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Showing posts from July, 2018

What You Need For The West Highland Way

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Whether you are packing stove, tent and all into your West Highland Way trip or packing light and using a travel company, there are certain things that need to be included when packing for this long distance hike. When I was nearing the end of my hike along the West Highland Way I considered whether I could have packed less into my pack. I travelled with a 65 litre rucksack, which included a tent, stove and sleeping bag, along with food and clothes.  In this blog post I will detail some things that need to be considered, before attempting the West Highland Way.  Rucksack There are baggage transfer companies that will transport your luggage to wherever you are staying for £7 per day (July 2018). This is a reasonable cost and means that only a small daysack should be enough to carry the essentials. The essentials being water, food for lunch and snacks, first aid kit, waterproof trousers and jacket, walking poles, hat, scarf and spare socks. A larger rucksack c

Day 6: Kinlochleven to Fort William

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We had much better rest at Blackwater campsite, due to the fact that we hired a small caravan for the night, I know hardly slumming it. We knew that there was only 14 miles between us and the end of the West Highland Way. Again, the weather looked like it was going to threaten a major downpour, but this never happened. The day stayed dull but muggy.   A large part of the morning was spent on largely flat track, as you can see above. Bear in mind that the start of this walk, from Kinlochleven was all uphill for the first couple of miles. Where did all the trees go? I knew from previous experience on the West Highland Way that there was a large wooded section that lasts for about 3.5 miles. The last section of the walk, before it heads down to Glen Nevis is a walk through the woods. The path ascends and descends a couple of times and keeping track of where you are during this time can be quite tricky. Things were different this time as a lot of the trees has been felled, gi

Day 5: Glencoe to Kinlochleven

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Otherwise titled as "Are we going to make it to Fort William? During the night at Glencoe the heavens opened and the rain belted down on our tents for most of the night. The cloud base was also really low, and I started to think that we wouldn't make it to the end of the West Highland Way. I thought that trying to get over the Devil's Staircase, in the mist and driving rain with heavy packs and beat up feet would be the end of us. So we decided to do a couple of things to help us to get to Kinlochleven. First we used the baggage transfer, taking the heavy load of our feet. Second, we had a proper breakfast at the cafĂ© before we left.  Glencoe Car Park The weather did seem to threaten to turn for the worse luckily it stayed dry for the day. Without the hindrance of a heavy pack my foot didn't get any worse and we were able to get to Kinlochleven in decent time, in just over 6 hours. Low cloud around the mountain View from top of Devil's Sta

Day 4: Bridge of Orchy to Glencoe

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For the first 3 days we had been blessed with good weather. The temperature had been in the mid to late 20's(Celsius) so the only things we had to worry about was sun lotion and water. At the start of our 4th day the weather turned, and we woke to a dull wet day. At the start of our journey we were planning to hike to Kinlochleven, which would have been another 20 miles. The relative that I was walking with has suffered badly blistered feet during our last 3 days walking. It was going to be a great enough challenge for him to finish the West Highland Way. For that reason we decided to walk the 10 miles to Glencoe where we could spend the night there at the campsite. A few miles into our walk my right foot started to get worse. By the end of the 10 miles the foot had swollen around the ankle. Now it was more a case of me being the one in danger of not finishing the West Highland Way.

Day 3: Beinglas Farm to Bridge of Orchy

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After a decent rest and a shower, we set about the task of walking to Bridge of Orchy. We should have made it to Tyndrum on day 2, according to our plans. Luckily we had the foresight to have planned alternative rest stops. Our first task was to hike the 11 miles to Tyndrum. This time the track would be wider and flatter so we were hopeful for a better day than the day before. Things went well for the first part of the day. This part of the West Highland Way is easier to walk along and we made good progress for the first few miles. About five miles into our walk I started getting a pain under the arch of my right foot. It wasn't a sharp pain but it niggled me, as I walked through the wooded section before Tyndrum. Clearing in the woods After a lengthy stop at Tyndrum to shore up on medical supplies, mainly plasters and bandages, we headed for Bridge of Orchy if ever someone was to sell blister plasters there they would clean up. The 7 mile hike is flat and can be

Day 2: Rowardennan to Beinglas Farm

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Our second day started brightly enough. We had a quick hike to Rowardennan and then a short walk from there to the start of the loch Lomond stretch. We took the lower path when it split, taking us along the shore of the Loch. The path was narrow but dry and I made good progress along its 3 and a bit mile stretch to Inversnaid. There was a tree that had fallen across the track at one point, the only way was to crawl under it. At another point later we had to take our rucksacks off again to squeeze paat a large boulder.  Our journey slowed down conaiconside after Inversnaid, the track continued to be narrow however the undulating nature of the track and the amount of boulders you had to negotiate meant that we lost a lot of time during the six miles it took to get to Bein Glas. The effort involved drained both of us and we were glad to stop at a campsite with daylight to spare and a pub for a bar meal.  Fallen tree over track before Inversnaid Rowchoish Bothy 

