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Walk from Glasgow to Fort William

You can have the rain or the midges..

We got no rain and all the midges

 
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Why do people point to their wrist when asking for the time, but don't point to their bum when they ask where the bathroom is? 

 
some pictures are linked and can be made larger by clicking on it (you will work it out)

Wednesday 14th May 2008-9days(7walking)

The long walk of year would take us to Scotland to complete the WHW a linear walk covering 95 miles, and almost 15000 feet of ascent.

The thought is to do this walk in may when the midges have have yet to arrive and the rain has not stopped (well enough of the theory).

Take a train to Glasgow and stop in milngavie overnight ready for the off, from where the official starting point is for the walk.

map

 

 
 
map of route from glasgow to fort william - the west highland way
 

Plan as follows,

Thursday day 01 15th May 2008 - Drymen
12 Miles- 4h40 This is a flat walk along a dismantled railway and lanes. Nothing special other than it is getting you away from Glasgow.

Friday day 02 16th May 2008 -Rowardennan
15 Miles- 6h50 Well-defined paths with ups and downs. 1st proper hill, Conic Hill, itís a goodíun. Then a scenic walk along Loch Lomond, which does seem to go on too long.

Saturday day 03 17th May 2008 -Inverarnan
14 Miles- 6h05 This is a great day along the banks of Loch Lomond. Some scrambling on rocks. Can be slow going especially if wet.

Sunday day 04 18th May 2008 -Tyndrum
12 Miles- 5h05 Good views of mountains. Walking mostly on gravel tracks, old military road.

Monday day 05 19th May 2008 -Glencoe
19 Miles-8h10 This will be quite a day. It is all gravel tracks, hard under foot on the old military road and Telfordís drovers trail. Good views and Rannoch Moor is atmospheric.

Tuesday day 06 20th May 2008 - kinlochleven
9 Miles- 4h02 A nice day for feet to recover. Once up the Devilís Staircase freewheel to the end of day. Great views all round. See Ben Nevis for the first time.

Wednesday day07 21st May 2007 - Fort William
14 Miles- 6h10 A tough [but scenic] day to finish, lots of ups with a gravel track over the moors in between, then the long walk down into Glen Nevis and Fort William.

The Walk.....

  Wednesday day00 : 14th May 08 - Newcastle to Milgavie  
 
camel pack filling
roughing it
 
 
Den fills his camel pack at the start
Roughing it in First class
 
 

Well the day had arrived, and it was dry and as we awaited the journey to begin it was time to reflect on what we had forgot to pack....We managed to find the station and the bar without Holdie (our map reader had decided to miss this trip) and without GPS, this was going to a good start.

 
 

  Thursday day01 15th May 2008 - Milngavie to Drymen  
Mileage : 12.9 miles Time : 4hrs20m Weather : cloudy and warm
Up : 926ft Down : 985ft
 

After arriving back at the B&B last night to find uniformed police in presence at our little B&B on the night Rangers had crashed out of the UEFA cup we thought trouble, however the two officers were quickly on their way. However within 5 minutes a knock on our bedroom window would reveal 2 more officers of the law. having traveled with the Wardels in the past this was no surprise. After opening the main door and being asked for the whereabouts of the owner we where none of the wiser for all of the goings on.
The owner slept away from the premises and we had been informed that it was a totally help your self to breakfast continental style (or rather cereal and fruit juice)... This place was a strange one.
Well up and away is our motto and 6 bells had sounded and we were fighting for the bathroom and the coffee cup. This would put us on the outside by 8am.

Mission carry bag to town and find the start and the Travel Lite van ( this is an excellent service costing £33 per duration of the trip )which would carry our luggage the rest of the way. The van was soon spotted next to the start along with the Costa coffee shop next to the start. Diversion 1 proper breakfast and on the road proper by 9.30.


The start of the walk was an easy one 7 miles and in a pub for lunch by 11.50am after a quick 2 pints we were off again by 1.30pm having to cover another 6 miles before dark. This was achieved by 3.30pm allowing us enough time to visit the bar before Den had his afternoon nap.

