The West Highland Way Part 3 - Man Down

Previously on The West Highland Way

You join us on day 2 of our adventure through the highlands of Scotland. I know it says "part 3" and this is day 2 but just go with it or check out the previous blogs.

A very tired and dehydrated Team Bowfell had set up camp in Milarrochy Bay Campsite the night before. Now it was day 2 of our 96 mile hike and the blazing sun had taken a break.

An overcast morning was a welcome sight after the heat of the previous day. We wanted sun, complained about the sun, got no sun. We are British so finding fault with all weather is what we do.

We were feeling the effects from the previous days walk. 20+ miles in the blazing sun will take it out of you. Our model builder however was not a happy camper.

Like a brave little soldier he pushed on and we hit a woodland section taking us away slightly from the shores of Loch Lomond

A nice forest walk with a few steep sections that briefly bring us back out onto the Loch then back into the woods. 

From this point on we will tackle a few steep paths before the the end. Now I regularly walk up mountains and hills so I know steep. The West Highland Way (emphasis on high) has some very steep paths.

A small section of this woodland walk was steep but was still nothing to a couple of the sections later in the trip.

Our next Honesty Box

Ben's Bakes. An honesty box that carried cakes, butties (or sandwiches, we embrace our southern friends) and drinks etc.

Along with the lovely food this area carried a warning to walkers. No ambulance access beyond this point. No resupplies for a while and if you get into trouble you will need Mountain Rescue.

So stock up folks as we are on our own for a while.

Our model builder was still bad from a lack of sleep due to an injury and possibly the dehydration from the previous day. We had a discussion, decided he was still good to go.

We were not far from a major milestone of the trip. So armed with a cake and a drink, we pushed on through the woods.

Not convinced by this football pitch

These goals look a little high

Also no good if you are a wide player.

After the very narrow and rough footy pitch we reach a major milestone

Leaving the No Wild Camping Zone. The Man can't tell us where to camp anymore. FREEDOM! while leaving no trace of course.

Now some guides may mention the "High Route and Low Route" options. 

I was in Scotland and literally had to choose to take the high road or the low road.

High Route - A wide track that is easier underfoot with no scrambling. Better suited for those unsure of their footing or if you are carrying a heavy full backpacking load. (yes, like us)

Low Route - The original route but much tougher trail that follows the waters edge. With lots of rocks, tree roots, slippery surfaces, steep dips and steps. This route requires concentration and a fair amount of scrambling.

Low route for us. Phone does not do it justice but that's the path.

Joking aside, you need to give this choice some serious thought. It is a tough path. Especially if you are carrying a big backpack.

We have a lot of experience over terrain like this but the extra weight adds a pendulum effect to your body if you slip or fall.

Even if you are carrying a small light pack, you still need to concentrate. Along with big steps this path has it's fair share of wet tree roots, the kryptonite of hikers.

Look at those tree roots just waiting to catch you out.

The Low Route has some simple sections. Spot our injured model builder still marching on

Although he is just as experienced as me, I still regularly check in with him. See how he is doing. Make sure his injury is not holding him back.

Make sure he isn't pushing on just so he does not let the group down. He would do the same for me and has done in the past. When you are outdoors in a group you stick together and go as fast as your slowest member.

His pace was slowed but he was still stable and good to keep going.

So back to this lovely path

Mind the step.

Still closely following the shore line of Loch Lomond.

Then the path starts to get easier and move into the woods away from the shore line.

That wasn't to bad, not as rough as we thought it would be. Although we did not know at this point that the paths along Loch Lomond had not finished with us yet.

 The terrain gets easier as we enter a lovely lush and green forest.

Much easier underfoot giving us a chance to get a nice regular pace going and make up some time.

One lesson I have learned from all my time out in the mountains is things can change quick.

Our model builder started to struggle. He informed me he was in pain when he walked and worryingly felt a little dizzy.

Now we have to make a decision.

  1. Camp here and hope he feels better in the morning. But his leg could stiffen up and be worse by the morning. This would make getting him to safety a lot harder.
  2. A short rest and while he is still mobile he pushes on and we work together and get him to safety.
  3. Call Mountain Rescue but I was confident we were not at that point yet.

After a short rest, some water and food he said he was ok to continue. I also felt confident that he could continue plus we were closer to the end of the path than the start. So we agreed to push on but at a slower pace while keeping a close eye on him.

Our rest was just past this Bothy that I think is Rowchoish but not 100% on that. Didn't check it out as was more focused on keeping moving.

Then the Scottish weather decided to make things more interesting. I have no more pics for this day as the weather had other ideas. The technical term is it was blowing a hoolie.Look how nice that looks shortly before the weather turned and the phone went away.

The path took us back down to the shoreline and got rough again. Challenging enough for someone with a bad leg and a large backpack, throw in driving wind and rain and things got serious.

We transferred as much weight out of his pack as we could. Less weight for him to carry and then he can just concentrate on his footing.

One of us raced on to check the terrain ahead and dump his bag. Then head back along the trail to collect our injured party members bag. While our advanced scout was gone we made slow and steady pace in the sideways rain. 

I would love to show some of the path and how bad the weather was, but it was tough going with strong wind and rain requiring the use of hand holds to keep steady.

The West Highland Way had already claimed one of us, I wasn't letting it have my phone aswel

Our brave little soldier kept a smile on his face or maybe it was a grimace, hard to tell in the rain. Lets go with a smile.

Our advanced scout rejoined us after leaving all his gear with someone at the end of the path. After informing us we still had some fun ahead of us he took our modellers backpack. Now it was the final push to safety.

With no weight on his back combined with his years of experience and two friends helping him, he bossed the rough terrain and frankly just mean level of wind and rain to make it to Inversnaid Hotel.

Our Model builder got a room as we figured his best chance of recovering was not going to happen in a tent. So while he recovered, the remaining members of Team Bowfell had a pint while we dried off.

Not a perfect day but we all made it to safety and got a pint out of it, so still a result.

Now we have to wait for the morning to see how our model builder is holding up. Then the tough decision of carrying on or calling it has to be made.

That's like the cliff hanger bit at the end of an episode to keep you hooked. Will they, wont they? tune in next week, Same Bowfell Time, same Bowfell channel.

Well when I get round to writing it.

Part 4 is now ready.

AdventuresScotlandWest highland way

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