Tobar nan Ceann Gang

The blog of a bunch of middle aged men trying to stay youthful…!

Apr-16-2012

Day One – West Highland Way

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Day 1 (Wednesday 4th April 2012)

Milngavie to Cashell Camp Site – 22.5 miles

It  was cold but dry for the start of the walk. Hammy picked us up from various locations – all eager for the challenge to begin and unsure of just what to expect. Milngavie is pronounced “Mul-guy’, presumably just to highlight who is a local and who isn’t. There is a sculpture in the middle of the pedestrian shopping area marking the start of the route, where we briefly posed for pictures in the cold before setting off by 8am as planned.

The walk very quickly left the urban surroundings and was in parkland almost immediately. In fact it was only a very short space of time before we saw the first deer in the woodland. The path followed Allender Water as it meandered through Mugdock Woods and for the rest of the morning the going was good.

The scenery was great and the skies blue – ideal for taking pictures, especially as we skirted around Drumgoyne at the end of ‘The Campsies’ range of hills. Drumgoyne looked fantastic capped with snow, sticking out like a beacon in the surrounding area. The pace was quick and the ground flat – especially as we reached the former Blane Valley Railway line between Duntreath Castle and Gartness.

We then bypassed the Glengoyne Distillery which was a touch disappointing as my hip flask was taking a hammering and it wasn’t yet 10 o’clock! A rest was taken though at the pub at Dumgoyne which disappointingly wasn’t yet open. This is where we met Johnny Britton – he had arranged to come up and meet us which was good of him and much appreciated.

It was arranged that we would meet Hammy and the van for lunch just outside Drymen which was about 5 miles from the resting place. The walk continued relatively flat and for a long period left the railway line and followed a quiet country road. It was here that we met Kev and Euan for the first time – they had taken a wrong turn and joined us as we plodded on. Once we met Hammy at Drymen, Kev and Euan took the opportunity to put their heavy bags into the van and continue to enjoy the walk with us.

Not much further on and we met a couple of Germans whose English wasn’t brilliant – they too were struggling with direction. Helpfully we suggested that they followed us and we coerced them into leaving their bags in the van until Balmaha which they did – although given the language barrier it wasn’t clear whether they thought we were helping them or mugging them!!!

Our ever growing band, Pied Piper-esque, continued along the route from Drymen to Balmaha, initially through dense forest that was being logged by very heavy machinery but soon rose to emerge onto higher land close to Conic Hill. From there the path ascended to pass close to the hill’s summit before dropping back down to Balmaha on the shore of Loch Lomond. The walk up Conic Hill had been the first testing section of the walk and afforded great views of the loch and surrounding hills in the afternoon sunshine.

Back down in Balmaha and Hammy was with the van in the car park – much to the relief of the Germans who took their bags and scarpered! Balmaha is a regular overnight point for many on the West Highland Way, but we had another few miles to go to reach our final destination of Cashell Camp Site. Officially about 2.5 miles it seemed to take forever! Not sure why? Probably just because it was the end of a long days walking.

Eventually though we made it to the camp, set up the tents and toasted our days achievement with Stuart’s bottle of ‘Knockando’ – although it was obvious that whisky wasn’t everyone’s preferred tipple!

 

Dinner that night was enjoyed at the ‘Oak Tree’ Inn at Balmaha. A good little pub although subject to a few building works at the time of our visit. The food and beer was good and we ate in the conservatory area which was well warmed by a series of bright red patio heaters. As we ate there was a wedding party in the next room and despite our best efforts they didn’t seem prepared to share any of the wedding cake with us!!!

Day One Photo Gallery

Day Two