The West Highland Way 2008

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In 2007 I decided that I had had enough of DIY and concentrate on enjoying life a bit more before it was too late. So I picked up my boots again and started to walk a bit more often. I completed the Offa’s Dyke Southern section and thoroughly enjoyed myself. After reading through a host of journals on the web, I was encouraged to try out a long distance walk at least once a year. My work takes me away offshore at regular intervals, but part of the benefit of that is I have plenty of time off. As I now work in Norway I also have a good schedule and am able to plan ahead with reasonable accuracy when I can do another long walk.

After a look through the walks available I settled for the West Highland Way for 2008. Part of the decision behind this was the passing away of my Father-In-Law Peter Orme Jeffries. He had a love of Scotland and its landscape and had lived for many years in Montrose and then Blairgowrie. After looking after his father until he passed away, he then turned his attentions to The Princess Royal Trust for Carers. Despite being a driver of questionable skills (sorry Peter if your reading this somewhere!), he volunteered himself as a driver for the trust. He made many friends and didn’t run over anyone, so his time with the trust could be considered a success. So to honour his work I decided to raise some money for the trust with the help of friends and family.

On a personal level Peter had been very good to my family and the girls remember him fondly. He always had time and infinite patience when the girls were small, and used to take them out and about on jaunts, with him and his father or Grandpa and Tiny Grandpa as they were known. My eldest daughter Olivia has very clear memories of her Grandpas, but my youngest daughter Katrina is less clear. I expect that was due to being less inclined to doing as she was told! But both remember him in their own way – Olivia by taking my wife Helen out to Macclesfield Forest, where Grandpa used to give them Salted Ham Sandwiches on White bread, washed down with horrible Orange Squash that sent them hyper-active for a while. Tiny Grandpa used to work for the Great Western Railway as a steward. He could slice bread so thinly; you could see what was inside. Katrina by writing a poem and it sums up her feelings now (He was a Mechanical Engineer) :

Mechanics and Maths

I wonder what your life was really like,
You told me a thousand stories a thousand times,
How I wish I’d treasured each and every one,
As if it was the last you’d ever tell,
But now it’s too late to truly listen,
To lengthy tales of mechanics and maths,
How you rewired the entire house single handed,
With your glasses held together with tape,
It’s as if you knew what was coming,
You did the rounds and bid your final farewells,
If only I had known it was your last visit,
I would have hugged you or kissed you or something,
I can’t even remember the last story you told,
I weep as my memory grows distant, old.

For me, I owe him this walk and I know he would have enjoyed it himself.



I had planned to drive up and leave the car in Milngavie somewhere, and use a baggage transfer. Travel-lite ( would cost around £33 for the length of the walk. But lucky me I acquired a chauffeuse, as my wife wanted to visit some of the places her Dad went to. That meant it freed me up to walk as I wanted. Ben Lomond came into play as I could set out early from the Rowardennan Hotel, walk up Ben Lomond and back for brunch, before the 12 mile second day. For the remainder of the walk I will follow the usual distances as seen in the OS Trail guide. As I didn’t have any worries about baggage transfer, I can also use my computer and download my pictures everyday, to free up my memory card and my memory! My hope is for fair weather and good health.

I had been walking regularly for sometime and have had some strenuous walks in the previous months, which thankfully had no ill effects on my constitution. I stepped up the frequency before the off and felt as ready as I would be. I thought about soaking my feet in alcohol to harden them up, but that would have been a waste of good beer. I decided on taking a winter set of gear, and a lighter summer set for when I get lucky with the weather again. Time will tell which will be more useful. I haven’t bought any new equipment for a while, so I spent some time and money kitting out for the walk. In April I managed to get myself a new pair of Brasher Hillmaster GTX from GoOutdoors ( at a bargain price of £80. I bought a Berghaus Freeflow 20, hoping that would help me stay a little dryer and fresher. For my outer wear I invested in some Berghaus Paclite jacket and over trousers, and a Berghaus Paclite fleece. They pack down very small and free up space for the necessary water and lunch for the day. To complete the kit I invested in some North Face base layer, North Face shorts, Bridgedale socks and a tub of Vaseline. At least I’ll look smart if I conk out along the way!



Day One: Leave Manchester early. Drive to Milngavie & walk 2 miles past Drymen.  Drive up to Rowardennan Hotel. 14 miles

Day Two: Walk up Ben Lomond early morning. Return to the Hotel for lunch. Lift down to Drymen.  Walk back to Rowardennan Hotel. 7 miles and 12 miles

Day Three: Struggle out of bed and walk to Inverarnan. Stay at the Ardlui Hotel. 16 miles

Day Four: Walk to Tyndrum or Bridge of Orchy if I’m feeling frisky. Stay at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel. 14 or 16 miles

Day Five: Walk from Tyndrum to Kingshouse. Stay at Kingshouse Hotel. 16 or 18 miles

Day Six: Walk to Kinlochleven via the Aonach Eagach –fall down the valley from Meall Dearg. Stay at the MacDonald Hotel. 9 or 13 miles – depends on the weather.

Day Seven: Stride over the land to Fort William to end the trail. Stay at the Lime Tree Hotel and imbibe moderately. 14 miles

Day Eight: Ramble up Ben Nevis & celebrate when back down at the Ben Nevis Inn.

Day Nine: Return to reality and drive home.

Weight in the buff pre walk – 13st 13lbs     Weight in the buff post walk – 13st 13lbs....hmmm too many pies

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