Sunday, 24 July 2011

The West Highland Way

Well I have to say that this time I did the Way was the best weather and least midge ridden of them all, and as we took longer to do it, it was also the most enjoyable for me.

We had the time to take it easy and take in the splendour of the scenery for a change.

It's given me the bug again, I need to keep it up now.

One thing did happen that shook me a little, that was the fall on the third day. We were not at a particularly hard stretch but, it was very uneven and rocky. I could not see where to put my feet and concentration slipped, then away I went on my arse so to speak.

I grazed my right arm and skint right my right shin. Though it wasn't till a few days later that I realised the wound on the leg was worse than I thought.

I walked for a further 80 miles after that tumble, the first of a few I had along the way, mainly on the Loch Lomond stretch.

The Loch Lomond stretch was pretty hard going, the hardest part in my opinion, always has been, heres a taste of What it looks like in some sections, this is looking back at what we just came down.

Yes that's right your looking up, hard to tell isn't it? and it's even harder with poor depth perception like I have, thank god for the walking poles is all I can say, though I hate using them.

There was some wildlife around, I'm terrible when it comes to spotting it, but my wife spotted this little beggar hopping across the path into the greenery.

There used to be Scottish Wild Cats on The Bonnie Banks 30 odd years ago, I remember camping at Inversnaid while doing the way for my first time at the time it officially opened and being invaded by a wild kitten, gorgeous little thing it was.

I'm glad there are still some free goats still around here, make the place still feel isolated.

Back to the walking, the last time we did the way, my wife had the most terrible time with blisters, I had none. This time we both never suffered from them, but we came across many that suffered badly.

A trick we learned was to take a needle and thread and sterilise it, then pierce the blister right through and leave the thread in. Cut off the needle of course. The thread helps drain the liquid out relieving the pressure and letting the skin settle back protecting the raw blister. Of course this is only good if your blister has not burst yet.

At Inveronan I think i broke a fever in the night, I had the worst sweats I can remember in a while, I know now that it was the wound on my right shin, I said it was worse than I thought, it must have become infected as it was a really angry red colour, I obviously fought off the infection that night.

The wound is quite deep actually, even now after 11 days since it happened its a little red and a little sore, probably should go to the docs to check it out.

My feet never really got sore until the second last day, up till then they were a bit tender but not sore. The walk down to Kinlochleven put paid to that and again the last stretch into Fort William.

I now need to go find a walk I can do in a couple of days just to keep this up.

If not, look out work, I may be taking those last three weeks of holiday soon :-) money permitting of course :-)

The West Highland Way Day 11

Kinlochleven to Fort William - The last day

Getting out of Kinlochleven means a hard climb uphill through forest, but once you are out of it and at hight again you can look back at Tje town you just left and the way you came beyond it.

From this vantage point you can also see Loch Leven stretching away.

The way levels out for a good few miles afterwards, we took the opportunity to have a coffee and a rest here, though the midges had other ideas...

As you can see the path was laid out to the ends of the earth for us here.

After the reasonably level stretch which went on for quite a few miles we turned around and saw this little loch in the distance, must find out it's name.

We have our first glimpse of Ben Nevis, again like Kinlochleven this is deceptive, it took us quite some time and miles to actually reach it.

We had to go through some forest first and a welcome relief to constant openess, at least for a little while.

This little stretch had a carpet of clover running down both sides of it, it stretched well into the trees, here's a close up :-)

We kept walking until, suddenly, total forest devastation... We promptly stopped and had lunch.

Getting to the top of that stretch it was apparent the winds had done their deeds again...

Once past this point the forest track turned into a forest road and we knew we were on the last leg of the journey, as we continued we turned a corner and were rewarded with this view of Ben Nevis.

The walk down to Fort William gave my feet a good pounding (it's taken two day for them to recover slightly) we got a photo at the original end of the way.

And also at the new end of the way the very next day before catching the train back to Glasgow.

Here is Fort William town centre.

I go now to put my feet up for a good bit, must remember to get new insoles for my boots...

