Tuesday, 5 April 2011
FBROTY - Westhighland Way Weekender
Hamish, Dan and I got the Friday evening train to the Fort only to be met by the Lochaber Drug Squad and dog team. Want to know how to put a sniffer dog off the scent? It will cost you...
Chups found and eaten then a short ride in the dark to the Ben Nevis Inn bunkhouse. Breakfast fail. Rescued by some of Hamish's mighty homemade energy bars and some 'borrowed' instant coffee.
We make tracks for the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven. Chups, breakfast rolls and first effective coffee of the day. Wobble off up over the hill and down [via a wee wheel swallowing snow incident] the Dei'ls Staircase.
No time for anything else but some water at the Kingshouse and on to attack the climb past the ski area to the wide, wild expanse of Ranoch Moor.
Well, when I say attack... I mean more powered by Ventolin.
Bridge of Orchy! Sweet bunkhouse and bar tick past at gin o'clock but we must ride on by with dark thoughts about when we will get to tonights rest stop - the Beinglass Campsite at the top of Loch Lomond.
Tyndrum conundrum: a quick snack from the mini-mart or Chups and Stuff from the realfood place. A compromise is settled on as we sup our take out double espressos on the doorstep of the cafe and eat our various mini-mart confections. It is around 2 hours to sleepy place from here and we expect night fall around Crianlarich. Best get going...
Most folks will have a view on the least enjoyable bits of the WHW. Many pinpoint the trail North of Inversnaid to the Bothy. I don't mind that - it has its frustrations but it is at least a scenic place to be. My personal hell exists between the A82 and A82 south of Crianlarich. The push-ups in the pine forest and the cowshit besmirched farm tracks. Oh. and it got lights-on dark here. Thankfully the trail is not so technical that a bar mounted joystick was just about able to cope.
Twelve hours on the dot and we three rock up to collect the keys to our hut, dump the bikes, pull on a clean buff and head over to the Drovers Inn for a much needed dinner and beer amonst the amusing taxidermy and one man hard rock cover band.
Sunday comes an hour sooner and we have a later start needing to wait for a cooked breakfast at the Drovers. Fun trails abound down lochlomondside. In the sun and the dust we link a tea break at Inversnaid with a coffee and crisps at Balmaha chewing over the question of Conic Hill.
I was up for it as the views are amazing for relatively little effort and the descent is always an engaging bumpy-scrapy rattle. Hamish didn't say no. Dan had no previous, so it was on.
Photos = words.
As we circled around to the outskirts of Drymen the scenery changed again and we entered the final phase of the way - silence fell as we ground out the scant few easy miles back to Milngavie - savouring the buff loam of Riverside in perfect condition as a final singletrack fling in the failing light.
Lights on again for the final road scoot in to Glasgow. It seems apt that my light gives out 5 minutes from Queen Street Station as do my legs...
Food. Train. Home. Beer. Sleep.