The Roaches

The West Highland Way - August 17th-22nd 2014

Rich Salt,Netty Worthington, Jon Gilson, Jim Eason, Sandra Brooks, Sean Bond, Ann Baxter, Mark Jones, Nick Barber, Mike Riley, Susan Lewis
Sarah Austin, Jane Salt, Gordon Darlington, Alison Bond

DAY 1 - Milngavie to Balmaha (21 miles - Conic Hill\18.7 miles - Quitters\2300ft ascent)

This was it! The grand tenth anniversary Pighole long distance walk. Fifteen lucky punters had been hand picked to take on the challenge of the West Highland Way: the walk that kicked us off on our adventures in 2004.

Alison, Gordon, Jane, Mike and myself were the only survivors from the first walk. Ken, Terry, Swarbs and Neil were now all either knackered, boring workaholics, alcoholics or familybound and unable to join us and enjoy this festival of walking.

To make up for this our newer members continued their annual pilgrimage along with a welcome return for Nick Barber. Jon Gilson and Sarah Austin had decided that this would be their first LDP so our fifteen travelled up to Milngavie on the Saturday and lined up against the official starting point on a rather damp Sunday morning. Many of the team had practiced to a larger extent than normal but a change from the original 2004 route meant that the first three days would be 20+ miles each. This, for some, would be a major challenge.

WHW 2014 - The plan of attack.

Today's destination was the lovely Oak Tree Inn at Balmaha. I was overly cautious on overadvertising the loveliness of the Oak Tree after letting everyone down at the White Lion at Cray a few years back. The forecast was for heavy rain so I was hoping that a) it wouldn't rain and b) the Oak Inn hadn't turned into a shithole.

Alison and LDP newcomers, Jon and Sarah, march off to Balmaha.

The first few miles of the WHW are, to be frank, rather tedious and nothing of the grandeur of the West Highlands is evident for a good few hours. Luckily the rain didn't come but the odd dark cloud promised a good soaking at some point.

Mike and Nick took an early lead and cracked on at a cracking pace. This was a surprising thing for Nick to do as previous longer flatter walks had resulted in bigger lumpier blisters. Still, he obviously felt good so we kicked in and kept up the pace alongside.

Mike, Nick, Rich and Netty head towards Duntreath Castle.

We reached the Beech Tree Inn at least an hour quicker than we did in 2004. Mike reckoned that this was purely down to Neil not being with us which left us free to hit a normal walking pace. I'm not sure about that but anyway....

Sarah decided to use the cubicle at the Beech Tree. A group vote resulted in eleven of us believing she was having a shit, two of us going for the piss option and two of us reckoning she was having a good cry and ringing for a taxi. Will we ever really know?

The good pace continued. The views to the right over the Campsie Fells kept us entertained as the immediate surroundings failed to impress. The disused railway was the next visually unappealling 'challenge' to overcome as we marched towards more uplifting scenery.

Mark and Sue enjoy lunch somewhere near the Park of Drumquhassle.

Conic Hill was now visible in the distance and this fact was pointed out to the team. The general feeling was to consider any ascent of Conic Hill on the weather but we all knew it would really be made on the basis of how knackered people were and how badly they needed a drink. We'd have to wait and see.

Climbing a road in 2014.

Climbing the same road on 2004.

The shit tree of Drymen - 2014.

The shit tree of Drymen - 2004.

We eventually reached the Garadhban forest where we would would reaquaint ourselves with the generally miserable post-apocalyptic landscape of felled trees and rutted roads as experienced on the Rob Roy Way and the WHW of 2004. Luckily the soothing southern shores of Loch Lomond were now in sight which was a vast visual improvement.

Garadhban forest with Conic Hill in the distance.

We crossed the Rob Roy Way just north of Drymen and headed towards the point where the route splits for either Conic Hill or the road into Balmaha. Decision time had arrived!

A surprisingly small number opted for Conic Hill: Jon, Sarah, Rich, Mike, Sue and myself - that's it. The majority decided that it was going to rain so the extra miles and ascent wouldn't be worth it. Jim's ankle, the result of ridiculous drunkery, was giving him some grief so he decided to take it easy and get hammered in the Oak Tree. This was still an improvement on the 2004 effort when only Ken and myself took on the might of the 'Conic' and lived to survive.

