Thursday, 28 June 2012

WHW with Caer Urfa Coffee - Post the walk

WHW with Caer Urfa Coffee - Post the walk
Thursday 7th June 2012

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Following completion of The Way, we retired to the Camp Nevis campsite.  Susan had come in earlier in the day and booked a pitch.

The problem we had was the weather.  It was raining when Susan and I set up the tent, we had left Anne and David in Fort William.  The weather very soon became wind and rain, the rain we could cope with, my concern was the wind.  I had used all of our pegs and it looked like it would hold, providing it did not get any worse.

When Susan went back to collect Anne and David I tried to light my stove and put some water on.  Earlier in the week I had had problems lighting the stove and here I was and it started acting up again.  About an hour later I had enough boiling water to make us all a hot drink.  David put on his official WHW T-shirt he had waited since his previous attempt of The Way to wear, along with the official certificate.  Previously we had talked about getting someone in a kilt, policeman or just any local to stand and present it to him, obviously taking a photo, but we did not really get the chance with the rain.   

Not to worry we were soon in the bar having a well deserved meal and drink.   We could see the wind rising and whipping up the trees.  So at any minute we were expecting to see our tent fly past.  Returning to our tent it looked OK and the pegs were still holding.

Early hours on Friday 8th June 2012

The wind started blowing harder, you could hear it hitting the trees just before it hit the sides of the tent.  I got up a couple of times to push back in the pegs and check the sides were tight to the frame.  Then one of the roof bars dropped.  I could not reach to try and tie it back in position.  The frame started to buckle and as the wind gusted the tent was collapsing around our heads, we had no choice but to pull it down.  David had decided to go for a shower earlier so was very surprised to see the tent down and packed.

We packed the car using a couple of surf board ties on the roof for the tent and a couple of other things.  The rest of the kit we packed around us before we set off.  Although it was very early in the morning we were providing some marvellous entertainment for all the people who had been disturbed by the wind and were sitting in their cars.  Anyway we got all our stuff in and headed back to Milngavie.  After a break at Tyndrum for breakfast and we made good time in getting back to Milngavie.

The rest of the journey was uneventful and it did not take us long getting back home.

Where will we go next - you will have to wait and see.

I should finish by saying a big thank you to Susan who transported all the kit and booked us into the campsites along The Way.  Everyone acknowledged without Susan's support we could not have completed the walk.

More to follow

Boz North
(If you want information on The Caer Urfa Coffee Company go to their official website under Caer Urfa Coffee Company)

WHW, Kinlochleven to Fort William - Day 5 7 June 2012

WHW with Caer Urfa Coffee - Day 5
Blackwater Campsite Kinlochleven to Glen Nevis Campsite Fort William
Distance 22.5km Climb 475m
Thursday 7th June 2012

Here we were at the last day, not far now. We packed our things at the Blackwater Hostel and Campsite before heading to a leisurely breakfast sandwich at one of the pubs before we set off walking.  Spirits were high and the sun was shinning.

Susan at Kinlochleven
Eventually we decided to set off

David and Anne at the sign as you leave Kinlochlevin

Following the signs we soon came to the track that takes you up the hill through the woods out of Kinlochleven.  Once you clear the trees you have stunning views back to the town and looking at the hills we walked through the day before.

David and Anne coming through the trees.

Anne coming up the hill with Kinlochleven in the distance

David at the top of the gap.  The only photo David is not wearing his fleece

Anne nearly there

Anne and Me with Kinlochleven behind

Once on the top the path levels off a little.  Surprisingly we started moving a lot faster. Even so as I said earlier we were no longer walking together and I was no longer looking after them. The route was very well marked.  I would set off at my own pace, then stop, wait till Anne and David passed me. Sometime David would be first other times it would be Anne, depending on how they were walking. Once passed I would wait awhile then set off again and do it further down the track. As with David and Anne I found things a lot easier walking my own pace.

