The West Highland Way & Great Glen Way

Walked in August 2010

Day 0 - Saturday 14th August

London – Milngavie (Mugdock Wood)
2.5 miles

I had the crazy idea of drinking a bottle of red wine the night before we began our trip, so although I woke as planned at 6.15, I wasn’t feeling particularly fresh. Nevertheless I was able to get out of the house by 6.50 to walk to Greenford Tube Station (with pack on back) where I caught a Central Line train to Oxford Circus which took only half an hour and where I changed to the Victoria Line to Victoria Tube station. Emerging into the busy human traffic at 7.43 I was surprised at how quick the whole journey had been. The coach that would be taking Darryl and me from Victoria Coach Station to Glasgow left at 9.00, but Darryl had wanted to be there at 8.00 just to make sure we were ready to board at 8.30. I expected to get to the coach station at around 8.15 but as it turned out I got there at 7.51 and had to hang around for half an hour, walking the length of the station looking for signs of Darryl and Yve until they found me by our departure gate at about 8.20. There were about twenty or so gates at the station and nearly all were full of waiting passengers. I hoped there wouldn’t be too many people on our coach as I was hoping to have two seats to myself to stretch out. As it turned out, even with two seats it was nearly impossible to get comfortable. I had forgotten that coaches and trains are not designed to accommodate people over six feet tall. Very annoying.

Darryl was surprised I had managed to get all my kit into my bag and make it look so small. I had already repacked the bag three times in the past week so I’d had ample opportunity to reduce the pack size . Nevertheless it was still heavy, weighing in at between 14 and 15 kilograms. When empty the two water bottles were pretty light, but when full both weighed a kilogram each! During the trip I decided to just fill one, have a bottle of fizzy drink, and use the filtering/purifying water bottle I’d brought along to collect water along the route if we started running low. This water bottle was a Godsend, and I used it several times. The filtering/purifying system is incorporated into the bottle top and makes the whole thing so easy to use. You just fill the bottle from a spring or stream, put the top back on and squeeze the water through the ‘torturous’ filtration system and out the spout. I would use it to fill my other water bottle, then fill it again if necessary.

Yve asked when my next ‘publication’ would be out, i.e. this journal and we both agreed that Christmas would be reasonable. I hoped there would be enough interesting ‘stuff’ to write about, and thankfully I wasn’t disappointed. We were soon outside queuing up to board the coach. There was a slight altercation between Darryl and another passenger who thought he had jumped the queue which I’m not sure was entirely true. And as he pointed out the queue wasn’t huge so it wasn’t like there would be a problem for anyone finding a seat. We said goodbye to Yve and boarded, sitting somewhere near the middle. The coach left just after 9.00 and we began the long nine hour journey to Glasgow. We found out pretty soon that there were no refreshments on board. Darryl shared some of his food including Yve’s excellent homemade küchen (:D) but I hadn’t brought any liquid with me so I was worried about getting thirsty during the long trip. As the coach pulled out we saw that the morning was still pretty dull and overcast. I watched the city go by through the window. We stopped at Golder’s Green to take on a few more passengers and I was surprised at all the Jewish guys in their traditional dress. The coach then headed to the motorway and it soon started to rain. I listened to music for an hour or so, just watching the scenery go by and trying to doze.

When we reached Stoke on Trent the coach pulled into a service station and the driver announced (to my relief) that we would be stopping for half an hour for people to stretch their legs and get refreshments. Darryl and I bought coffees from Starbucks and sat down for a while before buying a drink from the shop and heading back to the coach. We were soon on the move again and before long the coach was passing through the Lake District heading toward Scotland. We stopped at one point to change drivers but this was only a brief delay, and we eventually arrived in Glasgow around 6pm.

After finding our way to the train station which was fairly close by we bought tickets to Milngavie and jumped on a train that was just arriving, changing once at Partick. We got to Milngavie around 7pm, took a few photos by the train station and by the obelisk in the market square where we also found a local woman to take a picture of us, then set off on the West Highland Way, intending to get a few miles done before wild camping.

We met a foreign couple who were starting out at the same time as us. We must have followed a different schedule as we only saw them once or twice more in the next couple of days.

We walked through the pleasant wooded area of Allander Water and then into Mugdock Wood, sipping whiskey as we went and feeling excited to be embarking on another adventure. After a couple of miles we saw a densely wooded area to the right of the path. There appeared to be a makeshift gate opening into the trees, and on investigation we saw the remains of a campfire. While Darryl set up his tent I went looking for water, but finding I couldn’t get close enough to the stream I gave up and returned to the camp. Darryl had better luck some time later, and once we were sorted and our tents were up we had a go at lighting a fire.

There wasn’t a lot of dry wood around, but we managed to find enough to get a fire going. We had no big logs however, so the fire didn’t last long, in fact I was surprised at how quickly it burned down. It was a good job we weren’t relying on the heat. That said, once we were settled in our tents it became clear that it was going to be a pretty cold night. It was hard to get to sleep to begin with and I slept fitfully.


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