walkhighlands

Read other users walk reports for the long distance trails - and add your own.

NB. This board is for reports on multi-day long distance routes - reports on simply long walks should be added to the standard boards.

Weasel Walks the Way

Weasel Walks the Way


Postby weaselmaster » Mon May 01, 2017 6:59 pm

Route description: West Highland Way

Date walked: 01/05/2017

Time taken: 3.5

Distance: 160 km

Ascent: 6060m

3 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

I didn't really intend to walk the West Highland Way. Back last autumn, when I was contemplating things to do in semi-retirement, the Cape Wrath Trail came up as number one. End of April, over 14-16 days. However a combination of difficulty getting time off work and various domestic matters including the numerous DIY tasks that have appeared out of nowhere recently led to postponement, hopefully just til early October. I still had a long weekend to make use of on my own, Allison being at her sister's wedding, so the WHW suggested itself as a bit of useful training, given that I've never done any long distance trails. Several overnighters in the hills, yes, but not a long distance walk. I decided to test out some of the things I'd need to know answers to if I was going to do the CWT, where food/re-provision would be much more of an issue than on the WHW.

I'd always been a bit sceptical about the WHW - too busy, too "boring", too much the domain of folk who get their baggage transported and stay in hotels or "glamp" for my liking...well those were my prejudices. I would be able to reality test them by walking it. I'd previously said to Allison that if I ever walked it, I'd do it with full pack in December :lol: But here I was in late April...

Thursday afternoon - Milngavie to Garadhban Wood.


thurs.gpx Open map in GPS Planner  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



I packed for 5 days but hoped to do it in four. Leaving work Thursday lunchtime (when I finish now on those days I do work :clap: ) I got the train up to Glasgow, thence to Milngavie, arriving at 1.30. My plans were to get to Garadhban Wood and camp there, as I wasn't sure where the Camping Ban Zone began. Felt a bit weird to be kitted out for the walk and heading through the High Street. I managed to miss the big archway that marks the start of the walk as a took a selfie by the marker (clue - "it's behind you") then set off to Mugdock park, along the Allander Water. A pile of beercans left by the resident jaikies led local colour. Daffodils and dog walkers soon predominated, friendly greetings from all those I passed. I missed the turn at Craigallian Bridge and found myself on the road to Drymen, oops... The next section was pleasant, nice open expanse of fields with the pugnacious plug of Dumgoyne taking centre stage. I was surprised ito find it wasn't a Marilyn, but no - drop of 83m only. One to climb sometime though. But not today...

ImageP1150441 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150444 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150446 by Al, on Flickr


Passed several parties of schoolkids out doing an overnighter by the look of them. Got my first views of Conic Hill with ben Lomond behind and started to feel in somewhat more familiar territory. The lovely sewage works just after the distillery. dead rat on the track. Passed through Killearn - butterflies dancing in the sunlit air. As I got to Gartness I passed a number of other walkers, Germans mostly. fridges and honesty boxes along the route. Bypassed Drymen to the east and began the track into Garadhban Woods. Scrubby initially, with no suitable campspots, but deeper into the woods I found a pretty little glade, secluded and tranquil. It was only 5.45 and I could easily have walked another couple of hours, but with thoughts of The Ban I decided here was good enough and set up camp for the night.

Conic Hill with Ben Lomond behind
ImageP1150449 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150450 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150451 by Al, on Flickr

Friday - Garadhban Wood to Beinglas Campsite


fri.gpx Open map in GPS Planner  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



After a peaceful night, with occasional light showers, I was up early. Enjoyed breakfast with birdsong and the smell and scent of the woods all around and set off just before 7am. Conic Hill was in view, sheep with their new lambs in the fields before it. Nipped up to the summit of Conic - realised I could easily have wild camped on top last night. Down the steps into Balmaha which was busy despite the time not yet being 9am. I set off along the shore path, the water of the Loch still as glass. The next long section up the east of Loch Lomond was quite tough - a lot of ascent and descent, but was also the prettiest and engaging part of the walk. I enjoyed walking where the exposed tree roots had been polished into staircases. Passed the campsites at Milarrochy and Cashel which looked alright. I reached Salachy in three hours and realised I could have made it here last night had I pressed on. Not sure how busy it would have been - by the time I passed there was only one tent left.

