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West Highland Way

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Days 5-8 9-12


Day 1. Milngavie to Easter Drumquhassie - 11 miles

Milngavie

The Way leaves Milngavie and after an amble along Allander Water continues over rough moorland and onto Craigallian Loch. It is warm but there is rain in the air and the only sign of life on the loch are two lone fishermen.

Craigallian Loch

We encounter a back packing dog along the lochside path. No free-loaders in the long distance walking fraternity!

We stop for a break. Charl has a stiff neck from the train journey and is glad to drop the pack. It begins to drizzle. We look for water but only find murky puddles. No tea!

We head off toward the hump of Dumgoyach. Charlie's neck is now giving him considerable trouble. Every step seems to jolt it and we decide to stop again for him to lie down and try to relax his neck muscles. He lays down on the grass and miraculously, falls asleep. It starts to drizzle again. He doesn't wake. The rain gets a little heavier. Should I wake him. I will have to; I can't leave him dozing in the rain! He has only been asleep for ten minutes but it seems to have done the trick. His neck is a lot better and we continue.

In the village of Gartness, we come across a pub and have a welcome pint of orange and lemonade. Soon after passing through this small hamlet, the sun shines and we lay down and nap for an hour. The overnight train journey seems to have taken it's toll. Too late we realise we could have picked up water at the pub! The nap makes a world of difference and we end the day fresher than we started.

Toward Dumgoyach

We reach our destination, Easter Drumquhassie Farm, in sunshine and finally get that cup of tea!




Day 2. Easter Drumquhassie to Balmaha - 8.5 miles

It is a beautiful morning and it is hot work along the lane toward Drymen. above Drumquhassie

We enter the Garadh Ban Forest and, as we round a corner, a red deer runs across the path directly in front of us. It is near enough to see droplets of sweat on it's shiny flank. Garadh Ban Forest

We stop by a stone bridge in the forest for lunch. This is an ideal spot as it provides water, shade and we can sit on the bridge.

Loch LomondThe path emerges from the woods by an area of felled trees and we see Loch Lomond for the first time. This view comes as quite a surprise and it is hard to leave it but we proceed to Conic Hill. The path is up and over and clearly discernable. There is not going to be any shade this side of the hill but we are not complaining, the weather is glorious. Conic Hill

I was wrong. At the bottom of Conic Hill, we reach a small bridge crossing the Burn of Mar. An ideal spot to stop and consume our bananas before the ascent, the benefit of which is probably outweighed by the coffee and cigarettes that we also indulge in! We sit by the burn. Charlie cools his feet in the water and I look for dippers, to no avail. We do, however, on leaving spot a red kite.

From ascent of Conic Hill From top of Conic Hill It is a very hot climb but well worth the effort as the view from the top is magnificent.

The descent is steep and fast. In the forest just above Balmaha we see more deer. After watching them for several minutes I realise, too late, I had plenty of time to take a photo. We reach The Oak Tree Inn, Balmaha, and camp in the pub garden. We down a pint whilst gazing up at Conic Hill. It seems that only a few moments ago we were on the top, looking down. Yet, here we are, at the bottom looking up. Balmaha Harbour

We go for a meal in the pub and then an evening stroll around Balmaha Harbour.




Day 3. Balmaha to Ardess - 7 miles

We have a misty start. We have divided the walk along Loch Lomond into bite size pieces so only have 7 miles to cover today. Mist over Balmaha

It is warm and humid. After a brief walk along the loch we have a clammy climb to Craggie Fort. A great viewpoint but far too misty to see anything today.

woodland

After a steep descent the path enters deciduous woodland, dominated by oak, with rowan and birch. The Way follows the loch, sometimes through woodland and in particular Blair Wood, which is being regenerated with conifer forest being replaced by native trees.

We pick up supplies at a campsite shop at Milarrochy Bay and with the sun shining, decide to have lunch by the loch at Sallochy.

On reaching Sallochy, we go down to the beach lay out the mats and the washing to dry. We brew up and settle back with guide book, crossword and ham rolls. The latter from the campsite shop are not to be recommended. Fortunately, we had plenty of water or we could not have swallowed them! Having accomplished most of the day’s walk we thought we would laze here for a few hours but …………...Sallochy……….. of course it starts to rain but is is so warm we enjoy our lunch (or not) anyway. The sun is still shining. There should be a rainbow! Even the thunder does not deter us. We have to do something about the washing though and hastily pack it away again.

The path from Sallochy is closed for tree felling so we have to walk on the road for a few miles. We enter more woodland and arrive at Rowardennan and Ardess where there is a spot designated for backpackers to wild camp.

The weather is beautiful and we cook dinner on the beach. Once it is cooked the inevitable happens, the clouds well up and we abort to the tent. We eat to the sound of heavy rain and put the pots out to half wash in the downpour. We doze for an hour or so and wake……………sunset.……...to an amazing sunset. There are two other tents nearby. One has a radio which I am listening to as I fall asleep. I hear the DJ's voice wafting toward me ......."camping on the banks of Loch Lomond, we have Toca Me by Fragma."..... This is really weird as it is my favourite tune of the moment and I am camping on the banks of Loch Lomond! Could it have been for me?



Day 4. Ardess to Inversnaid - 6 miles

 Beach at Ardess There are a lot of midges at the Ardess site, so we cover ourselves with repellant before we emerge. We have breakfast on the beach and thereafter follows a long stiff climb on a broad forest track. At the top we stop for a tea break. The midges are a bit troublesome here, too. We continue on a narrower switchback path and, then, once again back to the loch.

The loch side path is not a saunter as you would imagine but wriggles in and out around boulders, over crags interspersed with overhanging branches and twisted tree roots. lochside path

We reach Inversnaid. The way passes above the waterfallwaterfall and then descends alongside to the Inversnaid Hotel. We sit outside and down a refreshing pint of shandy and I strongly recommend the Danish pastries. Suitably refreshed, we proceed along the path to Inversnaid Boathouse where wild camping is permitted.

Inversnaid Boathouse

We pitch and are surprised to find we are the only campers. Unfortunatley, the burn is dry so Charl goes on a water quest. He returns quite quickly as there is another burn a few hundred yards further on. We have dinner in the sunshine.

Lochside at Inversnaid Boathouse

It is a warm, calm evening and we sit by the loch till dusk when the midges appear




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