Steve Anderson

The West Highland Way page 1

Nov 2010

Some time ago while working for Scottish and Southern energy I discussed an idea to walk the West Highland Way with Mike Trump and Paul Coe, a couple of work colleagues. I did not do anything further about the plan, my friends however had incubated the idea and formed it into a scheme which last year they put into action, Paul and Mike set off rather late in the year and after approximately half way hampered by severe blisters and other pedal encumbrances Mike had to pull out leaving Paul to finish the walk. This year I happened to mention that I was walking in Scotland and the boys announced that they were going to attempt the WHW (for those who like an acronym) again, this time for an Alzheimer's charity. As I was up there anyway it seemed churlish not to join them, they did point out that after all it was my idea! “Hoisted by my own petard”, as Shakespeare so delicately put it. I put in a bit of training in the Lake  district, Knoydart, and Glen Elg before meeting the chaps in our hotel in Milngarvie (pronounced Mulgaiy) at the start to the way. I have to confess to having been rather nervous about the whole thing for a couple of reasons, the main one being that as I was a late comer to the plan. I had not booked any accommodation and therefore had to take a tent and all of the paraphernalia attached to camping  in case of a “no room at the Inn” scenario which all Christians will be familiar with (I did not intend to spend any nights with asses).

So with everything packed and then repacked then weighed and repacked leaving out the extras which might jeopardise the grand finale, off we set to the start, a rather small Cleopatra’s needle forged of granite in the middle of a shopping precinct in Milngavie. Our first day was to be the longest and probably the flattest with the exception of the 1000 foot high Conic hill right at the end of the day. So with just a little discrete back patting off we went. We were shortly joined by Andrew, a young American who was planning to do the whole 97 miles in an ambitious 5 days, he was also carrying about twice the weight that I had been worrying about and that did not, it transpired include a tent. We never quite got to the bottom of the contents of his enormous back pack but 2 boxes of power bars and 5 pairs of socks were among the contents. He was a typically enthusiastic chap who joined us for the first day and marched ahead of us on day two as he had to maintain a 20 mile day and we only had 14 miles or so to endure. We lost him in Balmaha at lunch time as Paul and I opted for a pub lunch and he wanted to press on, probably stopped around the corner to devour half a box of power bars, and change his socks. Mike also diverted along the road route as he was already suffering from the blisters that were to plague the whole trip for him. After lunch Paul and I shouldered our packs, Pauls containing air and slippers, mine still containing  a collapsible apartment, and off we set for the second part of the walk, a pleasant stroll out of town up to and through the Garadhban forest , then on to Conic hill, an appropriately named cone of stone 1000 feet high at the end of the walk, by the time I had puffed to the top the only thing keeping me going was the news of a pub  located at the base of the hill and it was all downhill to there. Ah happy days, a pint of ale and a comfy chair, shortly followed by another, then food, then maybe another celebratory ale to mark the end of the longest walking day, while Mike and I were contemplating whether another ale would be a good idea we were overcome ( I’m not sure that is the right word) at the bar by a hen night, a very civilised one from Edinburgh, probably civilised as a result of there being no  Jaeger bomb materials behind the bar. One of the girls when asked what she wanted to drink said, and I have learnt from this “surprise me”. She was duly surprised with a undiluted Pernod, which evidently took her taste buds by storm. We joined them with a small malt, and then made for the wooden hill to Bedfordshire in preparation for a relaxed start on day 2.


A walker is someone who thought there were a couple of gallons left in the tank.  (Author Unknown)