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West highland way in 7 days 2020

West highland way in 7 days 2020

Postby Paulmccaffrey » Thu Aug 20, 2020 3:22 pm

Route description: West Highland Way

Date walked: 25/07/2020

Time taken: 7 days

Distance: 154.8 km

Ascent: 13240m

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Day 1 - Milngavie to Drymen
We got dropped off at the start point in Milngavie and set off on our 7 day adventure. Myself and my best mate Charles had prepared for months, ordering our lightweight gear, arranging accomodation, and were all set. Covid got in the way of us doing much walking preperation, but we were greatful of the restrictions being lifted on the 15th, just in time for our walk - perfect timing. We set off at a good pace, there were a few light rain showers but it stayed mostly dry. We passed through some forrest and then through the hills towards glengoyne distillery. We stopped here for our packed lunches at around the half way point. We set off again towards drymen, with connic hill in the distance. A steep hill up to our campsite, and in just under 4 hours our short, flat, 12 mile/18km day was complete. We got our tent up and i came accross my first issue of the trip - i ripped my lightweight sleeping mat undoing the fastening buttons! A few attempts at patching it up proved unsuccesful. We headed into drymen for some well earned pints, our first for 5 months since lockdown, and they tasted great! The local shop had everything but sleeping mats, was worth a try. We headed back up to our campsite for our dry pack dinners, and got showered. Nice enough facilities at the campsite, clean and a basic cooking area if you need it. We watched a film in our tent with a whiskey, and i attempted to sleep minus my mat.
And it begins


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First day setting up camp

Enroute to drymen

Day 2 - Drymen to Rowardennan
It rained all night and we were awake about 4.30, not the best sleep. We had our breakfast packs and were all packed by 8.30, fortunately it was dry whilst doing so. We headed towards connic hill, some fields and forrest along the way. As we headed down to the road into balmaha the rain came on, but was off as we arrived. We grabbed a few snacks from the local shop, no vegan options for me but i had my back up protein bar and some skittles. The shop only had heavy camping mats so some quick thinking, i ordered one on amazon to be delivered to our next campsite in a few days, fingers crossed. We had a coffee and set off again, towards the toughest section so far along the start of loch lomond. The views were lovely, passing some nice beaches, with a good section of going up and down along the shore. We had a drink and a break at sallochy before a steep ascent, which went on for a good while, each time it looked to head back downhill we were going back up. We soon came out of the forrest area and were at the rowardennan hotel, our next stop. We planned on staying at the hostel but this was unfortunately still closed. A tough day but in 6 hours our 15 miles/25km day was complete.
We were in time for the last premiership games of the season and again enjoyed pints and a cooked meal - burger and pizza. We finished off with a cider on the benches outside taking in the lovely views. We rinsed out some of our clothes and hung them up in our room to dry, hoping for a better night sleep tonight.

Leaving drymen




Day 3 - Rowardennan to Inverarnan

Not a great nights sleep but comfier with a matress! We were glad of a fully cooked breakfast, and we set off knowing today would be tough. The rain was on so we got on the waterproofs, and set off at 8.45 uphill. After an hour of tough climbing we reached the ‘bench with a view’ looking onto loch lomond. There was another half hour or so amongst the trees with very little to see, then the road became a path and began some up and down climbing along loch lomond shore. We were getting soaked but this section kept us occupied and was quite enjoyable. 3 hours later and we could see the inversnaid hotel, where we were stopping for lunch. We passed the lovely waterfall, but our joy was short lived as the hotel was shut! Three french boys were stood outside sheltering, debating whether to go an as they found the scottish weather ‘a little diappointing’. No hot lunch for us so we had our protein bars and filled up our water bottles from an outside tap. As we set off the french boys were making arrangements to go back to glasgow and wished us luck. We set off in the rain again along the shore, remaining positive despite this stretch going on forever. There was alot of rocks and up and down climbing, and finally we came out into the open. We walked through streams and were completely soaked, and climbed a steep hill we knew was waiting, but didn’t prove too difficult. We could see the drovers inn in the distance, but still had a bit to go. We descended towards it and could feel it on our feet, taking a few paracetamol to help! 6 hours later we crossed the bridge and it was great to arrive at our inn. Around 15 miles/25km, a tough day was complete.
We got off our wet clothes and rinsed them in the shower. Charles had them hanging on every radiator including the hallway - needs must. I dried my shoes with the hairdrier in our room, glad of my change of trainers i packed, charles was envious of those as the trip went on! Another veggie burger for me and steak pie for charles, glad of a hot meal and pints after this day. A few walkers we seen on the way came hobbling into the bar, we must be doing alright! Charles was in and out of the hallway drying our clothes, we watched some football on my phone and that was us for the night.