Would there be a view off Conic Hill? Only one way to find out.

Team Quitter head off for the road to Balmaha.

Conic Hill. The path can be seen in the far right of the picture.

The pace of the Conic Hill team was good. I can only guess that the pace of Team Quitter was considerably poorer. Will Al, Gordon and Jane ever get the chance to climb Conic Hill again? Do they care?

The chances of getting a view off the hill began to look more promising as we climbed higher up the northern slopes. The 500ft ascent was smashed by the stronger, fitter Team Conic.

Jon and Rich get ready to do battle with Conic Hill.

A moody Loch Lomond from Conic Hill and the amazing bright green field.

The descent to Balmaha.

We descended from the hill and headed to the Inn where the rest were waiting with a pint.

The heavy rain that had been forecast never appeared and all fifteen of us looked to have completed the day without issue but tomorrow would see the hardest day of the walk, a tortuous 21 miler from Balmaha to Ardlui.

Sarah reflects on her day along with a warm feeling in both heels. Jim's on his fourth pint and Sandra looks up taxi numbers.

Fortunately the Oak Tree Inn proved to be as excellent in 2014 as it was in 2004 and a good night was enjoyed by all.

DAY 2 - Balmaha to Ardlui (21 miles\3400ft ascent)

When planning this walk I'd thought long and hard about this second day. It followed a 20 miler from the previous day and I knew that the terrain alongside Loch Lomond wouldn't assist fast progress. Sections of this stretch are considered by many as the toughest on the entire route and escape routes were few and far between and potentially very expensive.

It was the 'very expensive' bit that probably forced Jim to persuade Sandra to give today a miss. Sandra's knee had given her a bit of grief on the previous day, despite wearing Al's knee 'thing', so this was factored into the decision to take the ferry from Balmaha to Luss. Everyone else was on for it.

Nick had survived two successive nights of Mark's snoring so any concerns over an early walk murder were laid to rest.

The weather was as gorgeous as it had been in 2004 where a relatively simple hike to Inversnaid was day two's aim. Today would be far tougher.

Gordon, Ann and Nick prepare to take on Loch Lomond - all of it.

Getting the maps in order for day 2.

The first part of the day's walk came as a surprise to all of us that'd walked the WHW in 2004. It climbed up to a view point which, although pretty, didn't help us gain much in terms of distance. The maps suggested that this was the correct route so I can only assume that we'd either missed this in 2004 or were now so senile that we'd forgotten about it.

Team Pighole reach the viewpoint. An early morning tester.

The effort made in gaining the summit of the viewpoint was wasted as we descended back to the shores of the loch. Ben Lomond loomed large in the distance which was nice except that it was a constant reminder of the distance we'd have to cover. Ben Lomond worked out as being approximately half way. Gulp!

Today was different than any day of any of our other LDPs in that we had to reach the end of the walk before 7pm. The deadline was due to this being the day's last voyage of the Ardlui Hotel ferry. If we missed this we'd be looking at an extra four mile walk to reach the hotel which would be a disaster.

The pace was good as we enjoyed the stunning views over the loch. I kept a track of the distance and time in order to calculate a likely finishing time. 7pm loomed larger than Ben Lomond.

Sarah stopped on a couple of occasions to sort her boots and socks out as her blisters bubbled away.

Jane and Mark power up one of the numerous woodied climbs.

Rich and Netty pose with Ben Lomond in the background. Shit - it's miles away.

On and on we went. The climb and descent of Ross Wood was 'enjoyed' by all with the facilities at Rowardennan being the next milestone on route. It was still a couple of miles away.

Posing by the loch.

A short stop at Rowardennan allowed various folk to use the toilets which for some, was welcome relief. Inversnaid was seven miles away but, lying in wait, was the long gentle 450ft climb in the western forests of Ben Lomond. Lunch was taken by the side of the forest road where a view of Ben Arthur could be glimpsed through the trees but the arrival of midges forced us to pack up and continue.

