🥾”Forest” into the Forest🥾

It’s the final day – it’s Sunday 11th July and the prospect of Fort William awaits

Sound sleep is just one benefit of continuous trekking and a sound start like this breakfast is a bonus …… it’s normally a black coffee and baguette stuffed with whatever’s been lurking in your backpack for 3 days. 😳

The backlash of starting a highland trek in a river valley is obvious . To return to the High Land – you have a steep start 😳

The Day – Kinlochleven to Fort William

To achieve this – I’m delighted that we head into the clouds for the last time this trip.

Through this “prehistoric” , densely green , humid , mist covered landscape.

Our Roddy would love this .
Early morning reflection moment.

We make sure that we have time to appreciate the sheer joy of following the long and winding road.

Thom in his element 😍

We came across evidence of the ruins of a picturesque Croft in an isolated valley of the heinous actions of the century following 1750 onwards. Known as the “Highland Clearances“. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/civil_war_revolution/scotland_clearances_01.shtml

The forced abandonment of a strongly built Croft and thousands like this , even today , has a significant effect on the highlands and its people – The atmosphere here redolent of those actions.

It’s clear that lunch was required and we stopped as we caught up with Abbi & the Boer – Wild Campers – who we’d seen twice a day , every day 😁 for most of our hike . Each day looking happy but paler and more tired by their authentic camping experience. ⛺️: Lunch on the ancient battlefield where the Campbells were pursued by the MacDonalds had unavoidable fast food overtones. 😉

20Km in we knew we were nearing the end of our adventure- and would have wished for an extra couple of days. We posed beneath Ben Nevis which we would certainly have climbed had we planned more time.

From here it was down hill to Fort William -a quick mid afternoon snack stop for an Enid Blyton moment – washed down with 🍹………….

Appropriate enough for our outdoor adventure – and very nice too ! 😆

We took the greener of the 2 options , a little longer by a few minutes , but the original WHW follows the busy main road for a mile of so – too noisy ! …. the Cow Gil route gives you a few more minutes of adventure

Enter the Fort

Following “Tracker Thom” we go in search of the official finish point .

End of a mountainous 28km – full pack – still running ! .. “RUN FOREST” ! … Love it 😍

More than ever I appreciate an energetic distraction and a good laugh – Thom & Luke plus the Highland Way have worked their magic .

Even as we head through the town – 2 local girls say – “Well Done” to us & laughingly say “thought you were just seeing what was up his kilt “ as we take in the history 🤣🤣

Historical Kilt Moment 😉

Until finally though a lively Main Street with the only decent souvenir shop on the WHW – we spend £8,000,000 on essential tat – and cross the wide steel line set into the pavement near the quayside where the famous “Resting Hiker “ says – “YOU’VE DONE IT !!”

As he’s tend his feet – so do we and take in the sea Loch and the moment of completion 👏🥰👏🥰👏

Spot the difference- 😁 real aching hiker , stiff bronze hiker and steel finish line 😆
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Good to know 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

Giving the moment due consideration- we head off to our B&B – the wayyy too formal , wayyy too luxurious , but super comfortable Buccleuch Guest House .

A beautiful view , a 10 minute walk out of town – we headed along Main Street and tried a few restaurants . Our only stipulation- good basic food – Big TV ! Tonight THE match , THE final was on. After 3 “NO’s “ – we settle on the “Tavern” . And on a million to one – probs more – i.e. Lottery Odds coincidence. ……… Thom meets up with 2 friends who work with him at the Leeds Student Union !!

😁The farthest north they’ve ever been 🏔

It was outside this bistro – about half time – I get a phone call . One that brands , Sears that time , that street , that company, that aspect – everything firmly in my mind.

The lovely Katie Cloggs and I talk for a while and while not surprised we measure this moment – and give it the proper weight .

I keep it to myself – It’s not the moment to re-join my “eclectic 💕” expanding table group with that news. Me , Thom , a lovely Gay couple, Leeds Students , 2 tall Sri-Lankan girls ( in tears at penalty time 😊) make this a ever memorable event.

