The West Highland Way 2008

March 26, 2007


Day One: 12th May 2008.
Weather: Sunshine all day ..hooray…
Milngavie to Drymen: 13 miles (13.3 on Pedometer)
Total Steps: 28204
Acc Steps: 28204

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin (my Mum will enjoy that). We drove up to Strathblane near Milngavie on the Sunday and had a relaxing stay at The Kirk House Inn, a real bargain for DBB. There were good views of the Campsie Fells as we got to Strathblane, and much anticipation from me as I read my trail guide for the day ahead. The start of the WHW is simple enough and is marked with a plinth in the town centre. I posed alongside it in the evening sun, with no shoppers around to give me any advice. There is an M&S alongside, which provided me with lunch - Wensleydale with Carrot chutney – very nice, but a bit sweaty in the sun!

Photobucket The start of the walk – turn left after the plinth

For the first day I decided to walk a little further on from Drymen, as I had the ascent of Ben Lomond to consider on Day 2. The initial part of the walk from Milngavie is alongside a stream, past some industrial units and then out into Allander Park. There were plenty of dog walkers about, but I didn’t bump into the masses until I reached Mugdock Country park. I met two large Germans carrying massive backpacks. After greeting them I asked why they weren’t using the baggage service. One look surprised when I told him the price (about €50), but the other said ‘Ve are big strong men’ – I never saw them again. Maybe they fell over on their backs and like turtles couldn’t right themselves.

Photobucket The way is clearly signposted – you shouldn’t go the wrong way

Photobucket Wandering along good paths through mixed woodland in Allander Park

Photobucket A common theme in May – lots of Bluebell Woods

The way takes you alongside Allander Water and in and out of woods – some natural, but lots of plantation forest. There were plenty of Bluebells carpeting the woodland floor, a lovely contrast to the fresh green of the leaves. The path was busy as I walked through Mugdock and no sooner had I passed one couple, another came into sight. This was the theme for the first six or seven miles, but the crowds thinned out at the pub at Drumgoyne – I wonder why? It would be a good spot for lunch if you didn’t have any sandwiches. The river valley looked marshy, and midges would be a real pest at the wrong time of year. I had coated up with ‘Skin So Soft’ and even though I didn’t run into any midges, I’m sure it would have kept them at bay. The stiles today were ‘squeeze’ stiles, made up of metal posts that pull aside, very ingenious and lasting a bit longer than wood would, I would think, wouldn’t you.

Photobucket The path winds its way through Mugdock Wood alongside Allander Water

I passed a good few walkers ambling along Craigallian Loch, with the big house across the water looking down the loch. There is a row of wooden houses along the hillside resembling the Beverley Hillbillies, but all have great views. Once I had passed by Scroggy Hill (with excellent views up to Drumgoyne, the last of the Campsie fells) the landscape opened up to the north, with some distant views of the hills to come. The cloudy weather was moving north with me, which saved me getting fried on the first day.

Photobucket Drumgoyne in the distance as the landscape opens up

Photobucket Looking back along Craigallien Loch

I heard plenty of Cuckoo calls today, and everyday for the first 4 days. I had read in the paper that they were becoming scarcer, but obviously not here. Later in the day I passed a gander wallowing in a muddy patch, and not inclined to move for anyone. The most common site today was the chaffinches, and I managed a good picture, that you can see in the flora and fauna section.

Photobucket Drumgoyne dominating the views for the day

Photobucket Drumgoyach Hill is on the left, Drumgoyne on the right

Photobucket The gorse smelt sweetly alongside the well worn path

Once I had passed by Drumgoyach, the landscape was mainly flat farmland, and the walk was now on the old dismantled railway bed. This was a bit boring in parts, but the reward comes later when the views of Loch Lomond arrive with the distant hills beckoning. I quickly passed by the distillery of Glengoyne, and it’s a good job I don’t like whisky, as I’d never have finished the route. You could take a diversion up to the distillery if you fancied a wee nip! The road becomes closer to the path but the noise is not too intrusive.

Photobucket Glengoyne Distillery, just a wee one then?

Photobucket The boring bit for me – the old railway track

Photobucket Drumgoyne receding into the distance

Photobucket The track runs on straight as an old railway track would!

I plugged in the I-Pod for the few miles of railway track, basically ‘tuned in and tuned out’ as the route is the same until Gartness. Here it followed the road around across the falls with their potholes in the eroded sandstone. I followed the road for 2 ½ miles which made a nice change from the old railway bed and there were more interesting sites to see. The views behind me improved, and I had a good look back to Campsie Fells and onwards from where I started. I finally reached the main road close to Drymen, crossed carefully and then followed for a short distance to cut north up a forestry track. Lots of felling here has opened out the views of Loch Lomond, and it was a nice end to the first day to see the hills coming closer. The weather was lovely and sunny and I followed the forestry track to the car park in Garadbhan Forest. The end of day one, satisfied that the boring bits were now behind me, and anticipation of the day to come. A gentle introduction to the WHW, with my feet in fairly good condition.

Photobucket Looking ahead Conic Hill makes its first appearance on the horizon

Photobucket The potholes scoured away in the Sandstone below Gartness Bridge

Photobucket The Campsie Fells, with the prominent Drumgoyne

Photobucket Enjoying the view back to the start of the day in far away Milngavie

Photobucket The bigger hills appearing through the haze to the north

Photobucket Nearly at the end of day one, and a last look back

Photobucket Conic Hill coming closer, with anticipation for day two

Photobucket The Loch finally appears – my companion for the next two days  

You can also:    Go Home        WHW Home        <<< WHW Previous Day        WHW Next Day >>>