The West Highland Way 1 – Milngavie to Drymen

Milngavie is actually pronounced in a manner that is not remotely close to how it is spelt.  Welcome to Scotland.  English is spoken, but not really.  People who live in Milngavie and the surrounding area are intimately familiar with the American pronunciation of their town, that one can actually get across their geographic question without obtaining blank stares of confusion.  If you pronounce it correctly as “Mil Gai” on the first try, you will probably receive a round of beers at the nearest pub.

Milngavie is Mile 0 of the West Highland Way, which was my main purpose for visiting Scotland.  Considered a classic route, and probably the quintessential hill walk of the United Kingdom, the WHW is a 154KM trek beginning in the lowlands north of Glasgow and ending in the self-proclaimed outdoor capital of Scotland, William. 

It is also far more challenging that one would expect.  Best to keep that in mind, because it was my mistake not to.

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Like many trekking routes, the WHW begins with a marker.  This is also the location where one first meets the groups they will be walking with, whether you  like it or not.  You will probably leap frog one another each day and some you will never see again, but rest assured, these people you will probably get to know reasonably well by the time you reach Fort William.

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And I was off.  The WHW makes use of a numerous old paths, roads, rail beds and many other sorts of routing.  Well marked with WHW posts, the trail is easily navigated.  19KM from Milngavie to Drymen. 

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A typical Scottish suburb – Milngavie.

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Trail repairs were occurring that routed me a good 5KM off the normal track via Mugdock Castle.  I find castles be to be aesthetically pleasing, but I find they are quite difficult to photograph, especially when one has recently busted their 18-250mm lens and is relying on a 50mm prime for landscaping.  It’s a great portrait lens, but terrible for landscapes.  I’m still quite surprised many of my photos turned out to be somewhat acceptable.

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From Mugdock Castle, the detour ran past several old AAA batteries that protected the Clydebank munitions factories during World War Two.

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A few KM of detour found me back on the main route.  Pulling out of the lowlands, I received my first glimpse of the Scottish topography.  It’s not technically the Highlands, but it was a window into some landscapes that were soon to blow my socks off. 

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Despite a cloudy sky, the weather was brutally hot and there was not much in the way of water sources on this segment.

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I camped just outside of Drymen and this place.   A number of other hikers, especially the ultra fit who were on their last day (completing the WHW in reverse) ran back into Drymen (2KM away) to watch the World Cup semi-final.  I was to bagged and my feet too blistered.

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Just outside the campground.

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