A Research Trip on the West Highland Way
Earlier this month I took myself off to Scotland for the weekend, specifically to Loch Lomond and north of it, as a research trip on the West Highland Way. My agenda was to visit Tyndrum and key points on the walk around this area as this is the setting for my current work in progress.
Believe it or not it’s over 20 years since I was in this stunning part of the world. On that last visit I walked all 95 miles of the West Highland Way in 25 degree blazing sunshine; challenging to say the least, but oh so rewarding!
This time I picked out a couple of key spots I loved, like Balmaha at the bottom of Conic Hill. Those who’ve read my book, The Way of Life, will remember the walkers, the sunbathers and the cool refreshing waters of Loch Lomond. It all still looked so familiar as we walked the three or four miles along the way-marked path, stopping at one of the little beach areas to enjoy a picnic lunch.
Later that afternoon we booked into the Drovers Inn; a memorable stopping point along the West Highland Way. My other half was a tad disappointed when we didn’t get to stay in the 300 year old Inn, while I was somewhat relieved to be in the newer extension where the appearance of ghosts was unlikely! It’s a great place to relax and see the weary walkers coming in, quickly revived by a cold beer and a comparison of notes with other walkers. Incidentally they all agreed that the stretch they had just completed from Inversnaid to Inverarnan was the toughest yet... ah yes, I remember it well!
Tyndrum, the home of Ruth’s B&B
The following day we headed to Tyndrum, a busy little village with two railway stations! I needed to familiarise myself with the place as this is where Ruth, Joy’s friend owns a B&B. Joy is the main character in both The Way of Life and this current book I’m writing; she is spending time in Tyndrum visiting her friend.
We walked a couple of miles on the WHW path going south where we came across a small loch, where legend has it Robert the Bruce and his army threw their swords after being beaten at Dairigh. As hot as it was we decided against going in for a swim to search for his sword! Instead we veered off the Way path to follow a forest trail where we came across this picturesque flowing stream.
Back in Tyndrum we visited The Green Welly Shop, very much extended and a hot-spot for tourists these days. We topped up with water and set off back onto the WHW path, this time heading north. While very warm, storm clouds were gathering, adding more excitement to this dramatic landscape; vast and empty save rucksack-laden walkers, a few fell runners and the odd sheep or two. Those clouds did break and I’d say a good few walkers got a soaking. We were lucky, tucking into sweet potato fries and cold cider when the heavens opened!
We said our goodbyes to the Drovers Inn and their resident wildlife (all stuffed I might add!) the next morning heading back to my writing desk with renewed memories of the West Highland Way and a few new ones that I can weave into Joy’s story.
If you’ve never been up to the west of Scotland you really should, it is truly stunning. And if you’re liking the sound of my latest work in progress why not read The Way of Life and learn Joy’s story so far?