Day 1: Milngavie to Lochan Maoil Dhuinne

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Updated May 2019 The Start at Milngavie Where Does It Start?  The West Highland Way begins in the small town of Milngavie, which is a 40 minute train ride from the centre of Glasgow. There is a regular train and  to bus service to Milngavie, however the train is more convenient as it is a direct line.  The Route This Is Easy As expected the first part of the West Highland Way is flat. From Milngavie to Drymen it is easy going and with or without a loaded pack you will be making good progress. After Drymen, the route shifts through a forest section before opening out onto Conic Hill. In the past this forest section can be tricky to pin point exactly where you are on the map, when all you see are trees as a reference point. sections of this woodland has since been cut down making it easier to track your progress, by having Loch Lomond and Conic Hill visible from afar. Tiredness Sets In It gets tougher at the 16 mile mark. After walking for 6 plus hours, even

Final gear breakdown

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I thought I would list the complete gear breakdown that I'll be taking at the start of the West Highland Way.  I have enough food for my main meals for the first 4 days and enough breakfast porridge for the whole trip. Likewise I have probably over done it where snacks are concerned. The snacks amount for 1.3 kg which includes nuts, dried meat and my own protein bars. This should be enough for my entire trip. I could have made some of my main meals lighter by substituting rice for noodles. The rest of my equipment isn't too bad. I could drop the weight of the toiletries and clothes. The overall weight will actually just be under 16kg as I am using the poles and sandles, and not carrying them. I should get through about 600g of food a day. There is always options to buy more if needed. With the total weight 16 kg, my pack base weight will be 9.42kg, which is decent amount. I'll walk with the pack as is and make further adjustments after the walk. 

Route and Stops

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Below is a list of the places that we will be staying at. With the high amount of miles that we will be putting in each day I have made alternative stops to our schedule, just in case. Our plan is shown below.  I am however looking forward to our first nights stop over. It is a wild camping spot, but by the images sent to me by the Loch Lomond National Park it looks idillic. This spot is 25 miles in on The Way. We are planning to leave at 8am on the Saturday. If we average 2 miles an hour we should get to our camp by 9pm. The second, fourth and fifth night should be spent at campsites. The third night will be our wild camp at the Kingshouse. This pub and hotel is still under renovation so no cheeky pint of beer for us at the end of the day. Anyway, I think I'll post images and my thoughts on those sites when I am there. 

Complete WHW and GGW

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Below is the complete route that we will be taking starting this Saturday. I thought I'd post this to show it in all its glory.

Food on the Trail

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Knowing what type of gear and equipment was easy. Planning out a route with how many miles were planning each day was also straight forward. I've went for my trusted Trangia stove again this year, but instead of the spirit burner I'm using a gel burner. This is lighter than the spirit burner and the burner itself holds about 47ml of gel, this is 2/3rds full. It took about 6 mins to heat up a bowl of water and the gel lasted for about 13 mins in total until it burned out.  However, the most time thinking about what I was planning to eat on our hike. Obviously, I broke my food into seperate meals so; Breakfast Mid morning snack Lunch Afternoon Snack Dinner Breakfast This will consist of porridge. I have bagged each day's breakfast into 40gram packs. In This I have added a little sugar and chia seeds. I have also included with some flaked almonds, dried fruit or trail mix. I covered the mixture with about 300ml of water. The porridge tends to cook

Protein Bars

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I thought I would try these out to take along on the West Highland Way The recipe for these excellent bars are linked below. https://minimalistbaker.com/healthy-5-ingredient-granola-bars/

Pack Test

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I decided to do another test walk with a full pack, and what a better place to test but the West Highland Way.  The fully packed rucksack, total weight 12.3kg with 2kg of water and 1.2kg of food for a 2 mile stroll along the first section of the WHW. Now I know that is not much of a test, but we did have all the kids with us to show them what the WHW is like. The pack felt good and there were no lumpy bits sticking into my back. I'll still change some of my contents, like the inflatable mattress, I'll probably save some weight and take a foam one instead.  The sandles were comfortable, but as expected they did let in wee stones that became annoying after a while. Actually, I managed to get a wooden splinter in my big toe, which was a surprise. Overall though I am looking forward to Saturday's departure day.