Wk44 – 16.2M walk from Drymen to Rowardennan

The online West Highland Way guide said walking from Drymen to Balmaha (8 miles) would take 4-5 hours, and walking from Balmaha to Rowardennan (7 miles) would take 3-4 hours… well we were a bit quicker than that! 😉

We walked just over 16 miles from Drymen to Rowardennan in 6 hours on the dot! We must be fit. 😀

This was our second walk (see last weeks 12.5 miles from Glasgow to Milngavie) of our West Highland Way training and a nice rest from running long on the route for me.  The run long one weekend, then walk the next weekend seems to be working for me.

(With the aim to walk the WHW in April 2012 and possibly run the 53 miles  from Milngavie to Tyndrum for the Highland Fling  at the end of the same month.)

We left Glasgow at 6:20am, and got to Drymen just after 7am. It was a cold November morning – the temperature in the car, just below freezing. The forecast was for ‘sunny intervals’ 10’C. I’m not sure it was 10’C, but it certainly was a nice day, a great one for walking the West Highland Way.

We started off where I thought we should have but I realised after that I should have been a road further down to get to where I wanted to be. I wanted to join the WHW at Drymen, go across the field, then across Stirling Road. I soon realised when we were walking into Drymen (again) that I’d started off in the wrong place. But no harm done. We walked along Stirling Road and found our first WHW marker post, then joined the route. 🙂

I’ll do another blog post about the right route as I went back to check it out and got it 🙂

Then we came across the very clear WHW sign post pointing us up the hill towards Conic Hill. Brilliant! 🙂 The sun was rising behind us and it made really pleasant conditions.

I think I’ll let some of the photos tell the story for a bit…

The entries for the Highland Fling (53 miles from Milngavie to Tyndrum) have opened…and I am really considering it. As i was going down this wet muddy bit I was thinking, could I run this? And I was thinking it again when I was going up some rather steep hilly bits too. I know my feet would be absolutely covered in mud, but could I do it? I’m thinking I could, but maybe just need one more long run on the WHW before I decide. 🙂

The way I’m looking at it, I could just keep running road races, 10ks to marathons), or I could try to embrace trail / ultra running and really give myself a challenge and see if I can rise to it. 🙂

I had on my walking boots, my thick (toastie warm) Rohan trousers, pink under armour vest, nike compression top, and asics long sleeved top which seemed to do for the day. I had the hat and gloves on and off throughout the day…. it seemed to get colder when we got closer to Rowardennan under all the cloud/mist. I had designer gloves on (designed by me). My hands kept getting cold, then warm…so I fashioned them like this which seemed to work. 😉

Jasper enjoying his day out (as we ate our bagels 🙂 – just under 2 hours in )

A nice little inversion behind / around Conic Hill

We had thought about going up to the top of Conic Hill (slightly off the WHW route), but we’ve been to the top before and decided it would be best to stick to the route. And I’m glad we did.

This was just before we went under the cloud cover / inversion (around 900ft up). Then it was down hill from there where we ran a little but not much as Fit Girl can’t run because of her knee (plus my boots aren’t great to run in…. I could just see me…catching them on something and tumbling down to Loch Lomond 😉 )

Foot prints in the mist / dew

Coming down from Conic Hill

Steps down from Conic Hill

When we got to Balamha my Garmin had recorded 8 miles exactly. 2 hours 50. Well ahead of the suggested 4-5 hours. 😀 We stopped for a pee, and to get some juice and a banana from the shop. We had a nice chat with the lady in the shop before heading on our way to Rowardennan.

Up and over the hill towards Rowardennan.

It had been muddy, and it was getting more muddy. Nothing my boots couldn’t handle.

Imagine running through this in trainers??! :-/

Asda and Jasper were tagging along and they were having a great time. 😉

Looking back along the WHW at Cashel about 11 miles in, 5 to go

Much needed fuel: a snickers bar. We had the following to eat:

Breakfast: Porridge & milk
Snacks: Cola energy bursts, Bagel and Nutella, Banana, Snickers.
Lunch: When we got to Rowardennan: Sandwich, Pineapple & Mango chunks, Tracker bar.

I was starting to get hungry about 12 miles in, but thought I’d give myself a chocolate boost, then get lunch when we got to Rowrardennan. 🙂

The cloudy mist was over Loch Lomond and made some parts of the walk really impressive to walk through. 🙂

There were HUNDREDS of spider webs in the trees and bushed – highlighted by the mist…. it’s strange because you don’t normally notice them, but they were everywhere!! Just shows they’re all around but you don’t often see them like this! This was the only one we saw with Mrs Spider in it. 🙂

Talking of animals…on our travels we saw a grouse, cows, bison, sheep (a ginger one at that WTF?!), birds, ducks and chickens.

Ginger sheep??

Woods just before Rowardennan

After about 12 miles in, Fit Girl’s IT band started to get sore (on down hills mainly). Arg…. she’d been off running for almost 2 months now, just swimming. I guess this is a good test for her before she sees a specialist later in the month. At least she can tell him the pain is still around.

Lucky for me, no niggles on the walk and feeling fine the next day. 🙂

Finished!! And it was only 13:20 in the afternoon!

View from Rowardennan

Jasper and Asda with their well earned treats.

Lunch after it

Dirty boots 🙂

My neighbour said to me when we got back that the section we did was the hardest bit of the West HIghland Way, not sure if that’s true, but if it is – that’s good. 🙂 Have you don the WHW? What do you think? What’s the most challenging part of it?

Walk: Drymen to Rowardennan, 16.2 miles.

Time: 6:00:42, 2.7mph (including stops)

Moving Time: 4:36:19, 3.5mph

Garmin Training Effect: 2.0

Ave HR: 103 (54%), Max HR: 148 (77%), Calories: 1,351.

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