David approaching Tigh na sleubhalch

David and Anne at Tigh na sleubhalch

Anne passing Lairigmor

For those who cannot read this sign it says if you are a supporter of the MacDonalds you put a stone on the cairn, if a supporter of the Campbells you take a stone away.

As we approached the sign marking the half way we saw the charity walkers van.  They had stopped for a rest and some water.  As we read the sign we saw the walkers set off, they were pleased they were nearly finished with only six miles to go.  One of the walkers looked so pleased until I pointed out on the sign it said seven miles, you should have seen his face drop.  When we spoke to the guide he said they were going to finish at the original end, which was a mile closer.  They had left Kinlochleven a good hour ahead of us, the guide said he could run the distance that was left in half an hour.  Unfortunately for him he had to stay with his group.

Anne with the view of Ben Nevis in the background

Not that far from this point, I tried to get Anne and David to walk together, I had told them to watch out for a special place, the dingly dell. I said they would know where it was when they reached it.  How could they miss, such a beautiful spot.

David and Anne in the dingly dell, fantastic

Me and Anne, in the dingly dell, how brilliant
Last time I was here it was full of trees

Anne, finally on the forest track

Anne waving and David not far behind, soon be over

Anne and David at the original end.

Me and Anne
Once we saw the sign that we could collect a free certificate from the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, we went in for a quick drink and ice cream for David, we collected our certificates.  The lad behind the counter asked how many and his colleague said if there was not enough there were extras out the back.  As he was dressed in a kilt I asked if he would come to the other end of the town and present us with them so it would look official.  When I said the other end I meant the new finish at the other end of the high street.  David and Anne said he may have thought I meant the other end of The Way at Milngavie, because he was very reluctant.

As we left the Edinburgh Woollen Mill it started to rain.  We have found over the years that it is very rare for it not to rain in Fort William.  Anyway down the High Street we went to the new finish.  Even as slow as they were walking it was the fastest I have walked down Fort William's High Street as we were passing the shops. Normally Anne would stop to look at the shops but not today.  I asked Anne if she wanted a look in some of the shops, "No" was the reply.
"Do you want to look in Fat Face?" I know Anne enjoys a walk into Fat Face.
"What about the Granite Shop?"  I know Anne could spend a long time looking in the Granite Shop.
"No!! Lets just get this finished."
As I say the fastest I have ever walked down Fort William's High Street with Anne.

Anyway Susan was standing at the end and once we had crossed the line she presented us with a I've walked the West Highland Way medal keyring.  Very proud, once the photos were taken we made arrangement to get to the Glen Nevis Campsite, I had stayed here a couple of nights in 2009 when I had completed the West Highland Way and Ben Nevis. Again in 2011 for the start of my Cape Wrath Trail. I knew the facilities were perfect for what we needed.

Me, Anne, Gordon and David at the end
More to follow

Boz North
Details correct at time of writing.
Follow link to previous - Day 4 Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven
Follow link to previous time I walked this route - WHW Day 6 Kinlochleven to Fort William
Follow link to a walk which started in Fort William my Cape Wrath Trail
If you want information on Caer Urfa Coffee Company
NOTE Caer Urfa Coffee Company is now Bourne Coffee Company.

Monday, 25 June 2012

WHW, Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven - Day 4 6 June 2012

WHW with Caer Urfa Coffee - Day 4
Bridge of Orchy to Blackwater Campsite Kinlochleven
Distance 33.5km
Wednesday 6th June 2012

We were making good progress and were still a day ahead of my original plan.  So we had the time if we had wanted to have an easy day.  We would move on and see what would happen and make the decision later in the day.

David, Me and Anne at the start of Day 4
It was agreed that we would see Susan at Kingshouse, as she drove over the bridge and we started walking up the track through the wood behind the Bridge of Orchy Hotel.

