Hi, welcome to the road. To find out what is going on, please click on any of the markers and this will bring up the blog post for that day. Once the trip has finished there will be a story post below picking out our favourite bits from the trip. I hope you enjoy, and if you have any comments or suggestions please contact me 😄
Off the road story
This is a route that I have been wanting to tackle for a long time. It is a very well trodden path but the route still allows you to get away from the world and enjoy nature. There is a fantastic community of hikers on the route, with everyone looking out for each other and sharing stories.I was unbelievably lucky with the weather (sun pretty much the whole way) and basically no midgies. I took an insect head net and DEET insect repellent as the west coast insects are notorious. I would not head on the walk without them. Stunning views, well marked path, and enough shops/cafes that you are never too far away if you get in real trouble.
If you are looking for a first hike to try long distance hiking, this is a great one to consider in the summer. In winter, the snow can hit hard and the towns and houses in the northern half will be cut off and closed so only attempt in the summer months if you are unexperienced.
On a side note, the diversion I made at the end was amazing and I would highly recommend it to strong walkers as it is very steep and rocky. I checked the weather forecast before heading up, and I had my route down planned if bad weather had come in. Wild camping, especially on mountains, should only be done with plenty of planning and preparation.
Problems do happen
It has been quite a while since I completed my Duke of Edinburgh Gold, and I haven't done a long distance hike between that and this. Day hikes, trans continental cycles sure but not carrying everything on your back with only your feet to take you to the end. I had my walking boots, rucksack, tent, stove, waterproofs, and changes of clothes, ready to hit the road.
First day, feeling fresh, I started and the miles ticked down quickly, chatting with people on the way, making friends and enjoying the sun. Had a good lunch and made it to the campsite in good time with barely making a dent in my snack stash. In all very pleased with the first day and confidence was high.
Got going down the shore of Loch Lomond after having a breakfast of cereal bars. The terrain on the shore is a bit more tricky to navigate than the previous day, mixed with a small breakfast meant that I made a bit more of a dent in the snack stash, but still plenty to be going with. It was only when I left Bridge of Orchy on the 4th day I realised that I had been hitting the snacks harder than expected and hadn't replenished them. This gave me a very long, very hungry walk to Glencoe Mountain centre to stock up.
So glad to see the building and even more happy to see the food counter. The subsequent miles were much more enjoyable and less stressful. I would recommend carrying more food that you think you will need. The worst thing that will happen is that you can have more snack breaks.
People are great
Being such a well known route, there are always quite a few people on the route. The vast majority of walkers do the route south to north, which is the recommend direction. With so many people, there are bound to be those that are slower and those that are faster, which means there are plenty of opportunities to strike up a conversation. There will also inevitably a group of you that end up doing the route at the same pace. This gave me a great comfort as if anything did go wrong then there would be people around that I could expect to be around. It also helps you through those tough times as they are in the same boat as you.
On the first day I was fortunate enough to meet Jakob who had a very similar pace. Long stretches on the flat first section passed quickly as we exchanged stories and trip ideas. We later met up for the push from Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy, keeping each other spirits up. A section that could very easily be quite a slog became enjoyable and fun.
There is a great community of both walkers and locals on the route. It is a hike that I would happily do again as a solo walker as you can have companions if you want. That is not to say there wasn't time to be alone, there were sections where I let people pass and I was left to myself to enjoy the wildlife and plants. One of the best hikes if you are lucky with the weather as I was. If you would like to see more photos, check out the map at the top. I would love to hear about your hikes, if you have done the West Highland Way, or if you have any recommendations.