Running The West Highland Way || Day 1

Good morning Ferals – and a happy Saturday to you!

As I’m writing this intro I’m currently getting ready to head up to North Wales for the weekend to join Trail Events as a back runner on their 32 mile Snowdon Ultra. It would be a tough day anyway but the conditions are less than favourable – who’s surprised? Not me! I adore this company and I’ve run so many of their fab events over the last year, so I’m really looking forward to joining them for another tough mountain Ultra! It’s going to be so much fun (Type 2 fun, obviously!).

Anyway, without babbling too much – here is the second instalment of my little West Highland Way series – Day one! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed running it!

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☀️ Day 1 ☀️ Milngavie – Rowardennan YHA – 45 km (28 miles)

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What a beautiful day to start running! A cool, drizzly morning gave way to beautiful sunshine in the afternoon – which was fine because it meant that I cracked on and covered some good distance at the start.

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This section of trail gives you a great idea of what to come in regards to how well the WHW is set up for tourists! As well as the odd coffee shop, village store and pub on or near the trail, there were also hoards of honesty boxes dotted along the trail. Fridges full of water, coke, juice and occasionally some coffee in a flask and fresh brownies! It was such a wonderful thing to see!

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The trails for the first 12 miles were a varied mix between gravel tracks, muddy trails and quite a bit of road chucked in just before Drymen. After that, the trail climbed gently on trails and forestry roads out of Drymen and over towards Conic Hill. This section undulated more than the first 12 miles but it was a lot more fun – and the views as you weaved in and out of the forests were heart-stoppingly gorgeous.

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At the base of Conic Hill, the tracks changed from Forestry roads to single-track paths and I skipped my way all the way up and then steeply back down the other side – taking some time out to greet the beautiful, muddy cows. 

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The steep path that wound down from Conic Hill was mucky, fast and flowy – my favourite. I’m not sure how quickly I got down to Balmaha, but it felt like mere minutes because I was just having the most amount of fun (pounding some sassy Lady Gaga for the descent may have helped…).

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As I reached Balmaha and the base of Loch Lomand, the clouds disappeared and the sun was suddenly hot on my skin – I felt like I’d been plucked out of Scotland and plonked on a beach in the Mediterranian. The chilly breeze had disappeared along with the clouds and the tourists had all left for the day – I fel like I had the entire place to myself.

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The undulating Loch-side paths were some of the most fun I had on the entire trip! The weather was hot and the path weaved onto pebble beaches that glistened in warm sunshine – The temptation to stop and swim was almost overwhelming, but I had a pit in the bottom of my stomach that I knew would only be filled by dinner!

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Rowardennan YHA was a welcome sight by 6:30pm. I received a very warm welcome and then ate my body weight in pasta – the best way to refuel after a long day! The hostel was alive with excited chatter – people sharing their horror stories on other long-distance treks, friends meeting up for the first time in years, parents hoping to share these trails with their children, students seeing Scotland through fresh eyes for the very first time, hikers, runner, skippers, swimmers – everyone was on an equally beautiful and important journey and it was a pleasure to be surrounded by it all. Though I love the peace I find on the trails, I am also drawn to other humans looking for the same thing. It is simple, it is beautiful, it is special.

My legs were totally beat – pretty normal for dancing on the trails for 7 hours, but I’d never had to get up the next day and do it all again. I was a little nervous, but I had total trust that my body would find a way!

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And that’s it Ferals! Day two will be released same time next week!

Have a great weekend!

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