Alison was rather unhappy with the combination of fast pace and few breaks and decided, on numerous occasions, that the day could be described as being perfunctory. Word of the week! I explained that we had to keep an eye on the 7pm deadline as we'd still got to negotiate the rather shitty terrain north of Inversnaid. Speaking of Inversnaid, where the hell was it?

Inversnaid was just around the corner: Eighteen corners to be exact. The last two miles into Inversnaid was reminiscent of the endless trudge into Tyndrum in 2004 where a team revolt looked like being a distinct possibility. Luckily the 2004 revolt never happened but I was beginning to sense a similar vibe in 2014.

The hotel was reached - at last! Drinks were ordered at the pathetically manned bar and we sat outside to prepare for the six miles to Ardlui but the peace was ruined somewhat when Alison was stung by a bee. An application of stingstuff helped ease the Scaramangaesque look of Alison's chest. Hopefully all would be OK. We'd planned for midges but didn't expect to suffer from bee stings.

See no bee, hear no bee, speak no bee.

The route north of Inversnaid runs over rocks, tree roots and various other obstacles that frankly, at this stage of the day, took the piss.

Getting to grips with the tough northern section of Loch Lomond.

After a mile to two Nick slipped when descending wooden steps. Others watched this and took the necessary precautions to avoid the same fate. Jane however, didn't.

Alison shrieked 'OH MY GOD'. The walkers who were present turned around to see Jane lying on what were pretty serious looking rocks. She'd come a right cropper. Gordon came to her rescue but Jane remained stuck on the rocks for a good few minutes. I decided to get a shot of the incident but was told, in no uncertain terms, to put the camera away.

Fortunately for the readers of this fine publication an exact replica of the incident has been provided:

Jane lies in pain on the rocks of Loch Lomond. Luckily there were no nasty gashes. Thanks to Mark Jones for the image.

For a moment it looked like Jane was in trouble but after regaining her senses, and clothes, she moved off the rocks and continued without injury. Only a few minutes later a bansheeesque screech filled the air. Who or what was that?

Netty had fallen on a rocky descent and cut her knee. Her mucky shorts also provided evidence of the fall. Would we ever reach Ardlui and would we get there in one piece?

The occasional pleasure cruise passed by with a running tannoy commentary which we hoped would describe the pain and agony of the WHW to the numerous Japanese and Americans enjoying their day. We waved through the trees and continued on our journey.

Approaching Doune. Not far now - surely.

On leaving the shoreline the going underfoot improved and a quick check on our location and the time confirmed that unless something really stupid happened we were going to make the ferry with ease. Gordon then ruined this announcement by checking his GPS and proclaiming that we had reached the ferry point. It wasn't there.

This didn't appear to go down well so, in order to try and save myself from another revolt, marched on to find the ferry departure point. After rounding another bend the flag pole and buoy was found. The others had caught up and a collective sigh of relief was heard.

Jim lifted the buoy and we waited for the ferry to appear.

Waiting for the Ardlui ferry. Come on, we're thirsty.

The ferry arrived and took our entire team plus a couple of knackered younger walkers. The arrival at Ardlui was welcomed with much relief but the usual instant pintathon was replaced by the decision to carry our luggage to the rooms and take a quick bath or shower. We entered the bar in dribs and drabs and enjoyed our beer, wine and food.

Sarah presented a rather vicious pair of blistered ankles to her fellow walkers which didn't look good at all. Alison had suffered similar deformities on the previous year's walk and had successfully overcome her disability with a combination of Compeed, tears and will power. Alison, the Yoda of blisters, would have to teach Sarah everything she knew as this could signal the end of Sarah's walk. 'Painful it be'.

The excitement of the ferry was etched in the girls' faces.

It had been a tough day but it had been successfully completed despite bee stings, blisters and three falls. The 20+ mile walk to Bridge of Orchy was next on the agenda so in a desperate attempt to improve morale informed the team that if they could manage this the WHW was as good as done.

