*
 
 
Whitney Portal Store Message Board
Mount Whitney Reports
                 
Topic Options
#102786 - 09/10/18 08:30 AM West Highland Way - 96 miles in 9 days
Krishna. Offline
Member

Registered: 06/14/06
Posts: 167
Loc: Woodridge, IL
Its some time since I posted here!!!

This year my friend Ravi wanted to do West Highland Way in Scotland and made all the arrangements and at the last minute he had to drop off as he started some back issues. So I went alone! Looking at the brochure, it gives several cautionary hints, one of which is "dont travel alone!". Any way ignored it and this is the story.

Its one of those luxurious hikes (just like in Himalayas - no need for a backpack as there is no planned camping)! 9 days of gentle hiking over rolling mountains - the highest point is 540 meters ( translated to Americanese - less than 2000 ft). For someone who did JMT this is just rolling hills! The highest point in UK is Ben Nevis - around 4000 ft. ! But I did find lots of campers, camping in the open areas near the youth hostels I stayed. I was surprised to see many tents without ground cloth as it almost rained daily in the evenings, some times through the day. First three days I thought my trusted poncho was good enough, but then in the open rocky trails, the wind blew my poncho all over and it was difficult to see where I was stepping! So at a place called Tyndrum, I bought the typical Scottish hiker wet pants and jacket. Wet pants go over my regular north face pants and jacket kept my t-shirt dry and warm!

Day 1: After flying into to Edinburgh from Chicago, took train to Milingavie near Glasgow. Stayed at a BnB (Bread and Breakfast Inn) called Best foot forward. Started early as it is a 12 mile hike. The first part of the Trek is along a small river with lots of birch groves. Many hikers are interested in the surrounding breweries - looks like Scotch Whisky is very popular for the hikers from all around the world! I met Newzealanders, Italians, Norwegians, Russians and from all over Europe. Stopped at Beech Tree Inn for lunch after 7 miles and reached Drymen by mid afternoon. Drymen is a small beautiful village with its own castle!!! Stayed in another picturesque BnB and two brothers, one named Scott and other Bruce were very friendly - looks like they like Indians around here smile Lots of flowers and an isolated cabin to stay!!!

Day2: Today after some flat hiking towards a symmetric mountain called Conic hill, met a large group of teenagers from Europe and found one very active young lady doing yoga on the trail! Went down towards a wooded village on the shores of Loch Lomond, the largest lake in UK. This is Balmaha and stayed in Balmaha house on the lake shore, with lots of swans preening with their long necks!

Day 3: A nice trail along the shore through woods. Looking always for the WHW trail markers, wooden posts with thistle marked on them! Later I will add a link to my photos on Flickr.

Top
#102787 - 09/11/18 08:03 AM Re: West Highland Way - 96 miles in 9 days [Re: Krishna.]
Krishna. Offline
Member

Registered: 06/14/06
Posts: 167
Loc: Woodridge, IL
Day 3 (cont): Stayed in a beautiful youth Hostel with turrets - like a medieval castle facing the Loch Lomond and the small wooded islets!

Day 4: First 7 miles is a nice walk and then ended up on the rocky , unmaintained trail with lots of tree roots and it took 4 hrs for 4 miles! Slowly into the wavy tall grasses and then a descent to Beinglas farm and stayed in a gable cabin where you can hit your head if you stand up!

Day 5: Trek partly on old milatary road and you can almost hear the rumbling tanks getting ready for that distant war. Its a short day which ended in a small village called Tyndrum. The manager of the By-the-way hostel is a rock climber who loves the Himalayas. I stayed here for two nights as there was no accommodation in Bridge of Orchy.

Day 6: So a 7 mile trek and back to Tyndrum by train. Lots of European friends who were asking me about the JMT!

Day 7: Got onto Calodonian sleeper train at Tyndrum for Bridge of Orchy and the conductor said no charge for hikers though I offered to pay! Started hike to Kings House ( 12 miles). Met two young ladies (called me granpa Krishna) who shared midge cream (Midges are very small mosquitoes that swarm in millions) and applied to my bald head!!!! Since there is no accommodation in Kings House (a big hotel thats being renovated) I was taxied to Glencoe (a beautiful valley in the highlands) and stayed in another youth hostel. One word about UK Youth hostels - you need not carry your kitchen equip as the hostels have excellent kitchen with all kinds of utensils incl plates and mugs! Just take your food and cook it. They even have 24 hrs boiling water for that early morning coffee and oatmeal.

Day 8: Taxied back to Glencoe Mountain resort where I left the WHW trial. Today's trek is the most beautiful part of the WHW! Partly in shifting vaporous clouds but can see the Glencoe valley after valley and finally ended up descending through a hydro electric station to Blackwater Hostel. Today I stepped into a hole on the moor and two bystanders have to pull me up and I almost lost my hiking shoe. With all this drying mud I got into the hostel and the caretaker showed me a drying room!!! You can dry all the wet stuff in less than an hour and left the cleaned hiking shoes there overnight!

Day 9: 16 miles to Fort Williams! The last 5 miles on unending tarmac except for the mist covered Ben Nevis - the highest point in UK. The trek ended up in Grant park where the statue of a tired hiker sitting on a bench is the end marker of WHW! Actually all my trail friends including my Frenchman from Champaign who rescued my poncho on Day 4 on the rocky shore waited for me to show up!!!

Next day took train back to Edinburg where I stayed for two nights visiting museums and castles and then flew back to Chicago.

Top
#102788 - 09/11/18 08:07 AM Re: West Highland Way - 96 miles in 9 days [Re: Krishna.]
Krishna. Offline
Member

Registered: 06/14/06
Posts: 167
Loc: Woodridge, IL
All my West Highland Way photos are at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/25552148@N02/albums/72157700687901694

Have fun!

Top
#102789 - 09/11/18 03:27 PM Re: West Highland Way - 96 miles in 9 days [Re: Krishna.]
bob54 Offline
Member

Registered: 05/11/16
Posts: 4
Loc: ridgecrest,ca
Thanks for the memories. I may not have done much hiking back then but I was Stationed in Scotland (US Navy) for just over 2 years back in the mid 70's and made it back for a visit in mid 1983. Great place to visit and the people are great.

Top
#102790 - 09/12/18 07:39 AM Re: West Highland Way - 96 miles in 9 days [Re: bob54]
Krishna. Offline
Member

Registered: 06/14/06
Posts: 167
Loc: Woodridge, IL
Hi Bob!
Thanks! Did you do Navel exercises on Loch Lomond - most of these lakes are connected to the Irish sea on the west side. So just wondering. I have seen lots of pleasure boats but no destroyers!

Top
#102792 - 09/15/18 07:25 AM Re: West Highland Way - 96 miles in 9 days [Re: Krishna.]
bob54 Offline
Member

Registered: 05/11/16
Posts: 4
Loc: ridgecrest,ca
I was on the Sub Tender located at Holy Loch, Dunoon. We fixed the Boomer Subs before they went back out on patrol. Yes we had a USN submarine base in Scotland for almost 30 years.

Top

Moderator:  Bob R, Doug Sr