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West Highland Way Part 2
by Hevs_ » Sun Sep 01, 2019 7:36 pm
Route description: West Highland Way
Date walked: 03/08/2019
Time taken: 7 days
Distance: 154 km
Ascent: 493m5 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).
Tyndrum to Kingshouse
We left Tyndrum shortly after 9am having had brekkie and collected our clean washing from the hotel wash service. Brilliant I could wear my favourite hiking trousers which are waterproof/ish and Carol had her faithful hoody she loves. After a flying visit to the Green Welly for muscle cream, we hit the path and headed for Bridge of Orchy where the pub is. We passed the awesome Beinn Odhar and Beinn Dorain and the path soon followed along the Glasgow to Mallaig railway line where we had to climb under a sheep creep to cross the line. I was tempted to hail a passing train for a lift back to Glasgow but the signs suggested this was not a good idea. We didn't know what a sheep cross was btw we had to look it up. We crossed the Allt Kinglass river and climbed a stile, Carol went first and complained loudly that 'these things are made for giants" as she clambered down a drop of about a foot and as shes only 5' nothing she literally had to launch her ass off it. When she saw me climb over, turn left and step down off the 4" ledge, we both **** ourselves laughing? We continued on the road travelling round the bottom of Beinn Dorain enjoying the superb views.
The Old Military Road went on pretty much without issue and we hit Bridge of Orchy, where we saw the smallest, cutest Fire Station and found the pub. We stopped for the toilet and thought we may as well have a beer while we were there - when I say we I mean me. Carol had orange juice.
We left Bridge of Orchy in blazing sunshine and I could feel my arm getting burny already but we headed into the forestry where we spent forever navigating climbey whiney paths and searing heat. The path climbed steeply in places causes cries of "awwww ffs this is never ending" from me. I get bored easy what can I say? Now for some reason, the path people think it's a fantastic idea to put stones all over the paths. Something about drainage. Personally I think it's just to **** people off. Mainly me. But anyway there were hundreds of the little/big **** and honestly I think both Carol and myself would rather have the massive boulders we had to navigate on day 3 as at least they were fun. Then it started raining. Then it stopped. Then it started again. Then it stopped again. This went on for a while. It annoyed me and I annoyed Carol whining about it (I'm lucky she loves me). We continued on the path for a billion miles and finally, just as it started absolutely chucking it down with rain, we saw the Inveroran Hotel marking our half way point for the day. We popped in and used the loo, and I added some deep heat spray to my feet. It really helps my plantar fasciitis. The food smelled amazing but we weren't hanging around cause we had another billion miles to go and Carol said I wasn't allowed another pint cause I kept farting from the last one.??
Now the Rannoch Moors are something of a celebrity as far as large areas of boggy heather surrounded by mountain ranges goes. This is a "classic" walk according to Walk Highlands. It's a bloody long hike across stoney roads that people actually used to use to get places and I can't help but wonder if there was a roaring trade in spare cart wheels back in the day. And they used this road until 1933??? Seriously I almost broke my ankle 3 times and tripped over so many stones I lost count. We stopped off on a wall for some snacks and to stretch Carols legs. Telford's Parliamentary Road which runs through Rannoch Moore is long, undulating and has spectacular views of Stob a'Choire Odhair Clach Leathad, Creise and Meall a'Bhuiridh. And when I say long, its loooooong. And apparently never ends, or so it felt. We eventually crossed the Ba Bridge and were surely only 20 mins from Glencoe Ski Centre, as Buachaille Etive Mor rose in the distance and we started feeling a little hope....... and someone apparently tipped a bucket of water over our heads. Well that's what it bloody felt like cause we were soaked in seconds as the result of a massive downpour - feet, hair, knickers and socks....all soaked. Turns out my trousers ain't so waterproof and I can scream **** Off louder than a rainstorm ?. And it had a cheek to go off too, just as we saw the sign for our accommodation. We wearily trundled up the Glencoe Ski Centre parking lot like a pair of pathetic wet things, to get the keys to our Hobbit Hut. We had to grab our bags from the storage and haul them down to the room, where we dropped the lot, got changed and went for food. 19 miles in 9 hours. Absolutely smashing it.