DAY 3 - Ardlui to Bridge of Orchy (21.4 miles\3100ft ascent)

The last of the 'big days' was upon us and everyone turned up at breakfast raring to go ready to walk. Sandra had decided her knee was ready for another battering but knew that there were a couple of obvious drop out points - Crianlarich and Tyndrum.

Jane reported that nothing had resulted from the horror of the previous day's fall and Sarah had treated her blisters to industrial quantities of Compeed, plasters and bandages so all was looking good.

The ferry was required yet again to take us back over Loch Lomond to the day's starting point.

That's better - happy smiley people.

The start of the day would see a gentle climb away from the interminable shores of Loch Lomond. The weather was excellent - again.

Marching away from Loch Lomond and a change of scenery.

Apart from the odd glimpse down to the Falls of Falloch and a view of Ben More in the distance the first few miles along Glen Falloch are a tad dull. The Munros to the right are too close to get a grasp of the lie of the land and the electricity pylons that escort you up the glen do their best to ruin every photo.

Jane had recovered from her fall and was ready for another successful day. Or was she?

Team Pighole plus foreign hangers-on continue their journey north. Ben More is the hill in the distance.

The route eventually reaches the road where it climbs above Crianlarich. At one point a sign advertised the 'delights' of the next 900 metres which in reality turned into 900 metres of ankle turning stoney shite. It was here that my left boot smacked into a rock with the resulting rescue attempt resulting in a turn of my recently fixed right ankle.

Andy Serkis spotted doing a 'Gollum' under the A82. Nick''s ring however wasn't feeling too precious and he certainly wasn't the Lord of it.

A short plod saw us reach the point where an escape path drops down to Crianlarich. Sandra's knee still wasn't perfect so she opted to leave. Surprisingly, Sandra was joined by Nick, who really needed to find a toilet, Jane and Netty. Jane and Netty, who'd both fallen on the previous day, were totally knackered and didn't fancy the cracking onto Tyndrum never mind the Bridge of Orchy so were more than happy to walk the kilometre into Crianlarich and jump on the train.

I'd got Jane and Netty down as dead certs to complete the walk so this came as something of a surprise. Nick had managed to fight the horrors of blisters and looked more than comfortable but his current unforeseen condition was deemed too serious to risk carrying on.

The opt out point near Crianlarich. Sue turns away in disgust as Nick, Netty, Sandra and Jane decide to call it a day.

We were now a fitter lighter better looking bunch. Nick too, was now a tad lighter.

The gentle climb continued through the forest where we eventually reached a rocky knoll with a fine view over the hills. This would be a grand place for lunch.

Looking east to Ben More from our lunch spot.

The odd midge threatened to ruin the peace but the walk was now taking on a different form as Loch Lomond and the Arrochar Alps seemed a long way away. We were now in the Highlands proper.

It was somewhere near this point in 2004 that many members of the original team decided to ask me how far Tyndrum was. I estimated the number of miles using my map and a thumb but failed to incorporate the numerous twist and turns into the calculation. This, coupled with the increasing heat, made for a rather fraught few miles. Would 2014 be any different?

Today's destination wasn't Tyndrum but Bridge of Orchy which was a good seven miles further on so would the 2014 team show a bit more spunk than the 2004 team?

Sarah was walking well despite her blisters but was glad to come across the Wigwam Trading Post where we could enjoy access to toilets and a shop. Jon checked and refitted Sarah's heel bandaging and checked the state of the blisters.

Approximately 40ft of bandaging was used on each heel. Jon checks Sarah's heels.

It was getting warm again - just like 2004 but no one seemed to be moaning. This was all going rather well.

Team Pighole head into Tyndrum. It's sunny again.

Sarah decided that the Green Welly shop would have to be visited in order to obtain additional Compeed and new socks. This gave the rest of the team ample time to stretch our hamstrings and perform a variety of rather pointless exercises by the side of the food shop. It soon became apparent that Sarah and Jon had been in the Green Welly shop for quite some time so Alison was sent to find out if Sarah's trolley dash was close to finishing. Jon and Sarah appeared as Alison walked around the corner.

We were ready for the final stretch to the Bridge of Orchy.