We’ve got an 8 hour train journey tomorrow at 7.44am – time enough for reflection.

MONDAY 12th July We are soo far north that the train journey south the Glasgow takes 4 hours !

Central Family supply pack ( Min’ 20 socks 😉) and two 30 litre Berghaus Arrows – my Mule Impression

The views from the train as our long trek unravelled in reverse were a gentle background to our hugs and talks.

It was the right time to tell Thom then Ciara that our lovely Roddy had passed on . A 12 month prognosis in 7 weeks . Quiet , dignified , peaceful with the best possible company – his 2 daughters Katie and Lydia telling him stories and reminiscing.

In turn on the train , in the far North , a rough wild land he loved so much , we told our own stories , our own reminiscences, our own tears .

Didn’t see it coming – at least on that day – but in that location it felt somehow complete, somehow appropriate.

We’ll send off the boy in a way he’d have to totally appreciated in a week or so . When he and I spoke about this 30 years ago – he definitely wanted the full Valhalla . Flaming arrows , a longboat , a 3 day feast . This far North , This near to Viking country- it’d be a shame not to .

“Skål & Æsir Prosit !” Cheers & God Bless Roddy 10th May 1960. – 11th July 2021


🥾”Borneo Professional” 🥾

Back again !! – I really do not like to leave a blog unfinished. So the day in question is the 10th July – a Saturday. Apologies for the pause – but life sends you to other places 🙏sometimes- for the best of reasons.

Due to the Kingshouse having a limited availability due to distancing regs’ they had arranged for a transfer to Ballachulish –overnight and a return in the morning – so we don’t miss a step of the WHW. Ballachulish is on the sea loch – Loch Leven – and even though 20 minutes drive away – for the first time in days we could leave our windows open at night – as on the coast 👏👏NO MIDGES !🤩


I had called ahead 2 weeks ago – and been recommended for dinner – the Laroch Bar . So far – so normal – it sounded like a classic village pub with decent hearty food.

Nice surprise – turns out this restaurant/bar is run by a Michelin starred chef who wanted to return to his home village and took over this redundant pub. Allan and Eileen Donald are earning their star back all over again – amazing menu.


Not your normal “Local”

After a Midge free night we were up early and heading Through the remarkable Glencoe while still mist was low on the hills .

We resisted the Temptation when other hikers got off the minibus at the foot of the Devils Staircase instead of heading 2 miles back to Kingshouse. Two reasons: if you’re walking the WHW you want to cover every step to claim you’ve done it. Also – no one in their right mind would want to tackle the Devils Staircase without a decent walk to warm you up !

A decent warm it is then ….. 2 Miles down Glencoe there’s a sharp right – this is the start of “The Devils Staircase” – I’m amused by the wisdom of Sensei Ciara reaching all this way to the start of our day 👏 . Possibly the stretching secret is Thoms superpower ?

The pace is at least 30% quicker with Thom – fearless , nitro-enthusiasm , fit ….. I can see we’ll make short work of the day if we’re not careful . As I’m reminded by Thom during the day – just to amuse me – “we are quick today dad because you’re with a “Borneo professional“. I must admit the determination and physical resolve it took for Thom to do 10 weeks building and extreme jungle trekking in Borneo some years ago is impressive.

We make a mental note to stop and smell the flowers , talk to the sheep and add some memories for Roddy .

The Devil staircase is a 45° hour long hike which at this time of the day feels a little bit of a killer – but once on top – the view opens up and we start to see the runners from the annual “Great Glencoe Challenge“ – they are 26.2 mile running/walking this terrain ! Respect .

Bonny Day for a Run

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 The Highland Getaway 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

And brews that cater for all tastes. Pint of Moretti and a diet Irn Bru 😁 is not my normal order 😆

Strange Times
Even stranger – Must be the altitude ? my hand appears much larger than normal compared to this bottle of wine 😆
…… last of the evening Sun on the Fell tops . Looking forward to tomorrow xxx

The Great Band of Iain’s

So this is the 9th July a Friday and Luke – the Young Strider heads back home from Beinglas via the only Taxi for 20 Miles around – you know the score – pre-book 6 weeks in advance and you might stand a chance – but only if he likes you . 😳😆 I’ve got into nightclub openings easier .

