West Highland Way August 2012

Photo: whw deer inveroran. Helen Rose Outdoors

This article is dedicated to Roy McKay.

The West Highland Way in Scotland is 94 miles long from Milngavie, outside Glasgow to Fort William. Over the years i have walked most of it in day trips. I recently walked the twelve miles from Bridge of Orchy to Kings House just before Glencoe with the Bearsden and Milngavie Ramblers .The club had arranged a bus to drop us off at Bridge of Orchy and pick us up at the Kings House Hotel it was linear, walking north throughout the day.

We reached Bridge of Orchy mid morning and started the walk behind the hotel passing through a pine forest on an excellent path. There were twelve of us and the weather was clear so there was a lot of happy banter. When we cleared the forest it was on to open moorland with a view of the hills. The hills known as the Blackmount were to the north west of the path. We walked on to Inveroran. At Inveroran, we spied a herd of red deer on the hill nearby. The stag had twelve points, six, on each antler, making him a Royal Stag. He had his herd of hinds around him but at the side of the hotel a fawn was standing next to the road. The fawn was probably too young to have fear and was curious. It is unusual to see a fawn as close to the road but more later on this.

Photo: west highland way. From Inveroran there was some road walking until we reached the old drove road at Victoria Bridge. Loch Tulla was to the east. After a steady uphill pull we reached Rannoch Moor. It is advisable to stay on the path as there are serious peat bogs on the moors. It was a good day so the walk felt reasonably easy but the weather is often poor here, windy, wet and misty. We had to walk at a fairly brisk pace to ensure we arrived at the Kings House in time for the bus to pick us up. Although the path is considered good, it is broken rocks and hard on my ankle despite wearing boots as my broken leg was still being rehabilitated. Rannoch Moor is the wildest and largest moor in Britain but on a good day such as this offers wonderful views to near and distant mountains. The highest point we reached was 1,500 feet. We proceeded to Ba Bridge where the old drove road meets the old military road. After some forest, the views opened up and we walked under Meall a'bhuridh and Creise. I have previously written on the ascent of these mountains.

Then it was a steady descent to the road leading to the ski tow and down over the main road to the Kings House Hotel. We passed Buchaille Etive Mor where I had my biggest achievement many years ago climbing Curved Ridge with Roy who sadly passed away this autumn. The memories were a mixture of happiness and sadness. He was fun to be with and sadly missed by all of us.

The Kings House Hotel is a very well known hostelry to climbers and hill walkers. We arrived in good time for a refreshment before the bus left for home. There was a group of six fawns standing on the grass beside the car park posing for photos. This is very unusual and we speculated they were orphaned and the hotel was feeding them but this was not confirmed!

Coming attractions; Barga, Buttermere and the Forth and Clyde Canal. Contact Helen Rose