WHW DAY 8
FROM: Kinlochlevan TO: Fort William (24km)
Total kms walked on this walk: 149km
Accumulated kms walked:
WOW. It's done, complete. I hope I never get over this feeling. The feeling that arises at the end of a walk, its truly one of the most confusing, uplifting weird feelings I have ever had and its always the same. Its like being happy that your best friends died, but being sad that you wont see them again, then proud that you even knew them.Totally weird but one I am happy to feel again and again and again.
Todays walk was a fitting ending to a great walk, a summary of the whole hike in one day. Hikeing out of Kinlochleven was a hard rocky climb up. Upon reaching the top the country opened up to a gorgeous glen before heading back into forestry. In the distance we could see Ben Nevis were we would end today and the hike. We hope to climb Ben Nevis tomorrow, but its only worthwhile if the weather is good and it looks like the weather is going to be like porridge, so we may not be able to
Tonight we are spending in Fort William before we head out by train Lochailort travelling over the Harry Potter bridge at Glenfinnan. We will be in the Highlands for six weeks and hope to take a few little adventures, so until the next adventure Happy Trails
WHW DAY 7
FROM: Glencoe TO: Kinlochlevan (16km)
Total kms walked on this walk: 125km
Accumulated kms walked:
Started early this morning to catch up the 3km we didn't do yesterday, we quickly came up to Kingshouse. We are were very glad we made the decision to stay in Glencoe, the place was a construction sight. Grateful today for the Universe and her amazing wisdom. The Rooster and I have embrace the theory that if we put ourselves out to the world in are most genuine form and graciously embrace all that the universe sends our way both good and bad then it will continue to provide and light our way. This philosophy has served us well in many ways from good airfares to the places we wanted to go, to great weather, to timely interventions. Whilst we respect and honour the universe it will have our backs.
From Kingshouse the sight of Buachaille Etive Mor is even more imposing . The mountain is very aptly named, Buachaille Etive Mor translates to The Great Herdsman of Etive. Sitting at the entrance to Glen Etive on the left and the historic Glen Coe on the right; the scene of the massacre of Clan MacDonald in 1692. The path from Kingshouse the base of the mountain was a wide and easy footpath, lolling us into a false sense of ease as we crept ever closer to the Devil’s Staircase. The Devil's Staircase was a zig-zag climb that was continuous but not overly difficult.Saying that, I was overtaken by some crazy mountain bike riders. To my credit I did pass them further up the hill when they had to get of and carry their bike because the track was badly chewed up. But unlike the New Zealanders who have no idea how to reward a hard climb, the Scot's certainly understand rewarding effort. At the top of the staircase we had 360 degree view of wide open glens, rugged mountains dotted with white sheep and in the distance we could see Mamores mountain range. At 550m this is the highest point of the trail and worth spending some time just basking in the glory. We through down our packs and just sat breathing in the boundless beauty and doing a Julie Andrews the hills are alive with the sound of music moment :).Once at the top the rest of the hike was just a easy meander across the moorland into the town of Kinlochleven.
A useless bit of Trivia Kinlochleven is home of the National Centre for Ice Climbing – the world’s largest indoor ice climbing wall
WHW DAY 6
FROM: Inveroran TO: Glencoe (13km)
Total kms walked on this walk: 109km
Accumulated kms walked:
This section of the trail was described as a great walk in good weather, a total shit fight in bad. Today the weather couldn't have been better and still, when we pulled in at Glencoe Mountain Resort at 11.45 we still felt battered by the weather. We had intended to stop for lunch at Glencoe and then walk the 3km to Kingshouse to spend the night.However when we reach Glencoe we were told that Kingshouse was closed for renovation. You could still camp but there were no facilities opened, so we made the decision to stay. Since we were staying The Spunky Rooster decided that it wasn't to early for a beer .With good wifi and a sheltered from the wind it was a nice place to sit and catch up on the world.
The trail today was best described as wild the book indicated that "this is a wild and remote section of the West Highland Way is one of the last great wildernesses of Europe". Tonights camp spot looks straight onto Scotland’s most photographed mountains, Buachaille Etive Mor.
