Walking the West Highland Way

MILGAVNIE TO DRYMEN CAMPING (11 miles)

Three weeks ago, my sister and I spent four days on Scotland’s most famous Long Distance Route – the West Highland Way. The Way is a 96 mile (154Km) path that runs south to north from the rolling lands of Milngavie to the dramatic mountains of Fort William. I first heard about it when reading about the International Appalachian Trail a few years ago, and then rediscovered it on Kate Davies’ blog.

My sister and I planned to start our hike on Sunday, April 19th from Drymen – 12 miles north of The Way’s official starting point. As it turns out, there are no buses to Drymen on Sundays, and we were forced to take a train from Glasgow to Milngavie, and start at the true beginning.

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Here is M enjoying a toastie before we begin.

The Way began in a along a wooded path in a town park, with plenty of folks walking well-behaved dogs. Before long, though, the landscape opened up and there were views of tomorrow’s hills.

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And, not long after that, there were SHEEP.DSC_0013Most hikers are probably not as excited to see sheep along the trail as I was. This first pasture was special for us, though, because most of the reason that Meghan and I were even in Scotland was because of sheep and the wool that they produce. We were there because of our love of knitting and our desire to see the landscape that has inspired the most famous knitting traditions in the world.

If not for the sheep, their adorable frolicking lambs, and the gorgeous SPRING flora, the Way through this section is may have seemed monotonous. It is built on an old railway bed, making for easy, graded walking close to homes and highways.

Here are a few of my favorite botanical sites from the day:

Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

Larch (Larix sp.)

Beautiful buds

For the last few miles, we followed a paved country road by picturesque steadings, arriving at Drymen Camping before 5 PM. Normally we would not stop so early in the day, but with plans to buy groceries in Drymen, we had no choice but to set up camp on the slope next to the horse pasture…

and spend the next three hours eating Ayrshire cheese, stretching our sore toes, and watching the sun go down.

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