So we’re off. Off the train at Milngavie (yeh, so turns out this is pronounced “Mul-guy”, didn’t pick that one!) and skipping along the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.
You take the high road and I’ll take the low road…. [something something…]
Booking accommodation had given us half an insight into what we could expect, time travel. Think 1998 – email is well penetrated, but reasonable websites that allow online bookings are like witchcraft. Check out www.westhighlandwaysleeper.co.uk as an example.
The slow draws of hand drafted beer being poured reflect the chilled out summer vibe and a local’s request for a glass of pinot grigrio with a scoop of ice signals familiarly desperate plight of someone who isn’t used to handling a sunny 27deg day.
We’re slowly adapting to our new lives. Apart from the obvious physical shock, this means getting used to Scottish communication and humour …our “trail greetings” are usually met with a “Hiya! Garghble garghble garghble…”, we probably understand about 50% of heavily accented replies.
Dry humour seems to be the specialty of publicans. “So you want vegetables? You know what vegetables are? They have vegetables in New Zealand?”
I had to play along and see where this was going…
“Where is New Zealand? Can you draw me a map?”
I drew a stunning depiction of course.
“So where is the capital?”
I point out Wellington.
“So this would be Christchurch right?”
Mmmhh…here it comes…
“and this would be Nelson? Invercargill. Dunedin, Gore, Alexandra, Wanaka?”
…great gag, the old man behind the bar had worked in Twizel while I had to look up where it was on Google maps.
All in all, we’ve made a good start. We managed to lighten our bags thanks to the UK postal service, “bagged a munro” and had our first encounter with the dreaded midges – heard while climbing the 974m Ben Lomond “Aigh it’s steep but it isn’t as bad as the fuckin’ midges!”.
Written by Jeff
THE WEST HIGHLAND WAY STAGE 1 & 2
The West Highland Way is the most famous long distance trail in Scotland if not the entire UK. It starts from Milngavie, on the outskirts of Glasgow and runs for 154km up to Fort William past Loch Lomond and The UK’s highest peak, Ben Nevis.
We ran a fairly flat 30km first day from Milngavie to Balmaha and stayed at the Balmaha Bunkhouse (good value twin rooms and Jock is great in person despite sending back some sharp email replies). Don’t chicken out and skip Coin Hill at the end of the day. A fairly easy climb for fantastic views over Loch lomond. Tasty haggis at the Oak Tree Inn.
Along the “bonnie banks” for 11km the next day to Rowardennan before climbing the 974m Ben Lomond, the southern most Munro. Ascending via Ptarmigan… is most spectacular. Stayed at the clean but busy Rowardennan youth hostel.
Distance: 41km plus the ascent of Ben Lomond over 2 days.
Difficulty: The bonnie banks were bonnie enough, but bagging a peak is never that easy.