ImageP1150453 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Conic Hill
ImageP1150454 by Al, on Flickr

Balmaha
ImageP1150455 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150456 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150457 by Al, on Flickr


I made Rowardennan by 11, having been treated to a view of the Ptarmigan ridge of Ben Lomond. Bluebells and primroses bursting from the banks along the lochside. I take the lower (coast) route option and stop for lunch at Rubha Curraichd which provides fine views back along the loch. It is quite exposed to the chill south wind however, so I press on quite quickly. The path continues rough and undulating - I make Inversnaid some time before 2pm. There's a fine full-length view of Ben Arthur across the water. My left heel is hurting - taking a look I reckon I must have a blister forming deep under a band of hard skin. Damn - I'm not usually troubled by blisters. I put on a Compeed and continue. I meet a couple of middle aged guys coming the other way at one of the narrow stretches who seem quite traumatized by the challenging nature of the terrain and look at me skeptically as I nip past. I ponder how far to walk today - part of me wants to push on towards Strathfillan but when I near Beinglas I decide that I've gone far enough. I've only ever stayed here in the Winter when everything bar the toilets has been shut, so it's quite a change to see the bar/restaurant and shop open and doing good trade. I have a welcome pint of cool Belgian lager, pay up and pitch. I'm somewhat concerned that it'll be a bit rowdy (bar open til 1am, live music starting at 10) but in fact it's very civilized (or I fell asleep and didn't hear anything).

Ptarmigan Ridge of Ben Lomond
ImageP1150459 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150460 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150461 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150462 by Al, on Flickr

Ben Arthur
ImageP1150463 by Al, on Flickr

Mossy green
ImageP1150464 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150466 by Al, on Flickr

Bothy
ImageP1150468 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150470 by Al, on Flickr

I dispute the ascent - nowhere near 2800m
ImageP1150471 by Al, on Flickr


Saturday - Beinglas to Ba Bridge


sat.gpx Open map in GPS Planner  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Up and away by 7.30, stupidly heading towards the road rather than the back of the campsite. There are lots of direction signs for the Ring Ring Highland Fling Ultra race which makes routefinding easier than ever. cows and sheep in the fields and as a result not much use for wild camping. The sheep creep under the railway is quite awkward with a big pack and I am still troubled by a similar creep on the route to Beinn Achaladair which had a dead sheep or deer right in the middle of it. The tunnel under the A82 which comes next is much more like it. Entering the woods behind Crianlarich is cool and pleasant, there are some campspots here. Still quite a lot of ascent to be done before dropping down to St Fillans Church and onwards past the Wigwams to Dalrigh. This is familiar territory from hillwalks in the area. The Ultra race is obviously finishing in Tyndrum as there are stands and reception areas up behind By The Way. No runners have passed me yet. I decide to have something to eat in the Good Food Cafe (Lentil burger and chips) and nip into the Welly to buy a small bottle of whisky for the next two nights. Tyndrum is hoaching and I'm glad to be on my way again, setting off around 12.30.

Near Falls of Falloch
ImageP1150474 by Al, on Flickr

Sheep creep with warning signs
ImageP1150475 by Al, on Flickr

More civilised underpass for the A82
ImageP1150476 by Al, on Flickr


I;ve walked the next section to Inveroran (and back) previously on the weekend after my dog died. The stretch from Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy must be the dreariest part of the route - not helped by the presence of drizzle. All I can hear is the traffic noise from the A82 - I actually put my MP3 player on and have the joy of a couple of Coil albums as I continue - I never listen to music when out in the wilds, preferring the sound of birds/nature and I find it disconnecting from the landscape you're walking through, but it was alright here. Sheep and cows straddle the route, reluctant or downright refusing to move. fair enough. Things improve after Bridge of Orchy, there's a nice ascent over Mam Carraidh before dropping to the Hotel at Inveroran. The flat ground by Drochaid Tolaghan is crammed with about 8 large tents, six cars parked alongside and a holiday weekender looks to be in progress. Tough luck on any walkers who had planned to pitch there tonight. I stop before Victoria Bridge and have a coffee, thinking where I will end up tonight. I'm feeling quite tired and don't think I'll make it to Kingshouse, so settle on Ba Bridge.

Towards Ben Dorain
ImageP1150478 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150479 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150481 by Al, on Flickr

The next section from Forest Lodge I found enjoyable - no one else in sight and the traffic from the A82 is only a distant drone. Trees shield the views. Only complaint is that the cobbles of Telford's original road are a bit sore on the feet - could do with judicious application of gravel on top. There are no places to camp here as the ground is marshy, but it gets more favourable after turning north and beginning to descend. The Black Mount is here in its dark glory and i recognise the two "roadside" Marilyns of Meall Mor and Glas Bheinn to the right. Reaching Ba Bridge I find several tents and a couple of tarps have already claimed the best spots, but i pitch on the NW side of the bridge which is ok (actually there are some good spots at the next wee bridge past Ba Bridge, as I found out the next morning, only a few hundred metres further on). I'm looking out to Meall a'Bhuiridh's rougher side. Have my evening meal and get into bed just after 6pm, read for a while (WG Sebald's The Emigrants) and sip my whisky. No noise overnight except the rushing of the river and the occasional noise of some of the other campers chopping wood.

