchy

I really enjoyed the little uphill section after we left Bridge of Orchy and I ended up getting my wee iPod out, blasting out some Biffy Clyro and just enjoying the incline! Bit anti social you might think, but we all kind of had the same idea, got in the "zone" and just put one foot in front of the other while enjoying the stunning views!
iPods out, tunes on!

We stopped at the bottom of the other side for a wee bit of lunch (hello haggis & cheese panini!) before we attacked Rannoch Moor. Nicola's family made a surprise visit to cheer us all on so we left the girls for a wee catch up and Cheryl and I headed for the moor. The weather had held out and was nowhere near as bad as it should have been so we were super lucky! It was also the weekend so there were lots of people out on the moor (not that it looks like it in my photo) so it was actually quite a busy place!
Cheryl on Rannoch Moor

Strangely,my feet found the terrain of the old road on the moor the hardest to deal with out of anything we encountered, so by the time we were descending towards Kingshouse my feet were screaming for a wee rest.

Almost at Kings house...

We spent a lot of that night talking about the looming Devil's Staircase the next morning, but waking up to a view like this...
morning of day 6

....makes you much more positive! The Devil's staircase was actually not too scary and I even had time on the way up to take some silly photos like this one: I am the red blur and Cheryl is the little pink dot in the middle of the photo!
Devil's Staircase

I think tackling it first thing in the morning helped and it served as a nice ole warm up to say the least! I was first to the top, but ended up walking in circles while waiting on Cheryl because A - the midges were having a feast and B - I didn't want my legs to get stiff on me. The rest of the morning was spend descending down to Kinlochleven and with the midges out and us making good time we managed to get to Kinlochleven for late lunchtime (not having to stop) - we were even too early to head to the hostel for a shower so we relaxed with a drink and some food until we could get cleaned up and then enjoyed a relaxing evening and an early night.

Day 7!! Hurrah! Cheryl and I HAD to catch a train back home from Fort William so we left the girls (who were getting picked up) in their beds and set off on the last leg quite early to make sure we would have time in Fort William to get our bags, have something to eat etc. After the (unexpectedly tiring) climb out of Kinlockleven, I have to say that it was the COLDEST morning we had had by far and I layered up quite a bit to stay warm.
cold, wet morning 7

We were glad when it started to brighten up and the second half of the morning turned to beaming sunshine, which continued all the way to Fort William. I'm afraid that Cheryl had had quite enough of the WHW by this point and just spent most of our final walk moaning! I didn't mind though, because I didn't pay much attention anyway (haha) and this is honestly not her kind of thing at all so I was very proud of my sister for sticking it out!
Cheryl and I at the finish wearing the tshirts for the charities we raised money for

I found it very weird walking into Fort William with all the hustle and bustle after being in virtual silence most of the Way. Even walking alongside the road or the busy high street felt wrong! It is ashame that we didn't get a photo at the end of all of us together, but the girls actually made it to Fort William not too long after us and we managed to see them before we all went out separate ways and headed home.

my favourite snap of the week

All in all we managed to raise the best part of £2000 for MS Society Scotland and Cancer Research UK! I had one of the best week's of my life, shared a great experience with great people and I completely fell in love with walking.
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Re: 7 days, 5 girls, 2 charities and The West Highland Way!

Postby Gordie12 » Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:36 pm

Great report.

Sound like an experience you will never forget!!
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Re: 7 days, 5 girls, 2 charities and The West Highland Way!

Postby GillC » Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:57 pm

Fantastic report and looks like you had a great week. I think when people who dont normally do this kind of thing complete something like this,, it means so much more, the struggles are what makes the achievement all the more worth while. Well done all, smashing. :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: 7 days, 5 girls, 2 charities and The West Highland Way!

Postby jinglis84 » Sat Aug 10, 2013 1:35 pm

Fantastic report! The exact same route I plan to do in June, so really superb reading. Excited now!! :D
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