Kingshouse to Kinlochleven
So the day started off on a bit of a downer. Carol was not feeling great after our walk yesterday and what started as quite bad stomach cramps, turned into hourly visits to the loo and a raging temperature, sickness and a general feeling of complete wiped outness. So, after discussing it was decided that Carol would not join me on Day 6 or 7 and would instead head straight to our next hotel, to sleep and wait for her lovely hubby to come collect her. I would continue on alone and finish the last 2 days. She hitched a ride with the baggage service to Kinlochleven and the lovely hotel let her into the room immediately, as I had called ahead to explain the situation. Carol has now gone home, absolutely gutted that she cannot finish the walk with me as am I. Get better soon Carol and well done on smashing 5 days of bloody hard walking with me. You've kept me sane. I just hope I don't lose the plot tomorrow without you.
So, after saying huggy goodbyes to Carol at the Ski centre, I headed off towards Kinlochleven and the dreaded Devils Staircase. I rejoined the Way across the A82 and headed down towards Kingshouse Hotel realising I would have to stop cause I'm a fud and forgot to fill my water bottle? Luckily they have public toilets and a water point so I filled up there and chatted to a few other walkers before heading down the path behind the hotel and going on my way. Heading towards Glencoe and the awesome Buachaille Etive Mor absolutely owning the landscape for miles. I've fallen completely in lobe with this Munro, it is absolutely stunning, and I fully intend to climb it just as soon as I get the feeling back in my legs from this trip.
The route climbs quite steeply at this stage and the sun was absolutely giving me hell. As the path fell back down towards the A82 I stopped to reapply suncream and have a drink and met a few people Carol and I had said hi to a few times on route who enquired as to her whereabouts. I thought perhaps a joke of "oh she was driving me nuts so I murdered her and buried her on the moors" may get lost in translation and either fall flat or land me in jail so I just said she's gone home sick. This happened a few times throughout the day. And I never got to make that damn joke.
I moved on, knowing that shortly I would reach the Devils Staircase. Now I know I've climbed worse and much much higher. But I dont normally walk 19 miles the day before or do long distance walking for 5 days before a climb. I knew my legs were a little stiff and damn that sun for coming out today of all days. Sure enough I hit the bottom of the trail and my brain did a little fanfare and was told promptly to do one. I started to climb. The first 5 mins were ok. Then the sun decided I needed more heat and turned itself up a notch or 10. 5 mins later I was puffing like a train and my legs felt like lead. I could see the tiny people near the top and knew I had ages to go. Walk Highlands describes this as "easy going". Well they can **** right off cause this ain't easy. I did several "I'm stopping to look behind me and enjoy the view" , followed by "I'm stopping to take a photo" as well as "I'm stopping for a drink". But the midges made it horrible and the breeze had gone for its lunch break ? When I spotted a party of old aged pensioners wandering up the hill like it was a stroll, I decided I best pick up the pace and pushed on. Got 100m on and thought **** it let them go past me. So I did and I'm not even ashamed ?
Eventually I hauled my red sweaty face to the top. And OMG the view just makes you forget how hard the climb was. I could see clearly over to the Glencoe mountains and Blackwater Reservoir. After building a small cairn for me and Carol, I squeezed past the ultra fit OAPs who were gibbering excitedly at something and after a few piccies went on my way. I still had a fair few miles to go.
Now I have acquired the skills of a mountain goat after this week (well on the descent anyway) so I bounced, skipped and jumped down the path, which you will see from one of my photos, goes on for ****** ever. But it's so worth getting to that first far away corner. The views across the Mamores are spectacular and you can see Ben Nevis in the background looking all handsome. I stood for the longest time just taking it all in and at one point let out a huge breathe and said out loud "man I LOVE my country" to which the Korean man behind me replied "your country is beautiful, you should love it". ? Bit of warning if you're gonna sneak up on people grandpa!!! ? oh how we laughed. He probably thinks Scottish folk are nuts thanks to me.
So all that was left now was to continue my descent to Kinlochleven and when I turned the next corner I met two girls from.Dundee who carol and I had met every day. They asked where carol was and I forgot to try the damn joke. Opportunity missed. We were walking along chatting when we met two other girls from Germany and Holland who stopped to ask what the next stop was and how long to get there and where was carol? So we all did the last few miles together chatting and laughing and swearing (that was mostly me to be fair) and one of us fell in a burn and it wasnt me.
I arrived at the hotel 5 hours after starting to find carol in bed and feeling no better. Her hubby arrived while we were at dinner and took her home and I went back to the hotel to rest - tomorrow was 14 miles and it's the last day.
