2021

Day 26 – Hello to the West Highland Way

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.

Another sun cream day
Carbeth Loch
Bring a horse
A walkers dream
Lizzie who will probably sprint past me tomorrow once she finds the baggage transfer service

13 comments on “Day 26 – Hello to the West Highland Way

  1. Linda s

    Enjoying my daily fix Tim ! Glad you will have company for sure for the next while

  2. Roger Clarkson

    Recently used a tin of marmade – prepared Seville bitter oranges. Added sugar to make marmalade in the microwave and used some to make a cake. It is also surprisingly edible straight from the tin.
    Will your route take you up Ben Nevis?

    • You’re right, Roger, it makes a nice cake. Ben Nevis is a day trip from Fort William so it’s a possibility. It depends on weather and energy levels

  3. Ah the old ‘wrong room’ trick! Takes me back. But surely you are on the porridge now you’re in the highlands? They have probably never seen oranges that far north….

    • I should have another attempt at the porridge. I gave up too soon.

  4. why do people use those “ski poles”? They seem too thin to use as a crutch? Perhaps more of a “feel good” thing?

    • It’s an interesting question and everyone has a different view. Most people don’t even know how to use them or even how long they should be. Norwegians use two poles very effectively but the rest seem to buy them and give them up quickly. I’ve always carried one pole which is my friend and scares away animals. It’s also useful to lean on when edging along rivers, mud etc. To me, I’d feel vulnerable without a pole. A lot of people tell me they can’t see the point of carrying one pole. Either take two and use them properly or don’t bother. So everyone is different.

  5. That got me thinking about age
    Our willingness to be put into what I will call the marmalade group destined for extinction along with our toppings
    It’s the same for millennials and gen x y z
    Are we grouped to make selling stuf to us easier
    Will we be punished if we aspire to be in another group or is that ok?
    I’m off to listen to Adele and have marmalade on toast in my hoodie
    I’m joining the silo resistance😂

    • A resistance movement! Defy targeting! Buy that skateboard! Return junk mail from retirement villages! Resist streaming and their targeted playlists: buy vinyl, Phoebe Bridgers … Julien Baker … Jenny Lewis …

  6. Linda s

    Just dawned on me you may be passing tyndrum soon . ? Staying there Munro bagging the next few days – let me know and if it works out will try and meet up

    • Hi Linda, yes I walk to Tyndrum on Saturday and I’m staying at Tigh na Fraoch. I should be there from mid afternoon and it would be really nice to meet there. Let me know when is convenient. Tim

      • Linda s

        Oh brilliant – we are staying at a hostel called by the way – right in the heart of tyndrum – we will be eating in that night to celebrate two friends completing their Munro’s for the second time – Mandy has my number – and I ll message her for yours – not sure when we will be finished walking but sure we can work something out – be great to meet you !

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