Thursday, 13 June 2013

'West Highland Way' May 2012

Thought I would share this selection of photos from my West Highland Way adventure that my daughter Ceilidh & I done last year, 96 miles over gruelling terrain taking in some of the very best of Scotland's scenery passing lochs, moors & mountains on a 3 day trek from the start in Milngavie to the finish in Fort William where we would meet up with my wife & youngest kids...

An early start to meet up with Ceilidh & catch the train from Dunbar to Edinburgh then the connecting train from Edinburgh to Milngavie where our journey begins.

The start of the journey to Fort William, ready to go after loading up with the essential breakfast items sausages, eggs, black pudding, bacon & milk for our campsite breakfast.

 Now away from the noisy road traffic & entering into Mugdock country park where we encountered lots of walkers starting their journey on the W.H.W.

(top) Craigallian Loch.
(middle) Dumgoyach hill.
(bottom) Ceilidh not sure of the steep hills but not for long !

My planned stop at the Glengoyne distillery for a bottle of their finest 10 year old malt whisky :-)
The start of the mountainous highlands in the distance.
An information map of the area.

A lot of de-forestation going on, opening up some amazing views.
Conic Hill 1175 feet high, the route along the WHW goes up to the side & over to Balamaha our first stop for a pub dinner.

Loch Lomond, the largest inland stretch of fresh water in the U.K. 24 miles long with an average depth of 37 metres & a maximum depth of 190 metres.

The big downhill ride to Balmaha from Conic hill a lot more fun than pushing a fully loaded bike up the hill.

Wild goats roaming along the banks of Loch Lomond, you could smell them before you seen them ! & our camp site for the first night, 1 mile short of the Inversnaid hotel where we were booked onto the ferry to cross over the loch to Inveruglas as the next section of the WHW route for approx 7 miles is impossible to take a bike, so we cycled along the dangerously busy road to Ardlui to get another ferry over to Ardleish to get back on to the WHW path.

 Views looking over the loch to Inveruglass & the Inversnaid hotel harbour.

Bikes being loaded onto the ferry, I was a bit worried at this the bikes weren't tied down.

(top) Setting off from The hotel dock.
(middle) Views from the inside of the ferry.
(bottom) Bikes safely off the ferry & heading back to the hotel.

After the road cycle made it to Ardlui to catch the ferry back across to the other side.

A little journey across the loch to Ardleish, with some heavy looking clouds rolling in.

 Unloading the bikes off the ferry & Ceilidh looking at the ferry heading back thinking to herself 'Don't leave me'.

Thought this was a brilliant idea for summoning the ferry across if you wanted to get over to the other side of the loch.

The heavens opened with rain while we cooked our breakfast but enjoyed it all the same but now it's time to get going, uphill again.
Before going over the hill a final look back over Loch Lomond & a beautiful view it was with more rain coming our way.

Some views along the way.

Ceilidh still not sure of the steep downhill sections & the long road ahead towards Crianlarich, on this section we were battered by sunshine, rain & hail showers typical Scottish weather all seasons in one day !
A sheepcreep, safe access under railways & roads for sheep to pass through.

Leaving behind the open landscapes & entering into thick pine forest for a few miles on the way to Tyndrum. A WHW marker post pointing the way.

There was a few nice clearings in the pine forest with some great views.

Out of the pine forest onto some good flat trails on the route to Tyndrum.

'The Loch of the Legend of the Lost Sword' 
It is said that Robert the Bruce ordered his men to fling their weapons into the loch to lighten their load. Amongst the weapons were his massive sword, which was reputed to have been between five & nine feet in length.
I think this is an amazing picture, Ben Lui with a covering of snow, I got this picture printed onto a canvas for my living room.
Tyndrum at last.
 A Red Squirrel.
 Hen & Cock Salmon.
 An Osprey with a Trout or Salmon in it's talons.
 A Fox stalking a Rabbit over a dry stone wall.

A pair of Hooters.
After stocking up of the essentials for our second night camping we left Tyndrum, just to the right of the picture there was an old couple down in the burn panning for silver, syphoning up gravel & placing into the pan then swirling it around.

Another sheepcreep.
Ben Dorain in the foreground.

The scenery is constantly changing & the views just get better & better.
Bridge of Orchy,
 starting to lose the light now need to push on for our planned campsite.

Loch Tulla, we need to be at the other side to keep up with the target of 32 miles per day.
En route to our camp passing through Inveroran we saw these Red Deer feeding at the back of someones house ! but when we got round the corner there was a whole herd of them in the wilds, it looked amazing I did get a photo but the quality was bad due to low light.

The morning after our second nights camping & at the bottom the view from our tents.

Snow showers spreading high up in the mountains.

Rannoch Moor a massive expanse of emptiness not a place to be if the weather turns bad, apart from the route path we were travelling on there is nothing man made what so ever as far as the eye can see in all directions it looks like the beginning of time.

Coming over the hill travelling down a very bumpy old military road towards Glencoe.

Blackrock cottage & the Kings House hotel where we topped up the fluids at rip-off tourist prices !

'Buachaille Etive Mor' translated as 'the great herdsman of etive'.
 The booklet that I'm holding up is a map & stamp book you can get from the tourist information centre in Milngavie & along the WHW route there are hotels, shops etc that will put a stamp in your booklet each stamp being a different picture of a native Scottish animal & when you get to the end in Fort Willliam there is a pub that you can claim a certificate as a reward for completing the journey.

Glencoe a stunning landscape.

At the bottom & at the top of the Devils Staircase 1.9 miles pushing the bikes to the top but it was worth every lung bursting breath to see the views at the top.

Descending down hill to Kinlochleven where we were looking forward to another pub lunch.

 Rough terrain but that just makes for great mountain biking.

Onto the nice free running surface of the fire road  & finally in Kinlochleven.
Now with our belly's full the final big push looking back down to Kinlochleven, next stop Fort William.

Tigh-na-sleubhaich ruin.

(top) Fort William almost in sight Glen Nevis below.
(bottom) Just my luck Scotlands highest & the U.K.s highest mountain hiding in the Scotch mist ! Typical.
Game over & job done Fort William, just one more thing to do...

...a wee visit to the Ben Nevis distillary to get my end reward, another bottle of 10 year old malt :-) 
So a bottle from the start & a bottle from the end of the West Highland Way, an amazing adventure I would recommend for all to do.
Sorry it was a long post but I hope you enjoyed it.