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West Highland Way end of Jan

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 Happybunny 21 Jan 2020

Hi, planning to walk the West Highland Way starting at the end of this month. Done a lot of summer walking, in the Alps and some of the GR routes and some winter walking.

Any hints or tips? 

In reply to Happybunny:

Sounds sweet, I'm planning to do this in mid Feb. Im in the same boat as you. Would welcome any tips for this walk in the winter? 

 Happybunny 21 Jan 2020
In reply to Showmeyourblister:

Great minds think alike! I found a great app for the route etc but just want some local knowledge about weather and escape routes......can feel a log fire and pub coming on.

Planning to stay in bed and breakfasts and could do with knowing if anyone's had problems.

Happy to email you the link for the app if you like?

 DaveHK 21 Jan 2020
In reply to Happybunny:

> Any hints or tips? 

Be prepared for it to be shit weather from start to finish.

Enjoy the lack of midgies.

 Happybunny 21 Jan 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

Lol I kind of thought it might be. 

I'm planning to stay at b&bs, starting on the 31st jan and travel back on the train to London on the 6th feb. I will carry my own gear but really want to keep it light.

In reply to Happybunny:

Yeah great if you could email me the link for the app that would be much appreciated. Would love to hear about how your trips goes. 

 Roadrunner6 21 Jan 2020
In reply to Happybunny:

It could be anything. It only gets high for a few spots so you could be fine. 

You might need microspikes. It could be brutal though, places like Rannoch moor are very exposed for hours at a time, when in other areas you may be down below tree line and more sheltered. 

Post edited at 19:20
 Happybunny 21 Jan 2020
In reply to Roadrunner6:

That's massively helpful to know! Thank you.

 BnB 21 Jan 2020
In reply to Happybunny:

There’s a B&B in Tyndrum run by an Italian woman called Carmen. If you can track it down (it was on Booking.com last year) from that info then stay there. The woman is an angel. Like staying with the best mother could ever wish for. I can’t sing her praises highly enough.

 aln 21 Jan 2020
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> in other areas you may be down below tree line

There is nowhere on the West Highland Way you will be above the tree line.

11
 Roadrunner6 21 Jan 2020
In reply to aln: semantic and pedantic. you are out of the trees for huge amounts. All across rannoch, over the staircase, technically it’s not tree line but you should explain that it’s rarely in the trees. In other areas there is a reliable tree line. On the WHW there hasn’t been in the last 4-5 times I’ve done it.. you are typically exposed to winds.

get driving wet westerlies on rannoch and you are in for a miserable few hours. 

 aln 21 Jan 2020
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> semantic and pedantic. 

It is not, it's wrong.

3
 Bob Aitken 21 Jan 2020
In reply to aln:

I'm intrigued by your comment - unless you mean some hypothetical natural tree line, you'll be on open, treeless, potentially exposed high ground over Conic Hill, Rannoch Moor, Devil's Staircase and Lairigmor, probably about a third of the total distance.

I'd just recommend to Happybunny that you get going reasonably sharpish in the morning - if you get it wet and muddy (e.g. on the upper eastern side of Loch Lomond) or snow-sludgy (as over Rannoch Moor) you might well need all the available daylight, depending on how you break the Way into sections.  Useful to have a good torch in case.  But if you get crisp clear conditions it can be fantastic.

 aln 21 Jan 2020
In reply to Bob Aitken:

There isn't a hypothetical tree line, the tree line is the height from sea level above which trees can't grow.

4
 Bob Aitken 22 Jan 2020
In reply to aln:

I quite appreciate that - I was trying to understand in what sense you could suggest "there is nowhere on the West Highland Way you will be above the tree line".  I thought it might just be feasible to argue that in the (unforeseeable) absence of grazing etc. there wouldn't be many stretches of the Way above a hypothetical West Highlands 'natural' tree line at (say) 500m.

1
 Roadrunner6 22 Jan 2020
In reply to aln:

Thanks, so the point stands. For a lot of it you are out of the trees..

 Harry Jarvis 22 Jan 2020
In reply to Happybunny:

> Hi, planning to walk the West Highland Way starting at the end of this month. Done a lot of summer walking, in the Alps and some of the GR routes and some winter walking.

> Any hints or tips? 

Expect to get wet and cold. Take plenty of dry socks. Don't expect to enjoy it. 

 Jim Lancs 22 Jan 2020
In reply to Happybunny:

 ". . . I will carry my own gear but really want to keep it light."

Keeping it light is always good, but . . . . don't over do it when it comes to waterproof jacket and boots. You are going to be a LuckyHappyBunny if you get even half decent weather. Good boots and a 'full-weight' cag with wired hood, etc, are probably worth their weight. 

 IainL 22 Jan 2020
In reply to Happybunny:

Check that the B&Bs are open. There may be less available in winter as WHW traffic is lower. Take a torch and spare batteries. Rannoch is miserable in wind and rain, and no escape routes. Devil Staircase is very short then downhill tho' exposed.

 aln 22 Jan 2020
In reply to Roadrunner6:

Aye whatever. There's no trees coz they've been chopped , overgrazed etc. If you want to call that a treeline even though it isn't then go ahead.

3
 Roadrunner6 22 Jan 2020
In reply to aln:

I was wrong. I'm sorry. The point stands, you are out of the trees.