Setting off in the rain

Day 4 - Inverarnan to Tyndrum

Best sleep of the trip and another nice cooked breakfast then we were on our way. Nicely dried clothes and shoes thanks to charles drying skills and we picked up some supplies at the shop over the bridge. No sandwich options again for me but i picked up some fruit and snacks. Our feet were holding up well, my morning ritual of taping up and using compeed plasters on my heels seemed to be working. We set off up the old military road, mainly through fields and we followed the river along some bridges and crossed under some tunnels at the railway line and the road. We then entered some woodland and reached the official halfway point, a nice feeling. We opted not to go into crianlarich as it meant adding 3km onto the day. We climbed a steep hill to reach a bench and continued into the woodland before having lunch. It was a nice drier day, we headed downhill, with a few pain killers on the way, coming out at the road and crossing over into farmland. We passed strathfillan wigwams, which were shut, but would be a bit of an early stopover as it was a good bit short of tyndrum. We continued along the river then up a steep hill, passing the ‘loch of the lost sword’ and along the path down past the pine trees campsite, which also cancelled our accomodation due to covid, and reached our campsite ‘by the way’ at 1.30. We couldn’t believe how early we arrived but another 13 mile/20km day complete in about 4 and a half hours.
We set up our tent and to my delight my camping mat was at reception! We had showers and used the great washing and drying facilities onsite. A short walk into tyndrum to stock up for the next day, and to my surprise some vegan options. We had a pint before going back to put our clothes into dry, then back out for dinner and a few more pints. A curry which was a nice change from the usual burger. We met a bulgarian woman and her spaniel pippin on the campsite, and again at dinner with a boy who we met along the way. We discussed we were planning a long day tomorrow but he wasn’t sure he could make it, he was going alot slower and looked to have sore feet. We met another couple in the bar we seen from day one, who also weren’t planning on the long walk the next day. We went back to the tent and watched another film, i was glad of my sleeping mat after carefully blowing it up!

Setting off from the drovers
Charles at the drovers
The old military road
Half way!

Day 5 - Tyndrum to Kingshouse

Today was our longest day, a breakfast of a pot noodle, can of coke and bag of crisps to set me up - using up what i had. Packing seemed to take a while but we set off at 8.30, walking on a flat path for a while. We got a beep of encouragement from a camper van on the road waving at us, and passed on encouragement as we passed the boy we met on our way. We passed through several mountains and stopped to book a pitch on the glencoe campsite as we worried the wild camping would be a bit of a mess with the recent rain. Fortunately we got a cancellation. We passed under and over the railway, the most open stretch of the way so far. 2 hours later we reached bridge of orchy, having to fill up with warm water from the tap outside. We didn’t stop long due to midges, this morning and now were the first of the trip, so we had our snacks and pushed on. We entered woodland and passed a group of four welsh guys who we seemed to see most days now, and began a climb up a hill. The views down onto ranoch moor were great. As we descended we had some more pain killers for our knees, and reached the iveroran hotel. It was 12.00 so there was no way we would have stopped at this point like others suggest, although our feet started to feel it walking along the road from here. Other than both hotels it was the most remote part of the walk since leaving Tyndrum. We reached what turned out to be a 3 hour stretch towards glencoe. We ascended up and bumped into pippin and the bulgarian woman, who chose to stop here on their walking holiday. She wished us luck as we pushed on for possibly the hardest stretch of the walk. This was due to it being so remote between the mountains, on a long, neverending path. We reached 20km and stopped for lunch. We actually passed and seen quite a few other walkers on this stretch. I had my vegan pastie and charles his sandwich, we stopped for a full half hour before continuing with some more uphill, and some bikers passed us, also finding it tough. Finally the road appeared and we started to descend into kingshouse, our feet were sore and charles could feel a blister. We reached the campsite at 3.45, good going for our longest day of 7 hours and around 19miles/30km.
It was good to set up our tent and get showered. Food options were limited as we later found out the main kitchen had burnt down earlier in the year, so i had some chips and cooked my pasta pack, we had a few bottles of beer and put the football on in the tent. Our last trip to the toilet was regretable. The zip got snagged as we tried to close it too quickly to avoid midges, causing 5 minutes of midges attacking as we struggled to free the zip without ripping the tent. We finally managed and had kept the midges to the outer section thankfully.

