He knows no fear!

Scotland long distance walks: West Highland Way – part 1

Last year, I had completed my first Scottish long distance walk. This year I was determine to walk the famous West Highland Way.

The West Highland Way was Scotland’s first long distance route established in 1980. It is also the most popular of the Scottish National Trails. It is 154km long (96 miles) and run from Milngavie on the edge of Glasgow to Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis. Many walkers after finishing the walk make the extra achievement of climbing Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain.

A map showing the West Highland Way route.

A map showing the West Highland Way route.

The path uses many ancient roads, including drovers’ roads, military roads and old coaching roads, and is traditionally walked from south to north.

About 85,000 people use the path every year, of whom over 30,000 walk the entire route and I was going to be the first cuddly toy to walk the entire route.

This walk is very popular in the summer when the weather is generally fine. However with Scottish midges being the pest that they are, it was for this reason that I had decided to do the walk in September/October. However, at this time of the year the weather can get bad – very bad! It was vital that I had the right outdoor gear but with my army training and my collection of Ray Mears books, I knew that I was ready for this walk.

As with my long distance walk of last year, I was determine to carry all my camping gear along the way. My backback weighs 25.9 kgs. That is 100 times my own body weight but I was determine to carry all my own gear and not use the commercial baggage services that are popular on this long distance walk (that is cheating!)

My walk starts in Milngavie on the edge of Glasgow.

The start of the West Highland Way.

The start of the West Highland Way.

It was a bright sunny day when I got off the railway station and I was hoping that this dry and sunny weather remains for the rest of the week.

The start of my big trek!

The start of my big trek!

The path officially starts in Milngavie town centre, where a granite obelisk is located. However since almost all trekkers start at the railway station it has become that the railway station has become the unofficial start of the walk.

The first stage of my walk takes me from Milngavie to Drymen. This stage is 19 kms (12 miles).

The walk takes me through a park.

Walking through a park.

Walking through a park.

The urban landscape is left behind at Milngavie as the route enters Mugdock Country Park.

Leaving urban life.

Leaving urban life.

It is easy to navigate the route as the path is well marked.

The route is well marked.

The route is well marked.

This section of the walk is wasy going as it navigates the lowlands however it can be muddy in places.

The walk takes me through Mugdock Country Park.

The walk takes me through Mugdock Country Park.

I was getting hungry so I decided to take a break on a river edge.

Me taking a break in the woods of Mugdock Country Park.

Me taking a break in the woods of Mugdock Country Park.

The walk was interesting and I saw many strange and wild mushrooms.

I was not going to eat this!

I was not going to eat this!

The walk takes me to the lowlands.

The hills of Campsie Fells came into view.

The hills of Campsie Fells came into view.

Suddenly I trodden on some poop! It was animal scat. Referring to my Ray Mears tracking book I tried to identify this animal.

I spotted signs of Scottish wildlife.

I spotted signs of Scottish wildlife.

I identify this scat as coming from a cow!

Then I saw it!

A cow!

Scottish wildlife as it best!

Scottish wildlife as it best!

The hills of Campsie Fells were getting very close now.

The hills of Campsie Fells were closer now.

The hills of Campsie Fells were closer now.

I came across a funny sign!

Warning of dangerous monkeys!

Warning of dangerous monkeys!

Apparently monkeys here are dangerous!

Then I saw it, a wild cuddly toy monkey….

I saw the cuddly toy monkey.

I saw the cuddly toy monkey.

I called out to the Monkey in my native jungle Borneo dialect.

The wild monkey was wild!

The wild monkey was wild!

It did not communicate back! I guess it only speaks Scottish that I don’t understand.

The hills of Campsie Fell.

The hills of Campsie Fell.

I stopped for another rest.

I was admiring the view of the hills.

I was admiring the view of the hills.

I was enjoying my wild mushrooms snack but it did make me poop funny later that day.

I was enjoying the views.

I was enjoying the views.

The path passes Glengoyne Distillery but I was not going to sample a malt whisky as I was set to remain dry on this trek.

The path passes Glengoyne Distillery.

The path passes Glengoyne Distillery.

As the sun went down, I approach Drymen and enter Queen Elizabeth forest.

The scenery was stunning.

The scenery was stunning.

The sun sets on my first day so I set up camp in the woods.

The sun sets.

The sun sets.

It was a dry and mild night.

To be continued….

For more information on the West Highlands Way please visit:

www.west-highland-way.co.uk

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