Tomorrow we tackle Devils Staircase
WHW DAY 5
FROM: Tyndrum TO: Inveroran (15km)
Total kms walked on this walk: 96km
Accumulated kms walked:
Today was one of those very pretty but totally nondescript day, the scenery was "nice" but not breathtaking, the weather good but not a standout.However I am sure I will remember it clearly for some time. Today I walked the whole day on my own contemplating wether this would be my last walk with the Spunky Rooter. I don't know what or how it started but The Rooster and I had a huge argument this morning and for the next few kilometre we bitched and moaned at each, until in the end I stopped and told him to go on ahead. I would catch up. I had no intention of catching up, I needed time on my own. Well, as soon as he walked on my brain went into overdrive about if I wanted to keep walking with him or wether I would be better of walking on my own and blah,blah,blah. Well we both covered the the 15km in record time and I found the rooster comfortable sitting at the pub when I come down of the hill in Inveroran, by which timeI had forgotten what we had argues about. A drink and the promise of a nice dinner was all that was needed to patch up any made up issue. Now you may think that I am a bit of a drama queen, so I need to explain, Being on trail and with no other support system except each other, when that one person disagree or even questions your ideas or plan its catastrophic. You have no-one else to refer to. Our arguments tend to be few but when we do its high drama. :)
Anyway tonight we are wild camping in pristine little spot with a creek running by and the smell of cattle in the air.It is a perfect spot and onlyabout 200m from the pub. Couldn't ask for a better set up. After a very quick dip in the creek to wash both our bodies and our clothes it was back to the pub to eat.There are probably about 10 people camping here tonight so lots of stories and laughter.Its nice to met up with fellow hikers as The Rooster and I have been keeping to ourselves a bit.
WHW DAY 4
FROM: Inverarnan TO: Tyndrum (19km)
Total kms walked on this walk: 81
Accumulated kms walked:
Today was a breathtaking, in contrast from the last two days that had us wrapped up in a velvet blanket of old trees, todays scenery started to open up as we headed towards Tyndrum. Where we had been surrounded by Loch Lomond, trees and bushes walking along a small rocky path. We were now walking surrounded by soaring mountains and wide expansive glens.
With the trail being very easy today we made it into Tyndrum in time to head to the pub for lunch, a traditional beef and guinness pie certainly hit the spot.
The weather is so beautiful, we are both revelling in it, but as they say one man's meat is another man's poison . The unseasonably warm weather that we are so enjoying is making it quiet a difficult walk for some of the other hikers on trail.A group of ladies we have run into a few times on the trail have decided to take a few days of trail as a couple of them are suffering from heat stroke.
WHW DAY 3
FROM: Rowardennan TO: Inveranan (22km)
Total kms walked on this walk: 62km
Accumulative kms walked:
“You take the high road and I’ll take the low road and I’ll be in Scotland before ye” . If only we has taken heed of the advice from our curb side Scotsman yesterday and taken the high road. Coming out from the hostel the sign pointed down towards the Loch so we just blindly followed it. Totally forgetting the advice from yesterday. What followed was a hard leg work out. Lots of little hills up and down over uneven terrain and lots of scrabbling around little outcrops as we followed Loch Lomond shoreline. It was tiring but very enjoyable as the scenery was pretty special on one side we had the quiet stillness of the loch on the other the wildness of soaring mountains. I feel the scenery was well worth the extra care and attention needed.
Two things stood out today. The first was a spectacular waterfall at Inversnaid, it started as a whisper as the water trickled through the rocks and ended in a roar as it cascaded down into the loch. I tried to convince the Spunky Rooster to stop but he was on a mission to get into camp to watch the rugby.
The second was a trail side cafe, a small little shack with coffee and the best raisin cookies I have ever tasted. Coming upon this in the middle of nowhere made my day. I pledge today to ensure that I will embrace the little things that bring me pleasure, like sitting on the side of the track with a coffee and a biscuit and watching the world go by.
How often in my former life had I let moments of joy just fly past without any acknowledgement or not savouring it.
