The West Highland Way, Scotland.
West Highland Way was officially opened as a long distance trail in October 1980 however the origins can be identified back to the 1930’s – 1940’s.
Much of the WHW follows old footpaths, droving roads, that were used by the farmers to herd their livestock to market towns, some public roads (minor) as well as old coach and railway lines and 18th century military roads built by the British troops to quell the Jacobite rebellion.
The distance of this trail is approximately 154km or 96miles and will have you pass through a few small towns, along side Loch (lake) Lomond as well as through the Trossachs National park and around the base of Ben Nevis, Ben meaning mountain in Gaelic.
1st August 2016
Day one and we are off, along with many other excited hikers. The trail gave us quite an easy stroll though the countryside with Scotland producing its finest in weather. Here’s hoping that stays.
Not a whole lot to say about today except it really was an enjoyable walk.
2 August 2016
After a fantastic place we stayed in Drymen we were back on the trail along with the peak hour of hikers and day trippers. There are a lot of people out hiking around it. You have families, young, old, day walkers as well as hikers walking either the WHW or one of the many other trails that are weaving around this area. It is really good to see so many people outside enjoying the fresh air and very scenic countryside. At one point walking up over Conic Hill we started to call the trail ‘The West Highland Freeway’!
The trail is feeling very hard under foot though walking alongside the loch did make it more worth the effort as it is extremely scenic and as the day moved on the weather started to change and the loch took on quite a misty mysterious feel.
We arrived at our accommodation, which is the Rowardennan Youth Hostel, after an endless trail in and to our delight it was a very beautiful manor house, we were also greeted by our good friend Susan from Australia who is also walking the trail at the same time.
3 August 2016
This is the 3rd Day of walking the WHW and it really made you work for it! A short time after leaving our accommodation we had a choice of the High road or the Low road, we chose the Low along the Loch foreshore. This sounded really good at the time but although a very pretty walk with amazing views and plenty of stunning waterfalls it was a physically challenging route.
It was a welcome relief to reach the Inversnaid Hotel for a rest and lunch before tackling the hardest part of the day as we scrambled up and over the moss-covered rocks, through mud and in the Scottish drizzling rain, before arriving at our accommodation ‘The Drovers Inn’. This Inn is over 310yrs old and apparently very haunted. We are in the ‘Rob Roy’ room so let’s just see.
4th August 2016
A bit of history on today’s walk included the ruins of St Fillan’s Chapel, the battlefield of Daligh where Robert the Bruce was defeated by Clan MacDougalls in 1306, and an old lead crushing station. Lead was first discovered here in 1741.
The trail it’s self had a fair bit of elevation today though it was a lot easier walk than yesterday’s walk. We are heading higher into the Highlands so the landscape has changed quite a bit with more open farmland between the mountain ranges.
As you travel along the Way you will continue to see familiar faces of fellow hikers.
5th August 2016
Sometimes when doing a long distance hike you look ahead to what the trail will bring and you think oh well not really looking forward to that section but you will suck it up anyway and get on with it. This was how I felt about the walk we had in front of us today having the longest stretch to do and across the moorlands so not expecting anything too exciting and probably a bit boggy with chance of the weather turning sour with a million midgies just for fun. Well how wrong was I! This would have to so far be my personal favourite section yet!
All I wanted was to see the highland cattle and red deer and I got both on the same day! The moorlands were also just outstanding with the views and the rain tried to get us but couldn’t quite succeed and as for the annoying midgies, only encounter them briefly near the end and nothing a midgie net couldn’t fix.
The cattle were on the trail! With their babies! The deer was just before the moorland in a forest and she allowed me to come quite close to film her and wasn’t fussed at all. The rain bucketed down just as we arrived at Kingshouse our final stop for the night. Then we all went to dinner to celebrate Brett’s birthday after making him walk with balloons on his pack. Great day! great night!
Day 6 and just a shorty after yesterday’s long 30km (18.6 mile) walk, today we only had half that of 15km but do throw in a hill or two as well as a section they call the Devils staircase, (the name should give you an idea on what it was like). It wasn’t a long section but it was quite steep as it zig zagged up the side of the mountain. This section is to be the most dramatic as you are climbing up to the highest point of the trail with views on a good day of the Glencoe mountains. We were fortunate although the weather wasn’t fantastic is wasn’t too bad either as you are very exposed and can get caught very quickly in extreme weather.
The trail was very busy as well as there was an Ultra Marathon race on and hundreds of crazy runners braving the Scottish weather and terrain. Devil O the Highlands Footrace marathon is a 67.5km (42 mile) on its 17th year of running and stars from Tyndrum, (where we walked from yesterday) to Fort William, (where we will walk to tomorrow).
Last night then the final push into Fort William to finish our journey on the WHW.
7th August 2016
Day 7 and it is the final day, Scotland is throwing everything she can at us! Gale forced winds! Side ways rain hitting your face as you push hard to try to walk forward. The trail was very busy with everyone wanting to get through the last stage to make it to the end, rain hail or shine everyone had determination to just keep going.
Started with a steep climb up though the wooded area, as the trail got higher the wind got stronger the trees disappeared and we were exposed in the sparse barren land and that is when Scotland roared! Felt like I was in a rugby scrum against the Kiwi’s as we pushed our way forward, (we won by the way).
The second half was a lot calmer as we headed back through the woodland and down past the cloud covered Ben Nevis. Then the long road walk into Fort William and Scotland decided unleash on us again.
We have now completed the West Highland Way with a pint or two in hand.
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