West Highland Way

Milngavie to Drymen - 17th April 2014

We took photos of ourselves next to the obelisk and then we were off. The idea was to take it gently, as the 12 miles to Drymen could potentially see us get there just after lunch, so we didn't have to rush.


Mark ready for the off!


Rachel ready for the off!

The rain had stopped but the skies were grey and heavy with cloud. A couple of walkers carrying large packs had stopped about 100 yards further on and were making adjustments to their load. The Campers, as we christened them, soon overtook us and promptly went wrong, missing the turning into Allander Park. Having regrouped further down the road, we let them go, being happy to mingle with the dog walkers that were in abundance on this damp, dingy day. Our pack rain covers had remained stowed, although we had put coats on ever since getting off the train. As the rain became very heavy we admitted defeat and covered our packs with the luminous orange covers. The walking was easy as we passed through Mugdock Wood, the path was less busy and the dog walkers became fewer. We had a first taste of long straight paths alongside Craigallian Loch and, having stopped momentarily at the Craigallian Fire Memorial, we caught up with The Campers who had stopped to de-layer at the end of the path. The rain had ceased for a while but the frequency and heaviness of the showers saw us elect to keep coats and covers firmly on.


Craigallian Loch


Craigallian Fire Memorial


The mountains are getting closer!

The sun was trying to come out and after one final heavy downpour at around lunch time that was it for the day. In fact it would be the last rain we would see until Bridge of Orchy. The distillery at Glengoyne and the Beech Tree pub came into distant view but we decided to stop on a rise just before at Dumgoyach Farm. Several others seemed to think it a good place and stopped too and before long there was quite a gathering. Having stopped within sight of the pub (albeit a long way off) there was a question mark over whether we would stop for a drink or not as it would mean stopping again fairly soon. But after several reasoned arguments for the prosecution, it was decided that it would be rather rude to pass by without sampling the wares contained therein. As we set off for the pub, several of the group set off down a lane to the main road, rather than going straight along the old railway track. Why, I don't know, but most realised their error and returned to the track.

We reached the Beech Tree and partook of some ale and ate some more of our supplies. The pub has quite a selection of furry creatures, kept for the entertainment of the younger generation, one assumes. My theory is all the more gruesome - rabbit pie anyone? We took the opportunity to take our boots off while we were there as our feet were getting rather hot, despite the wind and rain. It was rather strange that no one else doing the WHW came into the pub while we were there, but, we did think that we saw The Campers leaving as we had approached earlier.


Dinner?

We dragged ourselves away from the pub and continued across the road on the path until we met up with The Campers who had stopped. We had a chat and they were indeed camping the whole way, stopping at Drymen Camping for the first night. We wished them well and carried on along the path until we came out at Gartness and the road that would take us all the way to Drymen. We caught up with a couple who had come over from Belgium to do the walk and they were, like us, carrying their own gear. They were christened The Belgians or The Chocolates (Belgium chocolates?) or a combination of the two. We were a bit quicker than they were and so we soon left them and marched on.

The road seemed to go on for a long time and, in addition, the wind became very strong, sapping energy from our legs with every step. Road walking at the end of a day is a killer, but it probably didn't help that we had hardly had any sleep on the train and it was now starting to catch up with us. Where the path took off across fields once more, just outside Drymen, we decided to take the lane and continue into town. We would pick up the path the following morning from the same spot. The lane ultimately took us straight to the front door of the Hawthorns, our bed for the night. We were early, partly due to the earlier rain, making it difficult to stop, but there was also a feeling of just wanting to get there.

We went to the Spar to stock up on goodies and then sat on a seat in the square, catching some rays and watching the world go by. There were no other walkers about, or if they were, they were hiding in the pub. We decided to chance our luck and tried The Hawthorns to see if the room was ready. It was before 4pm, the normal opening time, but the room was ready and they were more than happy to let us in. It was good to get the boots off as my little toe seemed to have picked up a hot spot which was unusual.


The Hawthorns

Ablutions done, we walked across the street to the Clachan Inn for something to eat on the dot of 6pm. A couple of Germans were already there and before long it got quite full. The Belgians arrived, but went in the other bar, and we also recognised another couple we had seen near Glengoyne.


The Clachan Inn

We returned to the B&B and slept, and slept, and slept.

Accommodation: The Hawthorns - Score 9/10

We booked via their website and we were able to specify what type of room/bed we wanted for no extra charge. Among the options was a king size bed in a large room, which we duly ticked. Being rather sceptical that we would get what we asked for (and it wouldn't of mattered if we hadn't) we were rather amazed to be shown into a very large room with a king size bed and 2 single beds, with a reasonable en-suite. The room was clean and well presented, the bed was very comfortable. We had a welcome tray with plenty of choice.

Although Jane and Chris only took over in 2013 they appear to have got it about right. They are very friendly without being too over the top. The breakfast was good with a full selection, both hot and cold to satisfy most people, although the square sausage was a new one on me!

The whole of the main house is given over to guests, with Jane and Chris living in the separate cottage

Evening meal: Clachan Inn - Score 7/10

It is best to make sure you arrive at 6pm, which is when they start serving food, as it can get crowded. I was a little disappointed but difficult to know why. The portion sizes weren't that big and I felt the menu was quite limiting and a bit pricey. However, the food was good and the staff were friendly and eager to please.

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