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Shall we just do it?

Shall we just do it?

Postby calumandrew » Tue Jul 14, 2020 12:59 pm

Route description: West Highland Way

Date walked: 18/07/2016

Time taken: 5 days

Distance: 150 km

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During the summer of 2016, we decided it would be a good idea with little to no experience of long-distance hiking to take on the WHW.

Day1: We set out with a Harvey XT40 map, overfull backpacks and high spirits. By the end of the day, we realised that while a map was a very useful tool to have for this particular walk it wasn't totally required as it is so well signposted. The first section out of Milngavie was straight out into rolling hills, and sprawling forests. It was lovely. Walking through fields and farmlands, and along narrow but well trodden paths. The scenery really started when we passed Drymen and walked to Balmaha, the views from that stretch were wonderful. With huge ambitions we pressed on past Balmaha to Cashell Campsite to conclude the day. Taking advantage of the long days we had hiked for some 12 hours, and enjoyed the views of the beginning of Loch Lomond.

Day2: With weary feet and a lesson learned we decided to be much less ambitious on this day. We set off a little later from Cashell and hiked on up more of the Loch Lomond Stretch, with another beautiful day, the views were spectacular. I will never forget how striking and beautiful the whole Loch Lomond stretch is. I would strongly advise anyone doing this walk to do this bit with plenty of time set aside cause stopping every 15 minutes for another photo feels like the only appropriate thing to do. Given the combination of sore feet from the day prior and the stunning scenery, we ended up only making it up to Caliness area (just south of Inversnaid hotel) before we had run out of day and pitched out tent. But what a wonderful place to have pitched it. But looking back at photos from this day, wen enjoyed some of the most memorable photos form that section of walk there, weary hillwalkers, set in a background of trees, wooden bridges and the Loch. I'm glad we took the time to do this stretch slower.

Day3: Knowing that we needed to make up some of the lost time to stay on track for 5 days we once again took advantage of the light and set off around 0430 in the morning. This was also ideal because this was the only period of the trip where the rain was so heavy we had to stop. We used the morning stretch of wet and miserable weather to get from where we slept to Beinglas Farm campsite before the weather forced us indoors for a bit. This was now a welcome break as we felt like we had made the time up and our clothes were all very wet - so we were kindly allowed to use the drying facilities on the promise we had lunch there. However, one of the memorable moments from the walk were also in this rainy morning, with the fog setting in and the raining falling down hard we pushed our way through a field of heavy bushes just at the very top of the loch. You go steeply uphill and then fight these summer bushes off but the views you are rewarded with after what felt like a rainforest trek that morning were phenomenal. Once the rain had passed and our clothes were dry enough to want to wear, we pressed on, with plans to make it to Tyndrum, so we had to get moving. Due to the poor weather while we were at Beinglas we had decided to invest in a dry evening in a hobbit hut up at Tyndrum. This was one of the best decisions we made, I strongly recommend staying there, a placed called "Tyndrum By The Way", these were a welcome comfort stop and a lovely place to be. The weather cleared for the latter part of the day as we descended through the forest between Crianlarich and Tyndrum, which left us with a lovely evening walk through the forest. I really enjoyed this setting and the smells of the trees in the summer evening breeze. After we finally arrived we were given a warm welcome and shown around and we set about getting things dried off before we sat down for the evening to decide how to proceed with the next section of walk.

Day4: Upon walking up nice and early we packing up and set off - and it could have only been a few hundred metres before stumbled upon "The Real Food Cafe" and being us as a group we couldn't resist the temptation of a proper Scottish breakfast, so we went in and had a lovely breakfast knowing what we had decided to embark upon. Once you set off from Tyndrum the next stop is Bridge of Orchy. While walking to Bridge of Orchy you pass Ben Odhar and Ben Dorain just as you leave Tyndrum, and this is a spectacular view of the munro, it just dominates the landscape here. Once again we decided to take advantage of the hotel at Bridge of Orchy and have a spot of lunch because the next stretch of walking. Make sure as you pass you take in the view of all the Munro's here as there are plenty for you to see. Once you are north of Loch Tulla the scenery changes dramatically. And it's a spectacular scene. You are suddenly surrounded by hills and munro's along the way. You cross over Black mount by way of a cobbled road, that transports you back to days gone, when this would have been the main route between the two, miles later you cross the River Ba, and then in view is the Glen Coe range. From here we pressed on down to Kings House Hotel, this was one of the highpoints, we sat here, knowing we had completed the longest stretch of walking we had to do. Enjoyed a Steak Pie and Mash in the beautifully old and quant Kings House pub. once we had taken it in for as long as we could, we left the pub togo and sleep, this also was one of the most midge-ridden places of the entire walk, I recall being deeply frustrated trying to pack up the the following morning.

Day5: We set off again, with stress levels heightened because of a midgey morning and a light drizzle slowly dampening us. As you walk along this stretch you will see the iconic Black Rock Cottage before taking the Devil's Staircase dramatically uphill again. With such a grey morning not many views were enjoyed, but just as we were coming around Beinn Bheag the skies cleared up and the sun came out to reward us with wonderful views over Kinlochleven just before we started our descent down into it. It changed the whole outlook of the day as the sun then lasted and we were able to have a spot of lunch in Kinlochleven with wonderful sunny views. We set of - strongly doubled by some locals that we had spoken to - to finish the walk from here, no-one tells you about the sharp steep and relentless ascent out of Kinlochleven back into the hills.
So consider this a warning, it's there and it's brutal, especially after lunch.
From here you walk through a long glen, surrounded by mountains and wildlife, the scenery is something else. Take your time through this bit and take it all in, we certainly did. While this certainly is a long stretch it is very do-able, lets not forget, that we had no prior experience and too much stuff with us. But when you finally get round all these mountains, Ben Nevis comes into view, standing tall above the forest below. Suddenly you feel like you are nearly there, we walked our way down into the Nevis Range campsite, and settled for the evening. With this great feeling and some well deserved ciders. After a cosy night in the pub again, we returned to our tent and went to sleep.

The Home stretch Day 6: From here we woke up to a really moody view of Nevis where the top was completely hidden from view, for once, we left our tent and our hiking stuff and did the tiny last stretch of walk into Fort William to make the official end point at the stature of the weary walker.

All said and done, I cannot recommend this walk enough - regardless of skill level. It would be very comfortable to do it in 7 days but it can be done with little to no experience in 5. Depending on your drive. This is a walk I will likely redo in my lifetime as it is so spectacular in parts.
Posts: 1
Munros:25   Corbetts:3
Sub 2000:4   
Joined: Apr 8, 2017

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