Post-stretch relaxation at Tyndrum. Mark checks his rucsac straps.

An easy ascent followed and the view opened up with the hills around Beinn Odhar, Beinn Dorain and the Black Mount ahead. The good path made for fast progress but dark clouds were gathering to the north. Would we escape the showers?

Marching towards the imposing Beinn Dorain. Looks a tad dark up yonder.

A short shower was heavy enough to warrant the wearing of waterproofs but this soon blew over and we were back in the sunshine. We walked through the train station and straight into the bar at the Bridge of Orchy where Jane and Netty were snugly sat. It had been another long day but the four we'd lost at Crianlarich meant that only eleven of us had completed all three days.

Mike and pint in the Bridge of Orchy.

A rather fucked looking Rich in his slippers and a fresh looking Netty.

Jane tries to explain why she failed again to a positively seething Gordon.

We'd done two thirds of the walk in three days so we looked forward to a full complement of fifteen for the remaining 'easy' three days. Tomorrow would see us bounding over Rannoch Moor towards the Kings House Hotel.  The forecast looked good again so we drank, ate and drank again. Nothing could stop us now.

DAY 4 - Bridge of Orchy to Kings House (12 miles\1700ft ascent)

As expected we all turned up for breakfast with the intention of walking. The four that had bailed out at Crianlarich on the previous day were all sorted and Sarah had performed further miracles on her heels.

Ready for the off outside the Bridge of Orchy hotel. No one seemed particularly happy despite today being an easy 12 miler. Mark's checking those straps again.

A gradual climb up to Mam Carraigh signals the start of the walk. It's 500+ft but it was dealt with without a murmur. We were now in top walking fettle despite the odd injury.

Nearing the top of Mam Carraigh.

The view from the top of Mam Carraigh is excellent with Loch Tulla immediately below and the peaks of the Black Mount and beyond to the north west. After a good photo session the path drops down to the Inveroran Hotel before Victoria Bridge and onwards onto Rannoch Moor.

The view off Mam Carraigh. Well worth the effort.

The drove road over Rannoch Moor is, to say the least, hard on the feet. It consist of a variety of stones which are laid out in a way that prevent fast progress for anyone with dodgy ankles. That was me and Jim knackered then.

Sandra enjoying the old Drove Road to Glencoe.

We stopped for lunch at Ba Bridge which seemed strangely devoid of midge activity - not that we were complaining.

Ann and Alison buggering about at Ba Bridge.

I'd planned to recreate the now famous shot of the 2004 team taken on a small bridge but we were now so far spread apart that Phil Drabble wouldn't have got us back together. Bollocks to it - let's get to the Kings House.

Alison was beginning to feel pretty tired and was feeling the pace set over the past few days. Sarah was walking noticeably more slowly than previous days but with those blisters it was still an achievement to be still out there.

After topping out on the moor the top end of Glencoe came into view with the famous bulk of Buachaille Etive Mor now visible. Not far now.

Looking towards the big Buachaille from the WHW.

Not far is probably the wrong description. The road to the Kings House seems a lot longer than it is due to the 'big country' size of the moor and the surrounding hills. It had been a short day but we were all pleased to remove our rucsacs in the hotel bar. Alison was feeling particularly buggered so opted for a surprising double Laphroaig.

The skies had darkened on the approach to the Kings House and the rain began to fall as we drank our drink of choice. We'd been very lucky - again.

An old dear and old deer at the Kings House.

Shattered faces at the Kings House.

After a few drinks, showers, baths and a general scrub up things began to look better....

A major improvement from two hours ago.

Tomorrow would see the shortest day of the week and the climb up the Devil's Staircase. Unfortunately heavy rain was also forecast so we went to bed not knowing what the following day would bring.

DAY 5 - Kings House to Kinlochleven (9.5 miles\1565ft ascent)

It wasn't the best morning. The weather couldn't decide whether to piss it down or deliver strong sunshine. Waterproofs on, waterproofs off, waterproofs on....

We had a full complement yet again so after a massive clothes faff we marched off. There seemed to be a lot of folk walking the route today whereas yesterday seemed pretty quiet in comparison. Where had they all come from?

