Lennoxtown to Drymen, 26Km
My hotel last night had a jacuzzi bath with a waterproof TV but I didn’t bother with either of them. It was a strange place. I was given Room 6 which had its own front door outside. But when I returned from dinner I couldn’t get the key in the lock. Eventually a woman opened the door and said she was room 5. I said I was room 6 and then noticed more doors further along and had to apologise. None of the rooms were numbered, as if it didn’t matter.
They served a decent breakfast. I ordered my usual nothing except toast and marmalade and the manager had to go on a search for marmalade. He said marmalade was still popular with his more elderly guests but his girls preferred jam. I said that was something I’d not considered but it was almost certainly true because I’m the only one at home who ever eats it. Marmalade will probably disappear with the last of the 1950s generation.
John Muir was waiting outside and we set off to Strathblane. I soon saw two ladies approaching, clutching the JMW guidebook. They said they lived in Cumbria and were walking the first half of the JMW because it was flat and they mentioned with a tinge of regret that they were now in their 50s. I wish I’d thought to ask them what they put on their toast.
I found a pleasant cafe in Strathblane for coffee and they made me a cheese sandwich for lunch. After that I said hello to the West Highland Way which joined the JMW for awhile. It actually starts in Milngavie which is only 5kms away. JM plodded along a little further then went off for a couple more days in search of the west coast while I finally turned north east towards Orkney.
The WHW is everything I was hoping for. Like the Pennine Way, I’ve always wanted to walk it. It’s surprisingly short, only 150Km and a mere 40 years old. National Geographic rates it among the world’s top ten best trails. That’s why 17,000 people walk it every year. The Cicerone guidebook treats its readers like novices. And it’s not long before you see why. First, a family of five weighed down with everything sold by Mountain Warehouse then a couple with two horses and then a pensioners walking club who blocked all three lanes. Next came two men with tents, profusely sweating, attempting the whole thing in 5 days. It was a typical Day 1. I passed two lovely Camino style cafes in sheds offering no waste world foods which smelled so good that I wish I hadn’t bought the cheese sandwich.
And then I reached Lizzie from Newport who was making her walking debut and was completely overwhelmed with all her camping equipment. We walked the rest of the way, she refused my offers to carry her pack but agreed to use a baggage transfer service from tomorrow. After almost a month of walking in the desolate uplands and lowlands of Scotland it was good to finally walk with another person and I remembered why I enjoy walking so much.