David at the tree that over looks the Inveroran Hotel
 We stopped at the Inveroran Hotel for a quick cup of coffee.  As we passed the wild campsite it was now empty as the campers we had seen there the previous night had moved on.  The wind had died down so if we had wanted we could now have pitched the tent there with no problem.

When we started on Sunday we were all three of us walking and talking together.  As the days had moved on we were more and more walking alone, each with our own thoughts.  I was still walking slow as I felt I should keep a watchful eye on Anne and David, but I was finding it hard walking at their slow dragging, energy sapping pace.  They were walking at their own pace, sometimes Anne was finding it easy and would be ahead, other times it was David forging ahead.

It was as we were moving across the open moor land that we saw our friend, boots off and beer bottle man.  He was sitting on the side of the track in a little sheltered space and enjoying the view across to Rannoch Moor, it was stunning.  I spent a few minutes having an interesting talk with him.

As we moved across the open moor land the weather became a little unpredictable and it started to rain off and on.

View from the point next to The Way.

Anne at the Black Cottage
David and Susan were already at the Kingshouse when we arrived there.  Going inside we decided to have a quick meal, we also saw some of the other walkers we had seen over the last few days.  The charity group were there and the other group who had been travelling fast and a number of other walkers.  We decided to push on to Kinlochleven making use of the extra time we had made earlier in the week.

David and Anne leaving Kinghouse behind.

The views down the glens were fantastic

Anne with the Devils staircase
Anne and David approaching the Devils staircase
David and Anne near the top of the Devil's staircase
Anne and David at the top of the staircase

David, Anne and Me at the top
At the top we saw the guide of the charity walkers and David asked the question had he lost any.  Of course he had not but it looked like they could choose what stages they walked.   

Me and Anne on the route down

David and Anne on the Way down towards Kinlochleven
Once we passed the water plant the track became very steep.  We were passed by a couple from one of the groups running down.  It was strange as one of the runners was the one lagging at the back the day before.  Anyway they stopped, problems with socks or something like that, and we passed them.

Eventually we arrived at the bottom and saw Susan's car at the Blackwater Hostel and Campsite.  I had stayed here before when I did the WHW alone and knew they had great facilities. Just as the midges arrived, when we asked inside if Susan had booked in they did not know. So we had a walk around and went to the information centre where we agreed to meet, but it was closed.  Anyway in a few minutes we found Susan and set up the tent.  After a quick snack we went to the nearest pub to get out the way of the monsters.

Not far now, another 33.5km covered, one day walking left.

More to follow

Boz North
Details correct at time of writing.
Follow link to previous - Day 3 Beinglas Farm to Bridge of Orchy
Follow link to next - Day 5 Kinlochleven to Fort William
Follow link to previous time I walked this route - WHW Day 4 Auchtertyre to Inveroran and WHW Day 5 Inveroran to Kinlochleven
If you want information on Caer Urfa Coffee Company
NOTE Caer Urfa Coffee Company is now the Bourne Coffee Company. 

WHW, Beinglas to Bridge of Orchy - Day 3 5 June 2012

WHW with Caer Urfa Coffee - Day 3
Beinglas to Bridge of Orchy
Distance 28km
Tuesday 5th June 2012

We had a good breakfast, packed the car and left Beinglas Farm campsite in much the same situation as when we arrived, plagued by midges.  It was only as we started walking they became less bothersome.

Again we saw lots of people walking The Way, there were some familiar faces but many we had not previously seen.  It just goes to show how popular The Way is.

Anne on the rise above the crossing of the A82

David a little further on
As we approached the junction of Crianlarich and Tyndrum we were joined by a group of walkers.  At the junction they were looking to turn right and go into Crianlarich and were not sure of the way although it was shown on a big sign post.  Anyway they were going to meet friends in Crianlarich and have a drink.  We would be turning left, our friends said I could go with them as Anne and David had left me.  They did not waiting to have their photo taken at the sign post.