Kinlochleven to Fort William
So, my final day on the West Highland Way had arrived and I was a bit nervous as the weather did not look good and there were storm warnings in place. I had a full breakfast and left in good time and it was already raining when I left the hotel, waved off by the nicest hotel owner ever and given instruction on how to reach the Way again. I passed a bus stop and note the 5 or 6 young foreigners I had met the day before. All waiting for the bus. I was tempted as the rain got heavier, but I pushed on as they all started at their feet, not making eye contact with me and I know they saw me coming? I resisted the temptation to visit the Grey Mare's Tail waterfall in Kinlochleven as it would add a further 20mins and I was on a mission today.
I hit the path and it immediately started to climb steeply. "Brilliant, I love a good steep climb so early in a walk" I thought. Yeah like that happened. I huffed and moaned but at least the rain had stopped and as I climbed, the views got nicer and nicer across Kinlochleven and the loch. As I once again joined the Old Military Road, Beinn na Caillich rose into view and thats when the wind started to pick up. And it never let up the entire walk.
I passed through a gate and followed the path up into the glen of the Allt Nathrach. I was basically walking along a glen bordered by enormous hills and with wilderness as far as the eye could see. I could see the path laid out ahead of me for miles and I knew there was no point of respite from here. It was all the way to Fort Bill with no bus stops. I headed off down the path with the wind behind me. Rain was forecast so I knew it was likely but I got a good distance with the wind behind me pushing me on, stopping at the ruins of the ancient farmhouse, Tigh-na-sleubhaich, to fix my sock which had gone for a wander, and spray some heat spray on my left thigh which had been niggling at me all morning. 6 days of hiking was finally having an effect on my fibromyalgia and the heat spray was helping until today. My plantar fasciitis had also decided to make a glorious return today so my right ankle got a fair dose of heat spray also. I sat in the ruins for a few moment eating some trail mix and listening to the wind howl outside before rejoining the path and pushing on0. It was around this time the rain started.
There are 3 things I hate in the world, well there are more than 3 but there are 2 weather conditions I can't stand. Rain. Wind and I absolutely hate that farmers and forestry use stones to make paths. Carol had given me her raincoat to wear over my jacket which I am now eternally grateful she talked me in to cause it was much needed. The wind whipped itself up into a frenzy of 50mph I reckon and this meant the rain was slamming into my back and felt like actual hailstones. It hurt and I was livid. The stones made the going very difficult. Carol will tell you I don't take too kindly to weather I don't like so there I was walking through the glen yelling at the wind and rain to "**** right off". It made me super mad. My feet quickly became soaked, my knickers were drenched and i was glad I was wearing my running trousers as they are comfy to wear when soaking. And it was like this for several miles not just 1 or 2 but 4 or 5. The path went on forever and I could see it laid out in front of me tormenting me with its length. There was a point I actually almost cried, but that just made me mad and I pushed on even harder. There were ****** mountain bikers fleeing past me and temptation to just throw one of them to the ground and steal their bike did go through my mind.
The track reached an area of forestry and I really needed to pee. So I descended from the path to a felled tree where I would be covered, well my dignity would anyway, and two eejit foreigners decided to follow me?. They quickly realised that I was not following the path and buggered off to let me pee in peace. Ever tried to pee outside while you're soaking wet and it's still raining and its super windy? Yeah its ****** difficult. I had a drink and pushed on soon coming to the mid way point which is marked by a large information wall which looks stupidly out of place in the middle of nowhere. It said I was 7.5 miles in with 7.5 to go. A quick time check and I was doing ok for time.
I now headed through a gate, tempted to go the other road which was the public road and would have been quicker but I resisted. I did think if i saw a farmer on a quad bike I might bung him a tenner to take me a few miles down the road though. Sadly there was no such person. The narrow path passed through deforestation and it wasn't pretty to look at but
I could see Ben Nevis peeking over the ranges and it gave me some hope. The wind was still battering me and the rain was still falling only lighter but christ the wind was annoying. I yelled at it a few more times to keep myself sane. It duly ignored me. The path was also very undulating and was up and down like a ****** yoyo. I passed a nice bloke on the path and then he passed me. I felt wiped nearing the end of the path towards the forestry and genuinely was like "**** it just bury me here I'm done" My left leg was aching and my right heel was burning. I was soaked and the wind would not let up. As I reached the top of the path I realised i hadnt eaten or drunk for hours. So I stopped at the path end, sat on a tree stump and had a protein bar. The nice lad came up the path also and sat with me and we continued our walk together. He was from Bristol and was hiking the way with his mates but fell behind.
