A man sits in the corner of a fish and chip shop, arms folded, legs crossed. He’s patient, calm, but obviously hungry. I can tell he’s a runner from the thumbholes in his slim-cut windstopper hoodie, his OMM compression tights and those ridiculous packable puffer slippers on his feet.
I asked him if he was doing the West Highland Way too.
“ach no, next week. There’s an annual race.”
Yup, 95 miles in one go. Turns out this will be his 7th time.
“I’ve just been training for the Ramsay Round. Have you heard of it? It’s a route to cover 24 munro [3000ft peaks] in 24 hours. Only 79 people have ever done it.”
We were in awe. As they say in HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’, this guy fucks…
“I’m so shattered, I did 9 this weekend with only 2 hours sleep in a wee tent, it’s just so hard!”
I can only imagine, no wait. I can’t.
After our huge 34km day to Kinlochleven including the ‘Devil’s staircase’ we were pretty chuffed, rewarding ourselves with a delicious greasy meal. We’d broken many a diet rule and napped on park benches in the past few days fighting to stay upbeat in the face of pub meals and midges. Then we met this guy. We worked out that he was probably one of the top ultra runners in Scotland. His efforts are really inspiring and made me want to do more with our trip. But for now we will just settle for fish and chips eh, the dinner of champions.
We’re now at the finish line, in the small and uninspiring town of Fort William. In reflection, given this was never a race, completing the West Highland Way isn’t so much of a tick in a box or a target achieved for us, but an experience gained and we celebrated that.
Written by Jeff
The West Highland Way
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.
After leaving Rowardennan we had a shorter 21km day to Inveranan, a final farewell to Loch Lomond and into real highland country.
Two >30km days to Bridge of Orchy (where we stayed at the West Highland Way sleeper) and Kinlochleven too us past the famous and spectacular Ranoch Moor, Glen Coe and the ‘Devil’s Staircase’. On a clear day, a sidetrack up to Stob Mhic Mhartuin from the top of the staircase is very much worth the views, potentially the most scenic of the Way. We couldn’t get a hostel.or Bunkhouse booking so stayed at Allengrange B&B, super luxurious with fantastic breakfasts and hosts.
A final 24km day through the Mamores range took us through to Glen Nevis where we took a nice detour from the way over ‘Cow Hill’ to get some views over Fort William. The town is characterless and dull compared to the amazing vistas on the Way, but it has a Tesco which stocks chips and chocolate. Yeah!
Distance: 111km over 4 days
Difficulty: Plenty of walking involved, but probably because we were tired from the grind. 90% runnable trails if you were fresh.