Well about the walk, easy and quite a dull flat day, but at least we were out of Glasgow and the mountains could now be seen. The village of Drymen, our first nights rest was a nice spot and the accommodation at the Clachan Inn (Scotland's oldest pub ) was very good, allowing plenty of rest before a longer march tomorrow.

 
 

map day 1

 
  Map above and walk profile below  
 

profile day 1

 

 
financial times
all at the start
 
Den always in touch with his finances
 
The official start in Milngavie
 
 
not fsar from the start
 
 
Alan on the early part from Milngavie - Photo Michael Counter
 
 
 
 
 
Do I have to put these on, asks mike - Photo Alan
 
Hold on - Photo Alan
 
 
a place to rest
 
welcome to Milngavie
 
 
10 feet to the first seat
 
The sign summed the town up
 
campsie - not for us
clachen inn - more our style
 
Camping - not likely
 
This was more our style(Scotland's oldest pub)
 

 

  Friday day02 16th May 2008 -Drymen to Rowardennan  
Mileage : 16 miles Time : 6hrs 20 min Weather : sunny and hot
Up : 2450ft Down : 2550ft ave : 2.5mph
 
 

After a late start due to delayed breakfast we headed for our climb Conic hill. At only 1200ft it was still a good climb but worth the effort. The views of Loch Lomand were fantastic and we could see all the way back to our start in Milgavie.Lucky for us the trail had been closed for lambing and only reopened the day before.
The views were fantastic along with perfect weather. After a steep descent we arrived at Balmaha and time for a beer or two, in the glorious sunshine.
At 3pm and only half the mileage covered we had to leg it. The next 8 miles proved to be harder than they looked on a flat map, plenty of ups and downs along the Loch through the forest, it seemed endless.Broken only at the forest camp site for horror stories of the 4 miles ahead, provided by the camp site warden.

It was 6.40pm before we arrived at the Rowardennan Hotel on the shores of Loch Lomand. This is a wonderful spot good hotel good location and a fantastic bar.

Oh dear, I had reported that the idea of doing this walk in May was to beat the midge, oh how wrong, someone forgot to tell the midge. From leaving Balmaha through the forest we began to see swarms of the little B(things). Stopping for a coffee at the forest caravan site we were informed that they had only arrived the day before. Well at least 20 of them must have been pregnant females (they are the only ones that bite, I am told). As I sit and scratch while catching up with the typing. The memory of last years migde bite which put me in hospital was still fresh in my head.

The bar was full it caters for all around being the only place on this side of the Loch and provides food and drink for the nearby campsite, YHA and many b&b's. This was one place where everyone you have seen in the past 2 days congregates to relieve their tired feet, and discuss what is to come the following days. A group carrying their own luggage tried to set a challenge to us to swap bags for the day. The girl was fighting for a place in the Scottish rowing team, did not drink was 30 years younger than Den and looked 40 years younger, so the offer was declined. As usual in walking bars very busy early on then all off to bed, tired and worried about the next day.

 
  map day 2  
  Map above and walk profile below  
 

profile day 2

 

 
conic hill
closed sign on conic hill
 
View of our first climb, Conic hill
 
The trail had only opened the day before
 
 
Pippa at the top of Conic Hill
 
on the top
 
 
Pippa at the top of Conic Hill (Photo-Pippa)
 
Billy Jim and Den on the top
 
bikes on the way down
time for a beer
 
The bikes got down faster
 
More beer at Balmaha
 
 
 
 
Loch Lomand - (Photo Michael Counter)
 
 
Balmaha Boats in the sunshine
 
 
Balmaha Boats in the sunshine (Photo-Pippa)
 
 
loch lomand
 
den,s new motor
 
 
Loch lomand 23 miles of it
 
A 3 wheel convertible
 
  Saturday day03 17th May 2008 - to Inverarnan  
Mileage 15miles Time 5hrs 40mins Weather : overcast and warm
Up 2180ft Down 2180ft
 
 

Off to a good start at 9am in an attempt to reach our goal by 3pm as this was cup final day, the promise was to pass all open pubs (if any) on route. This never happened and we found ourselves in the Inversaid hotel at 12o'clock for a beer. We were confident that having made the first 8 miles in 3 hours the 7 miles to do would be easily done by 3 including a pint.

