West Highland Way

Home to Milngavie - 16th to 17th April 2014

I had managed to secure a 'working from home' day, so the frantic to-ing and fro-ing from London in the evening, which I had expected to do, didn't happen. Consequently, the final packing and our evening meal could be done in much more comfort and without the stress that would have inevitably been the case had the original plan been followed through.

So with Rachel home from work, and I, having turned my PC off for the last time, all thoughts of work could be banished. With carrying all our own gear, packing is quite straight forward and quick. But, as we were overnighting on the train we packed slightly differently, making sure that we wouldn't have to completely unpack in the confined cabin. Our packs weighed in at 24 and 25 pounds respectively, which was what we expected.

After having one final check of everything, we closed the door and started the walk to the station. It seemed so strange leaving home at 9 o'clock at night, in the dark, but all the same, the familiar nervousness and apprehension, the strange feeling in the pit of our stomachs, made us realise that we were indeed at the starting line of our next adventure, regardless of what time of day or night it was.

Our first train to London Victoria arrived on time and soon we were being whisked towards our first goal. The carriage was almost empty - oh if only it was like that on my daily commute! We arrived on time and soon found the underground and the right line to take us to London Euston. The underground was surprisingly busy, even at 10 o'clock at night. We had plenty of time to kill before we were allowed onto the sleeper and so we found a waiting room, and, um, waited. It wasn't long before the platform number came up and off we trotted to find our berth for the night.


Now where's our train!

We were met by a steward on the platform, who seemed to be rather stressed due to having to look after 3 carriages. After choosing coffee rather than tea for our early morning call, we boarded the train. Anyone that has been on the sleeper will know just how tiny the berths are. We had to take our packs off before entering and then had to put them on the bed to allow us to close the door. There certainly wasn't any point in taking the proverbial cat, as you certainly couldn't swing it! It is very difficult to convey just how small it is. Every movement is a major event and has to be thought through and finely choreographed. It had already been decided that I would have the top bunk, Rachel being concerned about falling off during the night. I was also slightly perturbed but, 'Who Dares Wins'..


Our carriage


The tiny cabin

As it was midnight, we went straight to bed, fearing that we probably wouldn't get much sleep. The train was due to get into Glasgow at 7.18am so we set our alarm for 6.00am. We hoped that this would give us enough time to get up, do what we had to do, have our early morning coffee etc. before disembarking. Sleep was hard to come by, the noise and the movement of the train being significant. Just as we were about to drop off, a sudden lurch or bang would jolt us wide awake again. We both survived the night. I didn't fall out of the bunk and the coffee and shortbread biscuits were a welcome pick me up after our fitful sleep.

We had about a 40 minute wait for our train to Milngavie so we found a seat and had a quick rest before finding the lower platforms that seemed to service the local area. As the train pulled out of the station it began to rain, lightly at first and then heavier with a very blustery wind. The memories of the Dales Way came flooding back but being the first day, we were in optimistic mood and a bit of the wet stuff wasn't going to dampen our spirits. Milngavie is the end of the line so there wasn't any problem with us missing our stop. We alighted and took some photos and headed into the town. We went through the underpass and were straight on to the pedestrianised main street and before long we were met with the sight of the WHW obelisk.

We had planned to have a Greggs breakfast, but as it was drizzling and there being no seating in the shop, we opted for a Subway instead. It was the first time either of us had had a Subway, I'm not sure I will hurry to repeat the experience. It was food (I think!) and that was what we needed. After our pit stop we wandered outside back into the rain and were soon accosted by the guy running the Tourist Information Office. He wanted us to sign the WHW book before setting off, which we duly did. There were a few walkers milling about, all getting kitted up in wet weather gear before setting off. We decided to get some supplies from the local shops and then we too were ready to start our trek.

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