But this taxi is owned and driven by Iain #4 – (secret password exchanged and we’re in ) . It’s a numinous experience this week that the only time I’ve been bothered to ask for a name – it’s Ian or Iain ! N.B The word numinous is perfect for what I needed – and was given to me by my first born Thom – my generalissimo of wordage.💕💕

Well –today is THAT day – 30 km from Tyndrum to Kingshouse – i’m told it’s less “Goat Tracky” but hard on your feet as you start to follow the flint sharp 18th-century military roads by Thomas Telford – and if the weather is even slightly dodgy then the vast & lonely inspiring Heather Moonscape of Rannoch Moor without a single blade of shelter is a little more exposed than the average weekend adventurist expects!

Here’s what I face – no idea if I can make it on time for 3.00pm 😱

BUT ….. whoa – back up a bit . There’s a challenge to be met and proof to be shown. Where of course I’m going to meet a man who made a great claim to me last night. (Iain #3) . They say they’re just off my track as I start to climb out of Tyndrum . They are mixed band of wild campers, car sleepers and mobile home owners – so of course they’re early risers !

But look carefully and you will see Iain #3AlreadyAtWork– in a particularly productive Goldstream

And God bless him he offered me coffee as well as proof from his flask of both types

Complete with Midge net and waders
Today’s catch
Some mini nuggets from further north

And so –with proof and a fond farewell – I set off on my long track through the early morning –: my first waymark being the delightfully Tolkien named Bridge of Orchy. I hope the Orchs 😈 are friendly this morning!

There is an early morning mist and an amusing – very secure gate surrounded by absolutely nothing – leading nowhere – no fences – but asking that we “please close the gate” 🤣

But little did I know what inspiring sights would come as this almost “lost world“ emerges as the track ascends

There is no one on this Camino at this early hour and I feel privileged to be here

Bridge of Orchy is 15 km into this walk and if I can be there by 10 am – I am on schedule to meet Thom

I get to the bridge of Orchy by 10:30 am – got to be the most picturesque rail station. I need to get at least a 4.5 km average to be on time to make the meeting with my first born.

The climb out of the river valley from the bridge of Orchy enters into the wildest of spaces – Rannoch Moor

Where at a particularly idyllic lonesome spot I leave a wish stone for my lovely Roddy at a roadside Cairn

Deep down into the next valley there is the isolated and most pre-booked “18 months at least“ hotel – the Inverarnen country house hotel

Where if you’ve made it this far they ask you if you’d like to sign a board – which I duly did from both of us 💕

Climbing out of the valley I see the start of these renowned 18C Military roads .

Engineering visionary and genius – but his flinty roads (great for carts and artillery) – are tough going for” effete modern feet“ 😳

To the monumental isolated wide open spaces of Rannoch Moor

Where after several sweaty miles I found a resting place on a bridge side with several travellers I had met during the day as we overtook, stopped and overtook each other again. Drinks, protein , trail storys and snacks swapped and a couple of exchanged photos later – I moved on. 🙏

The Moor eventually, unbelievably finishes – with one eye on the clouds it’s (sort of) a relief to have crossed it.

90 minutes left on the clock and I’m in good time – heading for Glencoe and my destination for the day – hopefully be there waiting for Thom – it’ll be great to see him.

The track is now all downhill to Glencoe with a familiar thistle Trail sign
Getting closer.

Suddenly this dizzying, immense almost overwhelming “Glenscape” opens up – hard to believe this country has so much open space.

Just stunning! – However the really important bit is that tiny building in the distance – the Kingshouse Inn – my destination for the night. I’ve been fixating about a cold beer for at least two hours now 😁🍻😁🍻

Happy as a little hiking piglet – I’m here 40 minutes before Thom is due.