How wrong you can be, the path after lunch was awful (well nice but slow) up and down between the rocks and our average was dropping fast. A 15 minute detour to Rob Roy's cave was a waste of time (nothing to see), except the word cave in big letters which I guess was for the boat trippers to see. The end of the Loch was a sad farewell although it felt like it would never happen.

We finally arrived at a camp site bar close to our hotel to see the last 30 minutes of the match. The Drovers Inn, Inveraran, at which we were staying was a gem, and only 5 minutes fron the campsite. It looked like nothing had changed in 300 years. The motto was "Scotland's pub of the year 1705". Anyway it had character and a fantastic band, complete with bag pipes played to add to the attmosphere.

 
  map day 3  
  Map above and walk profile below  
 

profile day 3

 
a
loch lomand
carry me bag
 
memorial overlooking Loch Lomand
 
Struggling with heavy bags
 
 
midges
 
 
 
The Midge had arrived, nice hat Jim - Photo M.Gent
 
Jim - Photo M.Gent
 
 
into the bar
 
on the trail
 
 
Is Den dragging Jim out or the other way round
 
Slow going over the rocks
 
 
Loch Lomond & the Highland Fault
 
 
Loch Lomond & The Highland Fault (Photo Pippa)
 
rob roys cave
jim on the rocks
 
Rob roys cave ( at least it says that)
 
Jim on the rocks
 
 
m gent
 
 
 
Michael Gent - Photo his own
 
always good views - photo M.Gent
 
 
deer in sight
 
den and his bothy
 
 
Deer next to the trail
 
Jim and Den in a bothy
 
last view of the loch
drovers Inn
 
Tired legs and the last view of the loch
 
Den outside the Drovers - what a place
 

 

  Sunday day04 18th May 2008 -Tyndrum  
Mileage 13 miles Time : 4hrs 50mins Weather : sunny and hotish
Up : 1860ft Down : 1160ft
 
 

All good nights have the habit making for a late start, this was no exception. 10.40am before the boots hit the trail. This was a hot day and because Jimmy had overlooked ordering packed lunch we were also going to go hungry. Not for long as the camp site provided us a packed lunch which I must say was the best value to date. This was kept sealed until we had covered half of the days mileage. This would also be the half way point of the walk, luck was our side and a empty picnic table(the only picnic table) would provide us with the best view for lunch that we had been offered in a long time. We keep on seeing the same faces time after time, this however would be our last sighting of Alex and friends as we were doing a double hit on Monday and would move one day ahead.

The day was fantastic hot and sunny, the views fantastic all round beauty and arrival in Tyndrum for 5pm. The only spoiler on this day is the traffic noise from the road. Tonights accomadation at the Tyndrum Lodge Hotel was nothing special, very quite and all in bed for 10pm. I have always considered Tyndrum to be just a big bus stop , complete with the Green Welly shops. Anyway a bed for the night and a good breakfast was all we were after.

 
  day 4 map  
  Map above and walk profile below  
 

profile day 4

 

 
mike and alex
den and the bear
 
Mike and Alan off for a good start, we were still looking for breakfast
 
Den not sure who he is with today
 
 
2 headed sheep
 
den ducks for bridge
 
 
Do I see double or is last nights drink
 
Even Den has to duck
 
halfway
ben lui
 
The half way point and an excellent lunch stop
 
Ben Lui complete with snow
 
 
 
 
To die for - Photo M.Gent
 
 
wigwams
 
another coffee stop
 
 
Wigwams are popular around these parts
 
Wigwam centre and time for a coffee, Andrew and Catherine in the foreground.
 
 

 

  Monday day05 19th May 2008 -Glencoe  
Mileage: 19 miles Time : 6hrs 30 mins Weather : sun then cloudy No rain. Perfect
Up: 2260ft Down: 2240ft
 
 

For what was always feared to be our biggest nightmare of the walk this went well. The secret little drink the night before an early night, out of bed early then go.

8.25am and we were off, having just been stung early on (£8.40 for a midge spray is stung good and proper). The first 6.6 to Bridge of Orchy took only 2 hours, after a coffee the next three miles would involve a climb before descending to the Invorran Hotel for lunch. Having managed an arrival for 12 we had the back broke. Half way by lunch takes away the pressure.

