Twenty five years ago on 20 September 1980, the West Highland Way (WHW) was walked for the first time by a small party of HF members who had helped establish it.
Twenty Five years later, on 20 September 2017, a party of six club members Stephen Thomson, Jean Kennedy, Jim Forbes, Ian MacAulay (in kilt), John and myself set out to walk the whole 85* miles of the WHW to commemorate this event
We set off from Milngavie in pleasant sunshine with John Barrowman and Mary Mcllroy accompanying us for the first stretch of 20 miles through pretty pastoral scenery, so we were given a good send off.
Our first night was spent in a lovey B&B ‘Elmbank’ in Drymen. After a good night sleep and an excellent breakfast we set off on our next stint of 15 miles to Rowardennan Youth Hostel (YH) up and over Conic Hill and a few other smaller hills alongside the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.
On our third day we left Rowardennan on a dark dreich wet miserable morning we set out on the longest mileage of the walk – 20 miles to Crianlarich YH.
Much of the path was very rough and rocky but we sheltered from the rain by the trees. We were delighted to see a group of black goats with enormous horns just before reaching Doune Bothy which gave us welcome shelter for our lunch stop. We pressed on up Glen Falloch with the river a raging torrent pouring down the glen, crossed the busy A82 and followed the track up the hillside past Kailator Farm, then by a rather roundabout route reached Crianlarich YH. Next morning we left in bright weather for the 16 miles to Invororan, which took us into the pleasant countryside of St Fillans and eventually to Tyndrum where we enjoyed a cheery meeting with Keith and Jo Moody. Alice Galletly, Aileen Bowers and Dorothy Sinclair were on their way to a September club weekend in Glencoe.
After lunch, we set off once more passing the old HF cottage at the foot of Beinn Dorain, where in the past I enjoyed many a club weekend hammering the Munros that abound in that area.
We stopped for a welcome cup of tea at the Bridge of Orchy station then it was onwards and upwards over Mam Carraigh where we looked down on Glen Kinglas and the welcome sight of the Inveroran Hotel where we were to spend the night in cozy comfort.
Unfortunately by this time I had developed terrible blisters and my heels were red raw making walking extremely painful and an absolute ordeal. On this last stretch I had been pushed and pulled along by my husband John which was no way for any self-respecting hillwalker to be doing the WHW, so I reluctantly decided that Inveroran was as far as I could go. It was very disappointing but I had no choice in the matter. The last two stages of The WHW will have to wait for another day for me.
By Jean Gibson
And the final word from John Gibson…
The walk was harder than I thought it would be but we had a good party and the six of us were an ideal size and a good mix. Part of the fun was meeting and leapfrogging other walkers we met along the way especially the two nice girls we kept company with for some time. We even beat the army passing the remaining 3 of a group of seven of them, the rest having given up! Ian, otherwise known as Doc Macaulay looked after us well and attended to our loupin’ feet, only Stephen seemed to get by without any need for attention.
Stephen did a great job organising the whole thing and we would all like to thank him for his efforts. I would recommend this walk to anyone, it’s the first time I have done this type of thing, but it’s given me a taste for long distance routes and I fancy doing another one. It’s a pity about Jeans blisters but we will finish the last two stages together and complete it for her later on.
Jean’s a great walker and a great talker, but not a great listener!
By John Gibson