Our walk to Grassmere was only about 15 kilometers. It was so beautiful, so scenic but a hard slog too. The climb was quite daunting but really lifted the spirits.
We had a much deserved rest day in Grassmere. It was a change of pace to play tourist, taking the bus around to the different villages, a boat ride on Lake Windermere and gingerbread tasting!
Our path then continued on to Patterdale village. The evening ale was imbibed at the White Lion Inn. While the hike was only 12km, it was a challenging and hot endeavor made sweeter by the very scenic countryside.
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Gloomy skies greeted us and some indecision. After a very pleasant evening spent at the Fox and Hounds we contemplated which side of Ennerdale Waters we should walk. The inclement weather forecast helped us decide to take the lower path along the water. Not sure this was the best choice as the path was inundated with overflow. Rather than get our boots wet we waded slowly through the flood water. Our toughened Aussie feet, used to walking barefoot in the bush held up well. We kept our boots dry, ready for the challenge that awaited us at Black Sails.
Sometimes reading ahead pays off and indeed this was the case for the climb ahead. Instructions in the guidebooks warn about taking the most obvious path away from Black Sails downhill towards the water course. The hint was to look for the track behind Black Sails which would lead upward and would not involve a difficult traverse over the brook. After much deliberation over our coffee we were lucky to chat to a professional guide who confirmed the best path.
It was steep, it was scenic and everything we had expected from this hike. How proud did we feel to step out on top and revel in the scenery.
What an exhilarating day. Memories to treasure and be proud of.
The most important task on the first day of the coast to coast walk was to dip our boots in the Irish Sea and to choose a special pebble. This hiker ritual symbolizes the start of our personal trek! How beautiful was the coastal scenery from the high cliffs, both looking back at the village of St Bees and the vistas ahead. As we turned towards the quiet country lanes the weather clouded in but the light rain did little to dampen our day. It was a magical surprise to be met by a flock of sheep in Nanny Beck. We made our way to Ennerdale despite our sore feet. Were we really up to this challenge? Did we train up enough for this undertaking? Time would tell.
Who cares about jetlag when a new adventure is about to begin? The long flight from Australia to Manchester, the bus and train rides to St Bees were quickly forgotten once the beach starting point was surveyed. With both the inspirational words of Wainwright and the local brew consumed our appetite for adventure has been whet. There was so much to ponder and discuss in anticipation of our personal quest. How exciting!
The climb out of Kinlochleven was a shock after a full Scottish breakfast! Despite lots of huffing and puffing the fantastic views over the village were enjoyed.
The walk then took us through a remote valley, past ruined stone cottages and onwards towards Fort William.
We were expecting a forest trail but disappointed by the scar left by the foresters. The weather was very hot and sunny and we missed the shade that would have been provided by the trees.
The spectacle of Ben Nevis provided a changing backdrop as we stepped out to the end of the walk. The final two miles along the Glen Nevis road, was an anticlimax after the stunning scenery experienced during the day. The official end of the West Highland Way at the main street of Fort William provided a quick photo stop before that final and well earned lager in celebration of our achievement! We did it!
After returning to the path, we tackled the nervously anticipated “Devil’s Staircase”.
The path was so named due to the extreme effort required in construction and despite the name, it did not elicit fear. In fact we were rewarded with fantastic weather, spectacular scenery and a wee “tuckshop” at the top! Enterprising scots.
The path wound its way into Kinlochleven. From our reading prior to the walk we were expecting a dim and uninspiring village – gladly mistaken. Kinlockleven proved a beautiful overnight stop off with a wonderful creek-side pub for our daily beer.
Undoubtedly the best day of walking on the West Highland Way. Magic.
The walk from Bridge of Orchy climbed slowly and reached some misty peaks with views down to Loch Tulla and the Inveroran Hotel. This was a beautiful part of the West Highland Way. the mists we experienced over the remote Rannoch Moor made it seem very eerie . Lunch today was in the rain, huddled behind some ruined walls, there was no shelter anywhere!
Unfortunately the fame Kingshouse Inn was under renovations and we had to make our way to the Glencoe Mountain Resort for a shuttle to Ballachulish. The walk today was a true taste of the Scottish Highlands. Very exhilarating.
An easy day’s walking through the valley were we followed the old Jacobean military road. The Bridge of Orchy is a small hamlet with a very comfortable hotel. A shame we had pre-booked our accommodation as despite a lazy departure we made it to the hotel by 2:00pm.
We had been looking forward to some relaxing walking after the trials of the previous stretch. The overnight rain made sure we were presented to a muddy challenge as we walked through the forests towards Crianlarich.
We left the trail to experience the delights of yesteryear at the station’s tea house and enjoyed a hot drink and very welcomed toastie. The munros of Ben More and Stob Binnean provided a sense of the changing scenery to come. Once back up on the forested trail we enjoyed a gentle stroll into Tyndrum. We enjoyed a hearty pub meal fireside at the local. Great end to another testing day. The nineteen kilometre stretch was a much kinder experience.
The day’s walk seemed like it should be a doddle – a stroll along the mighty Lock Lomond and the chance to visit sites linked to the legendry Rob Roy. The trail meandered through gently ascending forestry tracks, provided some stunning water views and glimpses of the Arrochar Alps. We were lulled into a false sense of ease with a beautiful waterfall welcoming us to lunch. We ate in the sunshine at Inversnaid , in happy ignorance of what laid ahead. The afternoon presented a range of challenges as the path turned almost into bouldering and the sunshine gave way to rain. The path turned into creeks and our shoes became coated in mud. It was with great relief that we arrived at Beinglas Farm! The twenty-two kilometres really provided us a challenge.
So many places to go, people to meet, things to do…