Some final last minute packing, tidying, unpacking and doing it all over finished, we set out early this morning on the train straight from Edinburgh through to the West Highland Way start point in Milngavie. Our first day would take us about 15 miles along to Drymen. I had a late realisation (on the bus to the train station) that I probably could have gone a touch lighter on my pack – especially after realising that 2 litres of water was going to be another two kilos! We got a direct train through Glasgow which took about an hour and a half, which dropped us at the end of the line just before 10 in the morning.
It’s all quite well signposted from the station in Milngavie (pronounced, confusingly, mull-guy) to the start of the walk, right in the centre of town. We pottered through that quite quickly and got ourselves off through the park the is the last little bit of suburban Glasgow. It’s a nice gentle start – especially the first couple of miles, but I suppose (I’ve been told) the first day in general. The walk climbs gently away from suburbia and into the countryside, eventually getting away from a defunct railway line towards fields and pastures.
About a quarter of the way in after a temperamental morning of gloomy grey skies, it all started to open up and begin to rain. We sort of paused to decide which way it was going to go – open up properly or clear up quickly – and decided we were better safe than sorry to stay dry, especially on day one! So we stopped, dug out waterproof jackets (not too heavy for trousers yet!) and pulled out our pack covers. Lotte, not wanting to have to actually take off her pack (or more accurately, pick it back up again) insisted I sort hers for her. It was a bit of a tight fit, so it took me a little bit to get it properly lined up – my pack of course still in the growing drizzle. Eventually I managed to sort it, and quickly got my cover out and strapped on. Just in time for the rain to clear.
It didn’t rain again [that day] after that.
In fact, the rest of the walk to Drymen was in quite lovely sunshine! We strolled on from there past the Glengoyne Distillery to the Beech Tree for our lunch stop and a rest. I think I would have fancied the stop at the distillery for lunch but it didn’t look like there was much of a bar option for a quick mid-hike dram, so we opted for the stop a quarter-mile or so on and a cup of tea with our sandwiches.
We rested up for half an hour, stretched and enjoyed the sun before getting back along the walk to finish the second half of the Milngavie to Drymen leg. Time-wise I don’t think our going was any slower but it certainly felt like it! The track along past the distillery and the Beech Tree is a long straight track that feels like it goes forever. Finally it clears out on the hill climb to Drymen. In full glorious sunshine, there’s a spot maybe a bit over a mile out that sits atop a quarry a looks out all the way to Loch Lomond, and Northwards towards the Highlands.
The final slog of day one got us wandering into Drymen at about 4pm. We found the Kip in the Kirk Hostel, where we had to wait briefly in the sun for them to come back (hardships!), before getting in, settled and showered. We popped out to the kithen after that for the complementary welcome of tea and scones (lovely!) before wandering back to the village square for a celebratory pint (or three…and a dram) and some food before heading back to rest (at about 7pm), watch some tv and prepare for day 2’s walk to Rowardennan.