walkhighlands

West Highland Way July 2019 Solo Female

Date walked: 31/07/2019

Time taken: 8 days

Distance: 150km

I did the WHW over 8 days, starting on 31st July this year, and then went on to do the Great Glen Way after a couple of days rest in Fort William. I'm a 48 year old solo female walker, fairly good level of fitness with many years of hillwalking experience in the UK and Europe. I cut it down into 8 days and some quite small chunks because I was worried if I could cope (I've been recovering from a serious illness for about a year and my fitness wasn't quite up to scratch). I also used a baggage transfer company (AMS).
My route was:
Day 1 Milngavie to Drymen
Day 2 Drymen to Rowardennan
Day 3 Rowardennan to Beinglas Farm
Day 4 Beinglas to Tyndrum
Day 5 Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy
Day 6 Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse
Day 7 Kingshouse to Kinlochleven
Day 8 Kinlochleven to Fort William.

Overall: I had amazing weather, hot and sunny, I found days 2 and 3 the hardest but I enjoyed every minute of it after day 3, even though I had some moments where I seriously thought about getting the bus. I managed to avoid the days of hard downpours of rain by sheer luck. I saw the same people every day along the way. Each stage was well signposted and there was never any chance of getting lost.
Day 1: this was a great first day, beautiful weather, easy track, kept up a good pace, stopped for lunch at the Beech Tree Inn. I stayed at Kip in the Kirk and met 3 other solo ladies and we agreed to try walking together the next day.
Day 2: Walked with 2 women from the night before. Again beautiful weather, hot and humid. I really enjoyed the challenge of Conic Hill and the views were fantastic from the top. Getting down the other side was painful but not too long. Lunch at the Oak Tree Inn. After lunch it got harder - steep inclines over and over again that seemed neverending. Day 2 was the second hardest day but I kept going and we eventually made it to Rowardennan Lodge. The hostel was full to capacity, they didn't have enough staff, and we were told at check in that they hadn't had a food delivery so some of the dinner courses had sold out. The food wasn't great - small portions, and at breakfast in the morning staff were overwhelmed with the numbers they had to serve.
Day 3: I walked half of the day to Inversnaid with one of the ladies I'd met in Drymen, but she wasn't coping too well and decided to drop out by the time we got to the hotel. I had a good sandwich lunch, then went on my way. This second half along Loch Lomond was the very worst for me. Everyone has their personal choice (a woman I met further along the way said this had been her favourite part). For me it was torture. So much scrambling and stumbling over obstacles in the heat and humidity, and when I slowed down to get over huge rocks, the midges came for me. I found it mentally stressful having to concentrate all the time and I didn't feel too safe on some of the obstacles. A young German couple in front of me helped me over the difficult bits. I was so relieved to start to turn away from the Lochside and get into more open countryside. Made it to Beinglas Farm by about 6.30pm, had a huge dinner of steak and ale pie and a large glass of wine, and crashed out in my little hut.
Day 4: from now onwards it got really easy. I was so grateful to be away from the lochside path that I enjoyed pretty much every day until the end in Fort William. I did get tired but I just kept going. Again the weather was glorious and I still hadn't worn any of the extra layers I carried in my day pack. Lots of water and factor 50 suncream. I had a full cooked breakfast at Beinglas and bought a packed lunch from them. This was a great days walk, not too challenging, but very hot and humid. I stopped at Strathfillan Wigwams for cake and tea and made it to Tyndrum by about 5. Stayed at the Tyndrum Inn (not bad - big fluffy towels! TV! Comfy bed!) and had a huge plate of fish and chips and a large glass of wine. I was eating huge amounts of food every day, far more than I normally would, but I really needed it.
Day 5: A very, very short day for me. I regretted cutting it down into such small chunks now. I had a lazy morning and left Tyndrum at about 11.30, walked very slowly and got to Bridge of Orchy by about 2.30, just in time to miss the torrential downpour that continued for the rest of the day and evening. Stayed in West Highland Way Sleeper, it was ok, shared the dorm with a lovely Dutch family.
Day 6: Again a pretty easy day, beautiful weather, and the scenery was starting to get very dramatic. Stopped halfway through the morning for coffee at Inveroran Hotel. Beautiful views coming down across Ranoch Moor to Kingshouse, and I chatted to quite a few people I'd seen on the previous days, including the German couple who helped me along the Loch Lommond path. Stayed in the new bunkhouse at Kingshouse - really nice. I did a load of washing for free and had dinner in the restaurant.
Day 7: full cooked breakfast at Kingshouse and off to Kinlochleven. The Devil's Staircase wasn't too much of a challenge, I just kept up a steady pace. The biggest problem today was the midges, they were ferocious. I saw most of this day through a midge net. If I stopped for 1 second to take a photo, they swarmed me. By the end of the day my neck and arms were thick with black midges. I kept dowsing myself in Skin so Soft and just kept walking so I didn't get bitten too badly. I think this day was spoilt a bit by the midges and it's all a bit of a blur. I was starving by the time I got to Kinlochleven as I couldn't stop to eat (yes, because of the midges!). I got to Blackwater Campsite by 2pm and the very kind girl there let me into my little wooden pod. Big dinner at the Tailrace pub, then off to bed.
Day 8: this was the very best day of the whole way. Stunning views, gorgeous weather, easy path, NO MIDGES. There was a bit of a climb out of Kinlochleven, and it was a long day, but I was in such good spirits to be on the final stage, I felt so lucky to have such great weather, and did I mention NO MIDGES!!! I kept trudging along, knowing I was getting closer and closer, and walked into Fort William along the main road. Made it to the end by 4.30pm, checked into my hotel (The Garrison) and went for a huge dinner of sausage and mash and my usual large glass of white wine.
Two days rest in Fort William, then off to start the Great Glen Way.
My feet were tired, I was sunburnt, but I had no blisters (I have very good boots that are well worn in, and I slathered vaseline over my feet every morning).
Essentials: have a good degree of fitness, plan ahead (some days there are no shops to buy food from, so make sure you carry enough), and carry the right kit; my favourite pieces of kit were:
walking poles
midge net!!
thin base layers and waterproof trousers and jacket (I didn't need ANY of these layers for the whole 8 days because of the hot weather).

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smdunn


Activity: Walker
Pub: The Mayflower
Mountain: Ben Nevis
Place: Knoydart
Gear: Dry bags
Ideal day out: Coastal walk.




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2019

Trips: 1
Distance: 150 km


Joined: Aug 24, 2018
Last visited: Aug 26, 2019
Total posts: 1 | Search posts