Just a teensy bit pleased to be here!
And at 3 pm precisely –after a 4 change train journey and a long cab ride courtesy of James ( “I’m the gopher not the gaffer” ) sent by Iain#4 – My companion for the next 4 days arrives. Big Hugs for my lovely Thom X
Strava steps in where the traitorous Fitbit failed me and shows at least some of the stats for the day

Night All



Before I start describing the travels of the day can I skip to the end?

The destination is Tyndrum – and it was in the Tyndrum Inn ….. Full of walkers, bikers and campers.

The Tyndrum Inn

Billy Connolly has a sketch about asking a perfectly normal question & getting the most unusual, unexpected answer.( hence the title)

I’m sat outside the pub at the end of today and get talking to 2 guys – One turns out to be a musician about 70 years old who worked at some stage with a couple of Billy Connolly‘s bands . Interesting enough – so I turned to the other guy and say “are you walking the way then?He replies “Gold Panning” – I snort my beer and say is that the wind up that you tell tourists around here? No seriously he says I still use traditional methods but today I’ve been “sniping” I spent the entire day in a dry suit with a snorkel in a shallow stream . I tell him I’m still being wound up – and a couple of the guys join in to a tell me that this is actually a real thing in the area. A major company has opened up a long closed goldmine and already taken £2 million worth of gold just from the”tailings” of a long closed goldmine – ie the waste that technology in those days could not extract gold . These guys are just hobbyist freelancers.

I say they need to prove it 😆 and they promise to meet on the trail and show me as I set off tomorrow as they start early as will I be doing for the longest 30k day over Rannoch Moor – let’s see !!

I just love pub chat.

….. otherwise this day is July 8th – and i’m doing the Falls of Falloch to Tyndrum .

A bit of a rest day at 19K – but it was not the geography of the people that make today special.

Yes of course we had a spectacular white water like the Falls of Falloch – quiet and tranquil today but …….

Which only a few months ago in full flood had taken out several of the bridges one of which still did not exist which meant a detour to find steppingstones upstream

And another temp-solution – rather worryingly a culvert had been dragged in to use as part of the West Highland Way – shouldn’t this be part of the drainage ! 😳

But the trail lifted from the floodplains and after a steepish climb started to give the traditional welcome views.

Heading eventually through dense forest to the famous Crianlarich crossroads . Famous for red coated soldiers, anxious drovers and nervous coach drivers finally crossing into bandit territory. It also happens to be the halfway mark on the West Highland Way! Yay 😁 !!

We moved through historical sites – bloody battles won and lost – famous names like Robert the Bruce, Edward the first ( The Cursed Longshanks) . Ruined priories once hundreds of feet long, the height of religious glamour and wealth , reduced by 360 degree fate to mere mossy shadows the size of the serf roundhouses they are previously oppressed.

Then to find this fascinating stone. Legend of the Lochan of the Lost Sword. It’s just lying there next to the trail !

Not so Lost 😆
Apparently it’s in this small Loch – possibly influential in the King Arthur legends – regardless of historical accuracy I’m just happy they could find the time to tell the tale.
The Trail is a lot gentler today – travelling through some really enjoyable Woodland tracks.

Eventually taking us into the busy little village of Tyndrum .

These are the rows of ex-lead miners cottages – I’m staying in one of them –the guy I was talking to last night – who looked after Billy Connolly‘s bands. Well His great great grandfather lived in one of them and he was making a four minute video for the BBC about it. Nice coincidence and one of the joys of travelling.

I’ve got no fitness tracker stats today as this is all I’m getting from my Fitbit – it appears to be making fun of me . No information just this annoying grin at my expense 😏

I’ll retaliate with Strava tomorrow!


⚔️ 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿The Clansman Bar to Beinglas Farm 🥇⚽️

…… otherwise known Rowardenan to Inverarnen . Luckily we have the weather because this is the most treacherous path I’ve experienced –described to me by a local walker & resident ( Iain # 2 ) as “ The most unrewarding days hiking of my life of which I gained zero satisfaction“ 😆– say that to yourself in a gruff , droll Scottish accent and you’ll get the idea of the gravity of this goat track. Mind you he did it in horizontal driving rain and we did it in glorious sunshine.

