The West Highland Way in Scotland

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CaminoDeb
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The West Highland Way in Scotland

Post by CaminoDeb » Mon Jan 16, 2017 3:22 pm

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Last September, I was able to persuade the mister to do the West Highland Way long-distance walk with me, in Scotland.

This walk is pretty much stunning. It's also more difficult than walking the Camino de Santiago (Camino Frances, which I've done a few times), but also probably easier then the Appalachian Trail. I would say that it is probably best to take ten days to do it if you are over the age of 50.

I did see some people on crutches after they had accidents on the hike around Lake Lommond, but that is not to scare you off. That section of this long distance walk is simply a bit treacherous, with lots of scrambles over boulders and plenty of raised and looped tree roots to be on the look-out for.

We took about eight days to do the walk, starting in Mulngavie, Scotland where we acquired what's called a hiker's passport. Theoretically, you get it stamped someplace in key towns along the way, and then it's a nice little souvenir. This is similar to what's done on the Camino, although that passport must be shown at the end of walking the last 100 kilometers in order to get a rather impressive fancy-assed certificate. For Scotland, they're pretty chill about this stuff, and they don't give you a certificate at the end. You can, however, once out of the rain in Fort William, find some really good food to tuck into, and also plenty of bars. Oh yes, the Scottish do love their bars.

I'll add some more information later about this walk, as the three dogs are whining at the door....

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Re: The West Highland Way in Scotland

Post by CaminoDeb » Mon Jan 16, 2017 4:23 pm

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Okay. Dogs are good. Here's more information about the West Highland Way.

I'm not a tourist bus traveller, but I had heard about a group called MacsAdventures that can book your accommodations. Because the WHW has limited bed and breakfast accommodations, and because I was struggling to book at them, I went through Macs. They just booked the nights we were walking the W. Highland Way, and arranged for daily onward transport of our bags--we were traveling extensively through England following the long-distance walk.

We had flown from Oregon to Toronto, Canada and spent a night, then flew from Toronto to London. We had neither been to either Toronto or London.

A few observations: Toronto's waterfront is stunning, although we were only there for a night and were happy to walk around downtown, eat out a few dinners out, and look at the black squirrels, ha! We only have red and gray squirrels in the Pacific Northwest, incidentally. Also, there was an exploding water pipe issue at our large hotel, which was exciting. Everyone evacuate the dance floor.

In London, because we were only carrying very small, light luggage, getting around was a lot easier. We aren't those people with six pair of shoes. We each had a carry-on size bag, and small day packs. After a few nights in London, and some good walks around that huge city we had climbed the Dome at St. Paul's, walked around enough to exhaust ourselves, drunk a large quantity of beer, seen the Globe, and also some cool architecture (the pineapple? the grater? note to self: learn names of cool architecture).

We took the train to Glasgow, where after a few nights we would begin our long-distance walk out of Mulngavie. Fortunately, I had set us up in a hotel outside of Glasgow, which gave us the opportunity to get some excellent rest. The husband is 62, and I'm 57--was 56 at the time--and there comes a time when you have to slow it down for a day or two. Each morning, we got up and took the 815 into the city (Bad Company allusion, did you get it? or was that Bachman Turner Overdrive?). Glasgow was great fun. We did all the tourist things, going into tartan shops, walking, walking, going to the large church there, drinking more libations to the Scottish gods.

Because we both have some Scottish roots, we were looking for Cameron information and also for anything related to McIntosh Clan--of which I am a member via maternal grandmother. In fact, I'll include my clan motto: "Touch not the cat without a glove!" In other words, if you grab this pussy, you could get scratched bad. Trump, be warned!

Here's how our walk played out:

Day 1, Mulngavie to Drymen 15 miles
Day 2, Drymen to Rowardennan 14 miles
Day 3, R. to Inverarman 14 m.
Day 4, to Tyndrum, 12 m.
Day 5, to Bridge of Orchy, 10 m.
Day 6, to Kingshouse, 10 m.
Day 7, Kinlochleven, 9 m.
Day 8, to Fort William 16.

Every day, we walked alone--but we did see some of the other walkers on occasion, sitting on a rock and eating, or hiking along. It did not seem that there were that many people on the trail, although we found them at night. We made some good friends out of a mom and son doing a journey together, and they were a hoot. We ate and drank together most nights.

Once in Fort William, we thought about climbing Ben Nevis, but we were pretty much done in from the walking. Aside from that, Ben Nevis was pretty socked in the first day we could have gone (no view at the top, and we had noticed that the local cemetery on the way in included people who seem to have met their maker on the Ben--including some young people who probably just climbed up and did some drinking, then fell off or fell asleep and froze). We opted out.

The second day we were there was the annual Ben Nevis run--people train for this and compete annually. Bars in town that night were full of people who had done the run. Impressive!

I recommend the West Highland Way for anyone who wants a great walk through the stunning highlands.

We had a good time, avoided the infamous Scottish midgies except for a few days--when they enjoyed biting the husband's ears through his netted hat--and learned how to navigate travel in Scotland and England. It was a good time!

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Re: The West Highland Way in Scotland

Post by polardude1 » Mon Jan 16, 2017 6:28 pm

if was off to Scotland as a solo traveler, I would have considered the WHW, but a friend joined and we did the trailess Cape Wrath route from Fort Williams. It was 5 days of rugged backpacking on a hard to follow route. The day before leaving, we climbed Ben Nevis and prior to that, spent time in the Isle of Skye
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Re: The West Highland Way in Scotland

Post by CaminoDeb » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:47 pm

polardude1 wrote:if was off to Scotland as a solo traveler, I would have considered the WHW, but a friend joined and we did the trailess Cape Wrath route from Fort Williams. It was 5 days of rugged backpacking on a hard to follow route. The day before leaving, we climbed Ben Nevis and prior to that, spent time in the Isle of Skye



You're kind of a badass, aren't you?

I'm impressed. I would have loved to climb Ben Nevis. I will have to look around online to figure out what the Cape Wrath route is all about. I'm guessing you were using a GPS pretty routinely.

Isle of Skye has looked appealing to me before. Honestly, It's just in the last few years I've made it to anyplace at all in or near Europe.

With the ex, it was SE Asia...Sumatra, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos. I do know that he travelled a bit through Europe, and I'll have to look around to see if I can find anything about those Europe travels---I think mostly Amsterdam. He was Dutch, or at least half. Very fair skin and blue eyes.

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Re: The West Highland Way in Scotland

Post by polardude1 » Mon Jan 16, 2017 11:50 pm

You're kind of a badass, aren't you?

No, I'm hardly a badass. I just lie doing things o my own terms. We used a map and compass
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Re: The West Highland Way in Scotland

Post by Scrubb » Tue Mar 07, 2017 2:03 pm

Years ago I intended to do the WHW, but it just didn't happen. I did go up Ben Nevis once, though. Ran into Robin Williams on my way down - he was filming somewhere nearby. Asked me directions, on his way up.

Anyway, it is such a beautiful area - thanks for the report.
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CaminoDeb
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Re: The West Highland Way in Scotland

Post by CaminoDeb » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:24 am

Robin Williams was quite a man.

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Re: The West Highland Way in Scotland

Post by polardude1 » Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:34 pm

You should look up Robin Williams Scottish routines
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Re: The West Highland Way in Scotland

Post by matt_melb » Tue May 23, 2017 3:57 am

Scrubb wrote:I did go up Ben Nevis once, though.

My Scottish mate purportedly quoting his grandmother: "Och aye, I've often mounted Ben."

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