It’s 2 weeks since we finished our West Highland Way adventure, and I am finally coming up for air which can only mean one thing – a blog!
It was strange how in just 5 days our new normal became running, snack stops and sleeping under a tarp. But so it did, and it all still feels like a bit of a dream. Did we really do that? HOW did we do that? And this one sneaky little voice in my head that is now saying “What next?”… But before the next big idea takes hold, it feels right to tell our tale of Scottish daring do.
Day 1 – Milngavie to Cashel 37.7km
A night in a very odd hostel on the outskirts of Glasgow was easy motivation to get out early and head to Milngavie. Pronounced MIL-GUY (yeh we totally did not manage to pronounce this right ever…) the town is an odd start to a wild way, but as we rocked up to the bench next to a costa and began plaiting the copious amounts of hair between the 3 of us, it was clear we had no idea what to expect.
After plaiting, weeing, drinking and taking photos there was finally nothing left to do. And so with no other choice, we took our first steps onto the WHW. Holey moley was it a shock to the system. Bounce bounce bounce went the bag no matter how much we adjusted and fiddled with straps (It would take another few days before we perfected our systems). The trail was easy going: pathway and wide open track with a bit of country lane thrown in. Our detour to Drymen for lunch and food stocking was uneventful, but useful although annoyingly added km that meant we then had to run along a busy road to get back on the trail. After umming and aahing over whether to take the single hiking pole I’d brought, it was gratefully dispatched to Fi as the first injury niggle of the trip struck us. This hiking pole was pretty much the MVP of the trip as the week wore on.
Not the most dramatic scenery until we got to the ‘Conic Hill’ decision. I was suffering a bit and feeling a bit sorry for myself, with welts already forming on my neck, shoulder and back, whilst also trailing them for much of the day. I made it VERY clear that I would not be going up Conic Hill, but instead would 100% be taking the flat short cut option through Balmaha and onto our *intended* campsite at Milarorchy. (More on this later…) And it was with great relief that both Fi and Ellie felt the same way by that point. I felt a big smug then because both had claimed earlier in the day that we couldn’t possibly come all this way to Scotland and do the WHW and NOT go up a hill that so many walkers said was the best part of day 1. Yeh, walkers… They came to their senses though so its ok…
Balmaha marked our arrival at Loch Lomond and felt like a nice little marker for our day 1, and also good for the mind as we knew our home for the night was not too far off. Every stop we had to snack and drink meant taking the bag off and sitting, and getting up just got harder and harder as the day wore on. 6kmish later we arrived almost broken at Milarorchy campsite, I even did a little sprint finish up the incline I was THAT happy! Alas the powers that be decreed our tarp NOT ALLOWED on their apparently ‘family’ campsite for fear of privacy and other vague and shitty reasons. She was a mean lady. It still makes me angry. This heartbreaking realisation that we would have to run on to the next campsite could have broken us, but surprisingly we schlepped on and FINALLY arrived 3km later at Cashel campsite. Not taking any chances I requested “One pitch please” hoping that they wouldn’t notice my slightly odd choice of words. IT was with sore bodies and smiles that we exited the camp shop with our camping ticket in hand.
Finally free of our bags, we hobbled our way to a discreet patch and set up tarp no.1 of the week. MY GOD did we hurt. Everything hurt and ached, the welts on my back and shoulder had drawn blood and stung as we took our last shower for a while in the comparable luxury of the camp showers. A loch-side dinner of pasta mugshots subsidised with snacks from the camp shop saw us finish our first day running the WHW, and with that we crawled into our sleeping bags and listened to episode 1 of My Dad Wrote a Porno to send us off to sleep.
Day 2 coming soon…