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WHW part 1 - By yon bonnie banks (2013)

WHW part 1 - By yon bonnie banks (2013)

Postby nigheandonn » Sat Aug 29, 2020 10:33 am

Route description: West Highland Way

Date walked: 15/06/2013

Time taken: 3 days

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Since I didn't write this up properly at the time, this is now far more a set of photos than a report - but since I still quite like the photos, I'm going to post them anyway.

Day 1 - Milngavie to Drymen

This first day isn't exactly highland - Milngavie on the edge of Glasgow through to Drymen, with Loch Lomond almost in sight.

From Milngavie the path skirts the edge of Mugdock Country Park, through the woods - it had been a very slow spring, and although it was early June the flowers were still back in April or May, although catching up fast.

Beyond that the path led past Craigallian Loch with its fishermen and Carbeth with its history of huts - a stretch haunted by Dumgoyne looming to the east, the first of many hills to tower above the path. The path ran roughly parallel to the road through Strath Blane for quite a while, passing through an odd stile that felt like walking through the blades of a pair of scissors, and avoiding the distillery, before coming out on the road at the back of a pub, and leaving it again.

Eventually the path did join the road and followed it along to Drymen, with Conic Hill doing the looming now, but from under a cloud.

In the beginning

Through the woods

Looking like spring

Dumgoyne over Craigallian Loch

The mysterious stile

Glengoyne distillery

Under a cloud

Day 2 - Drymen to Rowardennan

I didn't know I had been in Drymen before, but it turned out that I had, because when I was a student in Glasgow a friend with a car would occasionally take a notion to go to ceilidhs at the Winnock Hotel. I don't think I ever knew where that actually was - it was just a place where you were deposited in the dark.

The weather had cheered up amazingly compared to the day before, and Conic Hill was now a stegosaurus up ahead - it was a wonderful spot, with the view along the faultline which gives you the lowlands on one side and the highlands on the other, but I accidentally missed the true summit, which annoyed me for years.

After much consideration I had decided to stop at Rowardennan - I found that up to Rannoch Moor the Way split beautifully into roughly 6 mile chunks, but that splitting it into 12 or 15 mile days didn't quite work out - there had to be an 18 (or a 6) in there somewhere, and I was leaving it for the end instead of pushing through to Balmaha on the first day or Inversnaid on the second.

Beyond Balmaha the path kept more or less to the edge of the loch - sometimes right on it, and sometimes on the road. One odd thing I was finding about this route, compared to places I'd walked in Northumberland with the public footpath signs, was that junctions were only signposted if you were turning off, which was more or less fine, but slightly nervewracking if you'd been going straight ahead for a while without seeing a sign.

And then Rowardennan with its wonderful hostel location but a slightly disappointing pub - a very Glaswegian choice of beer.

A new day

Stegosaurus Hill

The lowlands

The highlands

Looking along the faultline

Strange trees, Loch Lomond

New oak leaves

Day 3 - Rowardennan to Inverarnan

This was the true Loch Lomond day, the day of the high road and the low road - I'd had the song stuck in my head all along, but that really didn't help. I took the low road, and didn't find it nearly as bad as the guidebook had threatened.

It was a slightly odd experience to be walking parallel to a road I knew well, but completely apart from it - the Cobbler was in view across the water, and I was almost tempted to abandon my plans and head west.

At Inversnaid the burn was coming down white instead of 'horseback brown' - I stopped there for lunch, and allowed myself to be lured off onto a boat trip on the loch - I'd really meant to take one from Balmaha, but had been too late.

Beyond that the path was tamer - two bothies, and the place to signal the Ardlui ferry, and the north end of the loch where it seems to split apart, and then an odd stretch up over the hill where you think you've left the loch behind and it jumps back into view again - and added goats. Then along above the River Falloch to Inverarnan, where I was staying in a wigwam at the campsite, and didn't have to cross the river.

The low road

The cobbler

Waterfall at Inversnaid

Easy ground

The north end

Leaving Loch Lomond

Wild goats
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