From the Crianlarich and Tyndrum junction Anne and David did not wait for a photo
 There is a little climb up and down a couple of times through the forest before The Way drops down to the A82 again.  It was on this stretch we saw a group that had been really flying and it looked like they were being lead by professionals. We crossed the A82 towards St Fillan's Priory passing the areas being looked at for farming techniques.  The Way passes the Wigwam campsite where I had previously stayed, then loops back round to the A82. This crossing had also changed from my previous walk, previously I had to cross the road. Now The Way is safer and passes under the road.

The sun was shinning and it was starting to get very warm as we moved across the area from the Wig wam campsite to the wood as you reach Tyndrum.  We had arranged with Susan to meet at the Green Welly Stop to have a break as we passed through.  We had a good rest with something to eat and a drink in the cafe. 

David, Anne, Me and Susan at the Green Welly Stop
When we set off again there was a little confusion, David for some reason started walking back the way we had come.  Not to worry we soon put him right.  Sitting by the road, resting, with his boots off and a couple of beers was another walker who was taking his time getting to Fort William, who we would see over the next couple of days.  Susan had already met him earlier at the Beinglas Campsite.

Turning right from The Green Welly Stop, The Way travels along the A82 for a few hundred meters. Crosses the railway line before turning right. The Way is very well signposted. 

Anne and David on the track from Tyndrum

Susan at a car park on the A82 watching us and taking our photos.
Again we saw loads of walkers some turned out to be a group of charity walkers with a professional leader. As we moved up the track the weather started to get a little overcast and the wind was picking up.  By the time we reached The Bridge of Orchy it looked like as though it would soon start raining.  I should add even with the threat of rain the midges were starting to gather. The plan was to reach Inveroran Hotel and camp at the wild campsite just along the road.  However with the time and the threat of rain we decided that David and I would go along to the wild campsite, pitch the tent then come back to the Bridge of Orchy Hotel where we would leave Anne and Susan, for a meal. We would start walking again in the morning from The Bridge of Orchy and pack the car as we passed the wild campsite.  The same as we did a couple of days earlier at Milarrochy Bay.

The wind was really gusty as we struggled with the tent, we could not get it to stay up.  So we had to do some quick thinking.  We rang Anne and Susan who were still at the hotel to ask about the bunk house.  It turned out to be full, so we thought we would try putting up the tent in the area of the river bank nearer the Bridge of Orchy where we had seen other campers and it was a little sheltered.  We found a spot with a little more shelter near a bush, where there were plenty of rocks to put at the bottom and this time it stayed up.  We were also close enough to the Bridge of Orchy Hotel so that we could leave the car and walk to the bar.

On the way to the bar we saw our friend, boots off beer bottle man.  He was having a great time, with plenty of empties.  After our struggle with the tent we arrived at the bar with a little time to spare before they stopped serving food.  The food was worth the effort.  Fortunately as it happened the rain did not materialised, so our luck with the weather was still holding.

More to follow

Boz North
Details correct at time of writing.
Follow link to previous - Day 2 Balmaha to Beinglas Farm
Follow link to next - Day 4 Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven
Follow links to previous time I walked this route - WHW Day 2 Cashell Farm to Inversnaid, WHW Day 3 Inversnaid to Auchtertyre and WHW Day 4 Auchtertyre to Inveroran
If you want information on Caer Urfa Coffee Company
NOTE Caer Urfa Coffee Company is now the Bourne Coffee Company

Sunday, 24 June 2012

WHW, Balmaha to Beinglas Farm - Day 2 4 June 2012

WHW with support from Caer Urfa Coffee - Day 2
Balmaha to Beinglas Farm
Distance 34.5km
Monday 4th June 2012

Before leaving Milarrochy Bay we packed our kit, had a walk round the campsite and took a few photos.  Susan would drop us back at the carpark at Balmaha in order that we would not miss any of the walking.  Susan would drive back to the campsite with the idea being, on the way past Milarrochy Bay we would stop and pack up the car.