Track from Forest Lodge
ImageP1150482 by Al, on Flickr

Meall Mor & Beinn Glas
ImageP1150483 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150486 by Al, on Flickr

Camping at Ba Bridge
ImageP1150487 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150490 by Al, on Flickr

Sunday - Ba Bridge to Fort William.


sun.gpx Open map in GPS Planner  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



Up early, with a nice glow in the sky which has dulled and even threatens rain by the time I leave at around 7.15. Straightforward walking past Ba Cottage ruins (high up on the left) then down past the Ski Centre and the A82 to Kingshouse. Glencoe is misty, the Buachaille dominating the scene as ever. The wild camping out the back is busy and I'm glad I camped where I did. I continue round the south of Beinn a'Chrulaiste heading for the Devil's Staircase. In my imaginings, the Devil's Staircase is a foreboding place, steps hewn into the living rock of the mountain, in a black cleft with water cascading past you and one slip & you're dead sort of image. A bit like opening of herzog's Aguirre, Wrath of God where the slaves march down the precarious mountain path in the Andes. My disappointment when I discover the self-same "Devil's Staircase" to be a gently rising stalker's path was considerable :lol: All i can say is that it must have been a very benign Devil that constructed it. At the top I notice there are what must be two Simms, one either side of the top of the pass - but I'm not in hillwalking mode :roll: Another day.

Morning at Ba Bridge
ImageP1150491 by Al, on Flickr

Descent to Glencoe
ImageP1150493 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150495 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150497 by Al, on Flickr

The Buachaille
ImageP1150498 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150499 by Al, on Flickr

The next section, descending into Kinlochleven, is pretty much a typical descent from the hills and passes easily enough although takes longer than I thought it would to actually reach Kinlochleven. Views over Blackwater reservoir and the eastern Mamores (where I was exactly a week ago) I stop at the Co-Op and buy some lunch (Hummus/Olives/Bread) and sit for a while. My plans at this point are to walk to around the 40km mark and find somewhere to pitch leaving only a short pull into Fort William in the morning.

Blackwater Reservoir
ImageP1150501 by Al, on Flickr

Sgurr Eilde Mor
ImageP1150502 by Al, on Flickr



Setting off up the track from Kinlochleven I realise I've walked a good stretch of the Lairigmor previously when climbing Beinn na Caillich and Tom Mheadhoin. There are several walkers behind me, keeping a good pace, which gives me a challenge to keep ahead if I can. The track is easily wide enough for several people to pass broadsides, they have small rucksacks, I'm sometimes a wee bit competitive :lol: Anyway I walk the next 10k faster than I had planned, withsome resultant discomfort to my right shin. As the track turns north past Lundavra I realise that I can get finished today if I just keep walking, don't have to go that fast, just need to gt to Fort William before the 7pm train. I slow down and various folk pass me by but by this time I care not. The ben comes into view, with tiny slivers of snow only. The following section is fairly grim - much of the forestry is in the process of being harvested leaving the landscape bare and bruised. I had originally intended to head up Bidean Bad na h-Iolaire (Marilyn) from the forest track and head into Fort William over Cow Hill. I'm a bit tired for more ascent and for some reason feel I should stick to the proper route, although in hindsight I wish i had done that now as the last 5-6 kilometres to the finish are tedious. Pressing on I walk down the wide track through the forest towards Braveheart Car park, whatever that is. Then onto tarmac and into the town. I amble along the High Street to the finishing point, which is mobbed by tourists so I don't even bother with a photo. I can't really face a pub either at the moment so decide to walk back towards Morrisons to get something to eat & drink. I nip into the station thinking I'll get my ticket - and find the 17.35 train is just about to pull out - hadn't even thought about that. I leap onboard, feast on what would have been tomorrow's lunch and avail myself of a couple of cans of Tennants from the trolley. Back into Glasgow for 9.20, an hour to wait for my train home then tired feet propel me to my door.

ImageP1150505 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn na Caillich
ImageP1150506 by Al, on Flickr

Lairigmor
ImageP1150507 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150509 by Al, on Flickr

First sight of the Ben
ImageP1150510 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150511 by Al, on Flickr

Descent towards Fort William
ImageP1150512 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150514 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150515 by Al, on Flickr


Kit list (for those that like that sort of thing)
I'd packed with the CWT in mind. Rucksack weighed 16.5kg fully laden when I left.

