Glutton for punishment or something but I am heading on up to Fort William, (Scotland, for those of you not in the UK) on the one's and twos at the end of this month. This will be the third time I have done it and usually continue on up the Great Glen to Inverness. I usually take 3 days to complete the WHW and 2 for the GG. The weather when I do it (End June or July) has always been fair to scorching. No midges cos you dont stop that often.
Day 1, Glasgow - Crianlarich
Starting from the railway station your have a luvely ride all the way to loch lomond. At Drymen, take the route via Balloch over to Alexandria. You've then got a nice'ish if not a bit boring at times ride up the road to Luss, although upon returning from our Arrochar run a fortnight ago I saw that they have build a kind of path at the loch side of the road so I think I might try that. You've then got a bit of a slog past Tarbet and 'on the tips of your toes' up the road side of loch lomond.
Plain sailing all the way up to Crianlarich on the road or you can cut off and try some of the WHW route once past the Drovers Inn (Inverarnan Hotel).
Stay in Crianlarich Youth Hostel, bikes safely in the locked shed.
Day 2, Crianlarich - Kinlochleven
If you didn't do it yesterday then get up the hills to the left of Crianlarich following the WHW. You can stay on this route until you cross the railway and meet the road again. This is where I recommend you join the roadies as the other side is nice for a while then gets mightly boggy and cow-poo'y and 'carry bike time'.
After stopping for the compulsory mint-slice at the Green Welly shop continue on the beaten track towards Bridge of Orchy and onwards to Glencoe. Just over the river at Bridge of Orchy you have a choice of going up and over the hill (ignoring the no cycling sign at your peril / the start of one of the sections favourite routes) or do the long detour via the road, either odds they both take you to the same place (the hotel). Continue on the road in a lemming fashion and enjoy a fantastic ride and my favourite bit. It's actually one of the longer stretches but one of the easiest.
That is until you get to the Devils Staircase... When meeting the road after your decent off the hills, past the Ski Slopes, cycle over to the Kings House and have some chips, then get back on the road down to the obvious start of the Devils Staircase. The actual WHW route is kinda cyclable but only if you can be bothered.
The devils staircase is not as dangerous as folklore suggests, it's just a bit of a steep climb. But you are rewarded by some fantastic downhill (slowly if your with panniers or wish to continue on the rest of the WHW on bike) down to Kinlochleven and your bed for the night.
Stay in the bothy just aside the waterworks, quite possibly the best bothy i have ever been in. We are sending up a package of supplies to here prior to setting out as there is a great kitchen etc and a good opportunity for restocking your aching muscles with some carb.
Beds are bunks and are in great nick, two showers per room...and a TV and dryroom !
Day 3, Kinlochleven - Fort William
Get up, reward yourself with another shower cos you aint got any more luxuries today...that's for sure. Leave the bothy and turn right at the main road and continue on the WHW until you meet the good aulde fort of william. The initial onslaught of mountainous proportions is an unfair representation for the rest of the day. Most of it is just a 4x4 track. The decent to Fort William road is great for moral and your thighs.
Rest, buy some grub in safeways, get the train home
Hand your bike into the local bike guru shop, get some rubbish from safeways, head on up to the Youth Hostel, sleep and dream of your next two days journey along a easy for navigation, hard on the lungs trip to Inverness...
In the past (and I will regret saying this) I have never had a puncture whilst on the trip, eventhough those time my bike was fully laden with panniers and all sorts....fluke is suppose.
My kit list currently has three tubes per person detailed, but after my show a fortnight ago i might need to up that a bit. The rest of the kit is very minimal.... Sleeping bag, three t-shirts, Fleece top, waterproofs and the leg bits for my shorts for the colder nights. oh, and a supply of GO! bars.
Needless to say, it aint a walk in the park, but is quite a fantastic fun and I thoroughly recommend it if you can get a long weekend pass from the other half.
New Legislation - Land access rights in Scotland now include cyclists !
New legislation provides responsible access to users of the countryside.
For the first time the rights of cyclists have been included.
It throws open the use of all paths etc for responsible access, provided they don't form part of the curtilage of buildings etc.
So, basically, yeah you can ride the WHW and always have been, beyond Tyndrum, with the exception of the footpath up Mam Carraigh (the hill behind the Bridge of Orchy Hotel).
The bulk of the route was stitched together from old rights of way which had a history of cycling on them and therefore legal to ride on. That's whether the walkers and sign posters thought so or not!
Frequently you'll see signs asking you not to ride. This invariably means you have a legal right to do so but someone doesn't want bikes on the route. This is for a variety of reasons, most often in response to safety considertions for walkers.
If you have any doubts contact the Scottish Rights of Way Society
, maybe even join. They've been looking after our rights to access for a long time now and anyone with more than a passing interest in the countryside should think about membership.
The descents on the Devil's Staircase are fun but much diminished since they were civilised for the masses. Apart from one or two sections on this the descending never gets above a moderately difficult level. You'll need to be good at clearing gaps, to get past the drainage features
ps. I'm taking the mickey a bit by going on this expedition a week before moving house....can't believe I'm being let away with it.
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