Forests, moors, peat bogs: A week of walking in Scotland

AP

Print Article

  • This June 28, 2017 photo shows a hiker on the shore of Loch Lomand walking Scotland's oldest long distance path, the West Highland Way. Loch Lomand is part of the Trossachs National Park and is Britain's largest body of inland water at 22 miles long. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 1

    This June 29, 2017 photo shows sheep near Crianlarich, Scotland along the West Highland Way. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 2

    This June 28, 2017 photo shows a stile crossing an old stone wall near the Trossachs National Park in Scotland, on the West Highland Way. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 3

    This June 28, 2017 photo shows the West Highland Way rising up from Loch Lomand, Britain's largest body of inland water at 22 miles long, and part of the Trossachs National Park. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 4

    This June 26, 2017 photo shows Glengoyne Distillery, established in 1833, located in Dumgoyne, Scotland. The distillery is located 5.5 miles along the first leg of the West Highland Way, a convenient location for a wee dram of scotch before continuing on the walk. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 5

    This June 28, 2017 photo is of Doune, Scotland, which lies shortly past Loch Lomond, Britain's largest body of inland water at 22 miles long. The loch narrows at its northern end and the walk leads into an open field where old farmhouses still stands. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 6

    This June 30, 2017 photo shows a gate to the old Glen Coe road, along Scotland's oldest long distance path, the West Highland Way. Beyond the gate lies Rannoch Moor, 50 square miles of peat bogs and lochans, and the furthest point from civilization than any other point on the Way. The West Highland Way stretches 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 7

    This July 2, 2017 photo shows the West Highland Way rising through the valley of Lairig Mor, just north of Kinlochleven, Scotland. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 8

    This June 30, 2017 photo shows Kings House Hotel in Glen Coe, Scotland. Kings House Hotel is more than 200 years old and was a necessary stop along traditional highland drove roads. The Hotel is closed for renovations yet remains a popular resting spot and offers camping, showers and warm meals to hikers. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 9

    This June 31, 2017 photo shows the West Highland Way running from Kings House Hotel near Glen Coe Scotland. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • This June 28, 2017 photo shows a hiker on the shore of Loch Lomand walking Scotland's oldest long distance path, the West Highland Way. Loch Lomand is part of the Trossachs National Park and is Britain's largest body of inland water at 22 miles long. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 1

    This June 29, 2017 photo shows sheep near Crianlarich, Scotland along the West Highland Way. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 2

    This June 28, 2017 photo shows a stile crossing an old stone wall near the Trossachs National Park in Scotland, on the West Highland Way. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 3

    This June 28, 2017 photo shows the West Highland Way rising up from Loch Lomand, Britain's largest body of inland water at 22 miles long, and part of the Trossachs National Park. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 4

    This June 26, 2017 photo shows Glengoyne Distillery, established in 1833, located in Dumgoyne, Scotland. The distillery is located 5.5 miles along the first leg of the West Highland Way, a convenient location for a wee dram of scotch before continuing on the walk. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 5

    This June 28, 2017 photo is of Doune, Scotland, which lies shortly past Loch Lomond, Britain's largest body of inland water at 22 miles long. The loch narrows at its northern end and the walk leads into an open field where old farmhouses still stands. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 6

    This June 30, 2017 photo shows a gate to the old Glen Coe road, along Scotland's oldest long distance path, the West Highland Way. Beyond the gate lies Rannoch Moor, 50 square miles of peat bogs and lochans, and the furthest point from civilization than any other point on the Way. The West Highland Way stretches 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 7

    This July 2, 2017 photo shows the West Highland Way rising through the valley of Lairig Mor, just north of Kinlochleven, Scotland. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 8

    This June 30, 2017 photo shows Kings House Hotel in Glen Coe, Scotland. Kings House Hotel is more than 200 years old and was a necessary stop along traditional highland drove roads. The Hotel is closed for renovations yet remains a popular resting spot and offers camping, showers and warm meals to hikers. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

  • 9

    This June 31, 2017 photo shows the West Highland Way running from Kings House Hotel near Glen Coe Scotland. The West Highland Way is Scotland's oldest long distance path, running for 95 miles between Milngavie to Fort William, through pastoral landscapes to the rugged beauty of moors and highlands. (Lynn Dombek via AP)

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) Scotland has more than two dozen official long-distance trails through moors, peat bogs and forests. We chose one of the most popular, the West Highland Way.

As first-time walkers in Scotland, my companion and I used a travel company to plan our route, book accommodations and arrange baggage transfers. But we met others who used baggage services and booked their own lodging, along with folks who camped out.

Like the wildly variable Scotland landscape, there's no end of ways to enjoy the walks.

Walkers we met were a disparate bunch: young Swiss backpackers; mountaineers from Virginia; a Swedish mother with teenage daughters; a Scottish couple, world travelers but out to see more of their own country; an extended family from England ages 16 to 50; and a Louisiana couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. We were mid-50s professionals out for adventure.

We took lots of walks at home to get ready. Knowing June could be rainy and cold, we tested gear beforehand. Our essentials were good boots, breathable rain jackets, rain pants or shorts, and wool or suitable base layers (no cotton!).

A runner recently set a record walking the West Highland way in under 14 hours. We did the standard itinerary: 95 miles (150 km) in seven days.

