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West Highland Way 1995 : heatwave

I've actually walked

the West Highland Way 4 times, partially or completely. To be more precise : I've completed the WHW just ones (1996), the other three attempts have been stopped for different reasons (1995 : heatwave and midges, 1997 : illness, 1998 : sore feet and pregnancy girlfriend).I'll try to tell my story in chronological order to make sure every year has a beginning and an end. This means you'll possibly have to read about the same stretch of the WHW more then once. , the choice three younger colleagues and I had to make for the summerholyday of 1995. It all started 6 months earlier as Jan-Jaap and I thought it would be a good idea to have a walking holiday together the next year. Friends/colleagues Marco and Martijn joined in. Two tents were therefore needed. Jan-Jaap (JJ) had an uncle living in Sweden and the Swedish Crown had been devaluated shortly before so Hilleberg tents were the way to go. Two Hilleberg Nammatj GT tents were ordered and collected by JJ's uncle who delivered them coming over to Holland soon after.The Hilleberg Nammatj GT is a very spacious 2 person tent with a huuuuge porch. The weight is 4,5kg and it's virtually bombproof. Being new to camping/backpacking some more items had to be bought.An 80 ltr rucksack, a Mammut Butterfly down sleeping bag, TNF All Weather Jacket, a MSR Whisperlite stove, a Thermarest mattrass, compass, a stainless steel cooking pan, Scarpa boots and more.But what about our destination ? I favoured Scotland for it's landscapes, the language and it's accesability. DFDS Seaways had started a ferrycrossing between IJmuiden and Newcastle the previous year.Scotland also had the advantage of a relative new longdistance path : the West Highland Way, running from Milngavie (near Glasgow) to Fort William for 152km. A book with maps was quickly bought at BeverZwerfsport, a Dutch outdoorsshop, and soon after train- and ferryjourney were booked.The 26th of June we left IJmuiden by ferry to arrive in Newcastle the next day. Further travelling was done by train to Glasgow Central Station. Confusion. No train to Milngavie ? We had to walk to Queen Street Station. We bought tickets to Milngavie - received Scottish Pounds as exchange - and couldn't find the right platform (9 and 3/4 ?) at first. It turned out to be at the end of all platforms and at a lower level. After a short trainjourney and shopping in Milngavie we started walking late in the afternoon. The temperature was 25 dgr.C..The first ascent - a staggering 20m - was breathtaking. Literally. I think we had a bitof an overload with rucksacks weighingover 20kg. We plodded on and had fun nevertheless. After Dumgoyach the WHWfollowed a dismantled railway which wasn't very pleasant to walk. Midges were bothering us. We reached the Beech Tree Inn at Dumgoyne and pitched our tents.Refreshments were taken at the Inn and diner was made on our little stoves. The midges had diner also. Little did we know of them.The next day started warm again. The firstfew kilometres were dismantled railway with a whole lot of kissing gates that were difficult to pass with big rucksacks.At the Inn we had filled a foldable waterbag with extra water, adding more weight. At Drymen we rested for a while before moving on. We decided to skip Conic Hill and follow the road to Loch Lomond.The scenery was good but we were sweating like oxes. It wasn't fun anymore.West of Balmaha lies Craigie Fort, a pimple at the shores of Loch lomond. We were foolish enough to climb this pimple. It's very steep. And bad for the calves. Shortly after we reached the Milarrochy campsite. We pitched our tents and lay down on the grass. We had to make a decision. Do we continue in this heatwave while being eaten alive by midges - they were even worse around Loch Lomond - or call it a day and return home ? We decided to wait ubtill tomorrow The next day the weatherforecast was for more days of scorging sunshine and not wishing to scratch our flesh to the bone we decided to call it a day and return home. It had been a short adventure.

"Scotland or Sweden"

Jan-Jaap, Theo, Marco and Martijn

Knackered on Craigie Fort

Marco cooling off in Loch Lomond

Very low waterlevel in Loch Lomond


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