This last week has seen us walking through country reminiscent of ‘The Lord of the Rings’. It has evocative sounding names to go with the fantastic scenery ‘Bridge of Orchy’, King’s House’, Devil’s Staircase’ and ‘Rowardennan’ and if the English names are not wonderful enough there is a selection from the Gaelic to choose from ‘Ceann Loch Liobhann’ or ‘A’Chrion-Laraich’ for Kinlochleven and Crianlarich and the scenery has matched the names.
We have been following the 93 mile long West Highland Way (WHW), Scotland’s most popular long distance walking trail. This trail starts near Scotland’s largest city, it passes Scotland’s largest loch (Lomond) and ends near Scotland’s highest mountain (Ben Nevis).
We started it gently enough, towards the end of last week, with a very attractive walk through trees which mask the fact you are progressing through the suburbs of Milngavie. Then to Drymen and the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. We had been warned that it was here that the midge attacks would start but the midges (and they are smaller than Yorkshire midges) were not obvious unless we stopped for any length of time under the trees. The reputed midge repellent – Avon ‘Skin so soft’ – was working well. Loch Lomond is beautiful and much bigger than I had imagined it. The path we followed is tough particularly at the north end – but it is well worth persevering. As the WHW gets further north the countryside gets wilder and more remote. There has been no danger of getting lost as the path is very obvious and well walked, but you do feel as though you are in the wilds. There are two endings – the old and new version. So we had to get to both.
We have stayed this week at ‘Strathfillan Wigwams’. Another idea that could have come straight from Tolkein! These are wooden ‘tents’ (see The Tale of the Wigwams in the Tales from End to End section), but we ourselves managed to get ‘Firewater Lodge’ which was slightly bigger and perhaps encouraged us to try the local whisky.
We continue to meet some very kind and helpful people on our journey northwards. Special mention again to Morag from ‘Best Foot Forward’ who went far beyond the call of duty for us – and even gave us an anniversary card! To Billy Robb from Drymen taxis and his driver Scott (who helped us greatly over negotiating the Loch Lomond section; Adrian in the ‘Green Welly stop’ in Tyndrum who rescued me with a new pair of boots as both pairs of boots I set off with have now disintegrated; to the church congregations in Dalmally and Crianlarich (and Donald who made it possible) who welcomed us and encourgaed us and gave to us most generously.
We have met individuals en route and say ‘Hello’ to Janet at Tesco in Lingavie, Heather and Valarie (walkers from USA and Canada) Michael and Barbara from USA, Joan met near the whisky distillery (with Eileen and Walter), Jane (in Drymen) Brenda and Malcolm (on WHW), Tom and Jan (in Drymen), Laura, Joe, Megan and Malc (near Rowardenan ferry) Leila and Nick (finishing the Rob Roy trail), Jamie, the family Stacey, Chris and baby Beth (on the ferry) Annette and Adeline from Holland and the rest of their party, the family Fran, Ian, Jack and Emma (on WHW) John and James (in the Drovers Inn), Maria (from Sweden), Dag and Claus from Sweden and Denmark, David, Ncola, Joe and Oscar (met in Fort William but from Driffield) and Joanna and Josiah from USA here on honeymoon!
Week 18 Statistics
Scrabble: Nancy 1 John 5
Kissing Gates: 12 (4 on our wedding anniversary!)
En route donations: £200.39 (which includes a generous £130 from Dalmally and Crianlarich churches)
Mileage: 54 miles
Midge Bites – Not recordable
Whisky: 2 wee drams of single malt