Monday, 26 April 2010

Spring on the West Highland Way

I seem to have a bit of luck with the West Highland Way. Having done it twice now, I have only had 2 days of rain out of 14 which is pretty good going for Scotland in April!  This years trip for Macsadventure, was marred at the beginning by the fact that we were missing some team members- thanks to Eyjafjallajokull, the icelandic volcano, three were stuck at home, and one unlucky person, Elaine, stranded for 5 days in Amsterdam whilst in transit from Canada!  What follows are the best images from the 95 miles from the outskirts of Glasgow to Fort William.
Day 1: Milngavie-Drymen
Laura and Jan enjoying the walk over the moor on the outskirts of Mugdock.

Day 2: Drymen to Rowardennan
Coming over Conic Hill- the first big climb of the week.

Views of Loch Lomondside between Balmaha and Rowardennan.


Day 3: Rowardennan to Inverarnan 
The group enjoying the view above the Loch on the way to Inversnaid. 

The stuning views  just keep on coming!

Wild goats roam the shores of Loch Lomond

Descending to Doune Bothy

The final view looking south from the head of Loch Lomond

The world famous Drovers Inn at Inverarnan. Home for the night and reputedly haunted! (We all slept soundly having walked 14 miles....)

Day 4: Inverarnan to Tyndrum
The Way climbs up from the loch and into the highlands. 

Fantastic views of Ben More from the hills above Crianlarich.

And some nice views of Ben More from Strathfillan.... We enjoyed a welcome ice cream at Strathfillan Farm wigwams...

The last mile is always the hardest no matter how long the day.  Here we are heading in to Tyndrum with Ben Lui in the distance.

Day 5: Tyndrum to Kingshouse
This is one of the tougher days- at 20 miles. Most of us had found our stride by this point but Elaine impressed us all by arriving from her extended stay in Amsterdam airport and marching the legs off us!
The view below is west from Victoria Bridge at Inveroran.

The stomp over Rannoch Moor has some very big views.

Day 6: Kingshouse to Kinolochleven
This was our only full day of rain. As we couldn't see a hand in front of our faces most of the day there were no photos!! Sorry. The climb up from Glencoe over the Devil's Staircase is not as hard as you would expect.  By now West Highland Way walkers are feeling fit....

Day 7: Kinlochleven to Fort William
The final push is a glorious climb up from Kinlochleven- probably the hardest climb of the week, but worth it for the views of the Pap of Glencoe and the back of the Aonach Eagach ridge. 

The Way goes through the Lairig Mor, an ancient drovers pass through the mountains
And at last we were treated to stunning views of a snow-capped Ben Nevis before the final descent in to Fort William!

You can also find information about the West Highland Way on my earlier trip report from 2009, and I recommend visiting the Macsadventure website if you are interested in doing either a guided or self guided expedition if you plan to stay in b&bs. The logistics can also then be taken care of with baggage transport between your nightly stops so that you only have to walk with a small day sack.

Saturday, 17 April 2010


Just a quick update today as I am flying around the house packing for the West highland Way and throwing a few things at the computer at the same time.

Spent a relaxing afternoon down at Largybeg point south of Whiting bay yesterday.  There is a great wee crag there ideal for top roping.  There is no protection for leading, but the local outdoor centres have drilled holes on the boulders at the top to make setting up top ropes a doddle.  Nice for a day off!  We were serenaded by mating eiders, and shelduck, who squawked and whooped along the shore all afternoon. Aah the sound of spring!  Someone said that the male eiders sound like Frankie Howard.  I'm inclined to agree.
The views of Holy Isle from this spot are pretty good....

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Walking in Wild Places

This weekend I was co-facilitating a workshop called Walking in Wild Places- all the way down south in Wales.  My role was primarily to help with teaching outdoor skills to ecotherapy practitioners and those interested deepening their connections with nature. This was quite a departure from my usual work, but really enjoyable- giving space to stop and listen and explore what was going on around us.

Sitting beneath oaks on the banks of the Loughar which rises straight out of a cave in the mountain fully formed at the "Eye of Loughor" (Llygad Llwchwr)

On Saturday, we followed a gentle route around Carreg Cennen, crossing streams, passing caves and wandering through woodland.  We were surrounded by birdsong, including the calls of the summer migrants- now arriving in numbers, including chiffchaff, swallows and the fluting song of the willow warbler.

Carreg Cennen is a 13th Century welsh castle that sits on top of wooded crags that form amazing natural defences.

 An oak growing on the edge of the woodland around Carreg Cennen.

Sunday was our chance to get up high on the Black Mountain (Y Mynydd Ddu), following an ancient drovers track up the hill, and then clambering up through the shake holes and heather to the summit of Blaenpedol, with it's huge bronze-age cairn on the top. The views were fantastic, and a bit of compass work soon established that we could see the North Devon coast, The Preseli hills and even Caldey Island.The weather was wonderful, and we had fantastic views of red kites flying over the moorland and fields.

A pool formed by a shake hole near the summit of Blaenpedol.

A huge thanks to everyone who took part for a wonderful and thought provoking weekend.