Reckon I’m collecting parts of the West Highland Way DeAgostini-style. In part works!
One day I’ll do the whole WHW, maybe even some of it in trail shoes. But for today, we did Drymen to Balmaha (and then back to the car at Drymen again.
The first few miles are not great due to a lack of scenery – literally. The forest is gone, and while I’m not a fan of forestry commission plantations, I’m less a fan of an-ex plantation as it always looks a bit horrific. The PC term is to call it a harvest, ahem! Nice terrain for mountain bikers perhaps.
Anyway, once you break out of the ex-forest, Conic Hill comes into view and as you ascend, the other jewels in the National park crown begin to appear. Winking in and out of view are some pretty awesome-looking peaks.
The ascent of Conic hill from this side quite badly eroded, but is a doddle to traverse. Last winter I was on the side of this hill trying to get a GPS signal when a solo runner came striding up the side through the deep snow. Cracking a green stalactite off his face, he briefly looked up, nodded and said “Come-on boys, keep going.”
Today, a just a touch of that wintry weather slapped us in the face just as we got round the East side of the hill. I certainly won’t need to exfoliate for a while! You can actually see the hail sweeping west in the photo below. That’s me with an upper layer of dermis on my face…
Along the way, we spoke to a couple doing Drymen to Rowardennan who had a three-legged Lab and 5-year-old girl in wellies in tow, and on the way down we met a couple of boys doing a reckie run for next week’s Conic Hill race. They were going great guns and we had a wee chat. Thinking on it now, I don’t know if I’ll do the race next week. That first ascent won’t suffer fools gladly!
When we got to Balmaha, I checked on the burning sensation coming from the ankles.
A matching pair of blisters. Thankfully I had some blisteaze with me, and they took the edge off the walk back to Drymen.
I reckon next time, I’ll be dragging a few new reluctant companions along for the next WHW partwork!