The second have involved a steady climb over Rannoch Moor using a drovers road, good footpath only a little rough under foot. The pace was good and we arrived at the Kingshead Hotel, Glengoe by 4.30pm our moving average was over 3 miles an hour, good by any (my) standard. The views had been outstanding it just keeps on changing and the variety is topic of conversation mile after mile.

Most people in tyndrum the previous night had the same trek as ourselves today and once again everyone seems to appear at the same rest stops. Alex, Mike, Penny and Pippa have been on our pace since the start and its good to see we were first out today so we can sit in the bar and see all the weary feet arriving just behind us.

The King's House Hotel is the only place to stop for miles around and in a fantastic location, even if a bit tired.leaving us to collapse at the bar with a promise of an easier day tomorrow. Outside the hotel deer could be seen right outside the door. A free Wi-Fi internet conection is always helpful, and I can not understand why not a feature in all hotels.

Once again the walkers all retired early leaving a party of bikers to keep the bar alive, typical noisy bikers.

 
  day 5 map  
  Map above and walk profile below  
 

day 5 profile

 

 
 
view
bridge of orchy
 
The first view of the morning
 
Bridge of Orchy
 
 
more fellow travellers
 
den spots a pub
 
 
Pippa and Penny taken early rest (no pub)
 
Den spots a pub
 
 
 
 
Found the pub, Lunchtime, Inveroran - Photo Michael Counter
 
Uncle Albert
 
Drovers Road, 10 mile to go
 
Uncle Albert and fine views behind
 
 
 
 
(Photo Michael Counter)
 
 
 
 
(Photo Michael Counter)
 
 
 
 
The Drovers road - Photo M.Gent
 
 
end of the trail
 
Kingshouse hotel
 
 
Glencoe end of the trail
 
King's house hotel in sight
 
deer outside hotel
 
Deer outside hotel -( webcam , live outside the hotel)
 
Winding down at The Kingshouse Hotel (Photo-Pippa)
 

 

  Tuesday day06 20th May 2008 - kinlochleven  
Mileage 9 miles Time 3hrs 20 mins

Weather : Cloudy and warm

Up 1500ft Down 2300ft
 
 

Lie in day today breakfast 8.30am at a relaxed pace. Den had been tempted by a text from Holdie back home to add in a mountain today to add to the easy mileage today. However the red from the night before must have worn off as no mention of a mountain at breakfast. Jim was like a coiled spring and ready for the off, having read his book now night after night with his eyes shut he was not in need of a rest. The march would continue.

On leaving the hotel we talked to the owner who informed us that this was the driest he had known, in fact for 30 years. No rain in a month, no wonder the boots had not seen a puddle.

The first 3 miles being an easy affair before the climb up the Devils Staircase a good sharp climb which would provide us with an excellent viewing platform. The ace would be our first view of Ben Nevis. This is the highest point of the walk from here it would be downhill well sort off. They still appeared to be a few ups in my book.

Being only 9miles the day was over with in record time, well 3.30pm time for a shower at the Tailrace Inn and a quick look around town. So much for the theory then, only the area was suffering a power cut and remained that way till 6.30pm and then only for 15 min's finally by 8pm power was restroed for the remainder of the night, and Jim was able to order his tea.

Oh dear me as I write Alex and friends have reappeared having walked 22 miles to catch up with the team, what a walk that must have been...well done.

then Alan (uncle albert) ordered cheese board and ended up with a bowl of grated cheese, so funny at the time see photo. aS THE GIRL SAID YOU ASKED FOR CHEESE.

 
  day 6 map  
  Map above and walk profile below  
 

day 6 profile

 

 
 
 
mountain
 
kings house hotel
 
 
View from hotel
 
Walking away King's House hotel
 
 
 
 
A long drag up the Devils Staircase (photo-Pippa)
 
devils staircase
swedes on tour
 
Route to the Devils staircase
 
The Swedes on the drink again (11am)
 
 
nevis in the background
 
views
 
 
On the top -First view of Ben Nevis
 
Ben Nevis
 
alex , anna and jenny
cheese
 
Alex , Anna and Jenny reappear
 
Uncle Albert ordered cheese for desert
 

 

  Wednesday day07 21st May 2007 - Fort William  
Mileage : 14.3 miles Time : 4hrs 50 min's Weather : hot and hotter
Up : 2300ft Down : 2300ft
 
 

Well this was the last day and what a fantastic day it turned out to be, 9.30 am start was good enough after a walk around the town to visit the ice climbing wall which is billed as being the biggest artificial ice climbing wall in the world.