David, Anne and Susan Milarrochy Bay, looking across Loch Lomond

Leaving Balmaha the weather was warm, clear and looked like it was going to be a good day.  Susan drove back to the campsite and waited for us to walk along the loch.

David and Anne Loch Lomond

Me and Anne
It did not take us long to walk back to the campsite.  After packing the car Susan headed off and we carried on up The Way following the twists and turns until we met Susan again at Rowardennan.  This was a part of The Way where it appears to me that The Way twists away from a direct route.  Anyway Rowardennan was where we had lunch at the pub.

David and Anne at Rowardennan
After lunch we set off again and headed up the Loch side.  We passed Tom Wheldon's seat and saw a number of people walking.

Anne and David, footbridge near the Inversnaid Hotel
We called into the Inversnaid Hotel for a coffee and scone.  I found out the last time I was here that walkers have to use the door at the back, so that was the way we used.  However it looked as though it did not matter today as people were wandering about all over.  Over coffee we saw many of the walkers we had seen at Rowardennan and previously on The Way.

David and Anne in Inversnaid Hotel

Anne and Me outside the Inversnaid Hotel

Anne outside the Inversnaid Hotel

David and Anne
Not far from the Inversnaid Hotel after climbing up and down over some rocks we saw the sign for Rob Roy's Cave.  Leaving Anne, David and I went to have a closer look. We were too high and could not work out how to get down to the cave.  Last time I was here I was too low, time was moving on so we decided just to leave it and carry on The Way.  Returning to where we had left Anne we found she was not there.  So we moved on and passed a couple doing The Way with big bags from Liverpool.

It was now I started getting doubts, had Anne moved off the track or moved on?  We had covered a fair distance and thought I had better go back.  We agreed that David would walk on and I would go back.  After passing the Liverpool lads again I went back to the sign for Rob Roy's Cave, no sign of Anne.  I turned around again and started running back.  In no time I passed the two Liverpool lads again for the third time.  I soon caught up to David but still no sign of Anne.  Where was she?  We moved on a bit further.

I still had doubts that she was ahead and some how or other I had left her behind.  So we had phone numbers and agreed David would move on and I would head back.  The Liverpool lads had not seen Anne nor had other walkers I passed on the way back.  Then I got a call, David could hear Anne shouting ahead of him, she must have been moving at some pace, a lot faster on her own than she did with me.

This time when I passed the Liverpool lads they made some comment on how easy it must be without a big bag.  I told them to take care and ran on.  It was later as the track became difficult I saw the wild goats.

Wild Goats
I caught up with Anne and David a Doune where there was a bothy.  I had to look in, the last time I was here it was raining and I tried to get in, to get out of the rain.  I was sure there were people inside who held it closed, I was even now more convinced that this had happened as the door opened easy enough.

Moving on passed the top of the loch we saw people camping in the wood line.  Not to worry it would not be long and we would arrive at the campsite.  There was a little more up and down before we reached Beinglas Farm.  We saw more wild goats, they did not seam to be afraid of us as we passed fairly close.

As we approached the campsite the midges started again.  Susan was in the carpark waiting.  The midges were agonisingly irritating as we pitched the tent as quick as we could and we retreated into the campsite bar to escape them.

We had made up the distance, approx 34.5km, and were where I had planned for day two.  A very good days walking and good effort.

More to follow

Boz North
Details correct at time of writing.
Follow link to previous - Day 1 WHW Milngavie to Balmaha
Follow link to next - Day 3 Beinglas Farm to Bridge of Orchy
Follow links to previous time I walked this route - WHW Day 1 Milngavie to Cashell Farm and WHW Day 2 Cashell Farm to Inversnaid
If you want information on Caer Urfa Coffee Company
NOTE Caer Urfa Coffee Company is now the Bourne Coffee Company