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WHW a beautiful scorcher and The Ben to finish

WHW a beautiful scorcher and The Ben to finish

Postby Zafar » Sun Jun 10, 2012 7:56 pm

Route description: West Highland Way

Date walked: 20/05/2012

Time taken: 7 days

Distance: 156 km

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Well after many years of driving up and down the length of Loch Lomond usually on my way to Oban and the Isles diving, I finally decided to make a journey to Scotland to actually walk among the scenery I had always admired.
I managed to persuade and cajole my friends it was a good idea too and so the plan was hatched to take our time and opt for a 7 day journey with a hope of squeezing in Ben Nevis fatigue and blisters willing.
I used a Scottish company to organise the accommodation B & B's and used a baggage transfer service too so we would not have the hassle of carrying anything but a daysack and what a brilliant move that turned out to be on both fronts.

Oh I forgot to mention that it was me who ordered the weather for Scotland for the week commencing 20th May :wink: what a scorcher it turned out to be 8) we all got sunburned especially on the back of the legs. One day we even saw a cloud !

Day 1 was Milngavie to Drymen 12 miles and the gentle introduction to woodland and then later to the wonderful views of the Campsie Fells.
Milngavie and so it begins.JPG

The weather was very warm but things were to get much warmer as the trip went on and we soon lost the long trousers and all the waterproof gear.

We stayed at Kip In The Kirk and received a warm welcome, cup of tea and freshly baked scone before we got the chance to take our boots off. Frances & Jonny made our short stay really nice and gave us some good advice too. Good choice of pubs in the village and we opted for The Clachan Inn with a nice real ale beer and great Lamb burger

Day 2 Drymen (pronounced Drimin, makes the locals laugh when we say it how its spelt) to Balmaha 6 ish miles
This was a great stretch and we were amazed at the sheer devastation and power of the wind as we walked through a forest of pines blown over and snapped liked twigs from storms the previous year . Eventually we walked up the first real climb of Conic Hill and the splendour of the view from the top on a sunny day is breathtaking

Boats at Balmaha.jpg

We stayed at The Oak Tree Inn which was very comfortable and the one real ale and food was very nice and just the ticket to refuel for the next day.

Day 3 Balmaha to Ardliu 20 miles
This was the hardest day of the trip and although I was warned about it I thought 'how hard can it be to walk up the side of Loch Lomond' Well for anyone contemplating the trip give this stretch plenty of time and respect . Its not that its overpoweringly steep its just undulating, rocky, rooty and is laid out in such a way that makes it hard to get into your stride. I decided and based on our digs that we would get this over in one day
but you may decide to break it up. Don't get me wrong its beautiful and when a view breaks out its worth it. I can see this would be tougher in really bad weather. Oh and look out for the wild goats too.

It was really nice though to raise the beacon up the flag pole at the top of the loch for the little ferry to collect us and take us over to the hotel and a cold Guinness at the Ardliu Hotel. A nice place to stay but it needs some real ale and the staff worked hard to make our stay nice.

Day 4 Ardliu to Tyndrum 14 miles
Leaving Ardliu.JPG

After the mornings little ferry ride back across it was again absolutely red hot and I soon drained 3 lts of water and had to top up where I could. Beautiful day and the scenery just gets better and better.

The Tyndrum Lodge Hotel is very basic quite dated but the Guinness was cold. If you have options to stay elsewhere for the same money I would .

Day 5 Tyndrum to Kingshouse approx 20 miles across the fabled Rannoch Moor. Its an empty and wild place and in the 28 degree heat was a scorcher but I guess its a real tough crossing in bad weather. The river at Baa Bridge is beautiful and the rocks razor sharp, dangerous I bet when there is a lot of water rushing through. We had to stay further down Glen Coe at the Clachcaig Inn which had loads of real ale and over 200 malts in the Boots Bar and good food too. It was worth the short taxi ride from Kingshouse and back again the following morning and its in a fantastic location and very comfortable with brilliant staff. I will definitely be going back here.
Head of Glen Coe.JPG

Day 6 kingshouse to Kinlochleven 8.5 miles approx
What a brilliant start to the morning , some real atmospheric clouds hugging the tops of the hills of Glen Coe

We began our climb up the devils staircase in what turned out to be another scorcher and good fun too as we passed and were passed in turn by many of the same groups of walkers we met all week. This has to be one of the friendliest walking experiences I have done where everyone shares the common goal and appreciates the grandeur at the same time.
Top of Devils Staircase.JPG

Quite a rocky descent into Kinlochleven but the view are great and we appreciated this shorter day today after the battle across Rannoch Moor. We stayed at the Tailrace Inn which was friendly , nice Guinness and comfortable.

Its worth popping into the Kinlochleven Visitor Centre where they have an interesting display about the Aluminium industry that the built the town and how they built the great dam , quite an achievement.

Day 7 Kinlochleven to Fort William approx 15.5 miles
I can't believe its gone so fast every day has been brilliant. The climb out of Kinlochleven is quite demanding and in the heat the effort was doubled. However once you reach a secluded valley and the path stretching out before you crossed by numerous little burns its a really pretty walk.
Ben Nevis.JPG

Getting to the end of the walk through Fort William its self seemed to take ages and although you reach the sign outside the Woollen Shop and pause for the photo

keep going to the far side of town to the statue of the tired walker which is a better finish and just past The Grog and Gruel real ale pub. We earnt it .
End of the WHW and tired feet.JPG

Ben Nevis
Well we could hardly drive south without climbing Ben Nevis which was crystal clear , so with an early breakfast arrangement with Hotel Alexandria we set off at 6.00am. This proved a wise move as we managed to climb up to the summit before the sun beat down on us while we did all the hard work. Just the last 250 metres across the snow fields we were met by the full sun in our shorts and short sleeved shirts , we were so lucky. When we reached the top other than a couple striking camp we had it practically to ourselves for an hour and beat the hordes too. Check out the views and my patriotic salute in the Diamond Jubilee year too.

View from Ben Nevis.JPG

Tallest means highest.JPG
I'm top man today

A perfect end to the best walking trip I have ever done , I highly commend this route to any reasonably fit competent walker and my few words and photos hardly scratch the surface of how deeply this walk will have on your lasting memories as they have on mine. Remember life is no rehearsal and this is worth adding to yours.
Posts: 5
Joined: Jun 8, 2012

Re: WHW a beautiful scorcher and The Ben to finish

Postby skuk007 » Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:40 pm

Nice report Zaf. Looks like you all had a great experience. No mention of blisters so doing some shorter days was probably a wise move. Fantastic weather, if you could arrange the same for 7th July for 10 days that would be great :-)
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Joined: Aug 24, 2009
Location: Bristol

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