A while back I created a SOTA map based upon the AT, and then hit up the reflector to ask for some opinions on trail corridors and what not. Well one of the responses was “since you’ve done the Rim Trail, why not considering doing the West Highland Way?”. After a couple of trips to Scotland and having already climbed Ben Nevis and just having a crazy overall desire to see more of the Highlands I decided to bump the WHW up to the head of the list and SOTA-ify it. Plane tickets are booked I am headed there the first two weeks of May (my annual get away from everyone for my birthday birthday trip).
For those not aware, the West Highland way is 94 miles long, starts in a suburb of Glasgow, skirts along Loch Lomond, heads into the Highlands and goes by the base of Ben Nevis the high point of the UK, then wanders a couple of more miles down into Fort William which is at the Southern end of Loch Ness. It is also a part of the International Appalachian Trail. This is a hike that takes most people 7-9 days to do, but I have added some days dedicated to peak bagging some SOTA peaks. I am also splitting from the Way at Kinlochleven to head up into the mountains to the South of Ben Nevis as well cutting over to the peaks to the West of Nevis (It is some circuit that has it’s own “Challenge” name that escapes me). Overall I am looking to do about 140 miles in 12-13 days. I am also thinking (hoping) I will be able to do most of the activations via 2M. I will be bringing my ultra lightweight MTR3b kit for HF as a fallback. Doing 2m for the bulk of the activations will cut down the amount of time I am on peak and speed my movement along. (I promise to work as many chasers as possible, I will not cheat anyone).
For now the plan is as follows…
Land at GLA and take a taxi/shuttle/train over to Milngavie and start walking after snagging a pint and a steak pie and picking up whatever last minute needs I might have. I am planning to stop off at Glengoyne to pick up some scotch to accompany me along the two weeks. I will be doing a mix of wild camping, maybe try the glamping pods I have read about and BnB for those days where I’m looking for a little extra rest to handle the peak bagging days. For those interested, I have also heard that there are baggage shuttle/carrier services, but I will not be taking advantage of those.
Day 1 the goal will be to make it to Glengoyne before they close, and then camp or BnB in Drymen, no SOTA just getting the plane muck off me and getting out into some open country. Oddly enough the wife and I had lunch in Drymen this past October, neat little town as are all the smaller UK towns. I could see myself retiring to one of these peaceful and quiet hamlets in my older days.
Day 2: Drymen to Rowardennan and the first SOTA summit. Conic Hill. This is the lowest peak on the trail, and close enough to Glasgow this should be 2m only. I have booked the youth hostel in Rowardennan and will spend an extra day in order to activate Ben Lomond.
Day 4: This will be my longest walking day, intending to walk 20 miles to get to Crianlarich because you guessed it, the next day I am going after two SOTA peaks: Ben More and Stob Binnein. Both of them are a little off the Way, but they are 10 pointers, and 001, 002 for the GM/SS region.
Day 6: Back at it with both walking and peak bagging, headed up to Tyndrum and picking up Beinn Odhar during the day.
Day 8 is another move along day as I head up to Glencoe Mountain Resort. I have not decided if I am going to try out those cool looking glamping pods, or if I will just wild camp in the campground.
Day 10: So I have no clue how much snow is going to be up in the high country, but if it is clear I am going to leave the Way at Kinlochleven and go after the seven SOTA peaks up in that area. Sorry, not going to list them all out, but Ben Nevis is one of them :D. Grab SotAtlas, or Sotamaps to see what the others are.
After spending 3 days up in the high country wandering around and bagging summits I’ll finally end up in Fort William on day 12 or 13.
I have given myself till May 16 to be back in Glasgow so I will have some leeway with the schedule above if necessary. If I bag every peak intended it will be 16 peaks in 12-14 days for a total of 127 points. So you can expect some sort of write up towards the end of May as I digest the trip and get settled back in.