West Highland Way - Day 1 Milngavie to Drymen

One winter's eve, in front of the stove, with a glass of wine to hand my friend Kath and I decided that 2011 would be the year for us to tackle a long distance footpath. Not just any route but our local West Highland Way, a 97mile wander from the outer 'burbs of Glasgow through lowland valley to the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond and then north through the beauty of Highland Scotland, across the wilds of Rannoch Moor to the edge of Glencoe and then finally via the Devils Staircase and on to Fort William and the bottom of Ben Nevis, our highest mountain. Today we took the step from fireside ramblings to real ones.

At the start in Milngavie. There were masses of people starting the walk today, Saturday being the most popular day to start. We are walking the route in weekend 'chunks' as neither of us can take a full week off work at the moment but some were starting out with full camping gear for a week of walking. Lots of people, lots of approaches.
Sometimes getting out of towns can be the trickiest part of a route but the waymarking and the path for the whole of today was very clear and to be honest the map was kept in my pack the whole day.

The early part of the route took us through pretty woodland, the sun dappling through the trees and falling on swathes of bluebells, campion and other wildflowers.

After the Carbeth road we entered a wider and more open valley with wide views, big sky and first views of Ben Lomond, the Cobbler and beyond. We only live a short distance from here but it was so interesting walking on a footpath in a different part of the valley to the road we may usually travel. Its also fun taking a slower pace and having the enjoyment of absorbing your surroundings.
The photo below is of Dumgoyne hill, at the bottom of this hill is Glengoyne Distillery which is, I believe, the most southerly of the highland malts.

Throughout today the path provided easy walking, some of it on disused railway line routes. There are various places en route where you can stop for lunch or visit a cafe or pub and it would be very easy to leave a car at either end of the route to make it a linear day walk.

This marvellous looking sheep (anyone know what breed?) looked on as Kath adjusted her boots to prevent them rubbing her ankle. We're both treating this weekend as a warm-up for the route further north and what we relished most was the knowledge that because we live close by we would be heading to our own homes at the end of today.
As the walk goes through the hamlet of Gartness (good for watching the salmon leap at the right time of year) there is a very sweet sight offering tired walkers replenishment at an honesty shop outside someones house.

As you approach the final couple of miles of any walk I'm sure appreciation of the view is heightened by the wearniness of your muscles, this view below is looking back to Dumgoyne hill which at the start of the day lay ahead of us. We've had a fun day. Really enjoyed finishing the walk into Drymen and jumping into the pub for a large glass of wine each. We called a lift home for the 4 mile journey and a relaxing evening.

Tags: walks

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