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Thread: West Highland Highway

  1. #1
    Member Steph's Avatar
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    West Highland Highway

    In June I ran the Highland Highway, a high-level route from Drymen at the southern end of Loch Lomond to Fort William. The factory I had worked in for nearly 40 years closed and this felt like a suitable cleansing ritual! The route covers similar ground to the West Highland Way except it takes in the tops. I ran it over a week, the first night I managed to get picked up by my better half and dropped off for the start of day 2, for the rest I stayed in campsites and bunk houses, travelling light with just a day sack while my tent, stove etc was transported by Greg at “Baggage Freedom”. Of course, I picked the only wet and windy week of the summer.There's a fine little book "The Highland High Way" ISBN 1-85158-791-8, that describes the route, it’s a great route which could be made easier/harder to suit. My weekly mileage is about 30 so I stuck to the basic route at just over 100 miles, would have liked to have included the optional bits as well to give longer or extra days but might have been too much! Below gives an outline of my run which I hope you find of interest....

    Wednesday 13th, Drymen to Inversnaid, 31km, 1600m (19 miles & 5250'), 7 hrs 15.

    Started at Garadhban car park, ran along the WHW for a couple of miles accompanied by a few raptors overhead out for their breakfast. Left the WHW heading North just before Conic Hill, aiming for the col between Breac Leac and Gaulann turning North East over Beinn Bhreac, Beinn Uird, Ben Lomond and Cruinn a'Bheinn, through the high col between Cruachan and Maoll a'Chapuill descending North West to the road just behind the Inversnaid Hotel. Most of this was tussocky pathless moorland, (Ben Lomond tourist path a welcome break), using quad bike and sheep/deer tracks where I could.

    Thursday 14th, Inveruglas to Inverarnan, 18km, 1200m (11 miles & 3950'), 5 hrs 30.

    Set off about 1 from Inveruglas on the Sloy Dam access route, turned right just past the substation up to the radiomast and onto a faint path where the road ends. It winds up into a huge amphitheatre of rock and ridges leading to Vorlich's summit. Great route to go up.Stayed below the ridge line as far as possible to avoid the gusty wind. Joined the usual ridge path a few minutes from the top. Scuttled along keeping as low to the ground as possible grabbing rocks when the wind tried to take control. Windy drama soon over as I made my way off the summit and down to Strath Dubh-uisge, across the glen and up the lower slopes of Beinn Damhain (found an antler!) turning NE to the track through Lairig Arnan dropping down beside the Alt Arnan to Inverarnan.

    Friday 15th, Inverarnan to Tyndrum, 29km, 1800m (18 miles & 5900'), 8 hrs 15.

    Longer day today, cross the road from the Drovers on the grassy path back to the forest track from yesterday’s descent. Followed this up Gleann nan Caoroann past the pipeline following the track as far as it goes towards Ben Oss. Aiming for the bealach between Oss and Lui which was just visible under the cloud. The cloud level dropped and missed the bealach by about 100 yards, starting the climb up Oss, turned back to the bealach and up to Lui's summit, no views. Back towards the bealach and came off the ridge too early. Working back to the ridge nearly turning back up Lui again, ignoring the advice of my map, compass and my phones GPS! Spotted Oss's steep flank through the mist and turned back before any extra ascent. Followed a faint path to Oss's misty summit. Short down and up to Dubhchraig, then about turn back to the wee lochans and down the ridge to the Cononish green huts and an easy jog to Tyndrum.

    Saturday 16th, Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy, 24km, 1300m (15 miles & 4300'), 5 hrs 45.

    Started along the West Highland Way, supposed to turn off to Auch Glen and go over Ben Dorain, low cloud again and decided to run to Bridge of Orchy then do an out and back to Ben Dorain up the walkers path. A few walkers on the WHW but not many on the hill. Ben Dorain has two summits and found a new path traversing past the first summit that came up at the back of the second higher summit. Ran along the ridge over the lower summit on the way down. Helped a group of walkers who had strayed from the path, they were pleased to get back on track.