Here’s the elevation- looks ok – BUT !

Even when it’s slightly cloudy the sunsets are just astonishing – Luke caught this one beautifully.

View from the garden of the Clansman bar – “no bad eh? “
The path range from extraordinary fern fringed levels
Which were a joy to walk on but unfortunately were 5% of the time
Through immense blockades that dwarfed us as we passed beneath recent storm damage

To steep crumbling rock tracks that would be more suitable for Particularly agile goats –

But in itself the ups and downs delivered stunning montages – it’s the land of water .
Pathside falls every 30 m flowing into Loch Lomond– ……

Thankfully as the day got hotter the path dipped towards little beaches by the Loch at least 100 times as it undulated up the track and back down again –

We stopped for lunch near the pub at Inverade– the only building near the water on this stretch with a great dedicated picnic spot – and the by now traditional judging of the packed lunch took place – with nothing still beating that on day number one from the marvellous Braeside B&B 👏

Another short break but turned into a long one – I’d like to blame young strider for this – however I’m just as bad.👍😘

As we moved on towards the end of the lake the land eventually started to become more rolling

Past abandoned cottages with the most marvellous views – I wonder what their story is that no one has swooped in and saved it?

And it’s great to see after passing several permissible wild camping sites – and free to use cottage mountain Bothies that you can still enjoy the countryside on a budget

Just a basic bunkhouse with one single raised sleeping platform for 22 and a fireplace .
Final ascent before this rolling view leading down to Beinglas farm and our destination for the night

A really nice lodge had been booked for us and we managed to bag a seat for the match

Being in the minority of supporters at this event 😜– I asked how many here we are supporting Denmark – and was told after all that Denmark was closer to where we were in London – which sounded like a fab ( almost) reason to not sing 3 lions 🤣 however the result spoke for itself in the end 👏👏⚽️⚽️🥇🥇🏆🏆🏆

A view from our lodge – after the match which we watched in the bar.

Was made quite surreal by those who couldn’t get a seat inside and watched it on an outside screen – Luke said it looked like ninjas fans – But the reality was the incredible calm way people deal with trillions of midges here.

Bizarre Scenes

A challenging day – and one Luke and I will never forget – ending with an early retreat to our quiet – and Midge free lodge.

Leaving the days score to look like this – the last Fitbit reading as it’s packed in – shame really as I enjoyed collecting the stats.


Journey – V – Destination

On this walk , of course it all about what the day holds for us …. but the amazing scenery lead us to forget you really do need to get a move on …

Here’s what we faced today

……. a good early start with a breakfast of champions 😆

Right Fuel

And with the hotel recognising the needs of each athlete – ……..

Gen Z Breakfast Shake 🤣

To be fair Luke did also have a healthy selection in top of this x . We would need it 8 hours later …..

First though – a slow ascent getting gradually steeper of Conic Hill – that peak on the elevation profile above . A sociable affair as you exchange greetings with groups you’ll see again and again throughout the day.

The glimpses of our first Loch after 2 hours walking spur us on as the forecasted rainy weather fails to appear and we are blessed with an unexpected fine day .

And what a first Loch ! The largest fresh water lake in the UK – 27Sq miles – Loch Lomond reveals its gradually until after 3 hours ……

From the base of Conic Hill

To this spectacular panorama at the top !

You can understand why we let the Journey overcome our destination with views like this .

So without a care for route planning we spent a good hour and a half , chatting , early packed lunch , horsing about , some fab pics , Luke’s camera work …. like these ….

The best Scotland has to offer – loving that cloud pattern .
Dodgy picnic selfie from me 😆😆

And we messed this one up twice due to giggling …. but eventually 😆😆😆😆😆

Took us so long the weather changed between left and right sides 😎

What better place for Lunch 👍👏

…. Got to be the best Lunch on tour – 2 of everything for £6 ! …

Eventually we had to make a move – so behind schedule- but who cared …. we descended to Loch level – and pressed on .

