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WEST HIGHLAND WAY


Lisa and her friends prepare to embark on the 96-mile


journey that starts on the outskirts of Glasgow and ends in Fort William


DAY ONE


Milngavie to Balmaha, 20 miles Terrain: Town centre tarmac becoming country roads as we got further from Glasgow. Highlight: To be fair, the countryside around Drymen is beautiful but the highlight for us was getting into a dry Youth Hostel as this was the only day it chucked down for the whole time. Accommodation: Rowardennan Youth Hostel. Starting from the obelisk in Milngavie, where the


WHW officially begins, we took some photos, grabbed some last-minute supplies and left civilisation to begin our journey north. Tis section was the easiest and it was a good chance to


get our muscles warmed up and used to walking all day. Te first few miles out of Milngavie were easy going and the noise from the town quickly disappeared. We were all in high spirits, laughing, chatting and even singing songs. I guess the excitement of being off work for a week and starting our adventure had kicked in.


DAY TWO


Balmaha to Inversnaid, 14 miles Terrain: Nice path. Highlight: Te view across Loch Lomond, nice to see it from the other side. Accommodation: Inversnaid Bunkhouse.


Another early rise and my feet were still a little sore from the 20 miles before. Te weather was warm and sunny and after cups of coffee and bacon rolls we were ready to go. Having driven the first section many times I’d remembered it as a short section. Just as well the scenery was beautiful as it seemed never ending with many ups and downs. We reached Rowardennan where we stopped for our picnic lunch outside the Youth Hostel. Te views over Loch Lomond were spectacular and behind the Youth Hostel is Ben Lomond, Scotland’s most southerly Munro – definitely worth a trip back here! Some people detour from the WHW to do Ben Lomond on the way. Shortly after leaving Rowardennan, there is a choice of


hiking routes – the higher easier route or the lower slightly more difficult route. We chose the lower route which follows the side of the loch. What started off a fairly easy walk soon became quite muddy and the sloping terrain became quite tiring on the knees. Te scenery and views however were amazing and we managed to catch a glimpse of some mountain goats and birds of prey. Just before walking into Inversnaid, we approached a beautiful waterfall where we stopped for a rest and a flask of tea. Te noise from the waterfall was exceptionally loud and if you stood too close you were likely to get soaked!


DAY THREE


Inversnaid to Crianlarich, 13 miles Terrain: Really quite rough, involved some clambering over rocks. Highlight: Rob Roy’s Cave – well, it’s not really a cave, it’s a gap under a pile of rocks. Accommodation: Crianlarich Youth Hostel. After a nice cooked breakfast, we rejoined the WHW. With


constant ups and downs and the rough terrain, the first section was the hardest part of the leg. Reaching Crianlarich Youth Hostel, our feet and knees were noticeably sore now, but this was pretty much the mid point along the Way.


Te route Glen Nevis Fort William Crianlarich


Te West Highland Way (WHW) is Scotland’s first official long-distance route. Covering a distance of 154 km (96 miles), the route links Milngavie on the outskirts of Glasgow, passing through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, to Fort William in the Highlands. As many as 70,000 walkers


Rowardennan Lodge


Milngavie


walk the route each year making it Scotland’s premier long- distance walk. Te landscape varies from lowland moors, dense woodlands and undulating hills through to high mountainous areas and spectacular glens in the Highlands. Tese environments provide habitats for many different species;


from red deer, pine marten and otters to kestrels, buzzards and Golden eagles. Many sections of the Way make use of disused railway lines, drove roads and military roads and follow ancient and historic routes, echoing stories of the past.


2012 SCOTTISH HOSTELLER 63


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