    Sunday 17th, BOO to Glencoe Ski Centre, 30km, 1500m (19 miles & 4900'), 7 hrs.

    Last night’s promise of a clear day turned out to be false, set off for the Clach Leathad Traverse from the Bridge of Orchy Bunkhouse. The route should have been Stob Gabhar, Clach Leathad, Creise and Meall a Bhuiridh, low cloud and switching off my GPS as I left Stob Gabhar meant I took a wrong turn and come down Sron a Ghearrain instead of Aonach Mor. Met a few deer and a lot of frogs following a series of scenic rivers and glens down to Glen Etive, these might not be there much longer, hydro schemes are proposed here and another two or three similar glens nearby. The extra hour or so running on tarmac back to the ski centre wasn't what I needed!

    Monday 18th, Glencoe to Kinlochleven, 19km, 600m (12 miles & 2000'), 3 hrs 30.

    Slept for 12 hours after yesterday’s excitement. Forecast better later and took my time leaving as I hoped to do part of the "real" Aonach Eagach ridge today. Followed the WHW to the top of the Devils Staircase then left along the ridge, the plan was 4th top then back along the ridge to a drop off towards Kinlochleven. Easy run along the WHW past the new Kingshouse Hotel construction. Buchaille Etive Mor looking good across the road. Up the Devils Staircase and along the broad grassy ridge to the first couple of tops, good views all round. The next tops disappeared into dark clouds and after yesterday’s detour decided to drop off via Sron a Choire Odhair bhig and rejoin the WHW for the last mile or so.

    Tuesday 19th, KLL to Glen Nevis, 20km, 1500m (12 miles & 4900'), 5 hrs 30.

    Last day of my High Way run, travelled out of Kinlochleven on the WHW, the path climbs up through birch woods to join the track though Lairig Mor for a few minutes, cross a bridge then take a faint path beside the stream, the path soon firms up and winds up towards the ridge between Am Bodach and Sgurr an lubhair. Onto the ridge just as the cloud is rolling in to cover Sgurr a'Mhaim. Turn along the ridge over ex munro Sgurr an lubhair and down past the lochain on the way towards Stob Ban. Stob Bans summit in the mist, a short run along and scramble up to the top. Cloud blowing in and out on the way to the last top of Mullach nan Coirean gives some good views. Run down the north east ridge and down to the lower falls car park for the last couple of miles on the road finishing in Glen Nevis campsite.

    TOTALS 171km, 9500m (106 miles & 31,200') 42 hrs 45 min on the go, one sore shin!
    Last edited by Steph; 12-10-2018 at 03:31 PM.

  2. #2
    Master JohnK's Avatar
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    Well done Steph and thanks for posting, it is always good to read accounts from folk that have the nerve and ability to challenge themselves.

    You're account of being temporally mislaid on the Sunday kind of endorses the use of compass as the prime means of navigation with GPS
    as a backup ( not a criticism as you have obviously learned from the experience and naved yourself back on course) FWIIW I am pro GPS but still use a compass as my first choice .


    Yes it is a real shame about the Hydro Schemes proposed for Glen Etive and surrounding area, Personally I am none to happy with the Kinghouse development either.

    Anyway back to your adventure coming from a 30 mile weekly average and to set out to do a 106 miles with 31,200 ft of ascent basically solo brings me back to saying WELL DONE
    Last edited by JohnK; 13-10-2018 at 09:11 PM.
    The older I get the Faster I was

  3. #3
    Member Steph's Avatar
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    Thanks Johnk it was a fun week, one small thing that made a big difference was after the first day my feet were a bit raw and I changed to a pair of Merino lined Sealskinz socks.

  4. #4
    Senior Member PeteS's Avatar
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    Well done Steph. Very impressive stuff and thanks for posting it.

  5. #5
    Master GeoffB's Avatar
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    Nice one Steph. I discovered this book and walked the route (including all the optional bits) back in May/June 1998. It was my introduction to Munro bagging and an excellent route.

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