The West Highland Way was a 100 mile beautiful walk full of diverse landscapes from grassy farmland in the lowlands, steamy forests near Loch Lomond, and wind-swept hills in the highlands. The very first day (Milngavie to Drymen) was packed with sights, including Mugdock Castle and Glengoyne Distillery, which of course is a great stop mid-way through the hike to enjoy some whisky.
Film Scans: The FIND Lab
On day 2 from Drymen to Rowardennan, we wandered through tall trees and foxglove before starting our ascent up Conic Hill. We were greeted by gorgeous views of Loch Lomond and the town below, Balmaha, where we’d have a quick lunch before continuing on our way along the shoreline.
Day 3 from Rowardennan to Inverarnan was full of midges. These little bugs are so tiny but they will swarm and bite you at any stop longer than 30 seconds. So we tried to keep moving along the tree-dense, rocky shoreline. Picking our way through this path was not easy, but the views of the Loch were breathtaking!
Day 4 from Inverarnan to Tyndrum was the day my left boot fell apart in mile 1. The whole bottom just came right off so we taped it back to the shoe and another group of hikers had some twine to tie around it as another source of support. Luckily Tyndrum had a couple mountain hardware-type shops and we were able to pick up shoe glue to glue the bottom back on, and hope that after setting overnight, it’d hold up for our big 20 mile walk the next day. Between the shoes and the heavy pack (from the giant Sigma 50mm Art lens), my feet have started getting pretty sore every day by mile 7 in, so I also picked up a pair of hiking poles to take some weight off of them. Here we saw a mixture of sheep pastures and forest. And our home cooked meal at our Tyndrum bed and breakfast was probably the best meal of the entire trip!
Day 5 from Tyndrum to Kingshouse was the biggest mileage. The roads were wide and mostly cobblestone (which pounds your feet more than dirt trail) and it took gentle turns through sheep pasture up into the treeless highlands. Here we started to see more rain and found shelter in these little knobs in the terrain where small highland homes used to be. The views were unlike anything I’ve seen and my photos just don’t do it justice.
Day 6 from Kingshouse to Kinlochleven was the rainiest day I’ve ever had to hike in. We started with gorgeous views of the mountains surrounding us and quickly hiked up Devils Staircase with on and off downpours passing by. But about midway through we just got dumped on entirely to the point where we could barely see 5 feet in front of us. Needless to say we were completely soaked through. But because of warmer temperatures, once the rain stopped we dried off before entering Kinlochleven. You can imagine by now the soreness in my feet have really started to set in and I can only hobble through the town as we looked for our bed and breakfast.
Day 7 from Kinlochleven to Fort William was the hobble to the finish line. I barely took any photos this day because I was solely focused on making it to the town on my own two feet and with my dignity intact. Matt even helped carry my pack for a bit along a big downhill section that just pounded my feet into numbness. When we finally made it to Fort William I was so happy to be close to the finish, but quickly realized we had to walk all the way through the town before we were done. That felt like the longest walk as we had no idea how close we actually were to seeing the sign marking the end of the West Highland Way. All of these photos of Fort William were taken the next day, after we had a dram of whisky, a hot meal, and a long rest with the feet propped up high to reduce the swelling. Walking 100 miles is no joke. If I could do it again, I’d probably still carry the same camera gear because I love how all of these photos turned out, but I would get newer, sturdier boots and not try to walk in a very old pair of light hiking shoes. But I survived, and had the best of times! We could not have seen these sights in Scotland any other way.