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A happy chap who likes a walk every now and then

Monday, 26 December 2016

WHW Apr 16, Day 1 - Milngavie to Mallarochy camp site (20 miles)

A spare week earlier this year so I decided to do the walk i said I'd never do... 

I've crossed the WHW many times whilst on other walks and the constant stream of people on the way put me off, but I surmised that April should be a reasonably quiet time, especially as the weather forecast was for snow and north winds.

I enjoyed (sarcasm) the usual standing room only train journey from Aberdeen to Glasgow on the Friday afternoon as the rain, sleet and snow battered the windows, then a nice quiet 20 minute local train out to Milngavie where I was booked into the premier Inn. A last minute Tesco resupply trip and a steak pie supper (seriously, they dont do mock chop suppers down here, heathens) from the local chipper completed the preparations before i headed for an early night.

Day 1 (20 miles)

Saturday dawned nice and sunny but with a crisp white frost freezing all the windscreens in the hotel car park, I headed up the road to the official start point in the town centre, half way there a car pulled over and asked me if I knew where the WHW start point was...

I didn't bother with the usual start photo shoot, just a quick snap as I raced (@2mph ish) up to the start line, i passed half a dozen folk who all looked like they were preparing to go my way too.

 The first couple of miles are through typical city parkland, not to unpleasant and it even had a cheeky wee climb to get the breathing sorted

Soon enough you leave the woods behind and appear out beside Craigallian loch, About a mile or so after the Loch there's a short road section on the B821, as I was leaving the road section part of my tooth fell out, I waited for the pain to kick in with thoughts of having to stop and head home after only 3 or 4 miles. But no pain thankfully and I continued on my merry way.

I never stopped at the Glengoyne distillery but I did nip into the Beech tree for a coffee break, well deserved after a nice easy and generally pleasant 7 miles or so. I was the only one in, athough a party of three left as I arrived, i have that affect.

The next few miles were equally easy going, along good tracks, although the busy road noise was always a constant irritant. Thankfully the "bastard" gates have been bypassed, this style of gate (and the ridiculous amount of them) drove me insane on the Speyside way

 From Gartness to Drymen the way becomes a road walk, I think I was maybe passed by no more than half a dozen cars in the two miles section, so not a busy road. But after a mile or so it became ever so slightly tedious.

Garadhban forest track

I didn't see any point in heading into Drymen, although I can't deny the thought of a swift Guinness did cross my mind. Generally the weather had been very good, in fact rather warm but as I crossed the A811 it started to blow through snow, this continued on and off over the next few miles, even with the sun shining . I stopped in the queen Elizabeth forest for a cup a soup and to put some zinc oxide tape on a couple of hot spots.

When planning the walk i had decided that I would wild camp in the trees just before the climb up Conic hill, it was only just after 3 pm when i got there, so I made the decision to go over the hill and hopefully get a camp site beside loch Lomond.

The climb up Conic hill wasn't as bad as it looked from the bottom, the views were definitely worth it, unfortunately the decent ruined it. It was skitey enough in the dry conditions I had, it wouldn't be any fun at all in the wet, a very, very badly eroded steep path, just to compound my now foul mood, the wigwam gate at the bottom is impossible to get through with a bergan on, a fantastic design (more sarcasm) for a long distance trail.

nearly at the bottom of Conic hill, daft gate still to come.
think this is the view from the viewpoint at the "pass of Balmaha"

On finally getting down to a very busy Balmaha I decided to head for Milarrochy where a camp site was marked on the map. I was pretty tired by this stage and didn't really enjoy the very busy mile or so to the camp site, especially the 200 meter stretch along a pebble beach that sapped everything.

No complaints about the campsite though, £6.50 (I think it was) and a decent enough flat pitch, although the noises and goings on around 0300 were interesting listening.

Only 76 miles to go

Click For Day 2

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