Coming into the campsite tonight was quite magical, I tried to capture it with photos but it’s one of those things you have to experience. The fields glowed gold from the sunlight, as we
emerged out of the Forrest into the open plains down into our camp spot tonight Beinglas farm
WHW DAY 2
FROM: Drymen TO: Rowardennan 23km
Total kms walked on this walk: 40km
Accumulative kms walked: 1100
Today it was up up up to the top of Conic Hill and it was worth the effort. Sitting at the top of the hill eating our simple lunch of salami and cheese was so amazing. I looked to the sky and thanked the universe for this perfect situation. Dolly Parton is quoted as saying "'Don't get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.' On trail I think you have to be reminded about this often. As much as we tell ourselves is all about the journey once we are on trail we tend to become destination driven. You start to push out a few extra kilometre everyday, eat lunch as you walk and you start to fixate on the finish line. This isn't about not enjoying the hike or wanting to get it finished, its just a trail craziness that sets in. I think it's about trying to push yourself to the max, but that's only a guess. I don't know why it happens but it inevitable happens to everyone sometime during a long distance hike. Well today over lunch I reminded myself and The Spunky Rooster that we had the rest of our lives to reach the destination so lets sit and savour.
The view from the top of Conic Hill was world class, and gave us a taste of the epic landscapes that we will be experiencing in the next few days. West. Stretching across below us was the world famous Loch Lomond, and the chain of islands that the literally marked the threshold between the lowlands and the highlands of Scotland.
After a very leisurely lunch we made are way down the hill to Balmaha where we rewarded our uphill efforts with cake and coffee. This hike was definitely turning into a cafe crawl. LOL
The second half of today was a meander along Loch Lomond, with the blue sky and warm weather there was plenty to enjoy. The Roosters eyes are a bit sore from watching the birds (not the feathered type)frolic in the water
On trail you met a lot of characters, I suppose it takes a little bit of crazy to walk for days to a destination that would only take a few hours to reach by car. So todays crazy was a full on Scotsman with stories and tales and an amazing hat with pheasant feathers. He suggested that we disregard the official trail tomorrow, and take an alternative route. The official route hugs the shoreline of the Loch and is slippery and difficult. The alternative route goes high above the loch with great views looking down on the loch. I think we have decided to take the high route to get some good photos.
Tonights accommodation is a gorgeous old manor house on the banks of the Loch. It is equivalent to a YMCA hostel and only has single sex dorms so The Rooster and I are in two different rooms.
WHW DAY 1
FROM: Milngarvie TO: Dryman (17km)
Total kms walked on this walk: 17
Accumulated kms walked:
Today we left Glasgow by train to the starting point of The West Highland Way, Milgarvie . On the train we met a man attempting to hike all mountains over 1000ft in Scotland. I think there is over 100 of them
When walking, I like to get up early and try to walk at least 10km by morning tea, so today’s late start doesn't fit well with me. However starting with cake and coffee in the Main Street of Milngavie was a pleasant surprise. Sitting outside in the morning sunlight watching fellow walkers, walk past was a little surreal. This walk is living up to our plan of taking it easy and really enjoying the scenery.
We are both trying out new shoes The Spunky Rooster has bought the newest in sandal technology with a pair of Keens Arroyo II. I have gone back to my Keen Terradora's this time the shoe rather than the half boot, these seem to give my feet the least amount of problems.
These boards where located in several location along the way, telling the stories of the different people that would have lived along then s trail in history.I really enjoyed reading the stories.I wonder if our life will ever be on a story board?
Today was so picturesque typical country Scotland rolling hills, little creeks and a loch thrown in for good measure. And a guy walking to the local pub 4km away, The Spunky Rooster was impressed by his dedication.
"Lives have swivel and changed direction on the strength of a chance remark.”
― Bryce Courtenay
THE WEST HIGHLAND WAY
DISTANCE: 154km 7 days
DESCRIPTION: Ending in Fort William this trail takes in a huge variety of scenery along the way. From countryside parks to loch-shores and open moorlands to steep mountains.It is both spectacular and serene.
This walk was never on our radar until we got a Workaway offer from someone in Lochailort in the Scottish Highlands. Hannah who we were walking with at the time said we had to visit the Highlands it was a magical place. So true to our 'New' life ethos, to trust in the universe we said yes to the Workaway, and started researching The West Highland Way. This was the only long distance hike we knew about in Scotland. After a little research we realised that The West Highland Way ends at Fort William, a short train trip from Lochailort. Trust in the Universe!!!
The walk can be done in 5 days, but we have decided on the7 days option to enjoy the promised scenery. Catching an overnight bus from London to Glasgow sets us up to catch the train to Milngavie tomorrow. Which means we should start walking about 10, it’s at a leisurely start to hopefully, a meander in the highlands, and the weather gods are smiling on us, with the forecast indicating 7 day of blue sky.