The West Highland Way Day 10

Kingshouse to Kinlochleven

Today we leave the warm confines of the Kingshouse Hotel to climb the Devils Staircase. After which the trudge down the last part of the days walk makes your feet fell like they have been to Hell and back.

Looking back longingly to the hotel above, and below the enigmatic Stob Dearg part of Buachaille Etive Mor the prominent peak seen from Kingshouse.

Here we take a quick view down Glen Coe which we will not visit as we veer off to the left down another route.

It's also nice to see they recycle the old posts :-)

Below we start up the Devils Staircase, I know it doesn't look to bad from this view.

But when your half way up and you look back the way you've come...
The last photo was taken just below that clump of trees.

This is the view looking back towards Kingshouse once you have reached the top

And below is the view north, the way we are to go. Ben Nevis can be seen from here on a clear day, I'm afraid I couldn't tell you which one it is if it's visible in this photo.

The way continues in the rugged openness of the hills.

We came across some reddish moss up here, I had flashbacks to Jeff Waynes War of the Worlds...

So, no bridges? Easy, dump a few rocks across that'll do :-) I do find this ascetically pleasing mind.

The next picture had our hopes up, tucked away in the centre there, is our destination for the day, though it is still 4 or 5 miles away.

At last, the hotel, the last stretch of the walk today all but put paid to my feet, can't wait to soak them in nice hot water.

After a very nice dinner, we took a stroll outside, but not for long, the midges were at their worst all the way up. But I did manage to take this pic of Loch Leven

Up until today my feet have been fine but slightly tender, but when we finished today my toes felt like they needed an oil.

Tomorrow we finish, 16 miles to the end. It used to be 14 miles but they extended it to the other side of town to join the Great Glen Way.

Location:Clydebank,United Kingdom

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The West Highland Way Day 9

Inveroran to Kingshouse

Well we reluctantly leave the Inveroran Hotel, we had a nice stay here, food was good and so was the breakfast, though no porridge on offer.

Today we march over the Black Mount, Rannoch Moor always to our right.

The moor is a very bleak place, more so in the wintertime, but it has a certain appeal.

I just love being away from civilisation, but as you probably have noticed not too far from a data connection.

The way winds on over the moors and looks as if there would be scarce animal life out here, but there is, only thing is a shocking lack of sheep :-)

Little birdie came to share our lunch.

As did this little cheeky fur ball.

Ranch Moor stretches into the distance.

There is abundant water up here but so much of it is in marsh.

Keep on walking, and the Way goes on and on...

Rannoch is mostly all this stuff, marshy peaty bog.

Eventually we get a glimpse of our destination for the day, you may just be able to make out a little White building down near the bottom right of the pic below.

We arrive! Right! Where's the bar???

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The West Highland Way Day 8

Tyndrum to Inveroran

This was a very good days walk, not too arduous, there was a few places you hand to cross the railway, over bridges, but some times you are guided under the lines.

You begin to see Ben Dorain in the distance as you get around the halfway point to Bridge of Orchy, which I've climbed many years ago.

Looking back along the rail line in the direction we have come from, this is the route that the train back home will take, the West Highland line has some spectacular views.

The only hecklers on this journey have been the sheep, oh and the odd goat.

We arrived at Btidge of Orchy by 12:30 not bad for a mornings walk for me, 7 miles, another 3 to go till we reach our hotel, up and over the hill, but for now, lunch and a pint, we even got an espresso :-)

Here we have the River Orchy rushing by.

And the bridge of Orchy itself.

A quick hard slog through the forest and over the hill we see the Inveroran Hotel in the distance, our refuge for the night.

There is absolutely no connection whatsoever here, not even a phone signal for either Orange or O2.

We both indulged in Haggis Neeps and Tatties for our dinner then retired to the lounge for a bit.

I checked my leg and I was surprised how deep the wound was from the mishap I incurred at Balmaha. The bruising is rather spectacular now, and it's rather tight feeling, hoping it's not worse than it looks.

Off for me breakfast now, catch you laters.