2 hours later we were tempted by views like this – to make a short break into a long one 😆😆. The last of our vast packed lunches ….

As Luke made friends with the local wildlife
Soo Bold 👍💕
What a location ! – and a perfect skimming stones Loch xx

To get to our hotel for the night we now need it to cover 4 Miles 90 minutes of hot, sweaty, and undulating terrain . But we got there – overnight in Rowarden .

The clansmen bar – a renowned walkers meeting point is part of this hotel and a fabulous place for like dinner with more stunning views.

Through our detours we had turned a 23k day into this ! ( better planning tomorrow)


🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 West Highland Way 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

July 5th – Under way at last …..

Well , Well my fellow Sassenachs’ …… pleased to report that all went well on ‘warm up’ Day 1 – coupled with a teency, tiny amount of schadenfreude that Aged Stamina can still show the young Strider that headlong speed through the Shire – rarely pays ‘orf 😎

Striders feet will require a few medicinal slaps😜 but look good for the ‘morrow 🤣

In the meantime first aid is being administered via an ancient brew 😳

“Lager Lamp”

From what is the edge of Glasgow- unrestricted built up cityscape – weirdly you instantly enter green parkland and then countryside – at first dotted with imaginary sculpture …..

Within 2 miles passing almost unnoticed – a memorial to a fire . Unlike every other fire memorial I know – this was not to some disaster , this was / is a fire of hope . The Craigallian campfire burned continuously from 1920 to the eve of the Second World War – giving a welcome and and hope at a time of poverty& economic depression .

Still 10% sunshine and 90% ‘Dreich” …. Swollen rivers and rainforest humidity meant we stayed warm and soaked all day.

Naturally – Young Striders idea of wet weather gear differs a tad from mine 😏
Making ideal conditions for the Scottish nuclear deterrent – namely Midges !!

It was then that Young Strider Felt quite at home as we passed bizarrely into someone’s hobbit fantasy ??

We saw several signposts for the Shire before we made our first days end.

Considering the nature and climate around here I think it’s someone’s sick joke that the village & traditional first night stop is called ………

Because we certainly weren’t!

We had a great B&B with a lovely courtyard

Brea Side B&B …. super nice 👍

…….. and dinner was at this fabulous 300-year-old pub restaurant where we sampled some award winning local fayre – “ Cullen Skink followed by Haggis Bonbons anyone?“ – Totally fabulous.

Licenced since 1734 🍻🍺

……. tomorrow gets tougher

☔️ Misty Return 🌧


There’s never been a more appropriate description of today’s arrival at WHW ‘Basecamp’ - Milngavie (Pr “MillGuy” here) 

There’s an unpredictable nature about re-introducing mini adventures that I recall as very achievable – but just exactly how have these pandemic years given me a wishful amnesia. ? …..


Our hotel reception : They moved us to the 1st Floor !😳

🚦 Soooo ….. WHW …. the West Highland Way – I Get to walk and I don’t cross any red/amber borders 🚦 – The distance at 170 km is achievable – but I have no idea what the effect of the elevation will have .

Flatland I can do – but days like the 30Km day on day five after a couple of bumpy 23km’s give me pause for thought. 😏

I want to remind myself why I’m here . Here in my neck of the woods – it’s been ok or as my favourite TV lawyer says it’s “s’aul good man “ – my 4 babies and Ciara are daily rocks of inspiration & joy. Trying to think of an original analogy – for multiple things love & duty for extended family place in front of you – maybe “a storm inside a hurricane inside a cyclone “ – so this lil’ walk gets away from that 🙏

It starts tomorrow- I’ve had a great night in a Glasgow bar with Lukey Boy , watched a fave movie

…. introduction for Gen’ Z to what is amazingly songs they’ve not really heard of 😳

…. and scouted the start for tomorrow

Like I say ……. “DREICH ! “ 😜