Big decisions to be made. What to wear? Ann goes for the fleece\waterproof combination for maximum sweat.

The changing weather conditions seemed to improve the views as the cliffs of the Buachaille appeared and disappeared behind mist and cloud. The path was noticeably easier on the feet than yesterday so, yet again, a good pace was set but there was no need to walk as quickly as the potential for afternoon drunkery loomed large. We'd hit Kinlochleven at mid-afternoon at the latest so, weather permitting, we could enjoy the day at a relatively slow pace.

Great views on the way to the Devil's Staircase.

We were hoping that the rain would stop in time to prevent the need to climb the Devil's Staircase in full waterproof kit and, as it turned out, our prayers were answered. The ascent was carried out in warm sunshine and the views back over to Glencoe were superb.

Sunshine and more views on the climb up the Devil's Staircase.

We reached the top in dribs and dribs. Mike reminded us all that we'd reached the top fifteen minutes quicker than in 2004 to which, yet again, he blamed Neil as being the primary reason.

Film star looks galore!

The rain came in again on reaching the summit which prevented us from seeing the view over to Ben Nevis but after descending a couple of hundred feet the rain stopped and the Mamore range filled the northern arc. This was all rather pleasant.

Heading down towards Kinlochleven in glorious weather. The waterproofs remained on in order to dry out. Am Bodach is the main peak in the picture.

Netty was having a bit of knee trouble so the poles came out but as this would be a long gradual descent both Netty and Sandra were taking it easy.

The descent into Kinlochleven seems to go on forever and as the hotel was at the far north-western end of town it seemed even longer than the 2004 lot remembered. The rain started again as we reached the hotel but we all ended up in the bar within a few minutes of each other. Time for beer!

Enjoying a drink at the MacDonald Hotel.

The views over Loch Leven were excellent but, thanks to the worst midges encountered all week, could only be safely enjoyed from inside. The Smidge midge forecast application reckoned it was a 4 out of 5 for midges - they were dead right!

Beer, wine, whisky, quizzing, pool and food were enjoyed as we prepared ourselves for the final day but something nasty was lurking in the shadows.

DAY 6 - Kinlochleven to Fort William (15.5 miles\2665ft ascent)

This was it. The final day.

Jon and Sarah were the last to join the group for breakfast. This wasn't due to Sarah's blisters or last day joy tiffin time but down to the fact that Jon had spent most of the night on the toilet. He was in a bad way. Would Sarah, despite her terrible blisters, end up completing the WHW with Jon failing?

The start was delayed for a few minutes as Jon shit the town on the hunt for Immodium. Luckily, he managed to obtain the required anti-shittery medication and joined us for our triumphant march to Fort William.

The 2004 walkers were well aware of the final 800ft climb to the Mamore Lodge which had been the final action of 2004's day five. The advantage of this was that we enjoyed an easy start to the 2004 final day but the 2014 lodgings meant that the 800ft climb had to be tackled first thing. Great!

The route leaves the road and climbs steadily through the woods to Mam Mor which resulted in Mike powering up the hill in the mistaken belief that the summit was called Mam Tor.

Mr Shitty and Sandra on the climb from Kinlochleven.

We eventually reached the summit and looked west to the route along the Lairig Mor. The main climb of the day was behind us so nothing could stop us.

Preparing for the Lairig Mor. Sue marvels at Jane's rain dance.

The Lairig Mor loses its appeal after a few miles as the views down Loch Leven are replaced by dull featureless hill sides. The odd spot of rain didn't help matters but Fort William was just around the corner.

Gordon and Jane on the march up the Lairig Mor. Stob Ban is the peak on the left.

We rounded the corner of Meall a' Chaorainn and headed north towards the Nevis forests. Lunch was taken on a small summit just before the main forest where a view of Ben Nevis could be enjoyed but something else was amiss. Jim wasn't quite right. Was his ankle the cause of his white faced misery? An half-eaten apple tossed in his direction failed to trigger a response so what could be wrong?

With lunch now eaten we headed off into the forests. Jim powered on in lonesome fashion and disappeared. What was he up to?