After a long climb at the start of the walk the scenery was fantastic a beautiful days walking through the glen and then the Big Ben showed us her glory. a comfortable 14 miles completed by 4pm after a quick photo it was time to celebrate in The Nevis Bank Hotel and meet with others who had shared the journey with us.

Time now for proper celebration...................(and the european cup final)

 
  map day 7  
  Map above and walk profile below  
 

profile day 7

 

 
 
hotel
town
 
Kinlochleven - Tuesday's bed
 
Locking back at kinlochleven
 
 
view
 
alltogether
 
 
Excellent views today-best of walk
 
Took some catching
 
mountain
3 old ruins
 
Old ruin
 
3 old ruins
 
 
 
 
What a photo - Photo Michael Counter
 
 
alex, anna and jenny
 
ben nevis
 
 
Making bio-degradable walking poles
 
Ben Nevis ahead, walking into Fort William
 
 
Ben Nevis - nearly finished now
 
 
Ben Nevis - nearly finished now (Photo - Pippa)
 
den
the end
 
Den likes to pose
 
The End
 

Total milage : 99.2 miles (remember you have to add on the walk to the station at the end so lets say 100)

Weather Overall : Dry, yes seven days and not getting wet was fantastic.

midges: Yes I was wrong they had arrived the same time as us, 50 plus bites can't be bad

  Day Home : Thursday 22nd May 2008 : Fort William to home  
This has to be one of the best rail journeys in the country, slow but fantastic. 120 miles takes almost 4 hours. The train travels over Rannoch Moor the largest uninhabited area in the British Isles
old steam train
view on return
 
An old steam train in Fort william
 
Bridge Of Orchy
 
 
   
 
This way to the top - Photo Alan
 
At the top - Photo Alan
 
     
 
We are happy now - Photo Alan
 
Snow snow and more snow - Phpto Alan
 
 
 
 
While we were taking pictures of trains on our way home , some intreped travellers made for the top of Ben Nevis Somewhat different weather on the top- Photo M.Gent
 
   
 
another excellent photograph - Photo Michael Counter
 
   
 
Top of Ben Nevis - Photo Michael Counter
 
   
 
and this is Mike (Michael) with Alan on the top of Ben Nevis - Photo Michael Counter or at least his camera
 
 

Leaving Fort William to travel home takes almost 8 hours. It an easy pleasant journey and gives you time to reflect on the walk. Would you change anything if you could turn the clock back? No it was fantastic. The only doubt would have been to miss out Tyndrum and do a longer day to Bridge Of Orchy. This would then give you a shorter day the following. The big advantage to me would be that Tyndrum is just like a big bus stop, whereas Bridge of Orchy was quaint. On the downside in doing the Drovers on a weekend, when the fine beer and song goes on till the early hours would give a long day the following to reach the Bridge of Orchy.

So you can't have everything so I will say for me it was just right.

You reflect on the people you meet on the walk, some who continued to do Ben Nevis and you wonder will they be down yet and was the weather kind. Andrew and Catherine went off in search of an eagle, I hoped that worked out. My thanks to all the people we met, this is what makes the long distance walks so different, the same people keep turning up. Some in hours and some in days, some push ahead and some linger behind, all doing their own thing and accomplishing their goal.

My thanks to everyone who forwared photographs to enable the enhancement of this web site, if any errors are spotted please email

 

train home

Route of the train - a large portion follows the walk, it's good to look back

 
The Manores - Photo M.Gent (not sure what day but a good landscape picture)
 
 
black mountain
 
 
Black Mountain - Photo M.Gent (not sure what day but a good landscape picture)
 

 

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