By the way
Charles friend leaving tyndrum
Iveroran hotel
The never ending road


Day 6 - kingshouse to kinlochleven

We woke up to some noise, a little mouse in the outer part of the tent looking for food. We got our breakfast rolls, 2 totty scone doublers for me as there were no sandwiches i could grab for lunch, and seen the boy we had been passing - he made the long day! He got in late the night before, good on him. We managed to pack our wet tent in no time, avoiding the midges. We set off later than usual about 9.45 as it was a shorter day, and headed down past the kingshouse hotel, busy with campers, and we were glad we didnt stay there as the ground was wet and there were midges everywhere. We headed along the path beside the road towards the famous devils staircase. There was a bit of rain but nothing heavy, and we stopped for a protein bar and a drink before heading up. We were at the summit within half an hour, tough but not as bad as we expected, it was really enjoyable and the views down were great. But as we’d learnt throughout the walk, there were more ups and downs along the pathway section, and we stopped for lunch further down. We headed downhill for a while which was hard on the feet, reaching a reservoir and crossed a bridge. The pathway continued downhill and after just under 4 hours day 6 was complete. 11 miles/18km roughly.
We had called ahead to change our camping spot to a cabin, thankfully as the rain had been on again the night before. We were early so had a coffee while we waited, and headed into town for some supplies. The locals werent so friendly and my options were limited so i improvised with some stuff for sandwiches the next day, and we went back for showers. The showers were the worst yet, and the drying room was nowhere near the standard of the one at ‘by the way campsite’. We realised later there were a couple of better showers elsewhere that we hadn’t seen. Our dinner was late at 7.30 due to the amount of bookings, but the pints went down well in the meantime. One guess as to what i had, and charles had a pizza. It was nice to have a cabin to sleep in and not worry about the wet tent.

Kingshouse hotel
Devils staircase

Day 7 - kinlochleven to fort william

The last day was here, we got a cooked breakfast and didnt have much to pack. I made my lunch rolls and did my final dailly taping of my feet. Charles feet were a bit of a mess and he had quite a few blisters. We set off on what was a hot morning, and immediately headed up a steep hill for about 30 mins. Great views down and the climb was more gradual from here on, walking an open road between mountains. We passed a ruin and had made good progress, passing some woodland and climbing another steep hill around the 3 hour mark. Ben nevis was in view in the distance, but the path continued up and down before we stopped for lunch. We headed down the final stretch of path which, of course, came back up and was steep, to reach the woodland area. It was an enjoyable walk to here knowing we were on the last leg of our journey. Ben nevis and fort william were in sight as we descended down the side of it, the views were again, great. The sun was at its hottest and we had a great final day of weather, a fighter jet roared overhead. We finally got to the bottom with sore feet and knees, and followed the path until a sign pointed us inward, and along the 3km road to the finish line. It was hard going as we anticipated, but we were soon in fort william centre and the famous statue appeared. We got our photos and a man and his son we seen throughout the day arrived just after us. A couple of cold pints to celebrate. 5 and a half hours, the last 15 miles/25km complete.
The 96 mile walk was over, it was tough going at times with alot of up and down sections, but thoroughly enjoyable with so many rewarding views and moments.

The final day
Ben nevis
Almost there
The end
Last edited by Paulmccaffrey on Fri Sep 11, 2020 8:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: West highland way in 7 days

Postby 3peaker » Fri Aug 21, 2020 3:02 pm

Well done Paul & Charles this is the first report I have read in 2020, a great detailed report with good photos and useful information along the West Highland Way. I am planning to walk the WHW in 7 days next month and found the report very useful. Regards malc.
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Re: West highland way in 7 days

Postby MrsOrr » Mon Aug 24, 2020 1:50 pm

Loved reading this report. Reminds me of doing the walk myself 8 years ago now. Makes me want to do it again!
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