I realised we were at the forestry track and got a little excited as I realised we didn't have much further to go. At the top of the forest we started a zig zag decline down to Glen Nevis and the rain finally stopped completely. As we descended carols jacket almost caused my demise as a big gust of wind caught it and gave it a parachute effect as it pulled me towards the ledge. I quickly took it off and put it in my backpack. We continued on our track down to the road where his friends were waiting for him and I headed off towards the roundabout where the old WHW finish is. I HAD MADE IT. I was limping at this point and knew I had another mile to go before I was at the new finish. Meeting an American family meant I got piccies taken at both locations and an invitation to visit San Diego which was nice. I popped into the shop for my finishers certificate. I literally hobbled to the new end my leg was so sore. I couldn't get near the bench statue so made do with an end of WHW piccie. I just wanted to get to the station for a train and to collect my baggage so I hobbled back through the town centre and grabbed my bag after enquiring about trains. Landslides at Crianlarich meant they were limited so I was in for a wait
It was nice to get changed into clean dry clothes and put my trainers on though. I sat on a train heading into Glasgow having enjoyed a cold cider and relishing in the fact I was sitting down and was dry and warm
This was a taxing and demanding day. But I did it. I completed the WHW. Walked 98 miles over some really tough terrain and pushed on where I would normally give up and go home. But I am utterly ****. I need a huge meal and some sleep. Thanks for the support and the messages and comments. Carol will be going back to do stages 6 and 7 soon ?
by Scottk » Mon Sep 02, 2019 3:37 pm
Shame your pal had to pull out but I really thought my walking buddy was going to bail after all the miserable weather we had! Must have been one of the worst weeks of the year.
by Hevs_ » Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:45 pm
Scottk wrote:Well done. Petty sure we passed you coming out of Tyndrum. The weather was ferocious on the last day, we left Kinlochleven about 10 after having a bacon roll and coffee at the ice factor, the only good thing it was behind us. Saw a couple of people walking the opposite direction and the looked miserable. Turned into a nice afternoon though-we were dry by the time we got into F. William.
Shame your pal had to pull out but I really thought my walking buddy was going to bail after all the miserable weather we had! Must have been one of the worst weeks of the year.
Did you see the woman walking solo in the opposite direction who looked like she was off one skiing holiday? Jacket zipped right up and goggles on her face? Top to toe in wet weather gear?
Yes it was a horrible day but yeah, mostly dry except for the feet and underwear by the time I got to Fort William. Well done to you both for finishing and next time come say hi ?
I gotta go back and do the last 2 days again so my friend.can finish it haha
by Scottk » Fri Sep 06, 2019 12:19 am
by Walking2018 » Sun Sep 08, 2019 9:24 am
Very last minute and completely unplanned attempt to walk the West Highland Way. To the more experienced folk, is it well signposted for someone who has on idea about navigation? I did the Camino before and that was very well marked and easy to follow. Is the WHW the same or is there scope to get lost?
Hoping to start in the next couple of days (10th Sept/11th Sept) - are there many walkers this time of year?
Is it worth skipping the first section Milngavie to Balmaha and just starting fromBalmaha?
Anyone else starting in the next day or so for moral support/company?!?
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- Joined: Sep 1, 2018
by Scottk » Sun Sep 08, 2019 11:04 pm
There should still be plenty people about. The first time I did it was September and there were people about every day and at all the campsites.
Best of luck.
by paulodipaulio » Mon Sep 09, 2019 12:43 am
Saying that - the Camino is a gentle walk through rural Spain - I found the WHW much harder physically but 6 weeks on the Camino pushed me further mentally. Navigation is easy on WHW - I got lost most nights trying to find my albergue after too much vino tinto before curfew on the Camino - never got lost during the day - follow the arrows or the pilgrims ahead.
I did the WHW on my own wild camping and loved it - didn't plan anything - took £100 and lived like a king - not for everyone I know but was my 5* holiday this year
by EmilyandGreggles » Thu Jul 30, 2020 11:28 am
My wife and I are staying Kinlochleven from Sat 15th August. Plan to walk the last two stages of the WHW. Is there a bus that can be reached from Kinlochleven that drops near Kings House, at the start of that leg?
Greg and Emily
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- Joined: Jul 30, 2020
by Scottk » Thu Jul 30, 2020 10:43 pm
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