THE DAILY ITINERARY

Day One: Milngavie to Drymen, 12 miles (19 km)

Our first, lovely day transitions from Milngavie, a small town north of Glasgow, into a pastoral landscape dotted with sheep and cows, mossy stone walls and livestock gates. The peaceful walking is on mostly well-worn trails and roads. We stop into Glengoyne distillery for a wee dram, then on to Drymen. We eat that night at the Clachan Inn, licensed in 1734, seated next to a couple who reappear on Day Three to save us in an uncertain moment. We're soundly asleep by 8 p.m.

Day Two: Drymen to Rowardennan, 14 miles (22.5 km)

It's pouring rain through moors and forests, then up and steeply down Conic Hill on the boundary fault separating lowland Scotland from the highlands. In good weather it has glorious views of Loch Lomond (loch means lake). We lunch in Balmaha, a popular resort town, and continue on the rocky lakeshore path toward the Rowardennan Hotel, a rustic lodge. The pub, with its corner fireplace, serves as both restaurant and meeting place for walkers. We exchange stories, and stumble off to bed.

Day Three: Rowardennan to Inverarnan, 14 miles (22.5 km)

It's overcast but no rain. We're now firmly in Rob Roy country (he's an 18th century highlands folk hero). We're still on the loch's shore where the path is a challenging mix of roots and boulders. Guidebooks describe it as "torturous," despite extraordinary ferns, waterfalls and forests. Six hours in, we convince ourselves a turn was missed and wearily head back. Then the Day One couple appears. The man pulls out his GPS to show we're on track. I sheepishly pocket my map and we're on our way. We share dinner with our new Scottish friends, Stephen and Jane McNaughton, at the Drovers Inn, established in 1705.

Day Four: Inverarnan to Tyndrum, 13.25 miles (21.25 km)

We hit old military trails as yesterday's rigors are forgotten. The rain is back, as are the sheep. We move from farmlands to a thickly wooded conifer plantation, and happily eat lunch on a hillside, the mountaintops shrouded in mist. Nearing Tyndrum we walk through heather, bog myrtle and pinewoods. It's a peaceful end to the day, despite having trekked in earshot of busy route A82.

Day Five: Tyndrum to Kings House, 18.75 miles (29.75 km)

Our longest, favorite day. The path starts on the glen floor, zigzags up through woods and descends through spectacular moorland toward Loch Tulla. A few more miles and we're out on Rannoch Moor, a landscape of peat bogs and small lakes and sky, surrounded by heather and mountains. We're smitten. The wind is fierce but rain holds off. For most of the day we see no one else, save our Scottish friends. Guidebooks say this point is as far from civilization as any place on the Way. It feels like it.

Day Six: Kings House to Kinlochleven, 9 miles (14.5 km)

We start in sunshine near Glencoe, feeling like tiny blips on the massive glen floor surrounded by towering peaks. Soon we're cloaked in heavy mist on the Devil's Staircase, a zigzag ascent to the Way's highest point at 1,800 feet (550 meters). We again miss views of high peaks as clouds dip lower, but there's a soggy beauty. We sense the enormous presence of the surrounding mountains.

Day Seven: Kinlochleven to Fort William, 15 miles (24 km)

Our last day brings excitement, along with torrential rain and wind. By the time we cross the gorgeous but unforgiving expanse of the valley Lairig Mor, we're soaked. Walkers in ponchos and rain gear flutter in the distance as we splash through mud. The peak of Ben Nevis, the United Kingdom's tallest mountain, is obscured by clouds as we make our final descent into Fort William. We feel elated nonetheless, and lucky to have experienced a week of such awesome beauty.

___

If You Go...

LONG-DISTANCE WALKS IN SCOTLAND: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/long-distance-routes.shtml or http://www.west-highland-way.co.uk/home.asp .

OUTFITTERS AND BAGGAGE TRANSPORT: https://www.wildernessscotland.com/ , https://www.contours.co.uk/index.php or http://travel-lite-uk.com/

        

Print Article

Read More Lifestyles

Spanish islands approve booze-free and bloodless bullfights

AP

July 24, 2017 at 10:35 am | MADRID (AP) Bullfights in Spain's Balearic Islands will be shorter, bloodless and only for adults under new regulations passed Monday that also ban alcoholic beverages in the bullring. A majori...

Comments

Read More

Fire on Danube River cruise ship: 8 suffer smoke inhalation

AP

July 24, 2017 at 9:52 am | VIENNA (AP) Austrian emergency crews say a fire has broken out on a Danube River cruise ship, forcing the evacuation of nearly 200 people. They say eight people had to be treated for smoke inhalati...

Comments

Read More

Tourist plunges to his death in Montana's Glacier Park

AP

July 24, 2017 at 9:52 am | WEST GLACIER, Mont. (AP) Officials with Montana's Glacier National Park say a visitor who was taking photographs of the scenery fell into a creek, was swept into a culvert and plunged off a steep c...

Comments

Read More

Miami shows embrace Cuba-based artists, as tensions linger

AP

July 24, 2017 at 9:49 am | MIAMI (AP) President Donald Trump's effort to reverse a historic opening between the U.S. and Cuba is raising tensions in South Florida's exile enclave, where wealthy patrons and institutions have ...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2017 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X