A very unhappy Jimothy and a very concerned, or very angry, Sandra. Netty returns from a toilet break with Ann mopping up in the distance.

The route improved in the forest as the twists and turns beckoned us on. Jim, however, was still nowhere to be seen.

Rich looks visibly concerned with Jim's disappearance whilst Mike and Nick check around the next corner.

Suddenly, in the distance, Jim was spotted. He was sat on a rock and didn't look overly happy and, after approaching with caution, we found out why. He was suffering from something similar to Jon but from the 'other' end where he'd delivered a few forest splats.

As the news of Jim's condition spread the rest of the team began to wonder if we were all about to suffer a similar fate. Would the march into Fort William be a complete disaster?

The final stretch of the forest. Sarah, Al, Mark and Sandra maintain a safe distance from Jon.

A short climb resulted in us reaching a clearing where a ten minute drink stop and rest was to be taken. Jim's ankle was adding to his woes so Alison handed over her Biofreeze spray which had successfully eased Sue's painful knee during the week.

Jim and Nick on the logs of discomfort.

The descent to Glen Nevis was the next challenge but we knew the end was nigh. Caol and Corpach were now in full view and the weather was improving.

Down and down we go in the forests of Glen Nevis.

On reaching the road we all got the feeling that this was it but there was another mile and a half to the old 'official' end. For some, this seemed a long way.

The road to Fort William. Jimothy battles on whilst Alison looks a thousand times fitter than she did at the same point in 2004.

We eventually reached the old 'finishing' point where Netty and Sarah enjoyed a photo shoot but the new 'official' end was a good mile away so off we went. The new 'official' end appears to have been picked to ensure that all WHW completers walk the entire length of Fort William's high street in a cynical final twist. Still, the weather was great and all was good with the world - except for Jon's and Jim's guts, Jim's ankle, Sarah's blisters, Sue's knee, Netty's cut knee and Sandra's knees.

That was it. We'd finished. As good as 100 miles walked with the first three days totalling 64 miles meant that a few of us were noticeably worse for wear than previous walks. It didn't matter - the finishing line was ours.....

There at last! Terry can be seen in the centre.

Out of the fifteen starters an incredible eleven had managed to complete the entire walk with the remaining four only missing one or two sections. It had been an exceptional effort from a bunch of overweight alcoholics.

Jon and Sarah had successfully completed their first LDP with Sarah battling through her blisters from day one. Rich and Jim, the latter coming into the walk with an ankle injury, added another tick to their success list with Ann, Mark and Sue completing with ease. Pighole veterans Gordon, Mike, Alison and myself finished the WHW on the tenth anniversary of our original walk. Jane, Netty and Nick were kicking themselves for missing a single short section whilst Sandra had completed 65 miles in four and a half days!

The next stop was the Grog and Gruel for celebration drinks....

Jon looking good in the Grog and Gruel. The moment when you realise you've completed the WHW can result in a bout of post-completion depression.

A meal was enjoyed that night but without Jon and Jim. Ann too fell foul of the bug that was seemingly the cause of Jon and Jim's misery and failed to make breakfast on the Saturday morning.

On the Saturday, most of the group enjoyed a day out on the Fort William - Mallaig steam train with Gordon and Jane staying in town and the rest taking things squeasy. The sicky three failed to make Saturday evening's meal but Sarah and Sandra made up for Jon and Jim's absence by ordering enough food for four people.

So that's that! A rather pools 'couponesque' injury list ends this year's report but next year will soon be upon us and may see us hitting foreign shores again. Where?, who? and, more importantly, why?

Walker Blisters Bites Sicky Bee Sting Shittery Knee Feet Issues Wankle Dizzyness Knackeredness
Sean       X    
Alison X   X   X  
Ann   X    
Sue X     X X  
Gordon       X  
Nick   X     X X        
Jane X     X
Rich X      
Sandra           X        
Jim     X         X    
Netty X X       X       X
Jon         X          
Sarah X         X        


Email me at
Copyright © 2004-2018 Sean Bond. All rights reserved.