 Roadrunner6 22 Jan 2020
In reply to Happybunny:

There's also a few (two) bothies on the route along the lochside (Rowchoish and Doune), assuming you know what bothies are? Good to get a fire going and dry off/warm up, even if not spend a night.

 aln 22 Jan 2020
In reply to Roadrunner6:

Oh FFS! The point is f*cking wrong for crying out loud. There is no treeline you're "above" at any point on the WHW! And you do walk through forest, particularly at the start along Loch Lomond side. 

7
 subtle 22 Jan 2020
In reply to aln:

> And you do walk through forest, particularly at the start along Loch Lomond side. 

Which is probably the worst section of the WHW - stepping through mud, clambering over trees, dripped on from wet leaves - never enjoyed that section

Rest of it is good, although wind and rain/snow can be problematic, imagine more so end of Jan.

Check bunkhouses/campsites/B&Bs open though as a lot will be closed at this time of year.

Plenty of companies provide bag drop service, means you only have to carry day pack and dry gear awaits at your pre-arranged (and booked) accommodation for the night - they will help advise what places are open at this time of year

Carry a good torch, days can be short at this time of year.

Good luck to you - think your mad though at this time of year - BUT - if you get it lucky with the weather it will be memorable, if you don't it will also be memorable though

 Raskye 22 Jan 2020
In reply to aln:

Oh dear! You’ve lost the plot. And the point. Time for your afternoon nap. 

 Roadrunner6 22 Jan 2020
In reply to aln:

Which I said.. " in other areas you may be down below tree line" (which I should have said in the trees..

you are particularly angry today.

You were right, I was wrong. I cannot apologize enough.

 Roadrunner6 22 Jan 2020
In reply to Happybunny:

One other tip, if the weather is great/conditions are good for the gear you have  (it could be anything), you pass some particularly impressive summits/munro's so I'd have a flexible schedule to take advantage of them. Assuming you have the gear required. 

In reply to Happybunny:

Look at the map and plan your lunches so that you can get warm, wind down and get some hot food. Seriously, this was the biggest thing I learnt when I was doing WHW - I did eat out a fair bit, even if I was a skint student. On the other hand, days are short and you will need to keep that in mind unless you are prepared and want to hike in the dark (although you should be expected to know how to either way). 

Most of it is well marked (when you know the route), but a good quality map with mile markers makes it much easier. 

I doubt you will need microspikes. I have cycled bits when it was icy (had to carry the bike on the top of Conic Hill), walked The Devil's Staircase in full winter conditions and been running parts of it this year without many difficulties. It's rarely steep enough to warrant needing them. 

If you are staying in towns, I would suggest starting early so that you can spend some time in pubs. There's quite few on the road and most of them are quite nice.

P.S. Say hi to a bearded runner, if you meet one - that might be me. ;)

 Andy Hardy 22 Jan 2020
In reply to aln:

Get a grip. The point Ian was making was that, for a fair amount of the way, you are walking outwith the shelter of trees.

He wasn't saying that the route goes above the point trees cannot grow.

HTH

 jess13 22 Jan 2020
In reply to aln:

Is your anorak chafing?

 jonny taylor 22 Jan 2020
In reply to Happybunny:

Watch your step descending Conic Hill - it's the first really non-flat bit and several people have broken ankles recently on the descent path, which is not in as good a condition as most of the rest of the Way, at the moment and particularly at this time of year.

 JohnnyW 23 Jan 2020
In reply to jonny taylor:

> Watch your step descending Conic Hill - 

I agree. I lead WHW walks for groups, and the descent can be at best slippery, if icy it could be quite a challenge, albeit not that high.

I often go up the 'normal' way, but come down back NE to the little grassy col, and then turn left and take the grass and bracken back to the path. Much less consequential if you take a little slip.

....and as for the rubbish from the person about the treeline, the sensible one was simply suggesting that much of the route is exposed to the weather, and he is correct. I did one trip this summer when it howled a gale and lashed rain into us horizontally every day. Had that been 10c cooler, we would not have even attempted it, as as well as miserable, it could be foolhardy. Snow of any depth can exponentially increase the effort level required, and it can often be impossible to make progress over Rannoch Moor, The Devil's and the Lairig Mor.

Check the forecast each day (obviously), and ensure people know your expected times of arrival, (building in plenty of contingency).  As another person said, get the weather, and it could be fab. But be sensible.

Enjoy

 Happybunny 29 Jan 2020
In reply to BnB:

Thank you for the recommendation...will definitely do that!

 Happybunny 29 Jan 2020
In reply to Bob Aitken:

That's really helpful thank you. I'm a morning person so will no doubt be up and cracking on 1st thing. 

 Happybunny 29 Jan 2020
In reply to subtle:

I'm definitely expecting it to be memorable...lots of spares and everything split up into categorised dry bags.....stowed away in a rucksack liner....I'm expecting poor weather!!

Arrived in Glasgow today...to rain 😁

 Happybunny 29 Jan 2020
In reply to PPP:

Thanks bearded runner! If you see me I'll share my biscuits.....if you ask me if I'm still a happy bunny!! 😁

 Happybunny 29 Jan 2020
In reply to JohnnyW:

The two Jonnys...thank you for the tip re Conic Hill, will definitely take a little extra care.

I have viewranger with the buddy beacon set up which has worked a treat on previous outings so should be covered in that sense.

Re the treeline debate.....I will now spend the whole route looking at trees and debating the topic myself ....that alone should keep me busy 😂

Seriously though thank you everyone


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