Tent - Hilleberg Enan - super roomy 1 man tent
Sleeping bag (PHD Minimus 300)
Thermarest Neo Air mat

I took 2 changes of baselayer/underwear/socks along with belay jacket, softshell (unused) waterproofs, towel all wrapped up in thermarest pillow.

Food - being vegan, the CWT will be quite tricky. I took 5 days food - on the CWT I'll need 7 days I think. Breakfast - porridge with 2 squares of dark chocolate, Nakd cocoa bar. Lunch - my usual sandwich thins with peanut butter & jam plus cereal bar (Aldi's Paleo bars mostly), crisps. Evening meal - dehydrated veggies/pulses with grains or rice added (I found a selection by Harmony House at Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Harmony-House- ... ouse+foods which was really tasty when seasoned with Herbamare and maybe chili sauce.) Then chocolate and tea or coffee. Took a small plastic bottle of Jura whisky, added to later.

Cooking - really swithered about this. Ended up taking my trusty Jetboil which I could use in the tent vestibule if necessary. I have a Caldera Cone and alcohol burner but decided against it. Think I'll stick to this combo on the CWT.

Footwear - I had bought a pair of Hoka 111 boots last year for the CWT but ended up using my ordinary Merrell Capra GTX boots which I've been using for the last couple months and had found very light and comfy. I was disappointed to get blisters. Probably would have chosen to wear Salomon XA Pro 3D for this route, but again was thinking ahead to the CWT where I do plan some mountain ascents.

Water - took about 1.5l in my camelbak plus another 1l in 2x500ml bottles for cooking. Could have managed on less.
User avatar
weaselmaster
Wanderer
 
Posts: 1436
Munros:177   Corbetts:53
Grahams:24   Donalds:61
Sub 2000:74   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: Weasel Walks the Way

Postby Sick Kid » Mon May 01, 2017 7:57 pm

Well done ya nutter! 3.5 days is pretty fast!!! :clap: :clap: :clap:
User avatar
Sick Kid
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 346
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:219   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:57   Hewitts:26
Wainwrights:13   
Joined: Dec 2, 2013
Location: Sunny Gourock by the sea!

Re: Weasel Walks the Way

Postby weaselmaster » Mon May 01, 2017 8:10 pm

Sick Kid wrote:Well done ya nutter! 3.5 days is pretty fast!!! :clap: :clap: :clap:


14 and a quarter hours is pretty fast...
User avatar
weaselmaster
Wanderer
 
Posts: 1436
Munros:177   Corbetts:53
Grahams:24   Donalds:61
Sub 2000:74   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: Weasel Walks the Way

Postby Sick Kid » Mon May 01, 2017 9:26 pm

:shock: :shock: :shock:
User avatar
Sick Kid
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 346
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:219   Donalds:89
Sub 2000:57   Hewitts:26
Wainwrights:13   
Joined: Dec 2, 2013
Location: Sunny Gourock by the sea!

Re: Weasel Walks the Way

Postby Mal Grey » Mon May 01, 2017 9:49 pm

Good, thorough, report on the Way, interesting to hear a seasoned walker's perspective as most reports I've read are from relative, or complete, beginners.


That train seemed to have lost a few carriages!
User avatar
Mal Grey
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 1822
Munros:110   Corbetts:20
Grahams:8   
Sub 2000:2   Hewitts:112
Wainwrights:65   
Joined: Dec 1, 2011
Location: Surrey, too far south for much hillwalking, so probably in a canoe!

Re: Weasel Walks the Way

Postby weaselmaster » Mon May 01, 2017 10:01 pm

Sick Kid wrote::shock: :shock: :shock:


14 and a quarter hours is the current best time to run it in. Puts a bit of perspective on "fast"
User avatar
weaselmaster
Wanderer
 
Posts: 1436
Munros:177   Corbetts:53
Grahams:24   Donalds:61
Sub 2000:74   Hewitts:31
Wainwrights:15   
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: Weasel Walks the Way

Postby prog99 » Tue May 02, 2017 12:34 am

Like your style, never got the baggage transport service. The green welly does have a nice selection of malts and I have succumbed before.
prog99
Munro compleatist
 
Posts: 683
Joined: Aug 14, 2013

3 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).



Return to Long Distance routes

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


Walking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk. Information on the forum and in walk reports is provided by individual users. It is each walker's responsibility to check information and navigate using a map and compass.