Walking to Cape Wrath, Day 10, May 20, 2022
In 2016 I rode the train up from Biarritz to St. Jean pied de Port, the starting point of the Camino Frances. The cars were full of eager, but tentative faces, people clutching shiny new trekking poles and immaculate backpacks, others with studied indifference holding tattered and patched packs. The train emptied and, after an evening in a hostel, the throng commenced. The train from Glasgow to Milngavie had echoes of that trip. Sprinkled amongst the city commuters were West Highland Way trekkers, all of whom made their way to town center and the obelisk marking the commencement of the most popular long walk in Scotland.
The path itself was pleasant and easy, a good bit on an old railway line, and there were some pretty woods where I scared up a pair of ring-necked pheasants.
The Scottish National Trail overlaps the WHW for one day, then turns northeast onto the Rob Roy Way and other paths heading toward the Cairngorms. But for today, I walked with the pilgrims on their way to Fort William— a jovial and expectant bunch strung out over the first 12 miles of that trek. As you cannot wild camp in the Loch Lomond region and I’m planning a double length day tomorrow and a large storm crossed the area mid afternoon, I opted for a campground just outside Drymen, unpacked, pitched my tent and strolled the mile into town just ahead of the rain, spending the afternoon in the Clachan Inn (est. 1734, the oldest licensed pub in Scotland ) and crowded with WHW pilgrims, reading John McPhee’s The Laird and the Crofter.
T. Hugh Crawford